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Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Snarky commentary on health care relies on invective and insults

Lewis M. Simons, whose Pulitzer Prize must have been in the Snarky Commentary category, writes a USA Today column, Why Americans don't just 'let them die,'" in which he pronounces all Republicans and the pro-life movement as anti-life--all on the basis of comments out of context and two random outbursts from audience members at a recent GOP presidential debate.
When CNN antagonist Wolf Blitzer baited GOP presidential candidate Rep. Ron Paul at the debate by asking if he'd let an uninsured motorcycle accident patient simply die, two members of the audience yelled, "Yeah." Rep. Paul began his answer not by advocating letting the patient die, but first by referring to the freedom principle of not forcing Americans to buy health insurance and second by calling on churches and others to help such patients in need.
Yet Simons somehow created an entire malicious column by lifting those comments out of context, by libelously asserting that Republicans were "cheering in favor of letting a young man die if he's sick and uninsured" and by denouncing "right-wing politicians" and pro-life advocates as having a "meanness of spirit."
Apparently oblivious to his own meanness of spirit, Simons derides Republicans as "self-proclaimed patriots" and demeans Rep. Michele Bachman as Sarah Palin's "avatar" and a "scientifically uneducated mom."
Surely it remains possible in our democratic republic to hold a civilized, informed debate over health care in this country, debating the merits of proposals and examining the evidence for and against policy approaches. But USA Today hardly fulfills its role as a respected forum for debate when a member of its own Board of Contributors eschews evidence and reason for raw invective and insults propped up by misrepresentations and distortions of truth.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

New law prevents patenting human organisms

This good news just in from a pro-life Congressional colleague:

Today, President Obama signed into law the America Invents Act, H.R. 1249 which contains a provision that codifies an existing pro-life policy rider included in the CJS Appropriations bill since FY2004 [See Section 33 of H.R. 1249].  This provision, commonly known as the Weldon amendment, ensures the US Patent and Trade Office (USPTO) does not issues patents that are directed to or encompassing a human organism.

The provision reads as follows:
(a) LIMITATION.—Notwithstanding any other provision of law, no patent may issue on a claim directed to or encompassing a human organism.
(1) IN GENERAL.—Subsection (a) shall apply to any application for patent that is pending on, or filed on or after, the date of the enactment of this Act.
(2) PRIOR APPLICATIONS.—Subsection (a) shall not affect the validity of any patent issued on an application to which paragraph (1) does not apply.

This provision reflects a common-sense understanding that no member of the human species is an "invention," or property to be licensed for financial gain. Patents on human organisms commodify life and allow profiteers to financially gain from the biology and life of another human person.

Rep. Dave Weldon (R-FL) offered the current policy provision banning the patenting of human organisms during House consideration of the FY04 Commerce, Justice, State Appropriations bill.  The amendment was approved by the House of Representatives on July 23, 2003 by voice vote, without objection from either side of the aisle. The Weldon amendment was then included in the conferenced bill that became law on January 23, 2004 and has consistently remained in the CJS bill since then.

Since 1987, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) had an internal policy that human beings at any stage of development are not patentable subject matter under 35 U.S.C. Section 101.  To ensure the policy was not vulnerable to legal challenge, the Weldon amendment put the weight of Congress behind the USPTO policy. 

The text of the Weldon amendment has been included in the relevant appropriations act since FY04 without challenge, most recently in the FY2010 Omnibus and extended by the FY2011 Omnibus spending bill.  The Weldon amendment was codified into law on September 16, 2011 in H.R. 1249, the America Invents Act.

Before the Weldon amendment, efforts to evade the internal policy at USPTO or have it reversed were underway and some researchers had already said that they wanted to patent and market human embryos with certain genetic profiles as "models" for studying diseases with genetic roots (see N. Munro, "The New Patent Puzzle," National Journal, March 2, 2002 pp. 628-9).

For example, in 2001 the University of Missouri at Columbia requested and received a patent on a method for producing cloned mammals, which failed to exclude humans (see A. Pollack, "Debate on Human Cloning Turns to Patents," The New York Times, May 17, 2002, p. A12).

Thus, because the 1987 USPTO rules were not explicitly stated in law, it became clear that the Weldon amendment was necessary to ensure the courts would not overturn the USPTO’s policy. Codifying the Weldon amendment in H.R. 1249 is consistent with current law and current USPTO policy, ensuring human beings at any state of development are not considered property to be licensed for financial gain.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Administration overreaches again with mandate to force state funding of Planned Parenthood

A commentary by Michael J. New in National Review Online, Obama Administration Circumvents N.H. Executive Council, notes:
In response to the New Hampshire Executive Council’s decision to cut of taxpayer funds for Planned Parenthood, the Obama administration announced last week  that they would oversee the awarding of family planning contracts in New Hampshire. This means that that there is a good chance that New Hampshire Planned Parenthood affiliates will recover the $1.8 million in taxpayer funds that they previously lost.
New Hampshire followed the lead of the U.S. House of Representatives, which voted 240-185 to cut off federal subsidies to Planned Parenthood. Planned Parenthood is a billion-dollar "nonprofit" enterprise that in one year alone performed 332,278 abortions and received $363.2 million in taxpayer funding, according to its 2009 annual report.
An in-depth scan of this behemoth abortion business reveals a conglomerate more fit for federal investigation than federal subsidy. Every week or so it seems that a new scandal documented with statistical and videotaped evidence exposes Planned Parenthood as corrupt.
As Ohio Republican Rep. Jean Schmidt notes, "For the sake of abortion, Planned Parenthood holds itself above the law, ignoring mandatory reporting requirements, skirting parental consent, and aiding and abetting child sex trafficking."
Sen. Kelly Ayotte
I meet on a monthly basis with New Hampshire's pro-life senator, Sen. Kelly Ayotte, who as the state's Attorney General argued a case before the Supreme Court against Planned Parenthood regarding parental notification on abortion. (Click here to watch a YouTube video of Sen. Ayotte discussing that case and other Planned Parenthood issues with my friend Marjorie Dannenfelser.) Of the current federal intrusion into New Hampshire's decision to defund Planned Parenthood, Sen. Ayotte rightly notes that "the administration should respect the state's right to make this decision."
Unfortunately, the reach of the federal bureaucracy into medicine has mushroomed to the point where states are losing their historical and Constitutional ability to guide the health care of their own citizens. Battles over states de-funding Planned Parenthood … states opposing the individual insurance mandate in "Obamacare" … and faith-based organizations fighting the conscience-nullifying HHS mandate to fund potentially abortifacient contraceptives--are also in a sense battles for your own freedoms as a healthcare professional. Turning back the overreach of the federal government into medicine will ultimately help restore more control to healthcare professionals to follow their own conscientiously held standards and professional judgment.
What can you do?
  1. To urge the administration to rescind its recent mandate to fund potentially abortifacient contraceptives, submit your comment before the September 30 deadline to the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services.
  2. Urge your U.S. Representative to co-sponsor the (click here:) Respect for Rights of Conscience Act.
  3. Urge your U.S. Senators to co-sponsor the (click here:) Respect for Rights of Conscience Act.
 Thanks for speaking out for your values!