Religious beliefs belong in the heart, not in the legal system

To the Editor:
I found it difficult to understand the premise of an April 25 opinion on Local Law D and how it violated free speech [“A direct hit on the First Amendment,” The Altamont Enterprise, letter to the editor].

Was it because a “Crisis Pregnancy Center” can’t imply medical help if it has none, or no medical affiliation, or no medically trained staff on the premises? 

My non-legal reading of Local Law D basically requires a CPC to post a sign saying that it has no medical affiliation and no medical staff in house. A fact that a potential client should know.  

It is a sign — no more, no less.

So what is a CPC providing? What if a pregnant woman goes to a CPC with a dangerous, or deadly condition and it is missed? What is their liability for the latter? Does the CPC have a religious affiliation that limits the information and services provided?  

The more I wrote this opinion, I inevitably found myself thinking that the April 25 letter has something to do with the pro-life - abortion debate.

And, believe me when I say this, there is absolutely nothing wrong with being pro-life, or pro-abortion.  That is a personal choice every woman should be allowed to make.

However, religion and religious convictions should never be inserted into the equation. Religious convictions are exactly that — religious convictions.  The last time I checked there were over 2,000 Christian religions, and God knows how many non-Christian religions. Religious beliefs belong in the heart, not in the legal system.

Believe whatever you want to believe. That is your right. But no one should force their belief system on everyone else.

The “Establishment Clause” of the First Amendment recognized the separation of church and state.  Thomas Jefferson referred to the clause as “a wall of separation” between the two entities. It prevents any religion from forcing its beliefs on everyone else.

A final thought: If a midwife is required to be trained and registered in New York state, and have a medical affiliation, regulating Crisis Pregnancy Centers would seem to be a good thing.

Bill Goergen


Editor’s note: See related story.

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