Tabitha’s Story and “Simon’s Law” in Idaho

Tabitha 16 months
Tabitha Grace

I have good news for you: Simon’s Law (now House Bill 578) was passed by the Idaho House of Representatives last week with a 63 to 5 vote.

Idaho law currently allows doctors to withdraw life-sustaining treatment, including nutrition and hydration, from a minor child without notifying or obtaining consent from parents.

Simon’s Law would close this loophole, ensuring that parents’ rights are protected during these critical times. No parent should have to worry that decisions about their child’s healthcare could be taken out of their hands.

Through working on this legislation, I have gotten to know Sandi Enzminger of Eagle, Idaho. She has showed up to every committee hearing, bringing her delightful family in tow. Her youngest daughter, Tabitha Grace, is always the star of the show—and for good reason.

Little Tabitha was born October 28, 2018. Shortly thereafter, her parents received a postnatal Trisomy 18 diagnosis.

Tabitha in Senate Gallery
Tabitha and her brother sitting in the House Gallery watching debate on Simon’s Law

They were stunned to hear the doctor explain that Tabitha, despite being stable, wouldn’t live a month. The potential benefits of the heart surgery she needed weren’t worth the risks, the doctor said. Adam and Sandi were told to take Tabitha home on comfort care and allow the disability and its associated health difficulties take their course.

Thankfully, Adam and Sandi fought for their daughter. They were able to take her to a hospital in Omaha, Nebraska, for heart surgery she couldn’t live without. Now Tabitha is a healthy and developing sixteen-month-old.

Here is what Sandi says about the importance of Simon’s Law to her family:

Shortly after Tabitha was born, we were informed that she likely had Trisomy 18. We understood then that her disabilities would be so severe that it was advisable to “let her die” of “natural” causes. Then, when we pursued heart repair surgery, we were told it was futile and would have little to no effect on the length or quality of her life.

Today, her heart and lungs are functioning normally without assistance. Her hearing is enhanced by hearing-aids, and she has the energy to progress in developmental milestones.

Although this journey has not been easy, time with Tabitha has been worth it. We strongly support Simon’s Law because we felt coerced into making life-ending decisions. We believe that it is only a matter of time before medical discrimination leads to secret “DNRs” for minor children here in Idaho.

When I asked Sandi why she fought so hard for her daughter, she responded, “We value life, and we trusted God to be bigger than any diagnosis.” Needless to say, it has been a blessing to have Sandi, Tabitha, and their family join us for committee hearings in support of Simon’s Law.

Parents should hold the ultimate medical decision-making authority for their children. Before a doctor begins withdrawing life-sustaining treatment, parents should be notified and given the opportunity to transfer their child to another medical provider, just like Sandi Enzminger was able to do for Tabitha.


This post was originally written for Family Policy Alliance of Idaho.


 

“Simon’s Law” in Idaho Will Protect Children and Parents’ Rights

SimonsLawSimon Dominic Crosier was born almost ten years ago. Although he lived only a short three months, his story is inspiring lawmakers around the country to pass legislation protecting the rights of parents to make medical decisions for their children—and Idaho may be the next state to pass one of these “Simon’s Laws” named in his honor.

It wasn’t long after Simon’s birth and postnatal Trisomy 18 diagnosis that his parents, Scott and Sheryl Crosier, began noticing that their son wasn’t receiving the same medical care as other children without the chromosomal disorder were getting. Simon had been born with a heart defect (which is common among Trisomy 18 children) and would need constant care from his hospital medical team until he became strong enough to undergo heart surgery.

Like most newborns, Simon loved snuggling into his parents’ chests. He would get especially excited when his older brothers came to visit him in the hospital or when music was played for him.

Yet when the dreaded day came that his oxygen levels began dropping, Scott and Sheryl were surprised the doctors and nurses didn’t do more to save their child. It was only after his death that it became clear the doctors had placed a do not resuscitate order in his file and had been withholding nutrition from him, all without notifying his parents.

After hearing Simon’s story, Rep. John Vander Woude (R-Nampa) introduced House Bill 519, legislation meant to make sure what happened to the Crosier family will never happen to a family in the Gem State.

The Idaho Simon’s Law would protect parental rights during critical times when parents need to be focused on their child—not worrying about whether their child’s healthcare could be taken out of their hands. This would be accomplished through:

  • Requiring parental notification before a doctor implements do not resuscitate orders or withholds life-sustaining treatment, nutrition, or hydration;
  • Granting parents a 48-hour period to decide whether they want to transfer care for their child to another facility or provider;
  • Allowing the family 15 days to make that transfer, during which time the “DNR” order cannot be placed in the child’s file and other treatment cannot be withdrawn.

We believe that children are intimately known and lovingly protected by their parents. It is well-established in Idaho law that parents have the fundamental right to direct the care, upbringing, and education of their children—and Simon’s Law would build on that foundation.


This post was originally written for Family Policy Alliance of Idaho.


 

“Freedom of Worship” Isn’t True Religious Freedom

I recently attended the Interfaith & LGBT Summit on Religious Liberty and Public Accommodations. Although the event was hosted by private law and advocacy groups including the Idaho State Bar, it was held at the state capitol building.

During one of the event sessions, a liberal panelist kept referencing our supposed “freedom of worship.” She argued that while every person has the right to believe whatever they want and teach those doctrines in church, they do not have the right to act on those beliefs in the public square.

The term “freedom of worship” was popularized by the Obama administration. Although “freedom of worship” and “religious freedom” sound similar, they are not interchangeable. And much too often, those trumpeting the former are trying to undermine the latter.

Genuine religious freedom includes the right to practice your faith without undue government interference. In other words, you have the right to live and work according to your sincerely held religious beliefs.

This right is guaranteed in the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution (“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof”) and in Article 1, Section 4 of the Idaho State Constitution (“The exercise and enjoyment of religious faith and worship shall forever be guaranteed”).

Freedom of worship, on the other hand, is a far more limited protection. It merely protects an individual’s right to worship within the four walls of the church as he or she sees fit. This truncated view permits you to believe what you want, so long as it doesn’t motivate your actions or rollover into your everyday life from Monday to Saturday.

Thankfully, recent survey data provide promising evidence that the American people still remain squarely on the side of religious liberty. The Beckett Fund for Religious Liberty recently published their findings that 73 percent of Americans support the right of businessmen to operate their businesses according to their religious beliefs. Additionally, 76 percent believe people or groups should not be forced to participate in actions or work that violates their religious beliefs and conscience.

Sadly, the opponents of religious freedom aren’t dissuaded by the broad support for this inalienable right among the American people. Nearly all the proposals offered at the Interfaith & LGBT Summit on Religious Liberty and Public Accommodations­ infringe religious freedom. Whether it’s “Add the Words” in Idaho or “Fairness for All” in the U.S. Congress, these pieces of legislation (which Family Policy Alliance of Idaho® opposes) endanger our constitutionally protected right to live, work, and raise our families according to the dictates of our faith.

That’s why the work done by Family Policy Alliance of Idaho is so important. We are working to build a state and a nation where religious freedom thrives. Will you join us?


This post was originally written for Family Policy Alliance of Idaho.


 

Abortion Pill Reversal Saves Lives—And Women Have A Right To Know About It

CaptureAndrea was scared—just like many other young women in her position.

The third-year nursing student and college cheerleader had found out just days before that she was unexpectedly pregnant, and now, in the abortion clinic with her boyfriend, she was facing pressure from doctors and nurses. They were telling her that she was “doing the right thing” by getting an abortion. After all, as the doctor said, “It’s not the right time” to have this baby—and her boyfriend agreed.

Andrea knew she had reservations about what she was doing. In the days leading up to her trip to the abortion clinic, her mom had been begging her to reconsider her decision. This morning, Andrea had barely been able to keep back her tears in the waiting room while waiting for the clinic nurse to call her name.

When the doctor handed her the first of two abortion pills—an increasingly common method of abortion, called chemical abortion, performed during the first trimester of pregnancy—Andrea says she “froze.” The doctor, seeing her hesitation, said abruptly, “Now hurry up and take that pill before it melts in your hand, it’s very expensive.”

Suppressing that screaming inner voice telling her not to do it, Andrea swallowed the pill, then, wishing she hadn’t, tried to throw it up. The doctor reminded her to take the second abortion pill 24 hours later.

When she left the clinic, Andrea says she ran “straight for the car where I fell to the ground crying and screaming for God to forgive me.” She knew she had to “fix” her “mistake,” so she called her mom, who took her to hospitals and doctors, hoping someone could offer a way to reverse the chemical abortion already in progress. Their search turned up empty, so Andrea, devastated, called her aunt to pray that God would save her baby despite her bad decision, and then went to bed.

When Andrea awoke the next morning, she stumbled upon an article about a doctor who had successfully reversed a chemical abortion. She immediately called a phone number, operated by Abortion Pill Rescue, a coalition of prolife OBGYNs who offer what is called “abortion pill reversal.” The compassionate voice that answered the phone put Andrea in touch with a local doctor, who told her to rush to the doctor’s office.

The doctor confirmed the baby’s heartbeat and immediately began the reversal procedure, which involves progesterone injections that can reverse the chemical abortion, stabilizing the pregnancy and allowing for a healthy baby.

Just like Andrea, many women enter abortion clinics unsure about the decision they’re making. These women immediately regret taking the first dosage of medication to end their pregnancy, yet they often don’t know where to turn or what options they have available to reverse what could be the worst decision of their lives.

Knowing this, North Dakota Rep. Daniel Johnston and other state legislators, with the help of Family Policy Alliance of North Dakota®, led a successful effort earlier this year to enact a state law requiring that women who receive chemical abortions be informed that it may be possible to reverse the effects of the medicine if they change their minds.

Unfortunately, pro-abortion activists are suing the state to overturn the North Dakota informed consent provision that empowers women like Andrea with the knowledge to make an informed decision about their chemical abortion. To make matters worse, a judge recently blocked the enforcement of the law.

As the director of advocacy for Family Policy Alliance of Idaho®, I’ve seen something comparable to what is taking place in North Dakota also play out in my state.

The Idaho legislature, with the help of Family Policy Alliance of Idaho and other pro-life organizations, passed a similar informed consent bill in 2018 that also faced legal challenges in the courts. Our informed consent law survived the court challenges, an outcome that should give hope to our friends in the Peace Garden State.

Informed consent for chemical abortion is supported by the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists, which boasts a membership of over 2,500 medical professionals.

And these laws seem to be effective. Although it’s a relatively new medical practice, abortion pill reversal protocol has saved the lives of 750 babies so far, according to Heartbeat International. Sadly, too many mothers living in states without these informed consent laws don’t find out there’s a way to reverse their chemical abortion until it’s too late.

Remember Andrea, the cheerleader and nursing student? She gave birth to Gabriel, a perfectly healthy, beautiful baby boy. “I thank God and I thank my doctor, an angel sent from above to save precious little lives, and to save the lives of mothers, because without her, I don’t know where I would be today,” Andrea also wrote in an online testimony. Family Policy Alliance® talked to her in this video after Gabriel was born.

Please keep praying that the North Dakota informed consent provision survives its legal challenges in the courts. Laws like these are medically sound and legally defensible, furthering a compelling state interest to ensure women are adequately informed before undergoing medical procedures. But perhaps most importantly, these laws really do save lives—and save mothers from a lifetime of regret.


This article was written for Family Policy Alliance.


 

Four Reasons Christians Must Defend Religious Liberty

Bill-of-Rights3By April 1777, John Adams—then a delegate in the Continental Congress—felt a sense of growing despair. Facing the realization that American success in the War for Independence was anything but certain, he grew concerned that his countrymen were losing their resolve to fight in the face of consecutive military defeats and that they were growing wearisome of the sacrifices necessary to secure independence and liberty for all.

Distressed but still clinging to the hope that God would come to the aid of his fledgling nation, the future president wrote a letter to his wife Abigail, in which he made this startling declaration:

“Posterity! You will never know, how much it cost the present generation, to preserve your freedom! I hope you will make a good use of it. If you do not, I shall repent in Heaven, that I ever took half the pains to preserve it.”

Perhaps the most treasured of these freedoms is religious liberty. Called the “first freedom” because of its place as the first inalienable right protected by the First Amendment of the Bill of Rights, religious freedom is also protected by the Idaho Constitution, which forcefully affirms:

“The exercise and enjoyment of religious faith and worship shall forever be guaranteed; and no person shall be denied any civil or political right, privilege, or capacity on account of his religious opinions.”

Despite its legally protected status under our federal and state constitutions, religious liberty is under attack today.

Here are four reasons Christians should be concerned about preserving religious freedom:

  1. Our ability to openly preach the Gospel is at stake: As historian Bill Federer astutely puts it, “Our most important job is to preach the Gospel. Our second most important job is to defend our right to preach the Gospel.”
  2. Religious freedom is biblical: The Bible tells us that we are accountable to God for our religious beliefs and the actions that flow from those beliefs. Romans 14:4 says, “Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To their own master, servants stand or fall.” The Bible makes clear that civil government should neither infringe on our duties to God (Acts 5:17-42) nor coerce someone to believe or act contrary to their conscience (Daniel 1, 3, 6).
  3. Our right to live, and raise our children, according to the dictates of our faith is in jeopardy. And not only living out our faith just at home or church, but at work and in school and in public, too.
  4. Love for neighbor: We should work to ensure religious freedom is preserved not only for ourselves, but for our neighbors as well, whatever their faith may be.

Our founding fathers warned that a government willing to infringe religious liberty will soon begin violating other dearly held rights. James Madison, the ‘Father of the Constitution’ and our fourth president, rightly cautioned:

“There is not a truth to be gathered from history more certain than or more momentous than this: that civil liberty cannot long be separated from religious liberty without danger, and ultimately without destruction to both.”

The founding generation sacrificed much to secure our freedoms, as have generations of soldiers, statesmen, and citizens since. Christians today must take seriously their duty to preserve religious liberty for their neighbors and children, and for future generations.

For their sake and ours, let us recommit ourselves to this righteous cause, protecting our freedom to share the Gospel and our right to live, work, and raise our families according to the precepts of God’s Word.


This article was written for Family Policy Alliance of Idaho.


 

Idaho Lottery Celebrates Its 30th Anniversary. Should We Be Celebrating, Too?

LotteryCheckPicWith much fanfare, the Idaho Lottery observed its 30th anniversary last month, but is the occasion really worth celebrating?

Proponents of the Idaho Lottery trumpet the dividends it pays to Idaho K-12 public schools, which totaled $18.6 million in 2018. Yet that accounts for only 1.1 percent of the total state spending for K-12 public schools for the same year. Not exactly the windfall gain for public schools that supporters of the lottery make it out to be.

In truth, the Idaho Lottery creates victims and drains our economy. Gambling is accompanied by a host of social problems often exceeding any alleged benefits.

Most lottery tickets are purchased by the poorest Idahoans who can least afford it. A study conducted by Duke University researchers found that households making less than $25,000 annually spend more than double as much on lottery tickets as households with an annual income of more than $100,000. Researchers have also “found that the poorest third of households bought more than half of all weekly lottery tickets sold.”

Low-income lottery participants often redirect their spending from essential items (housing, food, education, and transportation) to purchasing lottery tickets. Despite the near impossible odds of winning it big, many of them see gaming as a ticket out of their financial difficulties, and the consequences of their gambling place an inordinate strain on their marriages and children.

While the state lottery brings in a negligible amount of funding for public schools and other government programs, it functions as a regressive tax on the poorest people in our state and discourages economically productive and socially beneficial behavior. As with most government schemes to wrest more dollars from the public, the problems caused by the lottery far outweigh any overstated benefits.

Through its lottery, the State of Idaho encourages poor financial decisions and behaviors that negatively affect families and communities. Certainly we shouldn’t be celebrating that.


This article was originally written for Family Policy Alliance of Idaho.


 

How Well Do You Know the Idaho Constitution?

IdahoFlag“We, the people of the State of Idaho, grateful to Almighty God for our freedom, to secure its blessings and promote our common welfare do establish this Constitution.”

Like many of you, I cherish our federal constitution. Remarkably, not only has it produced the most free and prosperous society in human history, but it has outlived every other constitution adopted by other nations. During the 230 years our constitution has been in effect, France has had 15 constitutions, Brazil has had seven, and South Korea has had four. There should be no doubt that the U.S. Constitution is indeed “exceptional.”

Much of the reason for its success can be found in the “self-evident truths” that informed those wise men who framed our founding documents. These first principles, deeply rooted in divine truth as revealed through God’s Word and right reason, provided our founding fathers with a framework that would enable them to create the most just and enduring government the world has ever seen.

Calvin Coolidge, our 30th president, recognized Christianity as the source of these first principles. He said, “The authority of law, the right to equality, liberty, and property under American institutions, have for their foundation reverence for God.”

But did you know these same transcendent truths also served as the foundation for the Constitution of the State of Idaho, which was ratified by the people in 1889?

The opening line of the Idaho Constitution begins with the unashamed declaration that the people of Idaho are “grateful to Almighty God for our freedom.” From the very beginning, Idahoans and their state government recognized God’s providential role as the Author of our freedom. They joyfully gave thanks for the ways He has blessed the people of this state with the ability to enjoy their inalienable rights. How great is that?

For what purpose was constitutional state government instituted in Idaho? The Preamble answers that question: the people of Idaho have framed a constitution that will empower them to “secure [the] blessings” of our freedom and “promote our common welfare.”

Additionally, the framers of the Idaho Constitution recognized the equality of all people and sought to ensure that inalienable rights would be recognized and protected. “All men are by nature free and equal, and have certain inalienable rights, among which are enjoying and defending life and liberty; acquiring, possessing and protecting property; pursuing happiness and securing safety.”

One of the most fundamental of these inalienable rights is religious freedom. Idahoans are constitutionally guaranteed religious liberty: “The exercise and enjoyment of religious faith and worship shall forever be guaranteed; and no person shall be denied any civil or political right, privilege, or capacity on account of his religious opinions.”

If our state government stays true to the eternal truths exemplified in the Idaho Constitution, we will remain a happy and prosperous people. Idaho families will flourish, and our children will enjoy the blessings of freedom.


This article was originally written for Family Policy Alliance of Idaho.