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Mo anti-abortion group appeals to Obama to change mind

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, April 6, 2009 - Timing can be everything.

On the heels of a like-minded court decision in Illinois, the Missouri Roundtable For Life is asking President Barack Obama "to withdraw his planned reversal of the 'Provider Refusal Rule.'

As the group explains, the rule allows health-care professionals to "refuse to perform abortions and other procedures and services in which they have moral or ethical objections."

Roundtable Board chairman Fred N. Sauer has sent a letter to Charles Johnson, acting secretary of U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, in which Sauer urges Obama to change him mind.

Obama has said he plans to reverse an order issued in late 2008 by President George W. Bush, in which Bush ordered that health-care professionals and hospitals have the right to refuse to perform procedures with which they had objections. Obama and like-minded groups object. They say such an order could allow health-care professionals to refuse to provide any type of medical procedure or service, not just the chief issue in question -- filling prescriptions for birth control opr the so-called "morning-after pill." 

“Missouri Roundtable For Life strongly urges President Obama to withdraw his planned reversal of a reasonable and fair regulation, which protects the constitutional rights of our hard-working doctors, nurses and other health-care professionals,” said Todd Jones, the Roundtable's executive director. “Replacing the individual’s right of conscience with that of government bureaucrats is unacceptable in a country founded on freedom of religion and thought."

The group's request to Obama comes as judge in central Illinois has, according to the Associated Press, "ruled that the state can't force two pharmacists with religious objections to abortion to dispense emergency contraception."

As the AP story explains:

Sangamon County Circuit Judge John Belz issued a temporary restraining order Friday until

he can hear arguments against the rule from druggists who object on religious grounds.

The pill reduces the chance of pregnancy if taken within 72 hours of sex. The pharmacists

believe it's tantamount to abortion.

Belz is the same judge who sided with the state in 2005 by dismissing the lawsuit filed by two pharmacists. Roundtable president Ed Martin notes that he was the lawyer for the pharmacists.

Jo Mannies has been covering Missouri politics and government for almost four decades, much of that time as a reporter and columnist at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. She was the first woman to cover St. Louis City Hall, was the newspaper’s second woman sportswriter in its history, and spent four years in the Post-Dispatch Washington Bureau. She joined the St. Louis Beacon in 2009. She has won several local, regional and national awards, and has covered every president since Jimmy Carter. She scared fellow first-graders in the late 1950s when she showed them how close Alaska was to Russia and met Richard M. Nixon when she was in high school. She graduated from Valparaiso University in northwest Indiana, and was the daughter of a high school basketball coach. She is married and has two grown children, both lawyers. She’s a history and movie buff, cultivates a massive flower garden, and bakes banana bread regularly for her colleagues.

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