Somali ‘Refugee’ Charged with Murder in Fatal Shooting of Young Mother in Grand Forks, North Dakota

A 26-year-old refugee from Somalia is facing murder charges after fatally shooting a young mother in Grand Forks, North Dakota over the weekend.

Ahmed Mohamed Abdullahi, a convicted felon, shot and killed 28-year-old Megan Lea Gustafson of Grand Forks at around 1:30 am Sunday at an apartment complex.

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Police believe the two knew each other, however details about their relationship is unclear.

“Growing up, Megan enjoyed spending time with her friends, time at the lake, driving the golf cart, listening to music and going for bike rides. Megan’s favorite moments were spent with her daughter, Olivia. Together, they enjoyed going to the park, playing games, reading, singing and dancing to music and even just cuddling while watching movies. Megan loved Olivia more than anything in the world! She always tried to make people feel better usually with her sense of humor and quick witted attitude. She was a kind and generous woman with a beautiful smile and infectious laugh she will be missed by so many who love her dearly.” – Megan Gustafson’s obituary read.

KFGO reported:

A Grand Forks man accused of shooting and killing a woman on Sunday morning now faces a murder charge.

Twenty-six-year-old Ahmed Mohamed Abdullahi was originally arrested for manslaughter.

Police have also identified the victim as 28-year-old Megan Lea Gustafson of Grand Forks. The shooting occurred after an apparent argument inside a residence on the 1300 block of 8th Ave. N. Officers were responding to a call of a suspicious person about 1:30 a.m. Sunday when they heard a gunshot inside the residence.

Police say a woman came out of the residence and fell to the ground. They are investigating the relationship between Abdullahi and Gustafson. They believe the two knew each other.

Abdullahi has a criminal past and recently threatened to shoot up a sports bar.

Valley News Live reported on Abdullahi’s criminal past (the victim’s name has been released since this news segment):

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South Dakota governor issues order restricting chemical abortions

SIOUX FALLS, South Dakota (LifeSiteNews) —  South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem has issued an executive order restricting telemedicine abortions and chemical abortions, while also seeking to emulate, or go beyond, Texas’ recently enacted Heartbeat Act.

The move by the Republican governor directs the South Dakota Department of Health to establish rules preventing telemedicine abortions and restricting chemical abortions in the state.

Noem is reported to have been emboldened by the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent decision to allow a Texas law banning abortions after a fetal heartbeat can be detected — known as the Texas Heartbeat Act — to stand.

The executive order comes just days after Noem directed one of her top legal advisors to find areas where South Dakota’s abortion laws can be tightened to reflect the new Texas law, or go further, according to the Sioux Falls Argus Leader.

“The Biden Administration is continuing to overstep its authority and suppress legislatures that are standing up for the unborn to pass strong pro-life laws. They are working right now to make it easier to end the life of an unborn child via telemedicine abortion. That is not going to happen in South Dakota,” said Gov. Noem in an official statement.  “I will continue working with the legislature and my Unborn Child Advocate to ensure that South Dakota remains a strong pro-life state.”

The governor’s statement explains that her executive order “restricts telemedicine abortion in the following ways”:

  • Declares that abortion drugs may only be prescribed or dispensed by a physician who is licensed in South Dakota after an in-person examination;
  • Blocks abortion-inducing drugs from being provided via courier, delivery, telemedicine, or mail service;
  • Prevents abortion-inducing drugs from being dispensed or provided in schools or on state grounds; and
  • Reiterates that licensed physicians must ensure that Informed Consent laws are properly administered.

The order also directs the Department of Health to do the following:

  • Develop licensing requirements for “pill only” abortion clinics;
  • Collect empirical data on how often chemical abortions are performed as a percentage of all abortions, including how often women experience complications that require a medical follow-up; and
  • Enhance reporting requirements on emergency room complications related to chemical abortion.

Governor Noem indicated she plans to work with the South Dakota legislature to enact laws that will make these protocols permanent in the 2022 legislative session.

“We commend Governor Noem for taking this bold action that will save lives from dangerous chemical abortions, which have a fourfold higher rate of complications compared to surgical abortion,” said Marjorie Dannenfelser, President of Susan B. Anthony List. “The Biden administration would turn every post office and pharmacy into an abortion center if they had their way, leaving women alone and at risk of severe heavy bleeding, physical, emotional, and psychological stress, and more. States must take action. Governor Noem is setting a courageous model today that we hope more state leaders across the nation will soon follow.”

“I applaud Governor Noem’s action today to stop dangerous chemical abortion drugs from being mailed to South Dakota women,” said Catherine Glenn Foster, President and CEO of Americans United for Life (AUL). “This is no longer about ‘a woman and her doctor,’ but a woman – or girl – and a stranger on the internet. States can no longer depend on the FDA to regulate abortion drugs in any meaningful way, and I am pleased to see Governor Noem step up for her state. Abortion is never safe, but it’s far more dangerous when women are abandoned by physicians and left to manage their complications alone.”

“We know that chemical abortions, prescribed by strangers on the internet and delivered by mail, are what Planned Parenthood and other abortion activists consider a promising growth industry,” continued the AUL statement.  “We must not let corporate greed and callous disregard of basic health and safety protections put the lives of women in danger.”

“We know that Chemical Abortion Pills are 4 times as dangerous as surgical abortion and increase the risk of a woman’s death by 10 times. We know that without proper screening and examination, women can suffer infection, bleeding, infertility and even death,” said Students for Life Action President Kristan Hawkins.

“Gov. Noem puts women first in signing this executive order. Cutting out health and safety standards benefits abortionists, saving them time, money, and legal liability as they drop deadly Chemical Abortion Pills in the mail and medically abandon women,” continued Hawkins. “This is not about healthcare; it’s about Corporate Abortion’s bottom line and the power of politicians who don’t care about whether women survive taking the pills.”

Abortion defenders were not as pleased.

“Having an abortion is a private medical decision, one that is protected under the U.S. Constitution, and it’s disappointing that Gov. Noem continues to insert herself into the patient-doctor relationship,” Janna Farley, communications director of the American Civil Liberties Union of South Dakota, told the Associated Press. “It’s clear that the attacks on our abortion rights are not letting up in South Dakota.”


Here is the complete text of Gov. Noem’s executive order:

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South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem rebukes Biden administration, restricts telemedicine abortions

South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem on Tuesday signed an executive order that prohibits telemedicine abortions and restricts access to chemically induced abortions within the state.

The move follows Noem’s promise to strengthen pro-life laws in South Dakota after the Supreme Court refused to block a Texas law banning abortions after six weeks, the time at which an unborn baby develops a heartbeat. It also serves as a direct rebuke to President Joe Biden’s administration, which in April acted to allow women seeking abortions to be prescribed and sent drugs that would kill their unborn child without an in-person visit with an abortionist.

“The Biden Administration is continuing to overstep its authority and suppress legislatures that are standing up for the unborn to pass strong pro-life laws. They are working right now to make it easier to end the life of an unborn child via telemedicine abortion. That is not going to happen in South Dakota,” Noem said in a statement.

The governor’s executive order declares that abortion-inducing drugs may only be prescribed or dispensed by a licensed physician in South Dakota who has met in-person with the woman seeking an abortion. Abortifacients may not be provided via courier, delivery, telemedicine, or mail service under the order. They cannot be dispensed or provided in schools or on state grounds either.

Noem further instructed the South Dakota Department of Health to create licensing requirements for “pill only” abortion clinics; to collect data on the frequency of chemical abortions in the state and how many women experience adverse side effects that require a medical follow-up; and to strengthen reporting requirements for emergency room complications related to chemical abortions.

Pro-life groups praised Noem’s order, criticizing the Biden administration for easing access to abortion drugs that have known side effects including heavy and prolonged vaginal bleeding, infection, fever, digestive system discomfort, and in some cases may fail to kill the unborn child.

“We commend Governor Noem for taking this bold action that will save lives from dangerous chemical abortions, which have a fourfold higher rate of complications compared to surgical abortion,” said Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of Susan B. Anthony List. “The Biden administration would turn every post office and pharmacy into an abortion center if they had their way, leaving women alone and at risk of severe heavy bleeding, physical, emotional, and psychological stress, and more.”

“States can no longer depend on the FDA to regulate abortion drugs in any meaningful way, and I am pleased to see Governor Noem step up for her state,” Americans United for Life CEO and President Catherine Glenn Foster said. “Abortion is never safe, but it’s far more dangerous when women are abandoned by physicians and left to manage their complications alone.”

Opponents of the restrictions contend that chemically-induced abortions are safe and that prohibiting them would unconstitutionally deprive rural Americans who live far from South Dakota’s single abortion clinic of access to abortions.

“Having an abortion is a private medical decision, one that is protected under the U.S. Constitution, and it’s disappointing that Gov. Noem continues to insert herself into the patient-doctor relationship,” Janna Farley, the communications director of the American Civil Liberties Union of South Dakota, said. “It’s clear that the attacks on our abortion rights are not letting up in South Dakota.”

South Dakota law requires pregnant women to meet with an abortionist and undergo a physical examination before scheduling an abortion procedure or being prescribed an abortifacient. Women must also wait 72 hours before the procedure. South Dakota requires abortions after the 12th week of pregnancy to be performed in a hospital and has banned abortions after the 22nd week of pregnancy except for medical emergencies.

Noem has vowed that under her leadership, South Dakota will have “the strongest pro life laws on the books.”

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South Dakota & Kristi Noem: Abortion Executive Order

South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem speaks at the North Carolina GOP convention in Greenville, North Carolina, June 5, 2021. (Jonathan Drake/Reuters)

South Dakota governor Kristi Noem signed an executive order on Tuesday to prevent abortions from being performed via telemedicine in her state.

The order prohibits dispensation of abortion-inducing medication via telemedicine, delivery, or mail services. Additionally, the order bans the dispensation of abortion-inducing drugs on state or school grounds.

“The Biden Administration is continuing to overstep its authority and suppress legislatures that are standing up for the unborn to pass strong pro-life laws,” Noem said in a press release. “They are working right now to make it easier to end the life of an unborn child via telemedicine abortion. That is not going to happen in South Dakota.”

The press release stated that Noem would work with the South Dakota legislature to pass the requirements into law during the 2022 legislative session. The order comes after a Texas law banning abortions upon detection of a fetal heartbeat came into effect last week.

Noem’s order also reiterates that abortion-inducing medication may only be prescribed and dispensed following an in-person examination by a physician. This procedure is already required under South Dakota law.

The Biden administration announced in April that it would reverse Trump-administration rules mandating that women obtain abortion-inducing medication in person while the coronavirus pandemic remains a threat. The decision, announced by Food and Drug Administration acting commissioner Janet Woodcock, allowed for dispensation of abortion pill mifepristone via mail.

Send a tip to the news team at NR.

Zachary Evans is a news writer for National Review Online. He is a veteran of the Israeli Defense Forces and a trained violist.

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Kansas edges South Dakota to end 13-game skid

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Jason Bean connected for a 16-yard touchdown pass to Lawrence Arnold with 1:10 remaining Friday as Kansas snapped a 13-game losing streak by toppling South Dakota 17-14 at Lawrence, Kan.

The Jayhawks benefitted from a targeting call that got them into a goal-to-go situation before capping the game-winning, 64-yard march and giving coach Lance Leipold a win in his Kansas debut.

Kansas went 0-9 last year and dropped its final four games in 2019.

Bean, a North Texas transfer who beat out two veteran quarterbacks, completed 17 of 26 passes for 163 yards and two touchdowns. He also led Kansas with 54 rushing yards.

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The Jayhawks’ Travis Wilsom snagged five receptions for 50 yards and Mason Fairchild added 58 yards on four receptions.

The FCS Coyotes, picked eighth in the Missouri Valley preseason poll after finishing 1-3 during an abbreviated spring schedule, grabbed a 14-10 lead with 5:13 left on a 25-yard touchdown rush by Travis Theis.

Theis gained 96 yards on 18 carries. Carson Camp added 98 yards passing but completed only 10 of 22 attempts. Shomari Lawrence scored South Dakota’s other TD on a 29-yard burst. The Coyotes totaled 263 yards to 245 for the Jayhawks.

One of the biggest plays for the Jayhawks came when Nate Betts stuffed Theis on a fourth-and-1 from the Kansas 22 early in the fourth quarter. That stop came after South Dakota coach Bob Nielson called a timeout just before his kicker, Mason Lorber, made a 39-yard field goal that would have tied the game 10-10 with just over nine minutes left.

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South Dakota countered with a fourth-down stop with 6:15 remaining and then gained its first lead on Theis’ TD.

Bean connected on an 8-yard strike to Lawrence Arnold with 24 seconds remaining for a 7-0 halftime lead. The Jayhawks had gone three-and-out on their first four possessions and punted on each of their first since possessions.

Bean accounted for almost all of the Jayhawks’ first-half production, going 7 of 10 for 59 yards passing while adding 44 yards rushing.

A 21-yard rush by Theis accounted for the longest first-half gain as the teams combined for 10 punts. Kansas generated 106 first-half yards to South Dakota’s 100.

–Field Level Media

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Kansas kicks off Lance Leipold era vs. South Dakota

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Among the new coaches in the Football Bowl Subdivision, Lance Leipold should sense the most formidable challenge.

Not only did the new Kansas coach take over a program that has finished last in the Big 12 each season since 2015, but he also didn’t get to oversee spring practice with the Jayhawks, who are set to open the season Friday at home against South Dakota.

The dismissal of former coach Les Miles and athletic director Jeff Long transpired too late for Kansas to hire new AD Travis Goff, conduct a search and install a coach. Credit Kansas for doing its due diligence in selecting Leipold. And credit Leipold for downplaying the awkward timing and forging ahead after directing Buffalo the past six seasons.

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Since arriving, Leipold has said all the right things while applying attention to detail the Jayhawks lacked a year ago when they finished 0-9, going winless in the Big 12 for the fifth time in 10 seasons.

“We have to be a program that’s going to take care of the finer points of the game and continue to build consistency and confidence,” said Leipold, a two-time MAC coach of the year and six-time Division III champion while coaching Wisconsin-Whitewater.

Leipold does not anticipate naming his starting quarterback until the opener unfolds, although difficulties to this monumental rebuilding task go far beyond that position. Kansas stands 34-120 since winning the Orange Bowl in 2007. Last season, opponents averaged 46 points and outscored the Jayhawks by 30 per game.

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Miles Kendrick and Jalon Daniels shared snaps a year ago, although transfer Jason Bean should also contend at quarterback after starting seven games for North Texas last season.

One strength the Jayhawks could use is the run game, which features several returnees and freshman headliner Devin Neal. Buffalo averaged 287 yards rushing last year.

Should Leipold be concerned about making his debut against South Dakota? Why, yes. Kansas has lost three openers against FCS opponents since 2010.

South Dakota went 1-3 in its abbreviated spring season but returns five starters along the offensive front while also hoping to click in the run game. Among 65 freshman Coyotes, cornerback Myles Harden led the FCS with seven pass breakups in the spring.

“Our phrase is there’s no excuses. We need to win,” South Dakota coach Bob Nielson said. “That’s the approach that we have as a staff and that’s what our team believes.”

–Field Level Media

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Gov. Kristi Noem vows to fight federal vaccine mandates in South Dakota

South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem this week vowed to fight any federal legislation that would mandate vaccinations against Covid-19.

Noem made waves on Monday when she said if Joe Biden “illegally mandates vaccines,” she “will take every action available under the law to protect South Dakotans from the federal government.”

Noem pledged to fight against federal vaccine mandates after Joe Biden urged businesses to require their employees to become vaccinated after the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) gave the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine full approval.

Pfizer’s vaccine is the first to be granted full approval by the FDA this week.

“I was the only governor in America who never ordered a single business or church to close,” said Noem. She exclaimed that while she does not support businesses imposing mandatory vaccination for employees, she does “not have the authority as Governor to tell them what to do.” Her statement comes as Sanford Health, the state’s largest employer, made the Covid-19 vaccine mandatory for all employees by Nov. 1.

Some Republicans in the South Dakota House of Representatives have drafted bills to stop businesses from mandating Covid-19 vaccinations. Taking preventative action, House Speaker Spencer Gosch, R-S.D., called on Noem to call a special session to pass the legislation.

Pictured: RSBN’s Mike Crispi interviews Governor Kristi Noem at CPAC in Dallas Texas. Noem vowed to fight potential requirements from Joe Biden and the federal government regarding their implementation of a Covid-19 vaccine mandate.

11 governors have already signed bills banning vaccine requirements in their states. Arizona, Arkansas, Georgia, Florida, Indiana, Montana, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Tennessee, and Utah have all passed forms of legislation preventing vaccine mandates in their states.

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South Dakota Republicans press Gov. Kristi Noem on vaccine mandates ban

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — South Dakota House lawmakers have tried to pressure Gov. Kristi Noem to call a special session to pass a ban on employers requiring COVID-19 vaccinations even as virus cases climbed on Monday.

Several Republicans in the House of Representatives have circulated drafts of bills that would stop employers from mandating vaccinations against the virus, stepping up pressure on Noem to call a special session for them to approve the bills. But she has resisted those calls, saying there is not widespread support for a special session. The issue has Noem, who has carved out a nationwide following for her hands-off approach to the virus, being pushed from the right to intervene on the state’s largest employer, Sanford Health.

House Speaker Spencer Gosch said late Friday he wanted the governor to call a special session as he released a draft of a bill that would make COVID-19 vaccination status “strictly confidential medical information” that would be off-limits to employers. The state’s largest employer, Sanford Health, plans to require all employees to get a shot by Nov. 1.

“Gov. Noem has been a leader in fighting tyranny this past year, and we believe that she can understand the urgency here,” Gosch said in a statement.

However, Noem’s spokesman Ian Fury cast Noem’s resistance to the idea as keeping with her conservative approach to the pandemic and argued that government should not be dictating whether or not employers require vaccinations for their employees.

“Throughout this pandemic Gov. Noem has remained focused on government’s proper role, as well as her own authority,” he said in a statement.

However, whether or not the governor calls a special session may have little bearing on the deadlines employers throughout the state have set for employees to be vaccinated. In order to cause any passed bill to take immediate effect before the deadlines, it must gain a two-thirds majority in both the House and Senate. With some in Senate leadership already opposed to the mandate bans, that is unlikely.

Nearly 56% of people eligible for a vaccine in the state have received one, according to the Department of Health.

Meanwhile, cases of the virus have resurged to their highest levels since February. The Department of Health reported 331 new cases Monday. New cases in the state have more-than-tripled in the last two weeks, according to Johns Hopkins researchers.

The number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 statewide climbed to 127, leaving about 42% of hospital beds open. Sanford Health is preparing for a fresh wave of the virus over the next four to six weeks, the Argus Leader reported.

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Why Won’t Kristi Noem Let South Dakota Ban Vaccine Passports?

South Dakota legislators have introduced a bill that would prohibit businesses from requiring proof of COVID-19 vaccination from employees and patrons. But the 2021 session has already adjourned, and Gov. Kristi Noem has so far failed to call a special session (or expand the redistricting session coming in November) to allow the legislation to pass.

“No person shall be subjected to any disciplinary action; being terminated, demoted, or losing employment status in any way; loss of student status, including status in a particular study program; nor shall any person be denied access to any business premises as a result of his or her decision to decline to receive a COVID-19 vaccination on the basis of conscience,” the bill draft states.

Like similar bills in Montana and Florida, this bill would prohibit private companies from firing or refusing service to unvaccinated employees and customers, opening the door to lawsuits against businesses that don’t comply. Noem signed an executive order in April prohibiting government entities from mandating vaccine passports but has actively spoken out against the idea of protecting vaccine-hesitant employees from business mandates.

“Workers whose employers are mandating a vaccine for continued employment have the power to say no,” Noem tweeted in July, noting their “option to find a new employer.”

In response to recent calls from conservative lawmakers to convene a special session to pass the vaccine passport ban, Noem spokesman Ian Fury simply said: “The governor has not heard a widespread call for a special session on this topic. She’ll keep an open mind if the circumstances change.”

But Rep. Jon Hansen, the South Dakota House Speaker Pro Tempore and one of the bill’s sponsors along with Rep. Scott Odenbach, said action from Noem is crucial. “We need a law passed to protect these people, and the only way to do that is through a special session called by the governor,” he told The Federalist.

Two-thirds of both houses can also vote to call a special session, but Hansen said getting that many votes is impossible. “I think we can get majority support to pass the bill, but we’ll never get two-thirds to call a special session.”

There’s also a special session scheduled on Nov. 8 for redistricting, but expanding that to include other issues such as vaccine passports would also require action from the governor or two-thirds of both chambers.

Even if that session were expanded, Hansen said, “that would be better than nothing, but some of these corporations are requiring people to get vaccinated by Nov. 1, so for all of those people that special session would be too late.” Sanford Health, the largest company headquartered in South Dakota, announced in July that it would require employees to be vaccinated by the first day of November.

If Noem refuses to let the legislature consider the vaccine passport ban in a special session, legislators may introduce it when the 2022 session begins in January. “If companies or governments are still mandating that people who don’t take these vaccines will be fired, I’ll absolutely introduce the bill in the regular legislative session,” Hansen said.

“I sincerely hope Gov. Noem will help these people and help us pass this law as soon as possible,” he added. “These workers need our help. They’re asking for it, and we need to be there for them.”

Noem’s office did not respond to The Federalist’s request for comment by press time.


In response to a comment request from The Federalist, Gov. Noem insisted “Conservatives should always be opposed to big government.” Her spokesman, Ian Fury, added: “Our system does not allow [the governor] to dictate that private businesses require or not require vaccinations of their employees – nor does she have the authority to shut them down.”

“Businesses that choose to require vaccinations should do so with full knowledge that their employees – and future workers – may have other choices elsewhere,” Fury said. “And for their part, workers at all levels should understand that during their careers they may face hard choices about whether the requirements of an employer are consistent with their own beliefs.”

Rep. Scott Odenbach, one of the bill’s co-sponsors, dismissed the argument that the vaccine passport ban amounted to government overreach. “My answer to the people arguing this is big government is, ‘you folks would think the Bill of Rights is big government then’,” he said. “There are thousands and thousands of freedom-loving people watching what’s unfolding with quiet desperation and wondering if anyone’s going to stand up for them, and we need to start doing that.”

Elle Reynolds is an assistant editor at The Federalist, and received her B.A. in government from Patrick Henry College with a minor in journalism. You can follow her work on Twitter at @_etreynolds.

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South Dakota bishops back exemptions for COVID-19 vaccine requirements

LifeSiteNews has produced an extensive COVID-19 vaccines resources page. View it here. 

(LifeSiteNews) – In a letter last week, the Catholic bishops of South Dakota endorsed exemptions to vaccine mandates, stressing support for “any Catholic who has come to this conviction in seeking religious exemption from any Covid-19 requirement.”

“We have recently received a significant number of inquiries from the faithful concerning general requirements for some persons to receive a Covid-19 vaccination,” wrote Bishop Donald E. DeGrood of Sioux Falls and Bishop Peter M. Muhich of Rapid City.

The two prelates noted a statement they had published last December that rejected the notion of a “general duty on the part of all persons” to receive abortion-tainted coronavirus vaccines.

“As we said then, one may accept Covid-19 vaccines in good conscience if certain conditions are met, but doing so is not a universal moral duty. We echoed the Vatican, which explained in a doctrinal note that ‘practical reason makes evident that vaccination is not, as a rule, a moral obligation,’” Bishops DeGrood and Muhich said. 

“Now, recent inquiries from the faithful raise the corollary question of whether a Catholic must be vaccinated if required to do so by an employer or other authority,” they continued. The bishops highlighted Church teachings, like the necessity of free and informed consent for any medical procedure, that apply in cases of COVID-19 vaccine mandates:

The Church teaches and right reason affirms that, as a general rule, free and informed consent is required prior to all medical treatments and procedures, including vaccination.

Consent is informed if a person knows the essential nature of the proposed treatment and its benefits; its risks, side-effects, consequences, and cost; and any reasonable and morally legitimate alternatives, including no treatment at all.

Consent is free if one has the ability to decline a medical intervention following discernment of relevant information and in accord with one’s certain conscience, without coercion or fear of punishment.

We are bound to follow our consciences if we are certain of them. We have a duty to form our consciences in accord with right reason and the good willed by the wisdom of God. 

There is a general moral duty to refuse medical interventions that are in some way dependent upon cell lines derived from abortion; however, such are permissible if there is a proportionally grave need, no alternatives are available, and one makes one’s objection known. Even then, a well-formed conscience might decline such interventions in order to affirm with clarity the value of human life. 

We have the right to freely follow our conscience. We must not be forced to act contrary to our conscience, i.e., to be compelled to do something we believe to be wrong. Nor must we be prevented from acting according to our consciences, especially in religious matters, provided that just public order be respected. 

The right to freedom of conscience and religious freedom is based on the inherent dignity of the human person. 

“Consistent with the above, a Catholic may, after consideration of relevant information and moral principles, discern it to be right or wrong to receive one of the available Covid-19 vaccines,” wrote Bishops DeGrood and Muhich. “If he or she thus comes to the sure conviction in conscience that they should not receive it, we believe this is a sincere religious belief, as they are bound before God to follow their conscience.”

“We support any Catholic who has come to this conviction in seeking religious exemption from any Covid-19 requirement,” they added, calling for respect for conscience rights from “both public and private entities.”  

The Colorado Catholic Conference released a similar statement earlier this month, condemning coercive coronavirus vaccination and endorsing religious exemptions to vaccine requirements.

In their December letter, the two South Dakota bishops had stressed that COVID-19 vaccines currently in circulation pose risks of unknown, long-term side effects, and that the virus “has not proven lethal or even particularly dangerous” to most people.  

They noted that “the vaccines are yet new and were created in a timeframe without precedent in modern medicine. To our knowledge, those vaccines currently authorized under an [Emergency Use Authorization] have not yet been tested on or approved for children, and impact on fertility, pregnancy, and other long-term effects are unknown.” 

“For the overwhelming majority of people, COVID-19 has not proven lethal or even particularly dangerous, and pursuant to official vaccine distribution plans, the most vulnerable will be afforded the opportunity to immunize prior to the general public, which further mitigates the possible risk posed to those in high-risk categories,” they continued.  

“Therefore, there is no general duty on the part of all persons, irrespective of age, health, occupation, and other circumstances, to receive a COVID-19 vaccination,” the bishops concluded. “Vaccination for COVID-19 is not a universal moral obligation.” 

In a note published days before, the Vatican stated that accepting abortion-tainted COVID-19 vaccines could be “morally acceptable,” “[i]n the absence of other means to stop or even prevent the epidemic,” but “is not, as a rule, a moral obligation.” Research has shown that antiviral therapies, like ivermectin, can treat COVID-19.

A group of prelates, including Cardinal Janis Pujats of Riga, Latvia, and Bishop Athanasius Schneider of Astana, Kazakhstan, has contested the morality of the vaccines on the grounds that even “remote” cooperation in the evil of abortion “can never be justified.” 

All of the COVID-19 vaccines currently in circulation in the United States have connections to fetal cell lines, whether in design, development, or testing, and have also been linked to serious side effects such as myocarditis and Guillain-Barré syndrome.

Both the National Catholic Bioethics Center (NCBC) and the Catholic Medical Association (CMA) have publicly opposed mandatory COVID-19 vaccination, as well. The NCBC provided a template for those seeking a religious exemption from vaccine requirements.  

“The novelty of the SARS-CoV-2 and of the technologies for eliciting an immune response to prevent or mitigate COVID-19 leave several medical questions unanswered,” the NCBC said in July. “Only time and careful study of the virus and benefits and adverse effects of the vaccines will provide the answers many persons need to give free and informed consent.”

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