Faith in Action Blog

Faith in Action Blog


John Tuttle (’98), during his days a member of the Judge Advocate General’s Corps. Source: U.S. Army

“I left the Army,” writes John Tuttle (’98), “but am still with the federal government.”

Having completed his service as a member of the Judge Advocate General’s Corps, Mr. Tuttle (’98) is now a law clerk in the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals for the Honorable Daniel A. Manion, a Reagan appointee whose chambers are located in South Bend, Indiana. Mr. Tuttle follows in the footsteps of several other Thomas Aquinas College graduates whom Judge Manion has hired over the years. Previous clerks for the Seventh Circuit include Kurt Van Sciver (’02), Luke Reilander (’02), and Paul Alarcon (’07).


“Don't like abortion? Don’t have one.” So read the pro-abortion bumper sticker of bygone days. There’s now an addendum: “But pay for mine.”

Thus begins an op-ed piece by Catherine Short (’80), who — as part of her 35-year effort in defense of the unborn — is taking on a new California policy that requires all insurance plans to provide abortion coverage. (Thomas Aquinas College is, mercifully, exempt from the mandate because it self-insures.)

As the legal director of the Life Legal Defense Foundation, which she helped to found, Mrs. Short recently sent a letter to the California Department of Managed Health Care (DMHC), decrying its shoddy legal pretext for the new policy:

The DMHC decision apparently rests on two untenable positions. The first is the self-evidently false proposition that all abortions, including elective abortions, are “medically necessary” and thus must be covered pursuant to the Knox-Keene Act. In the context of abortion, “medically necessary” and “elective” are antonyms. Second, the decision asserts that the California Constitution prohibits health plans from discriminating against women who choose to terminate a pregnancy. The California Constitution, a s currently interpreted, prohibits the state from discriminating against women who choose to terminate a pregnancy, by withholding funding for abortions. CDRR v. Myers , 29 Cal.3d 252 (1981). This decision does not prohibit private actors such as religious employers from deciding what services its employee health insurance policies will cover.

The letter additionally notes that the state’s policy is in plain violation of federal law. The 2004 Weldon Amendment prohibits states, such as California, that receive certain forms of federal funding from imposing abortion-coverage requirements without conscience exemptions. “California’s violation of federal law is clear,” writes Mrs. Short on aletia.com. “Equally clear is the Department of Health and Human Services’ mandate to enforce that law. What remains to be seen is whether the Administration will follow through on President Obama’s personal pledge to ‘honor the conscience of those who disagree with abortion.’”

 


David A. ShaneyfeltThe latest issue of Los Angeles Lawyer magazine includes an article by David A. Shaneyfelt (’81), Liability Insurance Considerations for Wage and Hour Class Actions (PDF). The article advises fellow attorneys on what to do when insurance companies deny coverage for the costs incurred in class-action lawsuits over wage and hour complaints.

After serving for five years as a shareholder with the New York-based law firm of Anderson Kill, Mr. Shaneyfelt recently joined The Alvarez Firm, a law corporation in Calabasas, California, headed by fellow Thomas Aquinas College graduate Justin Alvarez (’97). For nearly 30 years Mr. Shaneyfelt has litigated complex civil matters in state and federal courts, often insurance-coverage disputes. Previously he served as a trial attorney with the U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Division, in Washington, D.C.

In addition to being an attorney, Mr. Shaneyfelt is a devoted husband and the father of seven children who now eagerly awaits the imminent birth of his second grandchild.