By Iowans for Life
QUESTION: What is the most important right in America?
ANSWER: Most would quickly point to the First Amendment. It specifies freedom of expression and religion as foundational freedoms. However, freedom of thought, or conscience, is the ultimate foundation upon which other freedoms rely, and it is under grave assault.
The assault on this freedom comes from a seemingly unlikely source: abortion and so-called women’s reproductive rights. More on that in a moment.
Everyone has a right to freedom of thought
The Supreme Court emphasized that freedom of thought is the very essence of all freedom in a 1937 case, Palko vs Connecticut:
“Freedom of thought… is the matrix, the indispensable condition, of nearly every other form of freedom. With rare aberrations a pervasive recognition of this truth can be traced in our history, political and legal.”
Even the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which was signed by the United States, emphasizes this right:
“Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.”
Abortion threatens foundational rights
Pro life advocates have long opposed human abortion as an obvious violation of each person’s “inalienable right to Life, Liberty, and Pursuit of Happiness,” as expressed in the Declaration of Independence.
In their zeal to protect court-imposed abortion rights, abortion advocates have set their sights on freedom of thought. Freedom of thought represents the greatest threat to the long term “health” of Big Abortion, upon which billions of dollars in profits hang in the balance.
Reproductive FACT Act
The most recent assault on freedom of thought comes in the guise of a piece of California legislation called the ‘Reproductive FACT Act.’ The bill compels pro life crisis pregnancy centers to violate their freedom of conscience by posting signage advertising where their clients can obtain “taxpayer-subsidized abortions.” Here is the wording they must display by law:
“California has public programs that provide immediate free or low-cost access to comprehensive family planning services (including all FDA-approved methods of contraception), prenatal care, and abortion for eligible women. To determine whether you qualify, contact the county social services office at [phone number].”
Imagine a law that compels a Ford dealership to promote the Honda dealership down the road who carries taxpayer-subsidized electric cars.
Pro life pregnancy centers face a fine of between $500 and $1000 PER violation if they refuse to comply by promoting human abortion.
Free advertising for the abortion industry
The Alliance Defending Freedom is representing the pro life clinics. The Supreme Court has agreed to hear the case. Their attorney, Kevin Theriot, said:
“It’s unthinkable for the government to force anyone to provide free advertising for the abortion industry. This is especially true of pregnancy care centers, which exist to care for women who want to have their babies. The state shouldn’t have the power to punish anyone for being pro-life. Instead, it should protect freedom of speech and freedom from coerced speech.”
New York and Maryland passed similar legislation, although circuit courts struck them down. The liberal 9th circuit court upheld the California law. Freedom of thought hangs in the balance depending upon the Supreme Court’s decision.
Freedom of thought is threatened in other ways
In a seemingly unrelated case, the Supreme Court just heard a case that will also affect freedom of thought.
The case is called Janus v. American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees. The issue is whether labor unions representing public employees can compel you to pay union dues, whether you want them to represent you or not.
One of the problems with forced union dues is it requires you to fund political causes with which you may not agree, such as abortion. Labor unions consistently donate money to politicians who oppose any regulation on the human abortion industry.
Thomas Jefferson believed that “to compel a man to furnish contributions … for the propagation of opinions which he disbelieves … is sinful and tyrannical.”
The Court heard the case a few weeks ago. Look for a decision in June.
The HHS Mandate violated freedom of thought
President Obama’s 2012 HHS Mandate launched the recent assault on freedom of thought. Following the passage of the Affordable Healthcare Act (Obamacare), the president instructed the Department of Health and Human Services to mandate that insurance plans include contraception and abortifacients.
Obamacare would never have passed had this mandate been included in the original piece of legislation. It compelled groups like Little Sisters of the Poor to violate their conscience. It required that they provide services that they believed were mortal sins, and pointedly did not exempt Catholic charities, schools, universities, or hospitals.
Although the Trump administration carved out broad exemptions to undo these violations of our freedom of thought, the rules are still in place. With the stroke of a pen, the next pro abortion president can quickly undo these exemptions.
The carnage of Roe v Wade is incalculable. Four decades later, we’re seeing that the very lifeblood of the American experience, freedom of thought, hangs in the balance due to abortion.