SUPREME COURT RULING IMPERILS ABORTION LAWS IN MANY STATES
Many anti-abortion leaders were openly disappointed, bracing for the demise of restrictions that they had worked vigorously to enact over the past few years.
The Supreme Court has decided “the abortion industry will continue to reign unchecked as mothers are subjected to subpar conditions,” said Heather Weininger, executive director of Wisconsin Right to Life.
On the other side of the debate, Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards hailed the ruling as “an enormous victory for women,” and joined her abortion-rights allies in vowing to quickly seek gains beyond Texas.
“Far too many women still face insurmountable barriers, which is why we are taking this fight state by state,” she said. “It’s time to pass state laws to protect a woman’s constitutional right to abortion, and repeal ones that block it.”
The Texas rules struck down Monday by the Supreme Court required doctors who perform abortions to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals and forced clinics to meet hospital-like standards for outpatient surgery. Supporters of the Texas law, and similar laws enacted in other states, said both provisions were necessary to ensure safe, high-quality care for women. Opponents of the laws said abortion already is a very safe procedure, and contended the real motive of the laws was to reduce women’s access to abortion.
According to the Center for Reproductive Rights, which led the legal challenge, similar admitting-privilege requirements are in effect in Missouri, North Dakota and Tennessee, and are on hold in Alabama, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma and Wisconsin. The hospital-like outpatient surgery standards are in place in Michigan, Missouri, Pennsylvania and Virginia, and are on hold in Tennessee, according to the center.
Monday’s ruling is likely to remove an ongoing threat to the only abortion clinic still operating in Mississippi. A Texas-style law there would have shut down the Jackson Women’s Health Organization clinic, but enforcement of that law had been blocked pending resolution of the Texas case.
The sponsor of the Mississippi law, state Rep, Sam Mims, said he now expects that the law is doomed. It requires doctors who perform abortions to be able to admit patients to a hospital within 30 miles of their clinics; providers at the Jackson clinic had been unable to obtain such privileges.
“It’s very disappointing that … it seems like these five justices are more concerned about access to abortion than health care to the women,” Mims said in a phone interview.
In Alabama, Attorney General Luther Strange said his office is ending the legal fight over its law requiring abortion doctors to have hospital-admitting privileges. The state had been appealing a judge’s 2014 decision finding Alabama’s law unconstitutional.
If the admitting privilege requirement was enforced, as many as four of the state’s five abortion clinics could close.
The legislative director of Louisiana Right to Life, Deanna Wallace, said the Supreme Court decision doesn’t automatically invalidate Louisiana’s Texas-style law, but it “does not predict a favorable forecast for its future.”
In several states, including Oklahoma, Kansas, Michigan and Missouri, state officials said they were reviewing the status of their abortion restrictions in light of the high court ruling
In Pennsylvania, a Democratic state senator, Daylin Leach, said he would introduce legislation seeking to repeal a 2011 law that tightened requirements at abortion clinics. The law requires such clinics to comply with the same safety standards as outpatient surgery centers, including requirements for wider hallways and doorways, bigger operating rooms, and full-time nurses.
The law was signed by then-Gov. Tom Corbett, a Republican, in the aftermath of a Philadelphia criminal case in which an abortion provider, Dr. Kermit Gosnell, was convicted of killing newborn babies during illegal, late-term abortion procedures performed in filthy surroundings.
An abortion-rights lawyer, Sue Frietsche, said the law inflicted heavy financial burdens on abortion clinics throughout Pennsylvania and contributed to the closure of several of them.
Looking ahead, a key question for both sides in the abortion debate is to what extent Monday’s ruling will affect other types of abortion restrictions, beyond the two provisions at stake in the Texas law.
For example, more than a dozen states have passed laws banning most abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, on the disputed premise that a fetus can feel pain at that stage. Several states have recently banned dilation-and-extraction, a common second-trimester abortion technique which opponents have depicted as “dismemberment abortion.” Some states now require a 72-hour waiting period before a woman can have an abortion.
Nancy Northup, CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights, said her legal team will be reviewing these and other laws to determine if they are now vulnerable in the aftermath of Monday’s high court ruling.
In the ruling, Justice Stephen Breyer wrote that the Texas requirements provided few, if any, health benefits for women, while placing “an undue burden” on their constitutional right to seek an abortion.
The question ahead, Northup said, is whether other types of state restrictions also pose such a burden.
“It’s going to be interesting to see if responsible lawmakers realize they need to start upholding women’s rights or continue with this game of Whack-a-Mole that’s been going on,” said Northup, referring to states that launched new anti-abortion legislation even as earlier measures were blocked by litigation. (Contributor: By David Crary for Associated Press)
The blistering dissents by Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito (with Chief Justice John Roberts signing off on Alito’s opinion) tell the story of this 5-3 decision. Has God allowed this travesty in both logic and law to spotlight the need for a president who will nominate justices with sensitivity to the law and not ideology? How many more lives (women and babies) will be lost? Please pray!
"I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live" (Deuteronomy 30:19)
RYAN ROLLS OUT SWEEPING TAX CUT PROPOSALS AS PART OF ELECTION-YEAR AGENDA
The tax proposal is the sixth and final element of a policy agenda rolled out in recent weeks by House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) in an effort to help House Republicans establish a policy platform independent of their presumptive presidential nominee, Donald Trump.
The platform includes planks on healthcare, national security, regulatory reform and reducing poverty.
“With this plan, everyone in our country—the anxious and the eager, the Old America and the New America—can unite and build a confident America,” Ryan said of the House GOP agenda Friday morning.
The tax plan would slash rates across the board — by 20 percent for businesses and 33 percent for individuals, simplify the tax filing process and restructure the international tax code.
The plan embraces long-standing Republican principles like cutting rates and eliminating deductions while embracing a business consumption tax that is increasingly popular in conservative think-tank circles.
Though the GOP proposal leaves out details — such as which specific deductions would be eliminated and how much the plan would cost — it offers a fuller alternative to the deep rate cuts pitched by presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump.
“The blueprint is the beginning of our conversation with the American people, and we look forward to hearing their ideas,” said House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-Tex.). “This is not our tax code — this is the American people’s tax code, and we need their input.”
Ryan, the former chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, vowed to continue vetting options for overhauling the tax code when he became speaker last year.
The proposal shares some themes with ideas released by Trump, but the presumptive GOP nominee has proposed much steeper rate reductions. Trump has said he would cut the top individual rate to 25 percent and the top corporate rate to 15 percent while also eliminating the estate tax. He has said he would offset the cost of the tax cuts by eliminating most deductions for individuals and businesses.
That plan has been criticized by economists on both the left and the right. In December, the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center estimated that Trump’s plan could cost the federal government as much as $9.5 trillion over 10 years.
The release of the tax plan Friday caps a three-week string of agenda-related events. The propals does not include enough detail about the proposed cuts and changes to deductions to contain an official estimate from congressional scorekeepers of how it would impact the federal deficit.
The plan assumes that a GOP-led tax regime would eliminate all Obamacare taxes, which are expected to bring in around $600 billion over a decade. It also assumes that a package of expiring tax breaks and benefits would be made permanent.
Tax reform is a perennial topic for Republicans who argue that high tax rates, a complicated filing system and antiquated business rules are creating a drag on the economy.
But reform talks have stalled in recent years as negotiators get hung up over which deductions and credits to eliminate in order to make up for revenue lost from cutting rates. That’s because many of the big-ticket tax benefits — like the state and local sales-tax deductions and the research and development Tax credit — also have major constituencies that lawmakers don’t want to offend.
The GOP plan avoids taking a stand on those critical issues, leaving those decisions to later negotiations.
One of the more controversial elements of the plan will be to tax small businesses at a top rate of 25 percent. Small-business groups have long argued that they should be taxed at the same rate as corporations.
Republicans chose the 25 percent rate because they believe other savings in the tax code would make up for the difference and help businesses remain competitive, according to a senior GOP aide.
Democrats generally agree that the tax system is broken, but the two sides have been deadlocked for years over how far rates should be cut and how much revenue the government should receive from income tax, among other critical issues.
The individual side of the GOP plan includes a variety of proposals:
- Cut the top individual tax rate from 39.6 to 33 percent. The plan would also streamline the number of tax brackets from seven to three — 12, 15 and 33 percent.
- Replace itemized deductions with a higher standard deduction. The plan would cut most individual tax breaks and benefits except the earned income tax credit and deductions for mortgage interest, charitable giving and education expenses. Republicans would instead increase the standard deduction to $12,000 from $6,300 for single individuals and to $18,000 for single individuals with a child. Married couples filing jointly would see their deduction increase to $24,000 from $12,600.
- Postcard-sized tax returns. The plan pledges to allow most individuals to file their taxes on a form the size of a postcard, an idea that became popular during the GOP primary debates earlier this year.
- Eliminate the alternative minimum tax and the estate tax.
- Cut tax rates on investment income. Investment income is currently taxed at a top rate of 20 percent — lower than the top rate for ordinary income. The GOP plan would further reduce that rate by allowing taxpayers to deduct 50 percent of their net capital gains, dividends and interest income. That would create a new rate structure of 6 percent, 12.5 percent and 16.5 percent.
- Increase the child tax credit. The proposal would streamline existing child credits into a single $1,500 credit and a $500 credit for non-child dependents.
On the business side the proposals include:
- Cut the top corporate tax rate to 20 percent. The top rate for corporations is currently 35 percent. Republicans argue a 20 percent top rate will make the United States more competitive with both emerging markets and competitors in countries like Japan and China.
- Allow businesses to immediately and fully write off capital investments. Republicans have long said that allowing businesses to write off major capital investments will encourage greater investment and growth.
- Shift to a “territorial” system of international taxation and border adjustments. There is strong support in the business community for the U.S. to shift to a territorial system in which companies would not be taxed on income earned overseas. Republicans argue that the current system, which taxes foreign-earned income when companies reinvest the money in the U.S., encourages companies to stockpile cash offshore. The GOP plan shifts to a territorial system that would only tax companies based on the location where goods are sold. (Contributor: By Kelsey Snell for The Washington Post)
IFA has said before in this space that until Senate and House members will be governed by the same laws they write for the rest of the populace, proposed tax “reform” will revolve around who pays most and where the money will come from. Rep. Ryan no doubt means well, but positive tax changes will not come until government spending is reigned in. Please pray accordingly.
"Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and you will be commended." (Romans 13: 1-3 NIV)
CALIFORNIA SENATE BILL 1146 POSES THREAT TO CHRISTIAN COLLEGES AND UNIVERSITIES
The state of California, due to its size, association with the entertainment industry, accompanying celebrities, and huge economic impact has long lead the nation as a cultural trendsetter. Recently, a very controversial piece of legislation passed the state Senate, and is expected to clear the General Assembly, which has potentially draconian implications for Christian religious freedoms and previous constitutionally protected civil liberties.
Among other things, this bill seeks to limit the religious exemptions from federal Title IX regulations that colleges and universities use for hiring instructors, teaching classes and conducting student services in line with their constitutionally protected exercise of faith. The author of the bill, Ricardo Lara, D-Bell Gardens, is part of the state legislature’s seven member California Legislative Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Caucus, which advocates specifically for LGBT rights.
Lara stated, “All students deserve to feel safe in institutions of higher education, regardless of whether they are public or private. California has established strong protections for the LGBTQ community and private universities should not be able to use faith as an excuse to discriminate and avoid complying with state laws.” Thus far, he has refused to give audience to, or compromise with, the potentially affected 42 Christian colleges and universities requesting to meet with him to discuss the implications or proposed modifications of the bill.
The straightforward implications of this legislation would mean:
- Christian colleges and universities will no longer be able to require a profession of faith for their students or faculty
- Schools will no longer be able to integrate core tenets of their faith throughout their curricula, a key distinctive of most institutions of traditional higher Christian education
- Schools will no longer be able to require chapel attendance, an integral component of the life of a Christian college or university community
- Schools will no longer have the freedom to allow professors or administrators to pray in class or student assemblies, including graduations, and will be vulnerable to lawsuits if a student expresses offense or protest
- Schools will no longer be able to require mandatory core units of Bible courses—again, a key part of a traditional Christian higher educational experience
- Schools will no longer be able to permit their athletic teams to lead faith-based community service programs
- Schools will no longer be able to maintain distinct gender specific restrooms, shower facilities or dormitories—if a student self identifies as different from their biological gender, the school must accommodate his/her request to use opposite gender facilities and live in opposite gender housing
Obviously, if this bill becomes law, it will dramatically affect the ability of Christian colleges and universities to function in a traditional and straightforward Christian manner. Thus, it threatens every practice that makes religious institutions of higher learning distinct from secular ones.
As Christian counselors, it is time for us to energize, organize, galvanize and mobilize the Christian community with a clarion call to pray and act according to our remaining freedoms, both as citizens of this great country and the heavenly kingdom. We must find meaningful and respectful, yet authoritative, avenues through which we can respond, invite dialogue, mediate, and find workable ways to navigate through these complex and concerning issues confronting our society and profession.
AACC Advocacy --- What You Can Do
If you have interest in helping formulate a Christian counselling and mental health advocacy board in all 50 states, we are taking initial steps to mobilize such an entity in each state and create a national advocacy team for our field of ministry. We are looking for academics, researchers, clinicians, ministry leaders, and other experts related to our field to be involved.
The time to convene our hearts and minds is now, for such a time as this. Our initial goal will be to have an exploratory organizational meeting with these leaders at the Mega National Christian Counseling Conference in Dallas from September 15-17, 2016, and a full convocation at the 2017 “Break Every Chain” World Conference in Nashville from September 27-30. (Contributor: Rev. Jared Pingleton, Psy.D.
Vice President of Professional Development AACC)
Such a political movement, typically starting in California, is a blatant attempt to destroy Christian expression in the state, then across the U.S. With due respect to the American Association of Christian Counselors (AACC), the proper response must come from Church leaders who will rise up and say “no” to this arrogant attempt to restrict religious freedom. Pray for Church renewal.
"It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery." (Galatians 5:1 NIV)
CHRISTIANS CHOOSE PRAYER OVER DONALD TRUMP, HILLARY CLINTON
Caught between the presidential candidacies of Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton, a group of Christians is choosing a third way out: prayer.
Get Out the Prayer 2016 is mobilizing believers to influence the political process not only with their votes, but through appeals to a higher authority.
Dave Kubal, president of Intercessors of America, which is spearheading the effort, said Christians are exasperated with the inability of the political process to halt America’s moral decline. Intercessors of America is a nonprofit group founded after Roe v. Wade to turn around America’s moral decline.
“We’ve taken over Congress from a Republican point of view, and not much has changed,” he said. “The nation’s morals continue to decline, we continue to spend more money than we take in, and it’s just a nation in crisis.”
The spiritual campaign has facilitated the creation of prayer groups and “Prayer at the Poll” events around the nation, encouraging Christians to pray regularly for America’s elected leaders and those running for office.
“When leaders understand that they answer to a higher power, they make different decisions, so it’s critical that we have leaders who have a fear and reverence toward God,” Mr. Kubal said. “A democracy can only be upheld by a virtuous populous, and we need virtuous, God-fearing leaders.”
Other prominent Christians have taken similar stances with regard to the 2016 race.
At a Wisconsin prayer rally on Wednesday, evangelist Franklin Graham said he did not trust either major political party’s candidate for president.
Instead, Mr. Graham repeatedly told the crowd that “the most important thing we can do today is pray for America,” All God’s People, a Christian blog, reported.
“Your vote matters; don’t stay home,” he said. “I’m not telling you who to vote for; God will tell you who to vote for.”
Polls suggest Christian voters aren’t thrilled with either major political party’s candidate for president.
An NBC News poll last month found that just 31 percent of evangelicals have a favorable opinion of Mr. Trump, compared to 19 percent who view Mrs. Clinton favorably. (Contributor: By Bradford Richardson for The Washington Times)
We were pleased to see this positive article in The Washington Times (despite a small mistake in citing our name). We are glad for all positive publicity focused on our initiative to emphasize prayer during this election year. If you haven’t already done so, you may sign up at www.GetOutThePrayer.com to network with intercessors in your area and around the country.
"for I know that through your prayers and God’s provision of the Spirit of Jesus Christ what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance." (Philippians 1:19 NIV)
RIGHTEOUS GOVERNMENT – DISCOVERING GOD’S CONTROVERSY WITH US
Fifty-five years ago the United States, in the persons of seven Supreme Court justices, told God to leave our public schools. Jesus said “bring the children to me” (Mk. 10:14, Luke 16:18) and these men said “No, the government will have them for itself and You can get out.” God, His divine Majesty grievously offended, withdrew and now three generations of young Americans have spent roughly 30 hours a week for twelve years of their lives in a place where there is no truth, because the Truth has left. There are subjects useful to the state, but almost nothing about character or morals. The result of this is evident in our streets and the manifest corruption of virtually every aspect of American popular culture.
Nothing calls more urgently for God’s forgiveness than this horrible sin. Furthermore, this was done as millions of Christians said and did nothing about this obscenity being foisted upon the nation. While some did vigorously protest, the vast majority stayed silent. We have done what ancient Israel did, and God’s Word is as relevant to us today as it was when Moses spoke to them as God, “I will hide My face from them, I will see what their end shall be; for they are a perverse generation, sons in whom is no faithfulness. They have made Me jealous with what is not God; they have provoked Me to anger with their idols.” (Deut 32:20-21) The entire chapter is instructive for us today.
Serious Christians will see this event and its aftermath as the root cause of our current social agony. From young people who live totally without discipline to random acts of violence to the rise of Islamic terrorism striking unarmed Americans, God’s withdrawal from us becomes more and more evident.
There is only one remedy: we must repent with weeping and fasting as though our very lives and those of our children depend on it. We as a nation have spit in God’s face and He does not forget such things. If we do not seek God’s face, the consequences of our neglect will be far worse than what we have already experienced. Let us therefore seek God’s will above all else, repent of our great national sin and find His forgiveness along with the salvation of our nation. (Contributor: Jim Kohlmann for Intercessors for America)
Readers of The Informer are familiar with Jim Kohlmann, IFA’s Florida Area Director, and his passion for a return to righteous government in our nation. He has outlined a pathway of intercession we can follow to see revival, renewal, and restoration. Please join in accordingly.
"Righteousness exalts a nation, But sin is a reproach to any people." (Proverbs 14:34 NKJV)
INSIDE A SECRET GOVERNMENT WAREHOUSE PREPPED FOR HEALTH CATASTROPHES
When Greg Burel tells people he's in charge of some secret government warehouses, he often gets asked if they're like the one at the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark, where the Ark of the Covenant gets packed away in a crate and hidden forever.
"Well, no, not really," says Burel, director of a program called the Strategic National Stockpile at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Thousands of lives might someday depend on this stockpile, which holds all kinds of medical supplies that the officials would need in the wake of a terrorist attack with a chemical, biological or nuclear weapon.
The location of these warehouses is secret. How many there are is secret. (Although a former government official recently said at a public meeting that there are six.) And exactly what's in them is secret.
"If everybody knows exactly what we have, then you know exactly what you can do to us that we can't fix," says Burel. "And we just don't want that to happen."
What he will reveal is how much the stockpile is worth: "We currently value the inventory at a little over $7 billion."
But some public health specialists worry about how all this would actually be deployed in an emergency.
"The warehouse is fine in terms of the management of stuff in there. What gets in the warehouse and where does it go after the warehouse, and how fast does it go to people, is where we have questions," says Dr. Irwin Redlener, director of the National Center for Disaster Preparedness at Columbia University.
I recently asked to go take a look at one of the warehouses, and was surprised when the answer was yes. I was told I was the first reporter ever to visit a stockpile storage site.
Since I had to sign a confidentiality agreement, I can't describe the outside. But the inside is huge.
"If you envision, say, a Super Walmart and stick two of those side by side and take out all the drop ceiling, that's about the same kind of space that we would occupy in one of these storage locations," Burel says.
A big American flag hangs from the ceiling, and shelves packed with stuff stand so tall that looking up makes me dizzy.
"We have the capability, if something bad happens, that we can intervene in a positive way, but then we don't ever want to have to do that. So it's kind of a strange place," says Burel. "But we would be foolish not to prepare for those events that we could predict might happen."
The Strategic National Stockpile got its start back in 1999, with a budget of about $50 million. Since then, even though the details aren't public, it's clear that it has amassed an incredible array of countermeasures against possible security threats.
The inventory includes millions of doses of vaccines against bioterrorism agents like smallpox, antivirals in case of a deadly flu pandemic, medicines used to treat radiation sickness and burns, chemical agent antidotes, wound care supplies, IV fluids and antibiotics.
I notice that one section of the warehouse is caged off and locked. Shirley Mabry, the logistics chief for the stockpile, says that's for medicines like painkillers that could be addictive, "so that there's no pilferage of those items."
As we walk, I hear a loud hum. It's a giant freezer packed with products that have to be kept cold.
Just outside it, there are rows upon rows of ventilators that could keep sick or injured people breathing. Mabry explains that they're kept in a constant state of readiness. "If you look down to the side you'll see there's electrical outlets so they can be charged once a month," she says. Not only that—the ventilators get sent out for yearly maintenance.
In fact, everything here has to be inventoried once a year, and expiration dates have to be checked. Just tending to this vast stash costs a bundle — the stockpile program's budget is more than half a billion dollars a year.
And figuring out what to buy and put in the stockpile is no easy task. The government first has to decide which threats are realistic and then decide what can be done to prepare. "That's where we have a huge, complex bureaucracy trying to sort through that," says Redlener.
The process goes by the clunky acronym PHEMCE and involves agencies from the Department of Defense to the Food and Drug Administration. They're looking to acquire or develop products that can meet the threats.
"A lot of under-the-hood, background work goes into identifying what the size, the scope, the special needs are, and what medical countermeasures exist or need to be made," says George Korch, senior adviser to the assistant secretary for preparedness and response at the Department of Health and Human Services. "That then drives the rest of the process for research, development, procurement, stockpiling, et cetera."
There is often debate, he says, but at the end of the day they have to reach a consensus and move forward.
"We could start stockpiling cobra antivenom if we really wanted to, but should we?" says Rocco Casagrande, who runs a consulting firm called Gryphon Scientific.
The government recently hired Gryphon to do an analysis of how well the stockpile was positioned to respond to a range of scenarios based on intelligence information. "The studies that were done before have all been one-off. They've all been looking at a single type of attack at a time, or a single type of weapon of mass destruction," says Casagrande. "They haven't looked across all threats to make decisions about whether you should buy A versus B."
The results can't be discussed publicly, says Casagrande, but "one thing we can say is that across the variety of threats that we examined, the Strategic National Stockpile has the adequate amount of materials in it and by and large the right type of thing."
The trouble is, increasingly the new medicines chosen for the stockpile have some real limitations.
"These are often very powerful, very exciting and useful new medicines, but they are also very expensive and they expire after a couple years," says Dr. Tara O'Toole, a former homeland security official who is now at In-Q-Tel, a nonprofit that helps bring technological innovation to the U. S. intelligence community.
O'Toole chairs a recently formed committee at the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine, which the government asked to study the stockpile program and offer advice. She says as the inventory of the stockpile goes up and up, the budget to maintain that inventory is staying flat.
"This is an unsustainable plan," she says. "And we don't think there's enough money to do what the stockpile says it must do, already."
That's because getting stuff out of the stockpile to the people who would need it is a major challenge. Imagine if there's a major anthrax attack, and there's just 48 hours to get prophylactic antibiotics to more than a million people.
"It is not going to be easy or simple to put medicines in the hand of everybody who wants it," says O'Toole.
Back at the warehouse, Mabry and Burel show me all the ways they're set up to expedite delivery. For example, one of the first things you see when you walk into the warehouse is rows of 130 shipping containers. "This is the 12-hour push package, approximately 50 tons of material," says Mabry.
This collection of stuff could help after a variety of disasters, and it's designed to be delivered to a city or town within hours. Mabry shows me how the outside of each container has a pouch. "That has the information that anyone would need if they were to receive this, so they could very easily identify what is in this," she explains.
The people who would receive this container — or anything else from the stockpile — are state and local public health workers. They're the ones who have to figure out how get pills into mouths and shots into arms.
But local public health officials have had budget cuts and are drastically underfunded, says Paul Petersen, director of emergency preparedness for Tennessee.
"Many jurisdictions across the U. S. have less staff and less resources available to them to surge up in large-scale events," says Petersen. "I mean, that's a risk."
While they do have plans for emergencies, and lists of volunteers, he says, "they're volunteers. And they're not guaranteed to show up in the time of need."
Over and over, I heard worries about this part of the stockpile system.
"We have drastically decreased the level of state public health resources in the last decade. We've lost 50,000 state and local health officials. That's a huge hit," says O'Toole, who wishes local officials would get more money for things like emergency drills. "The notion that this is all going to be top down, that the feds are in charge and the feds will deliver, is wrong."
She'd also like to see more interest from Congress in all of this — because it's a national security issue. "These will be do-or-die days for America, should they ever come upon us," O'Toole points out.
And having a stockpile in a warehouse will be just the beginning. (Contributor: By Nell GreenfieldBoyce for NPR)
This report raises many questions. Readers will likely compare these storage facilities to insurance premiums paid for policies against injury, damage, and fire. Such payments are necessary, but we hope we never have to file a claim. Considering a widespread national disaster, let us pray for God’s mercy. Pray for a repentant nation with open hearts for spiritual revival.
"But if they will confess their sins and the sins of their ancestors—their unfaithfulness and their hostility toward me, which made me hostile toward them so that I sent them into the land of their enemies—then when their uncircumcised hearts are humbled and they pay for their sin, I will remember my covenant with Jacob and my covenant with Isaac and my covenant with Abraham, and I will remember the land." (Leviticus 26:40-42 NIV)