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CMA Doctors Lament Supreme Court Decision Upending Women’s Health Protections in Abortion Clinics as Ensuring ‘Back-alley Abortions’

WASHINGTON, June 27, 2016 /Christian Newswire/ — The 17,000-member Christian Medical Association (CMA, www.cmda.org) today lamented the Supreme Court’s 5-3 decision to overturn a lower court ruling that upheld a Texas law protecting the health of women in abortion clinics.

CMA CEO Dr. David Stevens declared in a statement, “Given the shocking revelations of abysmal health and safety deficiencies in abortion clinics around the country, the Court’s disallowance of health and safety requirements just protects what amount to back-alley abortions.

“Texas had the courage to require medically appropriate measures to protect women in abortion clinics, where state investigations had uncovered gross negligence and health hazards. The Supreme Court today upended those reasonable, medically necessary safety and health protections in favor of abortion ideology.

“We hear over and over the abortion mantra, ‘safe, legal and rare.’ But with over a million abortions a year and courts preventing even modest health and safety regulations, abortion is only legal-not at all safe or rare.”

An amicus brief filed in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt for CMA by Alliance Defending Freedom highlighted the state’s interest in protecting women’s health by passing reasonable protections that rationally relate to health risks: “Texas’ law appropriately expresses Texas’s constitutional interest in safeguarding women’s health and maintaining medical standards. The Ambulatory surgical center requirements rationally relate to Texas’s legitimate interest in upholding consistent standards for outpatient abortion providers. The admitting privileges requirement rationally relates to Texas’s legitimate interest in regulating outpatient abortion.”

CMA Executive Vice President Dr. Gene Rudd, an obstetrician-gynecologist, added, “Surgical and drug-induced abortion carry significant risks to the mother that require timely care and continuity of care. The way to ensure adequate care when abortion complications occur is to require that the physician who performed the procedure that resulted in the complication be able to assure rapid treatment of the patient. That needs to be done in a medical facility properly equipped to care for these types of surgical emergencies.”

As CMA’s brief noted, “That is exactly why ambulatory surgical facilities require admitting privileges for physicians performing surgery comparable to elective abortion, and exactly why Texas needs this law to ensure the health and safety of women undergoing both medical and surgical abortion.”

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Kansas school bans fliers with Bible verses

Lawsuit filed after school tears down, prohibits fliers promoting ‘See You at the Pole’ event
Monday, December 02, 2013

Attorney sound bites:  Matt Sharp  |  Jeremy Tedesco

KANSAS CITY, Kan. — Alliance Defending Freedom filed a lawsuit on behalf of a student after a Kansas public school prohibited her from posting or handing out religious fliers promoting the student-led “See You at the Pole” prayer event held before school. The school freely allows a variety of other types of materials to be posted and distributed but singled out the student’s fliers because they contained Bible verses.

Public schools should encourage, not shut down, the free exchange of ideas,” said Legal Counsel Matt Sharp. “The law on this is extremely clear: school policies cannot target religious speech for exclusion. The First Amendment protects freedom of speech for all students, regardless of their religious or political beliefs.”
In September, a seventh-grade student at Robert E. Clark Middle School posted fliers with Bible verses in advance of the “See You at the Pole” event, a day when students across the nation gather around the flagpole at their local school before the beginning of the school day to pray for the school, students, staff and the nation. The fliers were a precursor to additional fliers providing the date and time of the “See You at the Pole” event that the student intended to distribute later.

A school counselor confronted the student at a school dance in front of her friends and informed her that the fliers were “illegal” because of the Bible verses and could not be posted or distributed at school. A districtwide policy bans the distribution of “religious materials…on school grounds or in any attendance facility before, during, or after the school day or a school activity.”

School officials took down and destroyed the fliers. Because of the threat of punishment from the school counselor, the student could only secretly distribute a few informational fliers with the time and place of the event to other students out of sight of teachers. As a result, very few students attended the event.

The school has allowed the posting of a variety of materials, including a hand-made poster of a tombstone with the words “RIP” and a poster of rap artist Lil’ Wayne with the words “Good Kush and Alcohol.”
The Alliance Defending Freedom lawsuit, K.R. v. Unified School District No. 204, filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Kansas, explains, “Students do not shed their constitutional rights at the schoolhouse gate. Non-disruptive, private student expression is protected by the First Amendment.” Moreover, “the government may not discriminate against speech based on its viewpoint, regardless of the forum.”
The lawsuit also notes that the student’s posting of the material did not “interfere with the orderly conduct of educational activity within the school.”
“Marginalizing students of faith removes an important influence for good from the school community,” added Senior Legal Counsel Jeremy Tedesco. “We hope the school district will revise its policy so that students can exercise their constitutionally protected freedoms.”

SC school lifts ban on religious Christmas carols

Alliance Defending Freedom letter informed school officials that First Amendment protects religious songs
Monday, November 25, 2013

Attorney sound bites:  Rory Gray  |  Jeremy Tedesco

ROCK HILL, S.C. — A South Carolina public charter school has removed a ban on Christmas music after receiving a letter from Alliance Defending Freedom sent on behalf of concerned parents. School officials had prohibited students from performing the music to “Joy to the World” and “O Come All Ye Faithful” after students had already begun rehearsing the pieces for a concert.A school official had initially claimed that some type of communication from either the American Civil Liberties Union or another group prompted the ban. The school looked into the matter, discovered that the official had actually acted on his own, and reversed the ban after gaining a better understanding of what the First Amendment permits and protects.“Schools shouldn’t have to think twice about whether they can allow Christmas carols, including ones with Christian themes that are naturally a part of the holiday,” said Litigation Staff Counsel Rory Gray. “We commend the school for quickly reversing the prohibition on such songs. It’s a shame that the pervasive climate of fear about Christmas that secularist groups have spread over the last several decades led some at the school to think that they had to ‘pre-emptively’ censor Christmas expression.”

York Preparatory Academy’s band director gave older students a choice of musical selections to perform at the school’s Dec. 19 “Winter Concert.” The students chose two songs that included the melodies from “Joy to the World” and “O Come All Ye Faithful.” After students had already begun practicing the music, the principal of the school excluded the songs and suggested that, in order for students to play traditional Christmas carols, they would need to play songs from other religions as well.

The Alliance Defending Freedom letter explained to the school that “every federal court to examine the issue has determined that including religious Christmas carols in school music programs fully complies with the First Amendment….”

“The Constitution clearly allows the inclusion of religious Christmas carols in school productions,” added Senior Legal Counsel Jeremy Tedesco. “Now that the school has removed its unnecessary ban, the students at York Preparatory Academy will be allowed to proceed with the full range of music they’ve been working on so hard.”

Alliance Defending Freedom sent a letter last week to more than 13,000 school districts nationwide that explains the constitutionality of religious Christmas carols in school productions, provides legal resources on other issues that may arise regarding Christmas and public schools, and offers free assistance to schools that need help.

ADF to 13,000+ school districts: Christmas is constitutional

A gathering of Carol Singers in front of the C...

A gathering of Carol Singers in front of the Christmas Tree in Trafalgar Square, London England. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Letter explains First Amendment protections for Christmas expression, participation
Thursday, November 21, 2013

Attorney sound bites:  Jeremy Tedesco  |  Kevin Theriot

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. Alliance Defending Freedom issued a letter Wednesday to more than 13,000 school districts nationwide to explain constitutional protections for religious Christmas carols that some districts have censored due to misinterpretations of the First Amendment. The letter also backs up the legitimacy of schools participating in community service projects sponsored by religious organizations and offers free legal assistance to districts that need help.“Schools shouldn’t have to think twice about whether they can celebrate Christmas,” said Senior Legal Counsel Jeremy Tedesco. “School districts can and should allow religious Christmas carols to be part of their school productions, and they can lawfully help impoverished children through community service projects such as Operation Christmas Child.”

The letter cites recent examples of school districts in Wisconsin and New Jersey that wrongly censored Christmas carols in school productions and then changed their positions in response to public outcry and letters from Alliance Defending Freedom explaining that the inclusion of religious carols is permissible.

As the letter explains, “every federal court that has examined the issue has determined that including traditional Christmas carols and other religious music in school music programs fully complies with the First Amendment….”

Most recently, a South Carolina charter school reportedly cancelled its participation in Samaritan Purse’s Operation Christmas Child, a toy drive for needy children, after a humanist group threatened the school with legal action.

“Public schools’ confusion about this issue and the legalities of celebrating Christmas in other ways has been largely caused by inaccurate information about the Establishment Clause spread by certain groups opposed to any religious expression occurring in public,” the nationwide letter states. “Alliance Defending Freedom has produced a Christmas Memo and a Christmas and Public Schools Myths/Fact Sheet that dispel these misconceptions…. Providing students an opportunity to put together a box of gifts for impoverished children throughout the world does not become unlawful just because the toy drive is sponsored by a religious organization.”

“The Constitution both allows and protects the celebration of Christmas in public schools,” added Senior Counsel Kevin Theriot. “We hope the materials we are providing to school districts will help clear up the misinformation that groups attempting to cleanse all traces of religion from the public square have spread for far too long.”

A December 2011 Rasmussen poll found that 79 percent of American adults believe public schools should celebrate religious holidays.

  • Pronunciation guide: Tedesco (Tuh-DESS’-koh)
Alliance Defending Freedom is an alliance-building, non-profit legal organization that advocates for the right of people to freely live out their faith.
 

NJ school district withdraws ban on religious Christmas carols

Attorney sound bites:  Matt Sharp  |  Jeremy Tedesco

BORDENTOWN, N.J. — The Bordentown Regional School District has withdrawn its ban on religious Christmas carols in concert performances at the district’s elementary schools.

Alliance Defending Freedom sent a letter to the district on Oct. 28 after administrators implemented the ban. The letter explained that the ban was both unnecessary and unconstitutional.

Schools shouldn’t have to think twice about whether they can allow students to perform Christmas carols,” said Legal Counsel Matthew Sharp. “The school district has done the right thing in allowing religious Christmas carols to be part of its schools’ productions. As our letter explained, courts have unanimously upheld their inclusion in such productions–even when songs deal with Christian themes that are naturally a part of the holiday.”

On Friday, Superintendent of Schools Constance J. Bauer posted a notice to parents on the district’s website that states, “In reviewing additional legal considerations and advice on this matter and the expressed sentiments of the community at large, I have reconsidered the decision on the musical selection for the upcoming winter programs so that pieces with traditional and historical religious origins will be permitted. Concurrently, the Board will continue its review of the larger policy implications for the future.”

Previously, Bauer had publicly stated that “religious music should not be part of the elementary program(s).” She then banned any and all religious music in the December concerts that the district’s elementary schools normally hold.

“Misinformation about the First Amendment is frequently what leads to censorship of constitutionally permissible and culturally significant songs performed during Christmas concerts,” added Senior Legal Counsel Jeremy Tedesco. “We commend Superintendent Bauer for once again permitting religious music to be included among the many non-religious songs performed at school concerts.”

A December 2011 Rasmussen poll found that 79 percent of American adults believe public schools should celebrate religious holidays.

Calif. school district: choirs can’t perform at best acoustic venues if they’re churches

Attorney sound bites:  Jeremy Tedesco  |  Matt Sharp

GILROY, Calif. — Alliance Defending Freedom sent a California school district a letter Tuesday after its superintendent barred school choirs from performing at venues with superior acoustics merely because they are churches.

“Exceptional musicians deserve to perform at facilities with superior acoustics, regardless of whether the venue is religious,” said Senior Legal Counsel Jeremy Tedesco. “Gilroy Unified School District is wrong to end its longstanding tradition of allowing choir groups to perform in acoustically superior churches, hurting both the musicians and the local community. The choirs are not performing in the churches for any religious reason.”

The Alliance Defending Freedom letter explains that the superintendent’s action is legally unnecessary because “GUSD’s acoustic-excellence criterion is the epitome of neutrality. It does not favor religious or secular venues. Rather, it favors venues with excellent acoustics, regardless of their religious or secular character.”

The letter also explains that, by jettisoning GUSD’s constitutionally sound “acoustic excellence” criterion for selecting choir venues, the superintendent is exhibiting an unconstitutional hostility toward religion.

“A handful of misguided complaints and one official’s misunderstanding of First Amendment law should not be allowed to harm this acclaimed choral program and deprive its 200 members of the best possible acoustical venues for their performances,” added Legal Counsel Matt Sharp. “We hope that the GUSD Board of Education will immediately reinstate its policy and allow choral program directors to select the best performance venues based on the acoustic excellence standards it has adhered to for years.”

 

God Bless America’ sign restored to Constitution Week display at NC library

Library changes course after receiving Alliance Defending Freedom letter
Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Attorney sound bite:  Travis Barham  |  Kevin Theriot

FAIRVIEW, N.C. — A North Carolina library has agreed to return a “God Bless America” sign to a community group’s Constitution Week display after officials first removed the sign without notice. Alliance Defending Freedom sent Fairview Library officials a letter on Sept. 26 to explain that they violated the U.S. Constitution when they censored the sign, which ironically was part of a display celebrating the Constitution.

“Respecting free speech is always the right thing to do, so we commend the library for quickly correcting this constitutional violation by restoring the sign,” said Litigation Staff Counsel Travis Barham. “For decades, the First Amendment has prohibited public officials from singling out religious expression and quarantining it from public view. The library’s patrons were not just celebrating the Constitution; they were exercising the very freedoms that it protects. Library officials have done the right thing by deciding to respect the freedom of Americans to celebrate publicly our nation’s religious heritage.”

Last month, a private organization set up a Constitution Week display in Fairview Library’s entryway display case, which the library allows community groups to reserve on a first-come, first-serve basis. The display featured a variety of patriotic materials, including American flags, Betsy Ross flags, and a “God Bless America” sign. The library maintains no written policies governing the content of what community members may display in the case.

A few days later, a library official removed the sign from the display. The official claimed the sign could not be displayed because someone might complain about it, even though the library had received no complaints.

“Even if someone had complained, the essence of free speech is the right to say things that others would rather not hear,” Barham said. He explained that removing the sign because the message is religious was unconstitutional, especially since the library allowed non-religious patriotic messages to remain on display. Allowing the sign to remain poses no problems because, as the Alliance Defending Freedom letter stated, “the Supreme Court has…ruled at least seven times in the last thirty-two years that the government does not violate the Establishment Clause when it allows religious speakers equal access to a forum for private speech.”

In a letter dated Oct. 3, Buncombe County Legal Services responded, saying that “in light of existing case law,” the director of libraries “will contact a representative of your client and invite her to return the sign to the Fairview Library display.”

“Public officials simply don’t have the constitutional authority to single out religious content based on concerns about how people might react,” added Senior Counsel Kevin Theriot. “The First Amendment exists specifically to protect speech regardless of whether it is popular. Returning the sign was clearly the right thing to do, and we commend the library for doing it.”

Deborah J. Dewart, one of nearly 2,300 allied attorneys with Alliance Defending Freedom, is serving as local counsel in the matter.

 
 
Alliance Defending Freedom is an alliance-building, non-profit legal organization that advocates for the right of people to freely live out their faith.
 

Colo. elected officials, Nat’l Day of Prayer leaders defend prayer proclamations

English: Colorado state judicial building in D...

English: Colorado state judicial building in Denver, housing the Colorado Supreme Court. The building was destroyed by controlled detonation on 15 August 2010. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys submit friend-of-the-court brief to Colo. Supreme Court
Monday, September 16, 2013

Attorney sound bite:  Joel Oster  |  Kevin Theriot

DENVER — Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys submitted a friend-of-the-court brief Friday to the Colorado Supreme Court in defense of governor-issued prayer proclamations. Alliance Defending Freedom represents numerous state elected officials and the National Day of Prayer Task Force in defense of the historic proclamations, which an atheist group is attacking in court.

“The governor should be as free to issue prayer proclamations as the founders of America and Colorado were,” said Alliance Defending Freedom Senior Counsel Joel Oster. “State and federal courts all over the country have repeatedly upheld and recognized such proclamations as a deeply rooted part of American tradition and history.”

The Freedom From Religion Foundation filed suit in 2010 to challenge the constitutionality of the prayer proclamations, which Colorado’s governors routinely issue on the National Day of Prayer each year. After a lower court ruled against FFRF, it appealed to the Colorado Court of Appeals, which reversed the ruling. The Colorado attorney general then appealed to the Colorado Supreme Court.

The brief Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys submitted in Hickenlooper v. Freedom From Religion Foundation argues that the Colorado Supreme Court should look to the appropriate U.S. Supreme Court precedent, Marsh v. Chambers, which upheld the constitutionality of legislative prayer practices.

As the brief explains, the U.S. Supreme Court “reasoned that the long and unbroken history of legislative prayer in both the states and Congress dating back to the Founders indicated that the Founders would not have seen this as a violation of the Establishment Clause. The historical evidence showed ‘not only…what the draftsmen intended the Establishment Clause to mean, but also…how they thought that Clause applied to the practice authorized by the First Congress–their actions reveal their intent.’”

Although the lawsuit challenges the proclamations under the Preference Clause of the Colorado Constitution, Colorado courts interpret that clause “by looking at the Establishment Clause of the United States Constitution and the body of federal law that has construed it,” as a 1986 Colorado Supreme Court ruling explains.

“As U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor once observed, government acknowledgments of religion that date back to the adoption of the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause cannot be said to violate it,” said Alliance Defending Freedom Senior Counsel Kevin Theriot. “We trust the Colorado Supreme Court will recognize the enormous weight of history and legal precedent on this subject and will uphold the governor’s freedom to issue prayer proclamations just as Colorado’s governors and officials have done since territorial days.”

 

Pastor can hand out Bibles to bikers at Wis. city’s Harley-Davidson Festival

English: The Bill of Rights, the first ten ame...

English: The Bill of Rights, the first ten amendments to the United States Constitution Česky: Originál Listiny práv, prvních deseti dodatků k Ústavě Spojených států amerických Deutsch: Die Bill of Rights genannten ersten zehn Zusatzartikel zur US-amerikanischen Verfassung, die den Bürgern bestimmte Grundrechte garantieren Español: La Carta de Derechos de los Estados Unidos, el término por el que se conocen las diez primeras enmiendas de la Constitución de los Estados Unidos de América (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Attorney sound bites:  Jon Scruggs  |  Kevin Theriot

GREENFIELD, Wis. — The city of Greenfield agreed Friday to allow a pastor to continue distributing Bibles on public streets at a Harley-Davidson Festival after receiving a letter from Alliance Defending Freedom. Police had threatened the pastor with arrest for peacefully handing out the Bibles to willing passers-by at the festival.

“No
one should be threatened with arrest simply because they choose to
exercise their First Amendment freedoms in a public place,” said Legal
Counsel Jon Scruggs. “We commend the city for promptly agreeing to
respect the constitutionally protected right of this pastor and all
Americans to peacefully distribute faith-based literature.”

On
Aug. 28, David Murray went to West Layton Avenue to express his
religious faith and distribute Bibles during the Harley-Davidson
Festival, which is free and open to the public. Security officers
and Greenfield police officers ordered Murray to stop expressing his
beliefs and to move to the adjacent sidewalk behind the festival
vendors, an area no one accesses.
Murray’s friend
Dan Lawrence then tried to convince a police captain to allow him and
Murray to distribute Bibles in the festival area. But the captain
reiterated that neither man is allowed to distribute Bibles on the
street inside the festival.
As the Alliance Defending Freedom letter explained, “Lawrence desires to convey his religious beliefs through activities
protected by the First Amendment of the United States Constitution.
According to the Supreme Court, oral and written dissemination of
religious viewpoints are entitled to the utmost constitutional
protection.”
The letter also explained that
“expression in a traditional public forum deserves the highest level of
protection, and any infringement of speech activity there must overcome
great scrutiny.”

Greenfield’s police chief wrote in an e-mail to
Alliance Defending Freedom on Friday that “personnel have been advised
to allow your client’s activity within the public streets, sidewalks and
right of way.”

“The government should not harass
and threaten citizens for exercising their constitutionally protected
freedoms in public,” added Senior Counsel Kevin Theriot. “The city of
Greenfield has rightly understood this, and we will continue
to monitor the situation to ensure that this pastor’s freedom to share
his faith is respected. The First Amendment specifically protects every
American’s freedom of speech and religious expression.”

Ind. church appeals cross ban

English: The skyline of Evansville, Indiana.

English: The skyline of Evansville, Indiana. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Attorney sound bite:  Bryan Beauman

EVANSVILLE, Ind. — Alliance Defending Freedom allied attorneys representing an Evansville area church filed an appeal
Wednesday in an ACLU lawsuit over the display of up to 31 temporary
crosses at the Evansville riverfront. Last month, a federal district
court issued an injunction saying that the crosses cannot be displayed in the same manner as other community group displays.

“Government
officials should not be allowed to unconstitutionally single out
faith-based groups for censorship,” said Bryan Beauman, one of nearly
2,300 allied attorneys with
Alliance Defending Freedom. “A public display, approved in the same way
as other types of displays, cannot be singled out for censorship simply
because it is in the shape of a cross.”

In June, the Evansville
Board of Public Works approved a request by West Side Christian Church
for it and up to 30 other participating churches to display painted and
decorated crosses along the city’s popular riverfront for two weeks in
August in an event known as “Cross the River.” Each participating church
was scheduled to paint and decorate a cross and display it during the
event in an effort to raise money for local charities.

The ACLU filed a lawsuit on behalf of two Vanderburgh County residents
after the city approved the churches’ permit to display the crosses. In
July, Alliance Defending Freedom allied attorneys filed a motion to intervene on behalf of the churches, which the court granted with respect to one of the churches.

“This
misinterpretation of the First Amendment should not be allowed to
uproot the fundamental freedoms that the Constitution guarantees to all
Americans,” added Chris Wischer of the Evansville, Indiana law firm
Bamberger, Foreman, Oswald and Hahn, LLP, who serves as co-counsel for
the churches along with Beauman, who is with Sturgill, Turner, Barker
& Moloney, PLLC, of Lexington, Ky.

Michael J. Cork, also of Bamberger, Foreman, Oswald and Hahn, LLP, also serves as co-counsel for the churches in the case, Cabral v. City of Evansville, which will now go to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit.