The Engage Family Blog

Official Blog of The Family Policy Council of West Virginia

Archive for April 2008

Planned Parenthood and Title X

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This blog has repeatedly told of the pattern of racism and profiteering that Planned Parenthood regularly engages in at the expense of our hard-earned tax dollars.

One of our ministry partners at The Family Policy Council of West Virginia is the Family Research Council (FRC). Our friends at FRC are organizing a petition to encourage President Bush to limit (or eliminate) the amount of our tax dollars that go to funding Planned Parenthood and other abortion-on-demand providers. The petition describes the regulatory construct as follows:

Regulatory changes promulgated under President Reagan clarified the law that Title X recipients may not refer for abortion or combine family planning services with abortion services. These regulations were defended by President George H.W. Bush and upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court in Rust v. Sullivan (500 U.S. 173) in 1991. Unfortunately, by the time they were being enforced, President Clinton took office and rescinded these pro-life regulations. He then implemented statutorily unsupported regulations that require recipients of Title X funding to refer for abortion. Moreover, these regulations allow the collocation of abortion clinics with their affiliated Title X family planning clinics – in some cases utilizing the same waiting rooms, staff and facilities. More than a minimal economic separation between abortion providers and family planning clinics is warranted.

You can find the rest of the petition here and we encourage you to sign it. (Note: The petition must be signed no later than May 7.)

No one should be permitted to determine whether one life is more valuable than another.  And, no one should be compelled – under color of law – to pay for that decision.

Written by Jeremy Dys

April 30, 2008 at 2:21 pm

Posted in Life

“Is Planned Parenthood Above the Law?”

That is the question asked (and answered) by Maggie Gallagher, nationally syndicated columnist and head of the Institute for Marriage and Public Policy, in her column published on Townhall.com yesterday. I’ll tease and spoil you all at the same time with this penetrating quote from the end of Gallagher’s article:

But here’s what we’ve learned: Planned Parenthood is an organization staffed by people committed to the proposition that there is never a good reason not to have, support, fund or perform an abortion. In their own minds, their sacred mission to destroy human life puts them above the normal rules and even laws that any minimally decent person (whether pro-choice or pro-life) would recognize.

To bring this home, West Virginia is guilty of aiding to the coffers of Planned Parenthood and other abortion on demand providers. While the Federal government is underwriting the costs of Planned Parenthood to the tune of $330+ million of our tax dollars every year, West Virginia taxpayers are being compelled to fund abortion and related services in excess of $300K every year.

What is more, in this most recent legislative session, more than 60 bills were introduced on the issue of abortion. Assuming we are a 50/50 state on the question of life (and I don’t believe that we are), then one would expect at least some of those bills to advance. But, none – as in, zero, zilch, nada, bupkis – moved from their point of introduction.

Our leaders must be reminded that the family – including the pre-born – is the first priority, not an afterthought. To not even debate or discuss these bills leave lives hanging in the balance – literally!

For more, download this month’s newsletter, “Engage,” from our website.

Written by Jeremy Dys

April 24, 2008 at 5:36 pm

Posted in Life

More Evidence….

….that the WV Legislature dodged a bullet by refusing to pass extra-constitutional protections for “sexual orientation.”

The Center for Law and Religious Freedom said on its blog last week that some within the radical homosexual agenda are advocating the removal of a religious organization’s tax exempt status if the organization – even if acting in concert with its bylaws and core convictions – “discriminated” on the basis of one’s sexual orientation.

Concludes the CLRF:

This is why the pending cases pitting religious associational freedom against certain nondiscrimination rules are so important. If these cases are decided correctly, there will be clearer constitutional protection from those that want to punish religious groups for holding traditional views on human sexuality.

Agreed.

Written by Jeremy Dys

April 21, 2008 at 7:42 pm

Posted in Religious Freedom

Defend our Communities

The Charleston Daily Mail reports today that the owner (a non-resident of WV) of “Southern Xposure,” a sexually oriented business widely advertised along West Virginia’s interstate system, has purchased a strip club in downtown Charleston.

While this would normally be ho-hum news, what is interesting about the report is the following:

He [Mayor Danny Jones] said grandfather laws allow the club to run. Because the strip club at that location precedes the zoning laws that outlaw such clubs in the city, the club can remain.

Did you catch that? Today, it is virtually impossible for a strip club to open in downtown Charleston, WV. Zoning laws have effectively prevented new adult businesses from operating. While we applaud the application of these laws as to new sexually oriented businesses, this demonstrates precisely why zoning is insufficient to fully protect the health, safety, and welfare of our cities.

West Virginia currently has exactly 3 laws on the books regarding strip clubs. Actually, it is more like 2, since there is a variance only by degree.

First, West Virginia regulates the liquor license of these businesses. Strip clubs are required to apply for and obtain a liquor license in order to operate and distribute alcohol during the business. This license carries a low-annual fee to be paid by the proprietor, but does little more than give something akin to a business license.

Second (and third), current West Virginia law kicks any other regulation of this industry to the local level. That is, it provides that county commissions and city councils are permitted to zone their area of jurisdiction appropriately, keeping these types of businesses away from churches, schools, or other areas desirous of protection.

That’s it.

During the 2008 legislative session, The Family Policy Council of WV worked with Senators to introduce S.B. 695, The West Virginia Community Defense Act (WVCDA). The WVCDA would have made a significant impact in protecting our communities from the secondary affects of sexually oriented businesses (including strip clubs and other adult businesses).

Under the WVCDA, the time, place, and manner under which sexually oriented businesses operated. By requiring a “buffer zone” between patrons and dancers, the WVCDA would have done much to protect the employees of these establishments – who report some level of abuse (links to PDF. scroll to p. 7 for data) on a routine basis.

It would have regulated the hours of operation. Currently, strip clubs (and other adult businesses) can operate in West Virginia 24/7. Under the WVCDA, sexually oriented businesses would have been forced to shut down during the peak crime hours of midnight to six A.M. This regulation would do much in and of itself to prevent the myriad reported cases of crimes surrounding these establishments from occurring.

In short, the WVCDA would do much to regulate these undesirable businesses (usually operated by out-of-state owners) by focusing more on the secondary affects such businesses have upon the community (increased crime, property blight, spread of disease, etc.) and less on the activity behind blacked out windows.

Without the WVCDA, sexually oriented businesses throughout WV will be permitted to operate in spite of restrictive zoning ordinances because of “grandfathering” and other loopholes.

Encourage the Delegate and Senator receiving your vote: regulate the secondary effects sexually oriented businesses force upon West Virginia communities in 2009 by passing the WVCDA.

Written by Jeremy Dys

April 21, 2008 at 6:45 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

The High Cost of Divorce

A report out on tax day (available at our website) suggests that American taxpayers are paying about $112 billion annually (more than $1 trillion per decade) because of family fragmentation.

What is more, West Virginians are paying the associated costs of divorce and unwed pregnancies to the tune of $231 million annually.  The report makes one thing abundantly clear:  the issue of marriage is no longer simply a social concern; it is definitively a legitimate concern for the taxpayer.

In reading through the report, what has been interesting to see is how many times the authors state that their estimates are “cautious,” meaning, it is likely that the report underestimates the actual cost to our state an nation.  While the economists authoring this report are clearly trying to make an economic point (that marriage is an economic institution the strength of which will affect the rest of the economy), the authors use social studies to prove their fiscal point.  The thrust of those social studies suggest that a strong marriage between a man and a woman for life results in a greater potential for wealth, raises healthier kids, keeps children from crime/drugs, and is the locus for a broad amount of philanthropy.

In short, this study makes the case that our leaders ought to make the family – and the marriages at the center of them – the very first priority, not an afterthought.  Marriage, it would appear, is not simply a matter for moralists or churches.  It is plainly a legitimate taxpayer concern, one that our leaders should endeavor to encourage and fortify with their leadership.

The war cry for West Virginia politicians has been the creation of jobs.  While laudable, perhaps our leaders would be well-served to do all in their power to encourage and strengthen marriages.  For the good of our families.  For the good of our economy.

Written by Jeremy Dys

April 16, 2008 at 7:52 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Religion-Free Elections

Yesterday, the Washington Times featured an article on the faith of presidential hopeful, Sen. John McCain.  The thrust of the story is that, while Sen. McCain maintains a personal, religious faith, he is not apt to broadcast his beliefs publicly.

The story quoted from Prof. Wilfred McClay, a professor of humanities at the University of Tennessee at Chatanooga.  The learned professor concluded that it is unlikely that opponents in this presidential election will use religion as a “wedge issue,” attempting to discredit the other’s credibility by calling into question the candidate’s moral underpinnings.  Prof. McClay’s quote ended the article, “We may see a very religion-free election as a result.”

Should our elections be, “religion-free?”

While it is certainly true that our constitution expressly says that, “no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office,” (Article VI, Sec. 3) one’s religion is of vital importance and rightly ought to be examined.

The electorate should not compel a candidate to pass a written theological examination; but, what ought to be as open as a candidate’s bookkeeping is what defines their worldview.  For, an understanding of one’s worldview will reveal much about their political philosophy.

Most social issues addressed by our political leadership must stem from a moral base.  In fact, what is law, but a codification of morality?  Thus, the question is not whether or not we ought to legislate morality, it is a question of whose morality will be legislated.

During this election cycle – nationally and locally – we urge those with the power of the vote, to carefully consider a candidate’s worldview.  Test the candidates worldview, as much as you are able, to determine whether it is in line with your convictions.  If it is, cast your vote.  But, where your worldview clashes with the worldview of a candidate for public office, pause to consider the effect of your vote.

To be sure, elections – like the governance that follows – will be anything but, “religion-free.”

Written by Jeremy Dys

April 15, 2008 at 3:13 pm

Posted in Religious Freedom

Polispeak: Rarely Safe.

In reading the online CNN report about the faith forum attended by the two candidates for the democratic presidential nomination, the following line lept out at me:

Clinton, asked whether she believed life begins at conception, replied that “the potential for life begins at conception,” adding that the Methodist church, her denomination, had “struggled with this issue.”

Much, I suppose, could be said about the tightly chosen rhetoric of Sen. Clinton (“potential for life?”), but it was this line that really made my puzzler puzz:

“…And as some of you’ve heard me discuss before, I think abortion should remain legal — but it needs to be safe and rare,” she said.

Safe and rare? We all know that this line was a product of a copious amount polling, strategy sessions, and spinmeisters. So, it’s worth our time to unpack the phrase.

First, Sen. Clinton believes abortion on demand, as currently practiced, ought to be legal. That means, from conception to 2/3’s delivery, Sen. Clinton wishes to have abortion available for all. This would also include partial birth abortion, the banning of this baneful practice she voted against in 2003.

But, her talking point here suggests that she is in favor of “safe” abortion. Safe for the future life? That can’t be it, after all the plain meaning of abortion ends that future life with suction, chemical, or clamps. Could she have meant safe for the mother? Perhaps, but it is a bit far fetched. Studies have linked abortion with several conditions that cannot be described as “safe” for the mother. Safety, it appears, is a concern based mainly within the political world, not one of reality.

Then there is the word, “rare.” While this is clearly opposed to what Sen. Clinton just said (“I think abortion should remain legal”), it could be supposed that Sen. Clinton is speaking in terms of ratios – births to abortions. Some sources say there is a birth every 8 seconds in the world, while other sources suggest an abortion takes place every 6 seconds. If Sen. Clinton suggests abortion, defined thusly, is rare, then so rare must also be live births. Then again, if she would like to see abortion be rare, perhaps she could help steer the multiple million Federal dollars away from the coffers of Planned Parenthood. That would do much to make abortion on demand go the way of the dodo.

No one should be permitted to determine whether one life is more important than the next, nor should one’s rhetoric escape unexamined (including mine).

The question is for you: what do you know about abortion and will it influence your participation in this representative democracy?To begin to answer the first part of that question, I commend you to the Roe IQ Test. Your knowledge (or lack thereof) about abortion in America may surprise you.

Written by Jeremy Dys

April 14, 2008 at 2:08 pm

Posted in Life, Religious Freedom