Author archives: David Christensen

Roberts Rules of Obamacare

by David Christensen

June 26, 2015

Justice Roberts’s majority opinion in King v. Burwell stretches the idea of textual interpretation well beyond the idea of using context to understand terms. He interpreted “Exchange established by a State” to mean “any Exchange” including a federally created one, but he did so not based on various other texts of the law, but what his understanding of the “purpose” of the law was. This is a blatant misuse of policy to interpret the text. In his first ruling on Obamacare, he interpreted “penalty” to mean “tax” even though both were clearly distinguished in the law. Now according to Roberts and the majority, “established by a State” means “established by a state or the federal government”. He concluded that Congress as a policy matter did not intend to restrict subsidies for health care plans in states created by the federal government since that would cause a “death spiral”. But why not interpret the policy decision, based on the text of the law, to have created an incentive for states to create their own exchanges? But those questions and the answers to them are matters of policy, not legal or textual interpretation. Roberts wanted to salvage Obamacare, and interpreted the law to fit his understanding of its policy goals. This ad hoc approach to textual interpretation undermines the idea that Roberts is conservative as it relates to his judicial mindset, but worse, how is Congress ever to draft legislation and pass laws when they themselves won’t know how the court will rule based on how they actually write the law? That’s quite a problem for the future of our democracy. Worth reading is the WSJ editorial “The Political John Roberts” pointing out that the Chief rewrote the law “in order to save it.”

Wheaton President Explains their Fight for Religious Freedom

by David Christensen

July 20, 2012

Kathryn Jean Lopez at National Review Online posted an insightful interview with Wheaton Colleges President, Philip Ryken. Wheaton College is known for being conservative in the sense of being evangelical, but it is not a political right wing institution. Its quite telling that President Ryken admits to being not overly political, yet, this HHS mandate on religious organizations was an eye opener. As recounted in Kathryns piece:

I am only moderately engaged in political issues,Wheatons president adds, and so it has been interesting to observe how precious liberties appear to me when they are in danger of being taken away. This has sort of awakened for me a latent passion for religious liberty. And I think plenty of our board members would say the same thing.

To read the full article, see here.

Evangelicals and Catholics Together? You bet.

by David Christensen

July 18, 2012

You may have heard about multiple Catholic organizations suing the government over the contraceptive mandate which forces religious organizations that are not churches to provide free abortifacients, contraceptives and sterilizations in their health plans.

But this isnt just a Catholic issue, as many protestant denominations have spoken against the threat of religious freedom this mandate poses.

Today, Wheaton College, an evangelical college, joined The Catholic University of America in yet another lawsuit. Wheatons President, Dr. Philip Ryken, describes the contraceptive mandate this way:

Wheaton College and other distinctively Christian institutions are faced with a clear and present threat to our religious liberty.

To read more, see Wheatons press release.

Court Ruling Keeps Abortion Funding, Religious Freedom Violation, Health Care Rationing and Other troubling provisions

by David Christensen

June 28, 2012

In a surprise ruling, the Supreme Court upheld Obamacare, maintaining the “individual mandate” as constitutional, not under the commerce clause, but under the taxing clause.

The only part of Obamacare the Court limited was the law’s requirements on state Medicaid programs to expand or face a loss of all Medicaid funding.

So, here are the several pro-life and religious freedom problems that now stand with the Court’s blessing, and other items of concern (section references are to PPACA, P.L. 111-148):

I. The abortion subsidies and funding scheme stand (see chart of Obamacare abortion scheme for more detail)

  1. Federal subsidies for health plans that include elective abortion in state exchanges will continue. (Section 1303)
  2. The abortion fee will require every person in a plan that has abortion coverage will pay at least $12 per year even if they do not want abortion services. (Section 1303)
  3. Allowing direct funding of abortion through direct spending in community health clinics (Section 10503), and high risk pools (Section 1101).
  4. Subsidies for the government run “multi-state” plans remains even if they include elective abortion (Section 1334).
  5. There are No conscience protections against government discrimination against businesses, providers, or health insurers who refuse abortion. The limited conscience protection is from insurers against providers, but the government can discriminate against anyone who refuses to offer or refer for abortion if they chose (Section 1303).

II. Religious Freedom infringement through HHS contraception/abortifacient mandate, which narrowly restricts religious liberties to churches (Section 1001). Penalties for failure to comply could be $100 per day per employee for the employer (and insurer) who fails to offer “preventive care services”, including contraceptives, abortifacients and sterilizations free to the patient.

III. The Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB) remains in effect, an entity that will reduce Medicare costs through rationing health care (Section 3403).

IV. OTHER ISSUES:

  1. The “individual mandate” continues as a tax on people who do not buy health insurance, whether from an employer or in the individual market (Section 1501).
  2. The mandate remains on mid-size and large employers to offer “minimum essential coverage” —- which means plans that can’t exceed 9.6% of salary, and plans cover 60% of total health care costs (they don’t have to cover all the essential benefits). If employers don’t offer these, they face penalties (Section 1511).
  3. States are required to establish exchanges or, if they chose not to, the Federal government will establish and run them in the state (Section 1311).

Rep. Roby Also Questions Secretary Sebelius on Religious Freedom

by David Christensen

April 26, 2012

HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius received a number of questions on the contraception mandate this morning during the U.S. House of Representatives Education and Workforce Committee hearing “Reviewing the President’s Fiscal Year 2013 Budget Proposal for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.” In addition to Secretary Sebeliuss answers to Rep. Trey Gowdy (R,SC) which Jeanne blogged about earlier today, Rep. Martha Roby (R, AL) also questioned Secretary Sebelius about the contraception mandate.

Taking a slightly different tack from Gowdy, Rep. Roby asked Secretary Sebelius why religious organizations, such as the Roman Catholic television/radio station Eternal Word Television Network (EWTN) based in her Alabama district was not exempt from HHSs mandate. Secretary Sebelius blamed the Institutes of Medicine (IOM) for recommending contraception, abortifacients and sterilization, even though her department requested IOM to make recommendations, and she blamed the narrow exemption on states. She didnt say that most religious employers in states with narrow exemptions to their state contraception mandate can change their plans in ways to get around the mandate. Indeed, the federal mandate is more comprehensive and applies to plans even if they self-insure. The exchange between Sec. Sebelius and Rep. Roby can be viewed here.

Advocating Infanticide? Not surprisingly, some do.

by David Christensen

March 2, 2012

You might think medical ethicists contemplate the principles for medical decision making in the tough cases. Surely, killing newborns is not even debatable. Well, some do. In an piece titled in Orwellian fashion, After-Birth Abortion: why should the baby live?, 2 scholars associated with prestigious institutes in Italy, Australia and the UK argue in a recent journal article that if abortion is morally permissible, so too is killing newborns.

You may think this line of thinking is crazy. And it is. Yet this is the logic of the pro-choice position. The claim that killing an unborn baby (if a woman so chooses) is morally permissible leads one to ask, why not kill a partially born baby? And if that is permissible, as a number of pro-abortion Senators think, then why not admit that killing newborns is morally permissible?

This played out in the U.S. Congress in the 90s and then later in 2003 in a debate over banning partial-birth abortion. Those who opposed the partial-birth abortion ban were adamant that this was different than killing a fully born baby. But as those debates revealed —- especially in the debate between Senator Santorum and Senator Barbara Boxer over the ban in 1999 —- if one could abort a partially born baby, why not let a baby be born and then kill her?

Senator Boxer refused to answer Senator Santorums questions directly. Why? Because the logic is rather compelling that location is not a criteria for moral worth. If you can kill a fully developed human baby inside a womans womb, then why not once its born?

Read Wesley Smiths compelling response to this honest if not horrific ethics paper.

Polling on your child’s life?

by David Christensen

November 19, 2010

Its difficult how to respond to this news that a couple considering an abortion, has put the decision to an online poll. The article says that the vote as of yesterday was 23,840 to 5,978 to have the baby. Maybe the couple thinks they can get helpful feedback either from the vote, or from comments posted regarding their decision.

The article states theyve been struggling with the decision because of the loss of three babies during miscarriages:

She and her husband, Peter Arnold, began the online vote because she was still healing emotionally from the most recent of three miscarriages, she said. They weren’t sure whether she was ready for a baby.

But it seems to me that this is rather gladiatorial, granting the crowd a vote over this life or death decision. Pray they choose life, and that they are comforted by their obvious hurt over their previous lost children.

Killing is OK, But Advertising it is Not?

by David Christensen

May 21, 2010

In Jan Moir’s op-ed “I believe in the right to choose, but TV adverts for abortion are simply wrong,” she points out her pro-choice but attacks a new television ad campaign by Marie Stopes International, one of the Britain’s largest abortion providers (and a major proponent of and performer of elective abortion in third world countries). Jan states: “Whatever side of the divide you might be on, the idea of abortion and abortion services - whatever they might be - being advertised on television is a distasteful one.” Why? She explains: “It is the throwaway nonchalance that so offends; as if an abortion was just another lifestyle choice to be pondered over in the commercial breaks..”

I’m not sure if the Marie Stopes ad should be allowed to air, as it might lead to more abortions. In that case, it makes sense for pro-lifers to fight its airing. On the other hand, maybe such an ad might have the benefit of stirring more public debate in a country that is so pro-abortion.

But what struck me most about Jan’s oped is how purely muddled her thinking is. Forget her snide attack’s on pro-lifers and her general support for the great work of Marie Stopes International. Jan simply thinks that killing a human fetus is morally permissible. Moreover, she thinks it’s a woman’s choice and that there is nothing immoral about doing so. But then why is not OK air an ad on the matter? How is “distasteful” or trite? Jan sees more of a moral problem with airing an advertisement on something she thinks is moral. And she thinks the only moral concern here is the issue of taste. How charming.

Jan thinks the moral issue of triteness gets at the fact that the advertisement belittles the seriousness of the choice a woman must make. Maybe it’s like belittling the seriousness of a choice to have sex. Culture may push for sex to be viewed as a lighthearted decision. Jan presumably would also think belittling the seriousness of the decision to have sex is also distasteful.

So what? Of course an abortion is a difficult choice for a woman (or most). But why should belittling this choice be immoral, or why if the advertisement causes young women to be more “trite” about having an abortion, as Jan claims, is that wrong? The question is why? I suppose one could say that putting your pet to sleep is a difficult choice that is not inherently immoral nor as easy as emptying your garbage. It can, and maybe should, be a difficult decision. But the extent to the difficulty in putting your pet to sleep stems from the emotional impact, the difficulty of the choice, for the person making it. It says nothing about the pet, its rights, dignity, worth, etc. This is the problem with her argument about abortion. A person has a difficult choice, and she says it should be difficult. But again why? Jan’s concerns are like the pet example, it’s OK to kill the fetus, just so the person is taking it seriously when making the choice. Obviously, we may find it distasteful for someone to enjoy killing their pets. Tisk tisk. But for most people, the seriousness of this decision stems from a relationship with their pet, and frankly, some idea of worth of their pet. I’m not proposing that animals have the same rights as human (sorry to those who think otherwise). Yet, the point is that if it’s OK to kill your pet, even that this would be considered “humane” in some cases, then the weight of the decision has less to do with the morality of the act and more to do with the emotional struggle with the act. So, killing your fetus is perfectly fine, just make sure you don’t make the decision lightly.

What Jan ignores in her op-ed, and even dismisses, is the fundamental moral question about the nature of the fetus, not just the woman making the choice. It’s not so much that she disagrees with pro-lifers on that question, as much as she despises them for even raising it. Now who is being trite?

How the Health Bill Funds Abortion

by David Christensen

November 6, 2009

The Health Care bill will fund abortion because of the Capps amendment. The supposed “Ellsworth” compromise would not prevent the public option from funding abortion, but would have the exact same effect of government funding of abortion. Because of confusing accounting gimmicks, this flow-chart may help you understand how the public option would fund elective abortion:

How the Health Bill Funds Abortion

[Click here for a full-size PDF version of the graphic]

Abortionists are Human Rights Defenders? Seriously?

by David Christensen

October 28, 2008

The pro-abortion group Center for Reproductive Rights (CRR) and its partners requested and were granted a hearing today at the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, Organization of American States according to their recent newsletter (see p. 2).

The Commission will hold a hearing today titled the “Risks and vulnerabilities affecting defenders of women’s rights in the Americas,” raising the specter of human rights activists and defenders of women’s rights being “affected”. You can review the Commission program here.

But what is CRR’s goal? Legal rights for women? Is it the legalization of abortion? CRR is more ambitious. Their newsletter references a previous letter they sent to the United Nations which makes it clear that they are not so much trying to protect human rights defenders or defenders of women’s rights as they are trying to get international legal bodies to include abortion providers under the legal designation of “human rights defender.” If they are successful, abortion providers would be protected under the 1999 UN Declaration of Human Rights Defenders.

It would be a travesty for international bodies to equate those who perform abortions, including those who perform partial birth abortions, with those who advocate fundamental human rights of others.

CRR in their letter raises violence against abortion providers as one of their key arguments. Violence against abortionists is wrong and should be condemned. But CRR goes much further. They are in fact making the case that any restrictions that would affect abortion providers’ practices would constitute an abuse of human rights defenders.

Indeed, CRR spends considerable time defending Dr. George Tiller of Kansas, an abortionist known for his late-term abortions (and advertising internationally for his services). It is odd that they would single out Dr. Tiller as a human rights paragon, until you realize that they oppose even peaceful protests at abortion clinics such as his, even when they acknowledge the fact that such protests are constitutionally protected.

CRR also opposes state laws that would require abortion clinics to have the same health standards as ambulatory clinics—regulations that would actually protect the health of women obtaining abortions. Indeed, CRR goes so far as asking the UN to “investigate” the United States for state and federal laws that conflict with their views. Again, violence against abortionists is wrong, period. But peaceful protests? Parental notification laws? Laws ensuring medical the competency of abortion providers? They want a UN investigation. Perhaps even more brazen, CRR wants international bodies to investigate cases of “smear campaigns” against abortion providers, in which any public campaign against such abortionists occur. They oppose the mere existence of legal restrictions because it would be burdensome to the abortionist, something most people think might be legitimate for physicians performing surgery on their patients. What about legal liability? Nope, CRR wants none of that either. The kicker may be that CRR wants these international bodies to impose fines on states that who disagree with them. Why? So they force local law enforcement agencies to implement “human rights teaching” on abortion in their training programs.

And these are people that many pro-choicers in Congress have tried to get you to fund with your taxes. I suppose if you can cast this asprotecting human rights defenders, it might just work.

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