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When Religious Belief Conflicts with Professional Obligation

 
 
wandeljw
 
  1  
Reply Thu 9 Oct, 2008 11:28 am
Quote:
Lesbian fertility bill passes through Victoria parliament
(Australian Associated Press, October 9, 2008)

The lower house tonight voted 47-34 in support of the contentious Assisted Reproductive Treatment (ART) bill, which will now be scrutinised in the upper house.

All Coalition members voted against the bill, together with four Labor MPs, including Sports and Recreation Minister James Merlino.

The vote was taken just before 6pm (AEDT) after a marathon three-day debate that ran into the early hours of the morning.

If passed by the Legislative Council, the legislation will grant single and lesbian women access to reproductive treatment, including IVF, and give gay partners and parents of surrogate children greater parenting rights.

The laws - which were subject to a conscience vote - will also remove the infertility requirement placed on a surrogate mother seeking treatment on behalf of a commissioning parent.

More than 50 amendments were lodged against the bill in a bid to water down the legislation but none succeeded.

The public gallery cheered as the final vote was counted.

Among those celebrating was Rainbow Families Council spokeswoman Felicity Marlowe, who has a two-month-old daughter Maude and lives in a same-sex relationship.

"What we've seen is a really sensible debate, unfortunately of course there are some people who have very diverse views about what a real family is or what constitutes good parenting but overall we've seen a really positive outcome," Ms Marlowe says.

"For families like mine that are same sex parented families it would mean better legal certainty for our children about who our parents are, better legal obligations for their non-birth parents and more rights bestowed upon them.

"What we'd be really wanting to see is that people understand that the spirit of this bill is that the rights and best interests of children are upheld and we believe that voting in favour of it in the upper house will ensure that our children are not second class citizens."

Attorney-General Rob Hulls says the legislation was good reform and he praised MPs and parliamentary staff for their conduct during a long and difficult sitting.

"When we're dealing with social reform and particularly, obviously, conscience votes, there are always passionate views that are held on both sides of the house," he told parliament.

"I fully understand that and I just want to say that everyone's conducted themselves very well and appropriately and I think that ... this is very good reform."

Earlier today the house resisted moves by Labor MP Marlene Kairouz to remove a clause from the bill which would help women use their dead partner's sperm to conceive.

Under the posthumous use of gametes (sperm and eggs) clause, a woman can conceive with her dead partner's sperm, providing she had his prior written consent.

A man could use his partner's eggs to implant an embryo in a surrogate mother, with consent.

Ms Kairouz, who voted against the bill, says the laws were macabre, arguing that children had a right to have two "living, loving parents".

"Bringing a child into the world without ever having the opportunity to meet both its parents shows disregard for its wellbeing, its needs and dignity," she told parliament.

"In today's culture, procreation using a dead person's gametes is not considered to be the norm and is not widely accepted."

Mr Hulls rejected the amendment, saying that including the posthumous use of gametes clause in the legislation would better regulate the practice, which was not outlawed in Victoria.

Labor MPs Christine Campbell and George Seitz also voted against the bill.
0 Replies
 
Foxfyre
 
  1  
Reply Thu 9 Oct, 2008 11:43 am
There are some forms of discrimination that I can't find any moral basis to fault, however. True stories:

The pharmacist who dutifully kept selling a little old lady a bottle of placebos for a very nominal fee because she was convinced they helped her and became extremely agitated if she didn't have them. This is something he would refuse to do for most patients.

The liquor store employee who refused to sell liquor to the guy she knew would then get smashed and become abusive.

The casino cashier who refused to sell chips to the guy who she knew was gambling his family's grocery money.

These are not quite the same thing as a moral judgment that would refuse to sell fertility drugs to an unmarried woman for instance, but all are moral judgments.

Perhaps except in the case of essential services when a business has a monopoly, there is room to accommodate some moral sensibilities?

Linkat
 
  1  
Reply Thu 9 Oct, 2008 01:33 pm
@Foxfyre,
Sometime common sense should prevail.
0 Replies
 
wandeljw
 
  1  
Reply Thu 9 Oct, 2008 01:49 pm
@Foxfyre,
There seems to be situations where the conscience rights of professionals come into conflict with the rights of consumers, Foxfyre.

In this thread, I am trying to follow news stories that illustrate the difficulty of balancing the conscience rights of providers with the needs of consumers.

A lawsuit was recently filed in Georgia against the Center for Disease Control (CDC) by a professional counselor who was fired last year. The counselor had referred a patient to another counselor because she felt a conflict between her religious beliefs and counseling someone about a same-sex relationship. In my opinion, the counselor acted responsibly by immediately referring the patient to someone else. However, the CDC fired her because they thought her behavior was "unprofessional".
wandeljw
 
  1  
Reply Thu 9 Oct, 2008 03:48 pm
@wandeljw,
This is the official court description of the Georgia case that I mentioned:
Quote:
Walden v. Center for Disease Control and Prevention et al
Plaintiff: Marcia Walden
Defendant: Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Computer Sciences Corporation, Christie Zerbe and John Doe

Case Number: 1:2008cv02278
Filed: July 14, 2008

Court: Georgia Northern District Court
Office: Atlanta Office
County: De Kalb
Presiding Judge: Carnes
Referring Judge: Walker

Nature of Suit: Civil Rights - Employment
Cause: 42:2000e Job Discrimination (religion)
Jurisdiction: Federal Question
Jury Demanded By: Plaintiff
0 Replies
 
wandeljw
 
  1  
Reply Tue 14 Oct, 2008 01:21 pm
Quote:
Patients' rights first; doctors', second
(By Jean Szilva, Burlington Free Press, October 14, 2008)

In response to Dr. Orr's letter ("Making an error in moral reasoning," Oct. 4) describing his position on the moral responsibilities of health care providers, I couldn't disagree more. Though he has an appointment from FAHC and I from the UVM College of Medicine, neither of us speak as a representative of our respective institutions but rather from personal conviction.

We are free to follow our conscience in this country whether that conscious stems from the dictates of religion or a more personal moral code. Yet, our own freedoms are not permitted to interfere with the freedoms of others. As always in our wonderfully diverse country, it is at the edges, the boundaries where things get interesting.

My code dictates that I provide the best that medical science has to offer couched within the framework of the patient's moral, spiritual and cultural milieu. In other words, I provide the science and help the patient fit that science into their lives respecting that my patients have the autonomy to make their own moral decisions. My code dictates that a patient's right to health care has precedence over a provider's religious beliefs.

The proposed federal rule that Dr. Orr speaks so passionately for would allow a provider to not only not provide abortions (a right which is already protected), but would also allow that provider to define abortion in any way they choose. This would allow providers to deny patients access to most contraceptives and would deny access to emergency contraception even in the case of rape. Not only would doctors not be required to provide such services, they also would not be required to refer or even to provide information that such services and medications are available. This is just plain wrong.

I also believe that Dr. Orr's convictions stem from an extreme ideology few of us share and he has stated his beliefs publicly: "placing the biblical precept of the sanctity of individual human life at the top of our analytical assessment." Dr. Orr is also a past board member of an organization that advocates that a health care provider's role is in "influencing their families, colleagues and patients toward a right relationship with Jesus Christ" and "advancing Biblical principles in bioethics and health to the Church and society." Do you want your doctor deciding what kind of health care you can get by his/her individual interpretation of the Bible or not?

I urge you to reject Dr. Orr's argument and to protest the federal government's proposed rule change concerning rights of conscious. We all have a right to health care that is not limited by the provider's religious beliefs.
0 Replies
 
wandeljw
 
  1  
Reply Wed 22 Oct, 2008 11:15 am
Quote:
Va. pharmacy follows faith, no birth control sales
(By MATTHEW BARAKAT, Associated Press, October 22, 2008)

CHANTILLY, Va. (AP) " A new drug store at a Virginia strip mall is putting its faith in an unconventional business plan: No candy. No sodas. And no birth control. Divine Mercy Care Pharmacy is among at least seven pharmacies across the nation that are refusing as a matter of faith to sell contraceptives of any kind, even if a person has a prescription.

States across the country have been wrestling with the issue of pharmacists who refuse on religious grounds to dispense birth control or morning-after pills, and some have enacted laws requiring drug stores to fill the prescriptions.

In Virginia, though, pharmacists can turn away any prescription for any reason.

"I am grateful to be able to practice," pharmacy manager Robert Semler said, "where my conscience will never be violated and my faith does not have to be checked at the door each morning."

Semler ran a similar pharmacy before opening the new store, which is not far from Dulles International Airport. The store only sells items that are health-related, including vitamins, skin care products and over-the-counter medications.

On Tuesday, the pharmacy celebrated a blessing from Arlington Bishop Paul S. Loverde. While Divine Mercy Care is not affiliated with the Roman Catholic Church, it is guided by church teachings on sexuality, which forbid any form of artificial contraception, including morning-after pills, condoms and birth control pills, a common prescription used by millions of women in the U.S.

"This pharmacy is a vibrant example of our Holy Father's charge to all of us to wear our faith in the public square," said Loverde, who sprinkled holy water on the shelves stocked with painkillers and acne treatments. "It will allow families to shop in an environment where their faith is not compromised."

The drug store is the seventh in the country to be certified as not prescribing birth control by Pharmacists for Life International. The anti-abortion group estimates that perhaps hundreds of other pharmacies have similar policies, though they have not been certified.

Earlier this year in Wisconsin, a state appeals court upheld sanctions against a pharmacist who refused to dispense birth control pills to a woman and wouldn't transfer her prescription elsewhere. Elsewhere, at least seven states require pharmacies or pharmacists to fill contraceptive prescriptions, according to the National Women's Law Center. Four states explicitly give pharmacists the right to turn away any prescriptions, the group said.

The Virginia store's policy has drawn scorn from some abortion rights groups, who have already called for a boycott and collected more than 1,000 signatures protesting the pharmacy.

"If this emboldens other pharmacies in other parts of the state, it could really affect low-income and rural women in terms of access," said Tarina Keene, executive director of the Virginia chapter of the National Abortion Rights Action League.

Robert Laird, executive director of Divine Mercy Care, believes many of the estimated 50,000 Catholics within a few miles of the store will support its mission and make up for the roughly 10 percent of business that contraceptives represent in a typical pharmacy.

Whether Catholics will be drawn to the pharmacy is uncertain. According to a Gallup poll published last year for an extensive study of U.S. Catholicism called American Catholics Today, 75 percent of U.S. Catholics said you can still be a good Catholic even if you don't obey church teachings on birth control.

Catherine Muskett said she plans to shop at the drug store even though she lives more than 20 miles away.

"Obviously it's good to support pro-life causes. Every little bit counts," said Muskett, one of about 75 people who crowded into the tiny shop for Tuesday's ceremony.
0 Replies
 
wandeljw
 
  1  
Reply Thu 6 Nov, 2008 12:30 pm
Quote:
Hospitals, doctors resist I-1000
(John Stucke, Spokesman Review, November 6, 2008)

While Washington voters made it legal for doctors to help terminally ill residents end their lives, opponents of the assisted suicide measure indicated Wednesday they will continue to resist the practice.

Initiative 1000 won with strong support Tuesday, but doctors don't have to help their patients make that final act, says the Washington State Medical Association.

Furthermore, Eastern Washington's largest hospital system, Providence Health and Services, will forbid physicians from helping patients die at its hospitals, nursing homes and assisted care centers.

"Providence will not support physician-assisted suicide within its ministries," the owner of Sacred Heart Medical Center and Holy Family Hospital said in a prepared statement. "This position is grounded in our basic values of respect for the sacredness of life, compassionate care of dying and vulnerable persons, and respect for the integrity of medical, nursing and allied health professions. We do not believe health care providers should ever be put in a position of aiding a patient in taking his or her own life."

The new Washington law is set to take effect in July 2009 after state regulators write rules to guide the practice.

Only the second of its kind in the country, the measure is modeled after an Oregon law that has been in practice for 10 years and has survived legal challenges.

Providence Health, which operates eight hospitals in Washington and seven in Oregon, is not pursuing legal action to stop the new law, said spokeswoman Karina Jennings.

"We believe we don't have to participate and plan to exercise a conscience clause allowing us to be exempt," she said.

The Catholic Church was an ardent opponent of the assisted suicide initiative; Providence Health is a Catholic health ministry.

Similarly, the Washington State Medical Association was outspoken in its opposition during the campaign.

It was among medical associations in 49 states that oppose assisted suicide and support repeal of Oregon's Death with Dignity Act, said spokeswoman Jennifer Lawrence Hanscom.

Doctors say assisted suicide runs counter to the Hippocratic Oath, which directs them to do no harm.

Washington's I-1000 allows doctors to prescribe to adult patients a lethal overdose of barbiturates or other drugs if the doctor believes that patient has a life expectancy of less than six months.

Supporters of the law, notably former Gov. Booth Gardner, and opponents spent a combined $7 million on highly emotional advertising and campaigning.

By a 59 percent to 41 percent margin, Washington voters agreed that terminally ill people have the right to obtain lethal prescriptions from their doctors to hasten their deaths.

Hospice of Spokane said the initiative will not affect its mission.

"Hospice of Spokane's life-affirming care is intended to neither hasten nor prolong death," the organization said in a statement. "Rather, it is about providing patients with the best possible quality of life in the time they have remaining."

The nonprofit organization does not practice physician-assisted suicide or euthanasia.

But it will not deny or discontinue hospice care to patients who are considering seeking help to end their lives.
0 Replies
 
wandeljw
 
  1  
Reply Wed 12 Nov, 2008 02:26 pm
Quote:
Catholic bishops plan to forcefully confront Obama
(By Manya Brachear, The Chicago Tribune, November 11, 2008)

In a direct challenge to President-elect Barack Obama, America's Roman Catholic bishops vowed on Tuesday to accept no compromise for the sake of national unity until there is legal protection for the unborn.

About 300 bishops, gathered in Baltimore for their national meeting, adopted a formal blessing for a child in the womb and advised Chicago's Cardinal Francis George, president of the conference, as he began drafting a statement from the bishops to the incoming Obama administration. That document will call on the administration and Catholics who supported Obama to work to outlaw abortion.

"This is not a matter of political compromise or a matter of finding some way of common ground," said Bishop Daniel Conlon of Steubenville, Ohio. "It's a matter of absolutes."

The bishops, long one of the leading political forces against abortion, spent the first part of Tuesday behind closed doors reportedly debating the merits of "Faithful Citizenship," a nuanced guide for Catholic voters issued last November.

Though the document made clear that "the direct and intentional destruction of innocent human life is always wrong and is not just one issue among many," it also advised Catholics to weigh issues like poverty, war, the environment and human rights when choosing candidates.

But some bishops said they were surprised to see Catholics cite the document as justification for selecting candidates--like Obama--who support abortion rights. A slim majority of the nation's Catholics voted for the Democratic candidate.

Several bishops said that Catholics could not in good conscience vote for a candidate who favored abortion rights after Obama pledged to pass legislation that would overturn state's restrictions on abortion such as late-term abortion bans and requirements of parental consent.

"Any one of us here would consider it a privilege to die tomorrow--die tomorrow!--to bring about the end of abortion," said Auxiliary Bishop Robert Hermann of St. Louis.

Bishops Thomas Paprocki of Chicago said such legislation could threaten laws that allow health-care workers to refrain from carrying out procedures that violate their conscience, putting Catholic health care institutions in jeopardy.

"There are grave consequences," Paprocki said in an interview. "If Catholic hospitals were required by federal law to perform abortions, we'd have to close our hospitals."

"I don't think I'm being alarmist," Paprocki told the bishops.

George agreed that losing federal funds would put Catholic health care facilities, which make up a third of the nation's hospitals, out of business. Closing Catholic hospitals would put many patients seeking charitable care from those facilities at risk, he added.

In crafting the statement to Obama, the bishops urged the cardinal to indicate a desire to work with the administration in areas of economic justice, immigration reform, health care for the poor and religious freedom. But they stressed the church's "intent on opposing evil" and "defense of the unborn child."

They vowed to oppose any law or executive order that might loosen restrictions on abortion.

They emphasized that efforts to advance abortion rights would "permanently alienate tens of millions of Americans and would be interpreted by many Catholics as an attack on the Church." They also urged Catholics in public life to be committed to the teachings of the church.

Bishop Joseph Martino of Scranton, Pa., vice president-elect Joe Biden's home town, called on his brother bishops to be more punitive against Catholic officials who are "stridently anti-life."

"I cannot have the vice president coming to Scranton and saying he learned his values there when those values are utterly against those of the Catholic Church," Martino said.

Sister Jamie Phelps, a theologian at Xavier University in Louisiana, also served on Obama's National Catholic Advisory Board. She applauds the bishops for issuing the statement. But she said the Faithful Citizenship document made it clear that while the rights of an unborn child are a priority voters should consider a whole range of issues regarding the preservation and quality of life.

"That child has no voice if it's not the voice of the bishops and the voice of Catholics," she said. "But you can not pick and choose an intrinsic evil."

George said the Faithful Citizenship document remains the guiding principle for Catholic voters. But he said future versions should be tweaked so portions are not "misused and misinterpreted." He said Catholics seemed to overlook the "whole question of proportionate reason."

George has attributed Obama's victory to the economy, insisting that it was not a referendum on moral issues such as abortion rights.

The bishops also approved a blessing on Tuesday devoted to a child in the womb, intended to support parents, unite parishes and foster respect for human life within society.

"Obviously it's a very tangible way for us to witness pastorally and sacramentally to the life of an unborn child," said Archbishop Joseph Kurtz of Louisville. "It's very consistent with the priorities we've raised."
rosborne979
 
  1  
Reply Wed 12 Nov, 2008 09:06 pm
@wandeljw,
The Article wrote:
"This is not a matter of political compromise or a matter of finding some way of common ground," said Bishop Daniel Conlon of Steubenville, Ohio. "It's a matter of absolutes."

... thunders the voice from the pulpit. 'You WILL do what we say, OR ELSE... we'll stamp our feet and gather for a prayer'
wandeljw
 
  1  
Reply Thu 13 Nov, 2008 05:09 am
@rosborne979,
Joe Biden is Roman Catholic. His Bishop suggests that being part of the Obama administration seriously conflicts with Biden's religious affiliation.
Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Thu 13 Nov, 2008 06:52 am
@wandeljw,
Well, it does seriously conflict with his religious affiliation. What else should the bishop suggest?
rosborne979
 
  1  
Reply Thu 13 Nov, 2008 07:43 am
@wandeljw,
"If thine religion offend thee, pluck it out."

Religion should serve the person, not the other way around.


0 Replies
 
wandeljw
 
  1  
Reply Thu 13 Nov, 2008 08:54 am
@Thomas,
Thomas wrote:
Well, it does seriously conflict with his religious affiliation. What else should the bishop suggest?


Rosborne pointed out earlier that the bishops are thinking in "absolutes". I believe Biden follows the view that abortion is a complex ethical issue and should not be reduced to absolutes.

Roman Catholic Bishops should also recognize that many ethical issues are indeed complex.
wandeljw
 
  1  
Reply Fri 14 Nov, 2008 09:33 am
Quote:
South Carolina priest: No communion for Obama supporters
(By MEG KINNARD, Associated Press, November 14, 2008)

A South Carolina Roman Catholic priest has told his parishioners that they should refrain from receiving Holy Communion if they voted for Barack Obama because the Democratic president-elect supports abortion, and supporting him "constitutes material cooperation with intrinsic evil."

The Rev. Jay Scott Newman said in a letter distributed Sunday to parishioners at St. Mary's Catholic Church in Greenville that they are putting their souls at risk if they take Holy Communion before doing penance for their vote.

"Our nation has chosen for its chief executive the most radical pro-abortion politician ever to serve in the United States Senate or to run for president," Newman wrote, referring to Obama by his full name, including his middle name of Hussein.

"Voting for a pro-abortion politician when a plausible pro-life alternative exists constitutes material cooperation with intrinsic evil, and those Catholics who do so place themselves outside of the full communion of Christ's Church and under the judgment of divine law. Persons in this condition should not receive Holy Communion until and unless they are reconciled to God in the Sacrament of Penance, lest they eat and drink their own condemnation."

During the 2008 presidential campaign, many bishops spoke out on abortion more boldly than four years earlier, telling Catholic politicians and voters that the issue should be the most important consideration in setting policy and deciding which candidate to back. A few church leaders said parishioners risked their immortal soul by voting for candidates who support abortion rights.

But bishops differ on whether Catholic lawmakers " and voters " should refrain from receiving Communion if they diverge from church teaching on abortion. Each bishop sets policy in his own diocese. In their annual fall meeting, the nation's Catholic bishops vowed Tuesday to forcefully confront the Obama administration over its support for abortion rights.

According to national exit polls, 54 percent of Catholics chose Obama, who is Protestant. In South Carolina, which McCain carried, voters in Greenville County " traditionally seen as among the state's most conservative areas " went 61 percent for the Republican, and 37 percent for Obama.

"It was not an attempt to make a partisan point," Newman said in a telephone interview Thursday. "In fact, in this election, for the sake of argument, if the Republican candidate had been pro-abortion, and the Democratic candidate had been pro-life, everything that I wrote would have been exactly the same."

Conservative Catholics criticized Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry in 2004 for supporting abortion rights, with a few Catholic bishops saying Kerry should refrain from receiving Holy Communion because his views were contrary to church teachings.

Sister Mary Ann Walsh, spokeswoman for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, said she had not heard of other churches taking this position in reaction to Obama's win. A Boston-based group that supports Catholic Democrats questioned the move, saying it was too extreme.

"Father Newman is off base," said Steve Krueger, national director of Catholic Democrats. "He is acting beyond the authority of a parish priest to say what he did. ... Unfortunately, he is doing so in a manner that will be of great cost to those parishioners who did vote for Sens. Obama and Biden. There will be a spiritual cost to them for his words."

A man who has attended St. Mary's for 18 years said he welcomed Newman's message and anticipated it would inspire further discussion at the church.

"I don't understand anyone who would call themselves a Christian, let alone a Catholic, and could vote for someone who's a pro-abortion candidate," said Ted Kelly, 64, who volunteers his time as lector for the church. "You're talking about the murder of innocent beings."
0 Replies
 
Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Fri 14 Nov, 2008 08:59 pm
@wandeljw,
Wandeljw wrote:
Roman Catholic Bishops should also recognize that many ethical issues are indeed complex.

That may well be true. But in the end, the Catholic Church is the Bishops' show. If Biden doesn't like the show, he doesn't have to be in it. Again, nobody has to be a Catholic.
rosborne979
 
  1  
Reply Fri 14 Nov, 2008 10:20 pm
@Thomas,
Thomas wrote:
That may well be true. But in the end, the Catholic Church is the Bishops' show. If Biden doesn't like the show, he doesn't have to be in it. Again, nobody has to be a Catholic.

It seems that Biden is in a position where his personal (or professional) beliefs conflict with his religious obligation. And he has chosen to follow his heart (his personal beliefs)

The Bishop is in a position where his religious and personal belief conflicts with the Church's obligation to conform to the law of the land (non-involvement with politics). So as a representative of the Church, his religious beliefs are in conflict with his Professional Obligation. And he has chosen to follow his heart (his personal beliefs and his religion).

Both men seem to place their own personal interpretations above any conflicting obligation.

The Bishop's personal beliefs just happen to be aligned with his religious beliefs, so it appears that he is placing his religion above his professional obligation, but I bet deep down it's more of a personal choice.

Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Sat 15 Nov, 2008 01:17 pm
@rosborne979,
Where does the law of the land say that the Catholic Church can't take a stand on political questions? The Sierra Club takes positions on environmental policies all the time. Where's the difference?
rosborne979
 
  1  
Reply Sat 15 Nov, 2008 04:28 pm
@Thomas,
Quote:
Where does the law of the land say that the Catholic Church can't take a stand on political questions?

I believe that churches are required to avoid undue political influence. Otherwise their tax-exempt status would be at risk.

But I must admit, I don't know the source of that restriction, or it's precise phrasing.

Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Sat 15 Nov, 2008 05:10 pm
@rosborne979,
That's not what I believe. I believe that churches, like all other tax-exempt non-profits, cannot influence elections by specifically endorsing candidates or specifically attacking their opponents. They can, however, take sides on issues, and comment on individual politicians' stand on these issues.

But it doesn't matter what what I believe, so I searched the web for "churches, political, tax-exemptions". (Frankly I think that would have been your job, since you're the one who made confident political statements in the matter.) The first hit was this page on atheism.about.com, which basically confirms my view. (About.com provides context on several other pages. See this one for cases about when it's okay for the IRS to revoke a church's tax exemptions; or see this one for churches who lost their tax exempt status for inappropriate intervention into political campaigns.)

Assuming that About.com describes the law correctly -- and I suppose they do, as their articles on this topic appear consistent and well-researched to me -- the verdict would seem to depend on how the courts interpret the church's behavior. If they interpret it as a campaign to get pro-life candidates elected, the IRS could revoke their tax-exempt status. If they interpret it as a campaign about the issue of abortion, that would be a legitimate form for the church to influence politics.

That leaves the threat of excommunicating pro-life politicians, and of the Catholic Church threatening that it might do so. I'm not a lawyer, but I see little hope for the politicians here. If the Boy Scouts of America have a civil right to expel homosexuals from their ranks, I don't see how the Catholic Church does not have a right to expel members who work against one of its central doctrines.
 

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