Advocacy Update—May 2013: Protecting Access to Abortion and Funding for Science Research
June 3, 2013
Welcome to the Office of Public Policy’s monthly Advocacy Update. The Office of Public Policy (OPP) is the Washington, D.C. political arm of the Center for Inquiry (CFI). Our mandate is to advocate for public policy based on reason, science, and secular values. This includes lobbying at all levels of government — Congress, the Administration, and the United Nations — to promote and defend separation of church and state, the role of scientific evidence and secular ethics in policymaking, and basic civil and human rights.
This newsletter will update you on some of our recent activity.
We hope you enjoy.
- On May 8, CFI joined more than 70 organizations in writing members of Congress to oppose any attempts to add riders to the Fiscal Year 2014 appropriations process that would restrict women’s access to comprehensive reproductive health care, such as abortion. In total, six letters were sent to thirteen federal lawmakers who are directly involved in the appropriations process in both chambers of Congress.
- On May 16, CFI submitted a letter to Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX), calling his draft legislative proposal “both unnecessary and potentially harmful to science research supported by the United States government.” The letter was signed by Lawrence Krauss, Foundation Professor at Arizona State University’s School of Earth and Space Exploration, and an Honorary Board Member at the Center for Inquiry; Ronald A. Lindsay, CFI’s President and CEO; and Michael De Dora, director of CFI’s Office of Public Policy.
- On May 28, CFI released a statement recognizing the death of Alton Lemon, whose objection to government aid to religious schools in Pennsylvania led to the 1971 Supreme Court decision, Lemon v. Kurtzman, in which the court struck down the law and established what became known as the “Lemon test” — a keystone for subsequent decisions that have reinforced the principle of separation between church and state.
- On May 29, CFI issued an action alert in opposition to proposals in Congress to create a nationwide ban on abortions after 20 weeks, and urged membersto contact their U.S. representatives and senators to reject any such measure.
- CFI-Michigan issued an action alert opposing a measure in the statehouse that would broaden the state’s religious conscience protections to allow employers to deny coverage for any type of care they object to, including birth control. If you are a Michigan resident, you can contact your state senator here.
- CFI is organizing groups in Ohio to send a letter Attorney General Mike DeWine sharing collective concern regarding his position on religious exemptions for the birth control rule. If your group is interested in joining this effort, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
- CFI’s representative to the United Nations, Michael De Dora, is preparing for a meeting on June 17 with Dr. Andrew P.W. Bennett, the Ambassador for Canada’s new Office of Religious Freedom.
- We have continued to work with the U.S. Department of State and the U.S Commission on International Religious Freedom on behalf of secularists and skeptics who face life-threatening blasphemy and similar charges in their home countries regarding freedom of belief or expression. We will update you if and when anything happens.