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Supreme Court of the United States

The Weekly Digest: 3-2-16

By James Arnold posted on:
October 17, 2017

For an introduction to the Weekly Digest, read our first post here. To receive the Alliance Alert Daily Digest in your inbox every day, sign up here.

On to the news.


Abortion at the Supreme Court; Euthanasia in Portugal, the Netherlands, and Canada

Later today, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments in Whole Woman's Health v. Hellerstedt, which challenges a Texas law requiring abortion businesses to "adhere to the same basic, common-sense health and safety standards as similar surgical centers." Over at The Federalist, ADF attorney Casey Mattox wrote about the "20,000 Problems Facing Abortion Advocates At The Supreme Court." Don't get too worried: The article isn't an itemized list. The number refers to the approximate number of partial-birth abortions that have been prevented by the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act since 2006.

In addition to the above, Mattox points out that a Texas law prohibiting abortions after 20 weeks remains unchallenged. The reason? A challenge in Texas would likely result in upholding the law in the Fifth Circuit, which would lead to a circuit split. Then, the U.S. Supreme Court may feel the need to take a look. Mattox continues:



"Texas isn’t the only state where abortion activists have talked tough but declined to challenge these laws. Fifteen states have enacted similar laws. The abortion industry has chosen only to challenge them in the Ninth Circuit and a Georgia state court. In none of those 12 states where the laws are in effect is there a known example of any harm to any woman."

Over at The Daily Signal, our own Kerri Kupec also wrote about the case. From her article:





"Shouldn’t it be obvious that medical professionals and facilities that perform abortions should be as safe as possible and held to the same health and safety practices as health clinics that engage in similarly invasive physical procedures and surgery?"

She goes on to walk through some of the common objections to the law, including the claim that the law resulted in the closure of the majority of Texas abortion facilities and the claim that chemical abortions are somehow safe.

Also at The Daily Signal, Sarah Torre looks at a bit of history, arguing that Kermit Gosnell's "Abortion 'House of Horrors' Led to This Week's Supreme Court Case." If you've somehow forgotten Gosnell's case, here's a brief summary from the article:





"On May 13, 2013, just a few weeks before the Texas legislature would pass H.B. 2, a Philadelphia jury convicted late-term abortionist Gosnell of first degree murder of three infants born alive after botched abortions and involuntary manslaughter in the death of a 41 year-old Karnamaya Mongar.


"The grand jury report describes Gosnell’s clinic as a 'wretched, filthy space', where '[d]irty facilities; unsanitary instruments; an absence of functioning monitoring and resuscitation equipment; the use of cheap, but dangerous, drugs; illegal procedures; and inadequate emergency access for when things inevitably went wrong, all put patients at grave risk – every day.'"

The connection between the horrors of Gosnell's clinic and the need for health and safety laws should be quite clear.

Last summer, The Center for Medical Progress took over the news cycle by publishing undercover reports alleging that Planned Parenthood sold aborted fetal remains. Their latest video released yesterday, which you can watch here. There are no graphic images, but some of the language may be too graphic for some users.

According to Associated Press, some doctors in Portugal have been accused of participating in assisted suicide, despite the fact that the practice is illegal. The nation is set to debate the issue soon after a petition circulated demanding the legalization of assisted suicide.

In the Netherlands, a documentary about euthanasia recently aired. While this is hardly unprecedented, one of the rationales for requesting assisted suicide is somewhat novel: "a life completed." In other words, some argue that if you feel as though your life goals are completed, if you've crossed everything off of your bucket list and had enough of retirement, that you should be able to request that a doctor end your life.

The reasons for euthanasia vary greatly from nation to nation, it seems. Also in the Netherlands, autism may be among the reasons. In Canada the option may even end up available for "mature minors," also known as "children."





Freedom in Disagreement

Let's start this section strong with this excellent essay by David French at National Review. You may already be familiar with the story of former Fire Chief Kelvin Cochran. Whether this is the first time you've heard of him or you feel as though you know his story fairly well, give French's article a read. After detailing Cochran's background (including an appointment from President Obama to run the Fire Administration), French describes Cochran's return to Atlanta:





"Cochran developed the Atlanta fire-rescue doctrine and worked with Mayor Reed to hire more firefighters and reopen closed stations. He got results. Atlanta — for the first time — became a “Class 1” city, the highest fire-protection rating, given to only 60 cities in the United States out of 49,010 reviewed. Firefighter and civilian deaths and injuries decreased on his watch. He accomplished these results all while focusing on “justice, equity, and compassion.” No employee ever accused him of discrimination."

Unfortunately, as we know, the story does not end there. Cochran wrote a book for the men in his Bible study. On a few pages of the book, he expressed "the completely conventional, orthodox Christian position that sex outside of male-female marriage is contrary to God's will." French continues:





"The idea that an Atlanta fire chief could possibly hold to — and express — orthodox Christian beliefs kicked up a firestorm. After a flurry of meetings, Atlanta police chief George Turner called Cochran and informed him of the controversy. Four days later, Cochran was suspended without pay. His suspension letter failed to outline the charges against him and also failed to detail a single act in violation of the 21 provisions of the city’s Code of Ordinances that constitute a “cause of action” for termination."

This sort of fight is not limited to the city of Atlanta, no matter how much we all hoped it would be an isolated incident. All of Georgia is facing this issue: the Georgia Senate recently passed what Ryan Anderson calls "a good bill that protects religious freedom in the aftermath of the Supreme Court's redefinition of marriage." Some businesses are upset, apparently, but Anderson points out the hypocrisy intrinsic in this sort of objection:





"The hypocrisy of big business lobbying against the law is astounding. They want to be free to operate in Georgia according to their values, but they don’t want small-business competitors to be free to operate according to theirs. If all of the major corporations are already in favor of gay marriage, then this religious freedom law poses no threat. It merely protects the rights of those who disagree."

Moving outside of Georgia, we can look at Missouri for yet another example of the fight for religious freedom. A state judge in Missouri recently ruled in favor of St. Francis Xavier Church, "essentially granting the Church free reign to hire and fire according to its religious belief." If you're not familiar with the case, here's the story: A former employee of the Catholic Diocese of Kansas CitySt. Joseph sued the diocese for terminating her employment once it learned of her same-sex union.

One issue that often arises on this topic is clearly biased reporting. Some reporting, fortunately, is actually pretty well balanced, as this Get Religion post points out.

Of course, the consistent (apparent) conflict between religious folks and businesses or government entities or employees of Catholic dioceses is not limited to the U.S. You may have heard about Manny Pacquiao's statements in the Philippines. Nike, then a sponsor for the world champion boxer, immediately called Pacquiao's comments "abhorrent" and dropped him from sponsorship. Here's what our own Greg Scott had to say about the situation:





"[The company's actions send a signal] that if you don’t bow to the orthodoxy imposed by corporate America and the government, you should prepare to be silenced and punished. [Nike's decision] highlights the hypocrisy of those who applaud Nike’s exercise of conscience, yet cheer the government when it punishes businesses and religious organizations who don’t hold today’s politically popular views on marriage, family, and life."

It all comes back to the situation with Chief Cochran and the rest of Georgia. On the one hand, we applaud businesses for "taking a stand" on various popular positions, whether that is same-sex marriage or abortion or anything else. But the moment an individual or a small business (or, in the case of Chick-fil-A, a larger business) holds a position contrary to the current social orthodoxy, people are suddenly quick to fire, ostracize, or otherwise attack those people and their livelihoods.

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James Arnold

James Arnold

News and Research Manager

James Arnold manages and edits the Alliance Alert, a daily repository of news in all forms—written, spoken, or in video format.

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