Why Indiana Right to Life supports RFRA

March 30, 2015

In the days since Governor Mike Pence signed Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) into law, much has been presented in the media regarding untruthful assertions ranging from RFRA being a license to discriminate to RFRA permitting the burning of abortion clinics.

What’s the real truth, and why does Indiana Right to Life support RFRA?

The short answer is that Indiana’s RFRA provides much-needed protection to prevent pro-life persons, businesses or ministries from being forced by state or local laws to support abortion.

In a landmark 2014 ruling, the United States Supreme Court recognized that the federal Religious Freedom  Restoration Act, signed into law by President Bill Clinton, gave the HobbyRFRAA Lobby corporation protection against being forced to provide abortion-inducing drugs under Obamacare in violation of the company’s faith-principles that oppose abortion.  Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc., 134 S. Ct. 2751 (2014) The federal RFRA applicable to Hobby Lobby pertains strictly to federal law, not to state law.  The result is that prior to the enactment of Indiana’s state RFRA, pro-life persons, businesses and ministries in Indiana did not enjoy the same religious freedom protection against state or local laws that might force them into supporting abortion in violation of faith principles.

Indiana is not breaking new ground with its RFRA.  In fact, 30 other states have a RFRA judicial review standard or have enacted a RFRA law: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Connecticut, Florida, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montanat, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Washington and Wisconsin.

Indiana case law differs from each of these states and the federal government and legal scholars have labeled the current Indiana judicial review standard as uncertain.  Notably, the Hobby Lobby case decided last year by the U.S. Supreme Court highlighted the uncertainties of how these types of cases would be decided in Indiana in the absence of RFRA.

Our new Indiana RFRA law helps remove that uncertainty.  The adoption of the RFRA standard will assure that our state courts follow the same reasoning and case law as the federal courts and 30 other states when they weigh these issues.

Pro-life Hoosiers deserve the same protections against overbearing state and local laws as do their counterparts in the majority of the states.   This is why Indiana Right to Life proudly supports RFRA and is thankful for Governor Mike Pence and the Indiana legislature for enacting this new protection of our religious freedom.

Say “thank you” to Governor Pence on this historic day for freedom

March 26, 2015

This morning Governor Mike Pence signed into law Indiana’s historic Religious Freedom Restoration Act, enabling new protections for pro-life persons, businesses and ministries from being forced to support abortion.

Please help say “thank you” to Governor Pence and to the overwhelming majority of state senators and representatives who took supported our liberty.

Click here to sign our “thank you” note

Religious Freedom Thank you for Twitter

Pro-Life Community Expresses Gratitude to Pence for Signing Religious Freedom Bill

March 26, 2015

INDIANAPOLIS – Indiana Right to Life’s President and CEO, Mike Fichter, issued the following statement after witnessing Gov. Mike Pence sign the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), SB 101, into law:

“Indiana’s pro-life community is grateful to Gov. Mike Pence for signing the Religious Freedom Restoration Act into law. We are also thankful to the legislature for passing this bill by large margins in both chambers. This bill will give pro-lifers a necessary legal recourse if they are pressured to support abortion against their deeply-held religious beliefs.

“Religious freedom is increasingly under attack in our nation. We saw Hobby Lobby win its case against the federal government’s Obamacare mandate to provide abortion-causing drugs because of a defense hinging on federal RFRA law.

“Indiana’s new religious freedom law is modeled after federal law introduced by Democrat Chuck Schumer and signed by Democrat Bill Clinton in 1993. Nineteen other states have RFRA laws on their books. Indiana legislators are wise to ensure religious beliefs will get due consideration in court, should Hoosiers be forced to act against their faith. RFRA is an important bill to protect the religious freedom of Hoosiers who believe the right to life comes from God, not government.”

Pence signs RFRA

Indiana Right to Life’s mission is to protect the right to life, especially of unborn children, through positive education, compassionate advocacy and promotion of healthy alternatives to abortion.

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St. Joseph County Council Members Betray Pro-life Voters

March 25, 2015

SJC RTL County Council MtgOn Tuesday, Mar. 10, six St. Joseph County Council members sided with Democratic Party interests and the abortion lobby instead of supporting a health and safety measure to protect local women. At the Mar. 10 St. Joseph County Council meeting, the Council voted down a patient safety bill, 6-3, after hours of debate and testimony in South Bend.  The bill would have required that abortion doctors have admitting privileges at a local hospital or an arrangement with a doctor with privileges.

This bill would have added another layer of transparency and enforcement to current state law on admitting privileges. State law allows abortion doctors to document their back-up doctor’s name with the state department of health, but women seeking abortions aren’t privy to that local doctor’s name should an emergency arise.

During the bill’s testimony, local doctors illustrated why greater transparency is needed. According to the South Bend Tribune:

Dr. Kelly McGuire, local OB/GYN, told council members he’s treated five cases of abortion complications stemming from abortions performed by Dr. George “Ulrich” Klopfer, the only abortion provider currently in South Bend. Dr. Carlton Lyons said he’s spoken with Klopfer within the last year while treating one of his patients in the emergency room. Klopfer told him to handle the complications, and that he didn’t have admitting privileges and wouldn’t give the name of his back-up doctor, already required by state law.

“He left me with no other options for the management of her care,” Lyons said. “I had to take her into surgery.”

Astonishingly, eight of the council members, both Democrats and Republicans, supported hospital admitting privileges legislation while they were seeking election. St. Joseph County Right to Life, like many of our affiliates, surveys candidates on their pro-life positions in order to inform the pro-life voting base. Five members of the county council – Rafael Morton, Mark Catanzarite, Robert Kruszynski, Robert McCahill, and Corey Noland – used pro-life candidate surveys to get elected, and then blatantly disregarded the promises made to those who elected them.

Local pro-life leaders maintain that the Democratic County Council members exercised party politics. Jeanette Burdell of St. Joseph County Right to Life said, “It is quite unfortunate that pro-life democrats have no representation on the county council.”

St. Joseph County Right to Life has made it clear they will not stop fighting for the unborn and their mothers. The organization posted on its website following the vote, “St. Joseph County Right to Life has been fighting these battles for 43 years, and is stronger than ever. We will regroup and determine what next steps will be, both locally and on the state level.”

Lake County Right to Life Requests Closure of Abortion Facility over Fire Violations

March 23, 2015

A press release shared today by our friends at Lake County Right to Life:

Lake County Right to Life Requests Closure of Abortion Facility over Fire Violations

Patients Are Seen in Basement with Only One Exit and Clutter Exists throughout Building

Lake Co Fire letterGARY, IN – Lake County Right to Life held a press conference today demanding the closure of Gary’s abortion facility, Friendship Family Planning. The organization based its request on alleged fire code violations including failure to have two exits from the basement level where the doctor sees patients and improper storage of combustible materials. Lake County Right to Life members outlined their current concerns and the facility’s history of fire code violations in a letter delivered today to Gary Fire Chief Teresa Everett. The letter reads:

Dear Chief Everett,

This letter is to bring to your attention new fire hazards reported by the Indiana Department of Health (ISDH) in their recently released survey of the Friendship Family Planning Clinic (survey enclosed) located at 3700 Broadway, Gary, Indiana. These violations are in addition to the fire code infractions previously reported that remain uncorrected.

To review:

August 8, 2012

A routine licensure survey conducted by the ISDH cited multiple deficiencies in addition to “great amounts of storage and clutter extending from floor to almost ceiling.” The most concerning violation: “It was observed that there are two exits in the facility and that both lock by key from the inside.” p. 15. (Survey enclosed).

Multiple Dates – Fall 2012

Citizens contacted the fire department on several occasions to note that the facility kept the door opening to the parking lot locked from the inside and that the door has no emergency crash bar. The key is kept on the doorframe on the opposite side. A door resembling a garage door covers the front door.

December 4, 2012.

Following repeated reports of fire hazards to the Gary Fire Department (GFD) with no remedy, concerns were presented to the Gary Common Council.

December 6, 2012

After completing an inspection of the facility, the GFD noted in a Violation Notice that, “The storage rooms on the lower and main level are filled to capacity have boxes up to the ceiling.” (Notice enclosed)

January 14, 2013

The GFD conducted a follow up inspection of the facility and reported the following on the Violation Notice: “The rooms where there were boxes stored up to the ceiling on the main level had been reduced to where the ceiling could be seen. However, this does not resolve the problem of storage in this building, in these rooms the height of stored material which includes antiquated medical equipment and medical supplies is about six feet (72″) in both rooms. In the interest of life and public safety, only equipment necessary for day to day operations shall be kept in this building and the rest placed in a storage unit off premises or a storage pod transferred to your location for use. There is a roll-down gate on the Broadway side that needs to be kept open while the building is occupied.” p. 2 (Notice enclosed)

December 9-10, 2014

The ISDH completed a routine survey of the Friendship Family Planning facility. The recently released survey report indicates previously cited violations regarding the storage of combustible materials has not been resolved. Several additional fire hazards were reported. The most troubling is that: “The facility failed to have two exits remote from each other in the level that was below grade.” The patient examination and procedure rooms are located on this below grade level. p. 35

We are calling for the immediate closure of the Friendship Family Planning Clinic at 3600 Broadway, Gary, Indiana, until these conditions are corrected and the facility meets fire code as established by the City of Gary and the State of Indiana.

We urge the Gary Fire Department to take appropriate action to protect the lives and public safety of patients and employees alike.

Sincerely,

Len Reynolds, President, Lake County Right to Life

Lynne Scherschel, Vice-president, Lake County Right to Life

A copy of the letter has also been sent to Gary Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson, Gary Common Council President Kyle W. Allen, Sr., and Indiana State Fire Marshal James L. Greeson.

“The Friendship Family Planning facility, operated by abortion doctor Ulrich Klopfer, should no longer be allowed to put patients and employees at risk,” stated Lynne Scherschel, Vice President of Lake County Right to Life. “The facility is one emergency away from a life-threatening situation for patients and staff if no one steps in to correct these dangerous conditions. We urge Chief Everett and the Gary Fire Department to act swiftly. These fire violations have gone on too long. We value life at all stages and we do not want to see anyone get hurt.”

The letter to Everett and the 2014 licensure survey report are available at www.lakecortl.org.

Lake County Right to Life, based in Highland, Ind., exists to protect life regardless of age, health or degree of dependency.

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