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Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Finally, something good to say about a healthcare reform bill

So many bad bills, so little time...
That's why it's nice to be able to say something good about a bill coming out of Washington.
Today the 16,000-member Christian Medical Association (CMA,, the nation's largest association of faith-based physicians, voiced support for the conscience-protecting provisions in the "Empowering Patients First Act," a bill introduced by Rep. Tom Price (R-GA 6th). CMA contended that the protections are needed to avoid a potentially catastrophic loss of faith-based healthcare on which millions of poor patients depend.
More from CMA's news release:

In a letter sent to Rep. Price today regarding the bill (HR 3400), CMA CEO Dr. David Stevens noted, "The Christian Medical Association is very concerned that some in Congress and the White House appear to be pursuing a conscience-hostile approach to healthcare legislation, opposing amendment after amendment that would provide solid--not rhetorically deceptive--conscience protections. "Lawmakers must realize that threatening or minimizing conscience protections holds the potential to create a catastrophic shortage of healthcare access, especially for poor patients. Our national polling (available online at reveals that 95 percent of faith-based physicians are prepared to leave medicine altogether rather than violate their conscientiously held ethical convictions."
Dr. Stevens wrote, "As you know, President Obama has announced plans to rescind the relatively new federal provider conscience regulation, which also provides for such a reporting mechanism. It is imperative, therefore, to enact legislation that protects conscience rights from the whims of any administration that might minimize the opportunity to address civil rights violations related to conscience."
Dr. Stevens thanked Rep. Price for recognizing the need for strong, true and broad conscience protections.
"The bill [Sec. 106 Part (d) of HR 3400] also provides a critical component of conscience protections. Many healthcare professionals encounter pressure to violate ethical codes on many issues besides abortion. HR 3400 addresses this reality by offering appropriately broad conscientious protection 'to accommodate the conscientious objection of a purchaser or an individual or institutional health care provider when a procedure is contrary to the religious beliefs or moral convictions of such purchaser or provider.'"
In his letter, Dr. Stevens also noted the benefit of designating the Office of Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services as a reporting outlet for healthcare professionals experiencing discrimination for their conscientious stance on ethical issues.
"Besides protecting any individual or institutional health care entity from discrimination 'on the basis that the health care entity does not provide, pay for, provide coverage of, or refer for abortions,' the bill also provides the crucial implementation avenue needed to make such protection effective."

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Call senators re: healthcare legislation, conscience and abortion

Today the U.S. Senate Finance Committee will continue to mark up Sen. Baucus’s health care bill, and you can have an impact on how that mark-up turns out.
My attorney friend Mary Harned of Americans United for Life has summarized in the AUL blog the key issues of concern for those of us concerned with life issues.
Dr. Charmaine Yoest, President of AUL, reports, "Currently, Sen. Baucus’s bill allows qualified health plans to provide coverage for all abortions and mandates that at least one plan in each state exchange provide coverage of all abortions.  Thankfully, we have another chance to protect and defend life in health care reform.
Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) has filed several amendments that would prevent government funding for abortion and would protect current conscience laws for health professionals."
Here are the pro-life amendments being considered for a vote Tuesday, Sep. 29:
  • Hatch Amdt. #C14 (355): Prohibits authorized or appropriated federal funds under this bill from being used for elective abortions and plans that cover such abortions. 
  • Hatch Amdt. #C13 (354): Protection for the right of conscience.
  • Hatch Amdt. #C12 (353): Prohibits federal funds under this bill from being used to pay for assisted suicide and offers conscience protections to providers or plans refusing to offer assisted suicide services.
What can you do? CALL the Finance Committee Senators today and urge them to support Sen. Hatch’s amendments to exclude abortion funding & protect conscience rights for health workers:

Monday, September 28, 2009

Technicality v. Reality: Obama on Conscience and Abortion

While Charles Krauthammer highlights the legerdemain the President deployed to advance his economic healthcare plans, the President also prevaricated on the issues of conscience and abortion (“Does He Lie?” Washington Post Op-Ed, Sep. 18, 2009). The President relied on a technicality rather than reality in asserting that under proposed healthcare legislation, “no federal dollars will be used to fund abortions, and federal conscience laws will remain in place.” As Mr. Krauthammer points out, “laws are not self-enforcing,” and Mr. Obama neglected to add that he intends to get rid of the only conscience regulation that enforces those federal conscience laws. On federally funded abortions, the President also relies on technicality to obscure the reality. As disparate sources such as TIME magazine, and the National Right to Life Committee have all demonstrated, the elaborate Enron-like accounting schemes devised in the House and Senate bills merely mask the fact that if those bill were passed, the federal government would be writing checks to abortionists. House and Senate committees eliminated any lingering illusions by voting down unambiguous amendments that would have clearly barred government funding of abortion.
If transparency in government is to mean anything, it must mean translating technicality into reality and replacing equivocation with truth.