Saturday, June 23, 2018

Hoisted By Her Own Petard

Under the category "things I wish I had tweeted":

Employees of Red Hen restaurant in southwestern Virginia had called owner Stephanie Wilkinson to report that President Trump's press secretary and her party were dining under a reservation made in the name of Sanders' husband. After arriving, Wilkinson polled her employees, some of them gay, then spoke to Mrs. Sanders, who was politely ejected.  Early the next morning, Sarah Sanders broke federal law with

Sarah Sanders earns her pay ardently defending a President who had made over 3,000 "false or misleading claims" as of May 1.  A nasty piece of work, she is a good match for a boss who has made clear his contempt for Democrats, Republicans, ethnic minorities, women, veterans, and gays (and practically everyone else not named "Trump.")

Yet no one should be denied service simply because a business owner or professional, citing conscience, is offended. Unfortunately, the Trump Administration doesn't agree and in January we learned

Health care workers who want to refuse to treat patients because of religious or moral beliefs will have a new defender in the Trump administration.

The top civil rights official at the Department of Health and Human Services is creating the Division of Conscience and Religious Freedom to protect doctors, nurses and other health care workers who refuse to take part in procedures like abortion or treat certain people because of moral or religious objections.

"Never forget that religious freedom is a primary freedom, that it is a civil right that deserves enforcement and respect," said Roger Severino, the director of HHS's Office for Civil Rights, at a ceremony to announce the new division.

The establishment of the division reverses an Obama-era policy that barred health care workers from refusing to treat transgender individuals or people who have had or are seeking abortions.

That Obama rule was challenged in court by the Franciscan Alliance, a Christian health care organization in Texas, and a judge in 2016 blocked enforcement as the case played out in court.

The new division appears to be primarily aimed at preventing health care workers from participating in abortion services that go against their religious beliefs. The division cites a 2011 federal regulation guiding the enforcement of conscience protections that mentions abortion more than 30 times.

There is an obvious term for that: discrimination

What goes around, comes around. When a bakery owner who identified as Christian alleged his religion supports the right to discriminate, Sanders supported him, though without identifying any New or Old Testament verse.  The owners claimed providing service to a gay couple affronted their conscience; so, too, did serving President Trump's press secretary affront the conscience of the employees of Red Hen restaurant. The dangerous "freedom of conscience" door swings both ways.

Mrs. Sanders has been given a perfect opportunity to profess a change of heart or mind, explaining that she now recognizes that a business or a professional is obligated to serve its paying customers, whether a gay couple, a woman seeking an abortion, or an individual dining out on a Friday night.

She will not, of course, because she is Sarah Huckabee Sanders and she works for Donald J. Trump. And therein lays the problem.

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