Vitals Reporting on the pro-life movement

Judge protects freedom of pro-lifers

Abortion | St. Louis must make a religious exception to its nondiscrimination law on abortion
by Samantha Gobba
Posted 10/08/18, 04:20 pm

Pro-lifers cannot be forced to hire, lend money to, or rent to people who advocate for or promote abortions, a federal judge in St. Louis ruled last week. The decision overturned a city ordinance that barred landlords, lending agencies, and employers from discriminating against anyone for their “reproductive health decisions or pregnancy status.” Last year, the Thomas More Society, a pro-life legal group, sued the city on behalf of a number of pro-life groups and businesspeople.

U.S. District Judge Audrey Fleissig ruled that Our Lady’s Inn, a home for pregnant women, and the Archdiocesan Elementary Schools of St. Louis, a group of Catholic grade schools, have First Amendment protections from employing or housing people who promote abortion. Fleissig found that “forced inclusion of teachers or other staff who do not adhere to their values would significantly affect the Archdiocesan Elementary Schools’ ability to advocate their viewpoints.”

Citing the Missouri Religious Freedom Restoration Act, Fleissig also said Frank O’Brien, CEO of O’Brien Industrial Holdings, could not be forced to provide his employees with insurance coverage for abortion or contraceptives, something the ordinance required.

The city is considering appealing the ruling.

Thomas More Society attorney Sarah Pitlyk told me she was pleased with the ruling, not only for the residents of St. Louis, but also “for citizens anywhere else, where their authorities might try to use their legislative power to suppress viewpoints with which they disagree.”

“This is a victory for anyone who has ever dissented from what their legislators think,” Pitlyk said. “You can’t silence dissent by enacting unconstitutional laws.”

Similar laws have appeared elsewhere across the country, though none so broad as the St. Louis ordinance. In early 2015, Washington, D.C., enacted the Reproductive Health Non-Discrimination Act, which barred religious employers from discriminating against employees based on their “reproductive health decisions,” including abortion and contraceptive use. Despite numerous attempts to overturn or defund the measure by Republicans in Congress, which reviews District of Columbia legislation, the law is still on the books.

Last year, the California legislature passed Assembly Bill 569, which would also have prevented employer discrimination against anyone for “reproductive health” decisions. Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed it shortly afterward, saying similar protections already existed in California law.

The St. Louis ordinance will still apply to entities that are in no way religious. St. Louis City Counselor Julian Bush said last week, “We’re obviously not going to enforce it against similarly situated organizations.”

Associated Press/Photo by J. Scott Applewhite Associated Press/Photo by J. Scott Applewhite Pro-life demonstrators outside the Supreme Court in June

Pro-lifers welcome Kavanaugh

Pro-lifers applauded the Senate confirmation on Saturday of Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court. Liberty Counsel chairman Mat Staver called it a “historic day for this nation,” adding, “This is a great day for America after many days of unnecessary theatrics, delays and character assassination. As Judge Kavanaugh has repeatedly stated, his judicial philosophy is simple—judges must interpret the law, not make it. It is the right of the people, not judges, to amend the Constitution and the laws.”

Students for Life of America President Kristan Hawkins thanked the senators who refused “to be held hostage to political games and unfounded accusations.” Hawkins called it “tragic that the process broke down to this degree” and vowed that her organization’s staff and student leaders will continue to promote pro-life judges across the country and in the Supreme Court. —S.G.

Getty Images/photo by Jeff J. Mitchell Getty Images/photo by Jeff J. Mitchell A woman votes in an Irish referendum on abortion in May in Dublin.

Objecting in Ireland

As Ireland implements legal abortion following a referendum that cut protections for the unborn from the nation’s constitution, doctors are calling for continued protections for conscientious objectors.

Irish medical groups, including the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organization, have asked for legislation to protect their ability to object to providing abortions.

“The right to conscientious objection on various matters has long been part of the professional code of nurses and other health professionals, and it was also recognized in the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act,” said Edward Mathews, director of the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organization’s regulatory department. “We look forward to working with the government and employers to ensure that this right is secured in upcoming legislation and in practice in individual workplaces.”

Legislation is currently underway to legalize abortion up until 12 weeks of pregnancy. —S.G.

Kicker in custody

The man who roundhouse kicked a pro-life woman during a peaceful pro-life demonstration in Toronto was arrested over the weekend, LifeSite News reported. Jordan Hunt was caught on video hassling and then assaulting Campaign Life Coalition youth coordinator Marie-Claire Bissonnette while she participated in a pro-life rally. She videod the exchange on her phone and turned the footage in to local police. In the video, Hunt kicks Bissonnette and then shouts, “I meant to kick your phone!” Bissonnette said she will press charges and is asking people to pray for Hunt. The hair salon where he worked before the incident said in a social media post that it had fired him. —S.G.

Down to one

Missouri has one remaining active abortion center after Planned Parenthood’s Columbia Health Center in Columbia, Mo., failed to meet state requirements that abortionists have admitting privileges at a hospital close to the abortion facility. The center stopped providing abortions after the state did not renew its abortion license, but it remains open while offering other services. The state’s lone abortion facility is a Planned Parenthood location in St. Louis. —S.G.

Louisiana rehearing

The Center for Reproductive Rights, an pro-abortion advocacy group, is asking the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to review a ruling by a three-judge panel in favor of a Louisiana law requiring abortionists to have hospital admitting privileges. The 5th Circuit panel ruled 2-1 last month that the law does not burden women who want an abortion. —S.G.

Tennessee victory

The U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear a pro-abortion challenge to a 2014 Tennessee constitutional amendment that said nothing in the constitution “secures or protects a right to abortion or requires the funding of an abortion.” Tennessee Right to Life President Brian Harris called the high court’s decision “a cause for great celebration among Tennessee’s pro-life movement.” —S.G.

Samantha Gobba

Samantha reports on the pro-life movement for WORLD Digital.

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Comments

  • Janet B
    Posted: Tue, 10/09/2018 08:15 am

    So much good news this morning! Thank you for reporting it.

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