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Monday, October 27, 2014

Why health professionals must report human trafficking victims

A Boston Globe article outlining findings of a new study report on human trafficking cites "passive" law enforcement approaches and victims' fears of deportation as reasons why more victims are not reported and rescued.
Healthcare professionals also play a key role in responding to victims. A recent study by experts Dr. Laura Lederer and Christopher Wetzel revealed that nearly nine out of ten human trafficking victims had contact with a health professional while trafficked. Yet these opportunities for rescue went unrealized, since many health professionals remain unaware of the problem and comparatively few have received training on how to recognize and respond to victims.
Federal and state laws and grants that promote awareness, fund research, identify best practices, provide training, increase social services and require reporting of suspected victims (who often will not self-report, out of fear) can help turn this around. More resources will strengthen the social services safety net and the response of law enforcement. Meanwhile, reporting victims to the care of even the existing imperfect system is far better than the alternative of non-reporting that returns victims to their abusers to suffer disease, violence and even death.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Buzzwords do not a marriage make

The Seattle Times opines that the US Supreme Court needs to overturn unilaterally the votes of millions of citizens in states that uphold marriage as between a man and a woman.
Why not let the people of each state decide? The editors offer no legal or logical arguments--only advocacy buzzwords like "marriage equality," "discrimination" and "chosen love over outdated notions of marriage."
Neither love nor law mandates equal access to every government-sanctioned institution.
Is age "inequality" inherent in the Constitutional requirement that only individuals 35 or older may serve as president, or the fact that no state allows children to vote?
Are public school policies "discriminatory" that segregate by gender male and female locker rooms?
Doesn't "choosing love over outdated notions of marriage" require legalizing marriages of five people who love each other, or of a man and his beloved poodle, or of loving cousins or any other imaginable combination based merely on a subjective emotional bond?
Absent an objective, biologically based definition of marriage as between a man and a woman, a union uniquely designed to provide a gender-balanced home for children, marriage soon means nothing at all.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Christian doctors publish statement on same-sex marriage

The 15,000-member Christian Medical Association has published a statement on same-sex marriage, including recommendations for public policy. Some excerpts:

  • "Marriage is a consensual, exclusive and lifelong commitment between one man and one woman, expressed in a physical union uniquely designed to produce and nurture children."
  • The "abject subjectivity" of revisionist notions of marriage "offers no rational parameters that would exclude further redefinitions of 'marriage' as between multiple partners or related persons."
  • Government maintains a valid and vital interest in sanctioning conjugal marriage, given demonstrated benefits to children raised by both a mother and a father, economic factors favoring father-mother families and the high cost to government and society when marriage breaks down.
  • CMA supports legislative measures that "Recognize marriage as exclusively between one man and one woman" and also "Maintain equal protection of applicable laws for those who engage in homosexual activity without according special status or privileges based on that activity."
The full statement includes footnoted references and further resources for anyone interested in presenting an apologetic for conjugal marriage.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Euthanasia is to the Netherlands what HIV/AIDS is to the world

Ed Staneke's father told Dutch doctor administering
lethal injection, "I don't want to die!"

Imagine your grandfather in a nursing home where a doctor takes his life by withholding food and water while administering massive doses of morphine.
Imagine your sister and mother encouraging your father to forego life-extending medical treatment and instead opting to die by lethal injection.
These are true stories, detailed in my US Senate testimony, that put human faces on startling reports and statistics coming out of the Netherlands about its state-sanctioned euthanasia program.
The Netherlands now reports that three percent of its citizens die at the hands of doctors, including many not suffering from terminal diseases. Dutch government officials boast of strict controls, imagining that they somehow can manage medical killing like Dutch dikes manage encroaching waters.
But real-life statistics obtained behind the cloak of government propaganda reveal that the program clearly has careened out of control.
In the early 1990's, statistics in the government-sponsored Dutch Remmelink report revealed that normalizing medical killing and putting doctors above the law had translated into doctors killing thousands of patients who never consented to be killed.
Colleague Peter Saunders, CEO of the Christian Medical Fellowship in England, details the just-released 2013 statistics that reveal how medical killing since then has mushroomed to the point where euthanasia now accounts for three percent of all Dutch deaths.
For a comparison of the magnitude of this percentage, consider that the World Health Organization reports that HIV/AIDS accounts for nearly three percent of the world's deaths annually.
Euthanasia is to the Netherlands what HIV/AIDS is to the world.
It's easy to imagine how well-educated and highly respected doctors, daily entrusted with life and death decisions, can come to think that they know better than the unwilling patients they euthanize. But what about the individuals who clearly choose euthanasia?
·         Some choose euthanasia because they are afraid to die, especially if a disease means they will die in a physical condition they consider undignified. While understandable, this view neglects that our character--not the condition of our bodies--determines true dignity. Physical beauty and health do not dignify a person; character, courage and love dignify a person.
·         Others choose euthanasia because they feel a duty to die. They don't want to feel like a burden to family members. Sometimes they simply do not realize that their loved ones would never see them as a burden and would consider it a privilege to minister to their needs. Too often, however, aged patients correctly discern that family members would not want to take the time or bear the inconvenience of caring for them. This perceived pressure to die poses a strong reason not to legalize medical killing--either assisted suicide or euthanasia.
·         Still others choose euthanasia because they fear pain and don't realize how medical advances in pain control could ease their pain. Hospice also provides what many patients and their families have found to be a comforting and satisfying way to cope with end-of-life issues.
As we advocate in the public square for policies that promote true compassion and palliative care rather than medical killing, we do well to also address the deeply personal and spiritual motivations behind the drive for assisted suicide and euthanasia. Reassure your elderly family members often of your love for them and your commitment to their care. Share how God can make life meaningful, even at the end of life. Hold a hand, change a bedpan, read Scripture and pray with those facing the end of their lives on earth.
"Fight the good fight of faith; take hold of the eternal life to which you were called, and you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. I charge you in the presence of God, who gives life to all things…" --I Timothy 6:12-13.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Both liberals and conservatives lobby for laws with moral and religious implications

Patt Morrison of the Los Angeles Times suggests in a commentary that "conservatives argue consistently that matters of family morality aren’t for the government to intrude on."
On the contrary, conservatives and liberals alike in our democratic republic advance many laws that deal with morality: capital punishment, abortion, gun control and religious freedom, which applies to the case of the castigated government official who simply seeks a government health  insurance option consistent with his conscience.
The bipartisan federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act provides that the government must not abridge our First Amendment religious freedoms apart from a compelling interest that the government enforces by the least restrictive means. The wise law does not make religious interests automatically trump government interests; it simply protects the delicate church-state balance reflected in the Bill of Rights: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…."

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Dr. Ben Carson's patients stories reveal how the choices physicians make can mean our life or death

Photo: World Net Daily
Writing in The Washington Times, Dr. Ben Carson highlights the life-or-death power entrusted to medical professionals and institutions:
Several years ago, I was consulted by a young woman who was 33 weeks pregnant and was on her way to Kansas get an abortion. I informed her of the multiple options available to her outside of abortion and she decided to go through with the pregnancy even though the child had hydrocephalus and required neurosurgical intervention after birth a few weeks later. She kept the baby and loves the beautiful child that has resulted.
A couple of decades ago, I came into the pediatric Intensive Care Unit on morning rounds and was told about a four-year-old girl who had been hit by an ice cream truck, and was comatose and exhibiting little neurological function other than reactive pupils. I tested her pupillary reflexes and both pupils were fixed and dilated. The staff indicated to me that this is something that must have just occurred. I grabbed the bed and with some help, transported her quickly to the operating room for an emergency craniotomy. I was met along the way by a senior neurosurgeon who told me I was wasting my time and that at best, we would end up with someone in a vegetative state.
Nevertheless, we completed the operation and a few days later, her pupils became reactive and she eventually left the hospital. I saw her a few years ago walking through the hospital with her own 4-year-old little girl. She was neurologically fully intact and told me she had become somewhat of a celebrity because of the experience I just related. What do these two stories have in common? Read more...

Sexual risk avoidance programs awarded crumbs from HHS table

It's comparatively crumbs under the table funding compared to less effective programs, but yesterday the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Administration for Children and Families, released the names of successful grantees for the sexual risk avoidance (SRA) abstinence education program. Entitled the Competitive Abstinence Education Grant Program (CAE), the $5 million dollar program was authorized by Congress as part of the FY 2014 spending bill.
Eleven programs across the United States received two-year grants to provide information and skills that help teens avoid the risks associated with sexual activity.
My colleague Valerie Huber, President/CEO of the National Abstinence Education Association (NAEA), noted, 
The Sexual Risk Avoidance (SRA) abstinence approach is vital to the optimal health of America’s youth. SRA programs empower teens to successfully navigate adolescence by focusing on their goals and dreams, rather than sex.
Currently almost 95% of sex education spending in the federal budget goes to federal initiatives that are not centered on the risk avoidance abstinence message.  We hope that Congress will expand this program so that the focus on abstinence education can achieve parity in both priority and funding with contraceptive-focused programs.
Since almost 75% of the age group often targeted for sex education (15-17 year olds) have never had sex, we are eager for students to receive the reinforcement they need to continue to make healthy sexual decisions. They will singularly receive this important reinforcement in successfully implemented abstinence programs.
For more information from medical experts, download Sexual Risk Avoidance Education.