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Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Obamacare: Somehow "hope and change" translated into "kneel and obey."

As the Supreme Court hears arguments for and against Obamacare, supporters of the massive intrusion of the federal government into the physician-patient relationship are ginning up the old talking points. Like the one about the supposed freedom to keep your health insurance without change. But the contraceptives mandate has already blown the lid off that cover-up: now virtually every plan must change to cover life-ending contraceptives, regardless of moral persuasion.
Supporters are also dusting off the old talking point about increasing access to health care--without mentioning that this administration's gutting of conscience protections, disdain for religious liberty and heavy-handed regulations threaten to drive out of medicine many faith-based and pro-life health professionals.
And then we hear yet once more about how Obamacare is just the medicine we need to save costs in health care, without disclosure of the unpleasant side-effect: the government will be deciding instead of you and your physician whether you get the most effective cancer treatment or merely the cheapest.
In all of this, it's becoming clearer and clearer that the American people are not buying the golden rhetoric like they did four years ago. Somehow "hope and change" translated into "kneel and obey." 
Now it's up to the Supreme Court or the next session of Congress to restore our liberties.

House committee takes step to prevent transporting minors across state lines for abortions

Taking a step closer to making it a federal crime to transport a minor across a state line in circumvention of a state law requiring parental involvement in the minor's abortion, yesterday the House Judiciary Committee approved the Child Interstate Abortion Notification Act (CIANA), H.R. 2299 by a vote of 20 to 13. The bill also requires parental notice for abortions on minors who are from a state other than where the abortion will take place. 
Several polls indicate that roughly seven in ten Americans support parental involvement laws. 
  • Video and roll call votes on the amendments offered during the markup: here.
  • Video of Rep. Lamar Smith, Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee: Opening Statement
  • Video of Rep. Trent Franks, Chairman of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution: Opening Statement

Friday, March 23, 2012

Oregon hides assisted suicide stats but problems still leak out

"Dr. Death" assisted suicide advocate Jack Kevorkian
Assisted suicide proponents argue that getting the government to sanction medically induced death results in patient autonomy. Of course, they may be the only people nowadays who believe that increased government involvement results in increased individual autonomy.
They would also have us believe that bureaucrats in a state like Oregon, which sanctions medical killing, are going to be forthcoming about problems with the assisted suicide law the state has adopted. The law actually mandates secrecy, which of course prevents any patient protections that might otherwise result from transparency and public and media oversight.

The Physicians for Compassionate Care Education Foundation recently issued the following critique of the Public Health Department of the Oregon Health Authority's report for physician-assisted suicides for the 2011 year, noting:
  • There were more prescriptions and deaths than in any previous year; the number of prescriptions written for lethal doses of barbiturates increased from 97 in 2010 to 114 in 2011, and the reported deaths from assisted suicide increased from 65 to 71. This is indicative of an increase in hopelessness and despair among a vulnerable population with serious illness.
  • 62 doctors wrote 114 prescriptions, with some writing up to 14 prescriptions each. Some doctors knew the patient for only one week before writing the prescriptions. It is known that some doctors are prominent prescribers of lethal barbiturates for assisted suicide.
  • As has occurred in prior years, not all who attempt to take the drugs will die. Two patients ingested the medication but failed to die. Each regained consciousness and died more than a day later, 30 hours and 38 hours respectively, of their underlying illness; they were not considered to have died from the ingested drugs. These are not easy drugs to take, they are bitter and foul-tasting, and vomiting does occur despite anti-emetics..
  • As in previous years, there was virtually no formal evaluation for underlying depression, anxiety or other serious mental health issue. Only one of the 71 patients was referred for psychiatric evaluation. OHSU researchers in 2008 reported that 25% of patients requesting assisted suicide were considered to be depressed.
  • As in previous years, pain has not been a major concern; only one third of patients had inadequate pain control or concern about it. The most commonly expressed concerns of those dying from physician-assisted suicide were unchanged from previous reports: less able to engage in activities making life enjoyable, losing autonomy, and loss of dignity.
  • In only six cases was the prescribing physician present at the time of ingestion, in 3 other cases another provider was present. Thus, very little is known or reported regarding events at the time of ingestion of the medications. For 62 patients there was either no provider present or the information regarding presence of a provider was unknown. Physicians appear to be disengaged with patients at the end.
  • In essence then, complications were unknown for 59 patients, and any information regarding minutes between ingestion and unconsciousness and death was unknown for 63 patients.
  • The shroud of secrecy surrounding assisted suicide is heavier than ever. With each passing year, Oregonians know less and less about what is really happening with assisted suicides in the state.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Inaugural oath more than a pledge to create jobs

Karen Tumulty's commentary-as-news article in the Washington Post, "Recent debate over contraception comes as GOP loses gains among women," left out the voices for constitutional principles in what she described as a "national shouting match over reproductive issues."
The First Amendment unambiguously protects the free exercise of religion from state coercion. Yet the Obama administration is audaciously denying the free exercise of religion by coercing faith-based organizations and individuals to violate their conscience by participating in what the FDA labels as potentially life-ending contraceptives such as ella and Plan B.
The article suggests that presidential candidates should shut up about the contraceptive mandate, throw religious groups under the bus and focus on jobs. Yet statesmen left and right, from Jefferson to Lincoln to King, have advanced Constitutional principles even when many in the country fiercely favored Constitution-violating actions involving free speech, slavery and civil rights.
As Thomas Jefferson declared, "No provision in our Constitution ought to be dearer to man than that which protects the rights of conscience against the enterprises of the civil authority.”
How can a candidate unwilling to brave opposition in defense of constitutional liberties take the inaugural oath to "preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States?"

Thursday, March 15, 2012

If "99 percent of women" already access contraceptives, why make conscientious objectors provide them?

A recent Washington Post article about a failed Senate vote to correct Obamacare's contraceptives mandate and restore conscience freedoms focused on what Mitt Romney misunderstood about the bill. The article should have focused on what Thomas Jefferson understood about the First Amendment.
"No provision in our Constitution ought to be dearer to man than that which protects the rights of conscience against the enterprises of the civil authority,” Jefferson proclaimed.
This primacy of First Amendment freedoms has prompted our nation to exempt conscientious objectors from wartime military service and Hippocratic physicians from aiding in capital punishment.
Yet somehow the administration's plan to shower potential voters with free contraceptives just before the election trumps the conscience rights of millions of Americans. Many maintain deep moral or religious convictions about now-mandated drugs like ella and Plan B that the FDA warns have the potential to end a developing human life.
If, as President Obama asserts, 99 percent of women already access contraceptives, where's the imperative to suddenly coerce conscientious objectors into paying for them? Mr. Obama's sham conscience "accommodation," merely shifted contraceptive coverage paperwork from employers to insurers and never even made it into the final published rule.
The issue is not partisan: If the Obama administration can abrogate our conscience rights over contraception, future administrations can abrogate our conscience rights over anything.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Whistle-blower lawsuit against Planned Parenthood unsealed

This just in about Planned Parenthood, a slick and sleazy billion-dollar enterprise that each year rakes in hundreds of millions in taxpayer-funded federal grants and performs hundreds of thousands abortions:
A formerly sealed federal “whistle-blower” suit against Planned Parenthood finally has been made public. The suit against a Texas Planned Parenthood affiliate was filed in 2009 by the Alliance Defense Fund on behalf of former Clinic Director Abby Johnson.
The complaint states, “At a late 2008/early 2009 monthly management meeting, Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast, through Members of Planned Parenthood’s Key Management Team, openly acknowledged to Ms. Johnson and others attending this management meeting that Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast had, in fact, been fraudulently billing the Texas WHP program for non-reimbursable products and services but would hope not to get caught and would hide these facts from the United States, the State of Texas, and/or their respective fiscal intermediaries and not provide any reimbursement of monies received…”
According to this statement by ADF, the Texas affiliate now known as Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast, “filed at least 87,075 false, fraudulent, or ineligible claims with the Texas Women’s Health Program.  As a result, Planned Parenthood wrongfully received and retained reimbursements totaling more than $5.7 million.”

Friday, March 9, 2012

Logical extension of abortion: Medical "ethicists" now propose killing born babies

The debate over partial-birth abortion highlighted an inconvenient truth: only a legal technicality and a very short difference of distance in the birth canal separated a late-term, partially born aborted baby from a baby allowed to live.
Some so-called medical ethicists now are lobbying to stomp right over such technical differences and extend the logic of abortion to its natural conclusion--killing babies already born.
Here's the abstract on a shocking paper published in the Journal of Medical Ethics, a publication of the respectable British Medical Journal:
After-birth abortion: why should the baby live?
Alberto Giubilini, Francesca Minerva
Abortion is largely accepted even for reasons that do not have anything to do with the fetus’ health. By showing that (1) both fetuses and newborns do not have the same moral status as actual persons, (2) the fact that both are potential persons is morally irrelevant and (3) adoption is not always in the best interest of actual people, the authors argue that what we call ‘after-birth abortion’ (killing a newborn) should be permissible in all the cases where abortion is, including cases where the newborn is not disabled.
In a free society, you can't stop people from thinking horrible thoughts and developing deadly ideas. But when the idea of killing born babies rises to the level of publication in a credible medical journal, it's time to sound the alarm.
Nazi comparisons may be overused, but the German historical record suggests at least a similar start. Hitler did not originate the idea of euthanizing the sick, elderly, mentally challenged and child "bed-wetters." The idea came first from academic and scientific elite--including members of the medical community. Gradually the shock diminished, acceptance grew and finally the government adopted it as a social policy.
Such a swift and lethal moral decline can only happen in a society where objective, absolute morality--such as the life-honoring principles of the Judeo-Christian Scriptures--is exchanged for relative ethics resting on little more than pragmatism and personal power or preference. Many rejoice at such "liberating" moral freedom, gladly casting off the shackles of objective moral codes. But then one day the fickle god of pragmatism and preference imperils their own welfare and suddenly freedom looks more like fascism.

Faith-based institutions face millions in fines for conscientiously opposing Obamacare mandate: Congressional report

The information below advanced by the U.S. House and Energy Committee illustrates the serious impact of the Obamacare contraception mandate will have on faith-based institutions--and why the mandate violates the free exercise of religion guaranteed by the Constitution.
Such draconian penalties will not only redirect faith-based funding away from the individuals organizations help; the penalties can ultimately force many faith-based organizations to cease existing. The result: a massive increase in the tax burden for the nation and more dependence on the state, dramatically increasing the size and scope of government.
Hidden in the Health Care Law
Obamacare Mandate Could Mean Steep Fines for Employers who Freely Exercise Their Religion
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof” –First Amendment
The First Amendment ensures that Congress shall make no law prohibiting the exercise of religion. These protections have been reaffirmed by Congress and upheld by the courts throughout the history of our nation. However, a recent regulation imposed by the Obama administration turns that history on its head by requiring organizations, including religious organizations, to procure and pay for services that violate their religious and moral beliefs. The mandate sparked an outcry from across the ideological spectrum, and in response, the administration developed what it describes as an "accommodation" for religious employers. But leading voices continue to object to this policy. The president's health care law is not just a series of mandates, but also corresponding punishments for individuals or employers that do not comply with the litany of new rules. So what happens if employers adhere to their religious beliefs and moral convictions and choose not to provide coverage that violates their conscience?
Even with the Obama administration’s so called “accommodation,” employers could face a steep fine if they fail to comply with the mandate. According to a recent Congressional Research Service report requested by the House Energy and Commerce Committee,  “A group health plan that fails to comply with the pertinent requirements in the IRC may be subject to a tax of $100 for each day in the noncompliance period with respect to each individual to whom such failure relates.”
Consequently, for example, if a self-insured religious charity or hospital with 100 employees chooses to exercise its religious rights instead of complying with the Obamacare mandate, it could be subject to a $3.65 million annual fine.
Implementing a federal mandate that violates the conscience of an individual or organization, regardless of their religious affiliation or organizational purpose, is in direct violation with the First Amendment. Imposing a fine on these individuals pours salt in the wound.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Why the Dutch pro-life minority can't rule out their untimely death at the hands of the majority

In an article entitled, "Euthanasia in the Netherlands: Rick Santorum’s bogus statistics," Washington Post fact-checker Glenn Kessler relies on technical Dutch definitions in too hastily dismissing Rick Santorum's comments on the euthanasia fears of elderly Dutch
"Man may not make a decision to end [my] life"
While conducting euthanasia research in the Netherlands, I learned first hand how the Dutch disguise death by doctors. The Remmelink report cited by Kessler actually revealed that while doctors used lethal injection to euthanize 949 patients a year without the patients' consent (clearly involuntary euthanasia), they also ended the lives of over 20,000 patients by "opioid overdose intending death" without the patients' consent (not defined as involuntary euthanasia but yielding the same deadly result for non-consenting patients).[i]
In the Netherlands, I interviewed officials of the 70,000-member Dutch Patients Organization (Nederlandse Patienten Vereniging), which defends patient rights. The organization recognized a need to publish for concerned patients guidance documents (pictured at left) that read, "Under no circumstances may a treatment be given with the intention of ending my life, because I believe that man may not make a decision to end life."
The minority of Dutch who oppose euthanasia have good reason to feel vulnerable to an unsolicited death at the hands of the majority.

[i] van der Maas PJ, van der Wal G, Haverkate I, et al. Euthanasia physician-assisted suicide and other medical practices involving the end of life in the Netherlands 1990-1995. N Engl J Med 1996;335:1699–1705.

House hearing highlights bill to ban transporting minors for abortions

Today, the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution held a hearing on the Child Interstate Abortion Notification Act (CIANA), H.R. 2299
More than three-quarters of Americans believe that parents should be involved before their  children have an abortion and more than 80 percent believe that an individual should not be able to take a minor across state lines for an abortion without her parents' knowledge.
The CIANA bill would prohibit taking minors interstate for abortion to evade parental involvement laws.
The bill prohibits knowingly taking a minor across state lines with the intent of obtaining an abortion, if this action evades a parental involvement law in the minor's home state. It also allows parents who suffer harm to sue for damages. These provisions do not apply when the abortion is necessary to save the girl's life or when the transporting individual reasonably believes that the parental involvement law was satisfied because the parents had given consent or been notified or a court waived those requirements.
The bill also requires an abortionist to notify a parent at least 24 hours before performing an abortion on an out-of-state minor. Notice may be provided by an agent of the abortion provider and constructive notice is permissible if actual notice is impossible. These provisions do not apply when the abortionist complies with a parental involvement law in the state where the abortion occurs; documentation reasonably shows that a home-state court has authorized the abortion; the minor declares that she is a victim of sexual or physical abuse or of neglect (but the abortionist must still notify appropriate authorities before performing the abortion); or the abortion is necessary to save the girl's life, (the abortionist must still notify the parents within 24 hours after the abortion).
Witness testimony and video clips of the hearing can be found below.
Witness Written Testimony
  1. Professor Teresa Collett, Professor of Law, University of St. Thomas School of Law  (Republican-invited witness)
  2. The Very Reverend Dr. Katherine Hancock Ragsdale, President and Dean, Episcopal Divinity School (Democrat-invited witness)
  3. Dr. Michael New, Department of Social Sciences, University of Michigan - Dearborn (Republican-invited witness)
Video Clips