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Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Support bipartisan bill to protect conscience, ban all government abortion funding

Rep. Smith
Congressmen Chris Smith (R-NJ-04) and Dan Lipinski (D-IL) have introduced a strong bill to permanently prohibit taxpayer funding of abortion in every federal program. The No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act will establish a government-wide statutory prohibition on abortion funding.
This bipartisan pro-life bill has 155 cosponsors--18 Democrats and 139 Republicans. Pro-life healthcare professionals and patients who want pro-life physicians will especially note the conscience protections provisions of this bill (read the text of the bill here):
(a) NONDISCRIMINATION.—A Federal agency or program, and any State or local government that receives Federal financial assistance (either directly or indirectly), may not subject any individual or institutional health care entity to discrimination on the basis that the health care entity does not provide, pay for, provide coverage of, or refer for abortions.
(b) HEALTH CARE ENTITY DEFINED.—For purposes of this section, the term 'health care entity' includes an individual physician or other health care professional, a hospital, a provider-sponsored organization, a health maintenance organization, a health insurance plan, or any other kind of health care facility, organization, or plan.
(c) ADMINISTRATION.—The Office for Civil Rights of the Department of Health and Human Services is designated to receive complaints of discrimination based on this subsection, and coordinate the investigation of such complaints.
Rep. Lipinski (left)
Without conscience protections that allow physicians and nurses to practice medicine according to life-affirming ethical codes and moral convictions, pro-life and faith-based physicians and institutions will leave medicine. That will leave many patients who depend on faith-based care without access to medicine. With so much at stake, I trust you will keep abreast of this issue and let your Representative know you want him or her to cosponsor this important bill.
Action: Urge your Representative to keep your tax dollars from funding abortion: The lists below includes Members who supported the Stupak/Pitts amendment to the health care reform bill, which is similar to the Smith/Lipinski bill (HR 5939), but have not yet cosponsored the Smith/Lipinski bill. If your Representative appears on this list, urge that Member to "cosponsor the Smith/Lipinski bill (HR 5939)."
  • Republicans: Biggert, Bilbray, Bono Mack, Capito, Castle, Dent, Djou, Dreier, Flake, Frelinghuysen, Hastings, Heller, Kirk, Lance, Mack, C., Nunes, Putnam, Reichert, Rohrabacher, Rooney, Royce, Young, B., Young, D.,
  • Democrats: Baca, Barrow, Berry, Bishop, Boccieri, Cardoza, Chandler, Cooper, Costa, Cuellar, Davis (AL), Doyle, Etheridge, Gordon, Hill, Holden, Kaptur, Kildee, Langevin, Lynch, Matheson, Melancon, Michaud, Mollohan, Neal, Obey, Perriello, Pomeroy, Reyes, Rodriguez, Ryan (OH), Salazar, Shuler, Skelton, Snyder, Space, Spratt, Stupak, Tanner, Teague

Monday, September 20, 2010

Real cures for real patients: ethical and proven adult stem cell research

A USA Today story about our lawsuit to enforce federal law prohibiting human embryo destruction notes that "Stem cell research has the potential to produce breakthroughs in treating life-threatening diseases that have resisted traditional treatment."

More specifically, only the type of stem cell research that does not kill a living human embryo has demonstrated effectiveness in real patients, currently treating over 70 diseases. Embryonic stem cell research destroys living, genetically complete human embryos to harvest embryonic stem cells, which are powerful yet unstable and produce tumors. Despite hundreds of millions of federal and institutional dollars, embryo-destroying research has not cured a single patient.
That's why physicians including the 16,000-member Christian Medical Association filed the original lawsuit--to enforce the bipartisan federal law that will insure that our government focuses funding on the already proven, fastest and ethical route to real cures for real patients.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The Administration's Rhetoric and Reversals

The administration is employing a "bait and switch" strategy for hoodwinking the public and enforcing its big-government healthcare and abortion agenda.

President Obama made the sales pitch on ABC This Week (click for video), insisting, "For us to say that you've got to take a responsibility to get health insurance is absolutely not a tax increase." Now his Department of Justice insists that the healthcare law is a tax, and that Congress can use its taxing power “even for purposes that would exceed its powers under other provisions” of the Constitution.
President Obama also insisted in his healthcare bill sales pitch, "And we're not looking to change what is the principle that has been in place for a very long time, which is federal dollars are not used to subsidize abortions."
Now Senate Democrats have railroaded through committee an amendment by Sen. Roland Burris (D-IL) to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) to remove restrictions on performing abortions in military facilities--and thus use federal dollars to subsidize abortions.
Over 200 military physicians signed onto a letter calling on the Senate to reject the Burris amendment. These military physicians oppose the Burris abortion amendment as an explosive and divisive maneuver that threatens to further disrupt our military cohesiveness and culture in a time of war.
As recently retired Air Force physician Col. Donald Thompson explains, "Our military exists to fight our nation's wars, not to be a ideological playground."
Repeated reversals of rhetorical promises are making this administration's campaign promise of transparency seem more and more like a transparent lie.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Patients imperiled by conscience protection gaps in new healthcare law

Where does the new healthcare overhaul law leave healthcare professionals regarding the exercise of their conscience rights? How might it impact the poor patients now served by faith-based professionals and institutions?
Summary of Conscience Protection Gaps
  1. Narrow range of moral issues. Conscience protections only apply to abortion and assisted suicide--not to all the other ethical challenges healthcare professionals face, such as prescriptions of abortifacients, contraception, sterilization and many other issues with moral implications.
  2. No protection for medical residents who decline to train for abortions. While the new law does not invalidate other existing Federal law that prohibits discrimination against individuals who decline to participate in training for abortions, the other existing law does not apply to funding under the new law.
  3. No protection for health plans. The conscience protections in the new law only apply to "individuals" and "healthcare facilities"; the law does not include proposed language to also protect "a provider-sponsored organization, a health maintenance organization, a health insurance plan, a plan sponsor, a health insurance issuer, a qualified health plan or issuer offering such a plan, or any other kind of health care facility, organization, or plan."
  4. Nowhere to report abortion discrimination. Notably, the law does not specify an agency where victims of discrimination may report abuses related to abortion--only abuses related to assisted suicide.
  5. "Assisted suicide" conscience protection may be invalid. Some analysts have raised the concern that the term "assisted suicide" may not apply to states where assisted suicide is legal but the act has been semantically redefined by euphemisms such as "aid in dying". 
HR 3590 (now law)
SEC. 1303. SPECIAL RULES.
(p. 53)
(3) PROVIDER CONSCIENCE PROTECTIONS.-No individual health care provider or health care facility may be discriminated against because of a willingness or an unwillingness, if doing so is contrary to the religious or moral beliefs of the provider or facility, to provide, pay for, provide coverage of, or refer for abortions.
(b) APPLICATION OF STATE AND FEDERAL LAWS REGARDING ABORTION.-
(2) NO EFFECT ON FEDERAL LAWS REGARDING ABORTION.- (A) IN GENERAL.-Nothing in this Act shall be construed to have any effect on Federal laws regarding- (i) conscience protection; (ii) willingness or refusal to provide abortion; and (iii) discrimination on the basis of the willingness or refusal to provide, pay for, cover, or refer for abortion or to provide or participate in training to provide abortion.
[Note that the other Federal laws do not apply to funding under the new healthcare law.]
(p. 141)
SEC. 1553. PROHIBITION AGAINST DISCRIMINATION ON ASSISTED SUICIDE. (a) IN GENERAL.-The Federal Government, and any State or local government or health care provider that receives Federal financial assistance under this Act (or under an amendment made by this Act) or any health plan created under this Act (or under an amendment made by this Act), may not subject an individual or institutional health care entity to discrimination on the basis that the entity does not provide any health care item or service furnished for the purpose of causing, or for the purpose of assisting in causing, the death of any individual, such as by assisted suicide, euthanasia, or mercy killing.
(b) DEFINITION.-In this section, the term ''health care entity'' includes an individual physician or other health care professional, a hospital, a provider-sponsored organization, a health maintenance organization, a health insurance plan, or any other kind of health care facility, organization, or plan.
(d) ADMINISTRATION.-The Office for Civil Rights of the Department of Health and Human Services is designated to receive complaints of discrimination based on this section.