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Monday, December 2, 2013

Power to the patients

President Obama would do well to listen to former president Bill Clinton's expert advice on perjurious promises and "honor the commitment" he made to the American people about keeping the health insurance policies they like.
But this president is neither a listener nor a legislator, and both ego and ideology likely will block reform of the healthcare reform law. Ideologues bullied the bill through Congress with back-room deals, ran roughshod over religious freedom with controversial mandates, and now refuse to reform while premiums skyrocket, preferred policies vanish and expected signups evaporate. 
With unintended irony, the White House "Get the Facts Straight on Health Reform" website asserts, "For too long, too many hard-working Americans paid the price for policies that handed free rein to insurance companies." Now hard-working Americans are paying the price for policies dictated by the administration.
Congress should accept the verdict against the President's signature debacle and replace Obamacare with bipartisan, measured healthcare reform that combines compassion with fiscal sensibility and reasonable oversight with the consumer benefits of competition and choice. By restoring power to the patients, Congress might also restore a measure of confidence in a government that has failed to keep its promises.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Government compulsion versus choice in healthcare

Alliance Defending Freedom video: Obamacare and abortion
The tragic and predictable failure of the Affordable Care Act provides Americans with a stark illustration of the consequences of government compulsion versus choice. Obamacare can only achieve its stated purpose--affordable care and increased access--by forcibly redistributing wealth and limiting consumer choice. The law forces the young and the healthy to buy unneeded and unwanted government-dictated insurance plans to subsidize healthcare for the old and the sick. 
Obamacare's pricey premiums force many consumers to decline insurance and pay comparatively lesser fines, thereby collapsing the law's premise of a larger pool of insured payers. Others lose their coverage as struggling employers to trim hours and personnel to adjust to the law's mandates. Employers who conscientiously object to Obamacare's abortion pill mandate are forced to drop health coverage. 
Insurance companies cannot afford to ignore actuarial realities that account for relative risk. Burgeoning regulation and government control, coupled with Obamacare's failure to curb malpractice lawsuit abuses or provide adequate Medicare reimbursements, push physicians out of medicine, fueling shortages. 
Government compulsion undermines both healthcare affordability and access. We need instead bipartisan, measured reforms that rely on the proven benefits of competition and consumer choice.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

USA Today, GOP, slavery and abortion


I'm thankful that USA Today published my commentary below today. The point is not partisan but principled:

If only the GOP would throw up the white flag and surrender "hard-line positions on abortion" and other social issues, they might win like Democrats, suggests a USA editorial ("How GOP candidates can winOur view," Nov. 6).
If Republicans had followed such advice in the nineteenth century, we would still be trading in slaves.
A 2013 Gallup poll revealed that by at least a 17-point margin, women, independents and young voters all favored the GOP position of making abortion illegal in most cases.The movement against abortion on demand garners even more support when the specific abortion issue is parental consent, partial-birth abortion, second and third trimesterabortions and informed consent.
Meanwhile, a Brookings Institution poll found that "Republicans have a better opportunity to attract Democratic defectors with … a socially conservative message than an economically conservative message."
Republicans' socially conservative position on abortionclearly syncs with American voters' values. Yet even ifpolling on abortion ran counter to the GOP platformwho could ever trust a political party that sacrificed on the altar of political expediency its commitment to the "right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness?"


Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Fatal blow from friends: Jon Stewart mercilessly mocks Obamacare



Four years ago, this column warned that Obamacare would be about as popular and efficient as your state Department of Motor Vehicles:
Freedom2Care: Why one woman ran to the hospital when she heard ...Dec 02, 2009Anyone tempted to buy the political propaganda extolling government-run health care should think about their last experience at the Department of Motor Vehicles--and then imagine their lives depending on that bureaucracy.http://freedom2care.blogspot.com/

Freedom2Care: Rescue us from this precipiceDec 26, 2009Anyone who's visited a government Department of Motor Vehicles can imagine how government-directed healthcare decisions—which would occur under current legislation with or without the “public option”—will result in the 
Okay, I was wrong. Obamacare is way less popular and efficient than any state Department of Motor Vehicles. 
The administration must be quietly realizing this fact, now that even the most liberal Obamacare supporters are mercilessly mocking the hapless healthcare program. Just read the Washington Post story, "How Jon Stewart became President Obama's biggest problem" and watch Stewart's lampooning of the Obamacare rollout.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

MLK and Wilberforce show why Christians should engage more--not less--in public policy

Abolitionist Wilberforce
The Southern Baptist Conference's Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission new president could be understood to be discouraging political activism by Christians, in a Wall Street Journal story today in which he opines that Christians should not serve as "mascots for any political faction."
The article notes, "Mr. Moore, a 42-year-old political independent and theologian, says it is time to tone down the rhetoric and pull back from the political fray, given what he calls a 'visceral recoil' among younger evangelicals to the culture wars.
Doubtless the Journal chose which controversial quotes and thoughts to emphasize from the articulate and biblically committed Baptist leader--an editing process that can cause skewing of a person's actually balanced views.
The article also included a moderating statement by Moore, "We are involved in the political process, but we must always be wary of being co-opted by it."
Nevertheless, any perception of a political disengagement message must be countered before it wrongly knocks some Christians out of the public policy arena and leaves our nation with policies impoverished by the absence of Christian influence.
Some Christian leaders may feel that an anti-politics message will help win back to the church some critics, especially the young, who equate Christian political involvement with nastiness and subservience to special interests. I have my doubts. Many of the young oppose political engagement by the Church because they oppose certain values the Church stands for, most notably on abortion or sexuality. You won't hear these same critics castigating the Church for engaging politically on issues such as environmental care, healthcare for the poor or human trafficking.
As far as castigating believers for hewing to political party marching orders, I work in Washington among many believers, and I can't think of a single Christian colleague who functions as a mascot for a political party. If anything, we all remain deeply distrustful of political parties and operatives, while at the same time recognizing that influencing public policy in America requires political engagement.
If many Christian prolife advocates lean Republican in political persuasion, that's not because of mindless subservience to Republican dogma but because the Republican party largely takes prolife stances whereas Democrats largely defend abortion. Nevertheless, no Christian I know thinks the Republican party is always right, principled or reliable.
One colleague even joked to me the other day, "There are two parties in Washington--the evil party and the stupid party."
My impression is that few, if any, Christians working in Washington fit the imagined mold of the blinded-by-power political "mascot." Certainly the thoughtful and winsome representatives of the Southern Baptist Convention who work in Washington politics counter that stereotype.
It remains sadly true that we followers of Christ at times have demonstrated attitudes, rhetoric and actions related to politics that require repentance. We simply need to act more like the One we represent. So yes, let us repent of judgmentalism, hypocrisy and abrasiveness in voicing our views. May God replace these qualities with spiritual qualities of grace, integrity, humility and love.
But let us never repent of engaging in the democratic political process. That is our duty and a tremendous opportunity to fight injustice and accomplish good in our society.
Imagine a world bereft of the political engagement of Christian religious leaders like Dr. Martin Luther King, abolitionist William Wilberforce and myriad lesser-known leaders like Jonathan Mayhew, whose sermons and writings helped undergird the American Revolution. Christian political engagement has helped secure racial justice, free slaves and throw off tyranny.
As my friend and colleague Barrett Duke of the Southern Baptist Ethic and Religious Liberty Commission observes, "Public policy engagement by the Christian community is also about helping others." He outlines as examples the public policy work of followers of Christ to tackle issues ranging from human trafficking to gene patenting to abortion to immigration reform.
The Christian faith is about establishing a personal relationship with the God of the universe and about expressing that relationship by loving our neighbor. The two remain inseparable--faith and works, heaven and earth, receiving grace and showing mercy.
We demonstrate our faith in God by defending the defenseless, advocating for the poor, righting injustice. The political process offers one arena for such ministries.
It is true, as Dr. Moore emphasizes, that Christian believers belong to a different realm, far above politics--the kingdom of heaven. Yet as citizens of that kingdom, Jesus charges His followers to do all that we can to see that the kingdom comes and that His will "be done on earth--as it is in heaven."
Early Christians had little say in their governments, ruled and often persecuted by tyrannical oppressors. Still, leaders like the Apostle Paul appealed to government authorities for justice and also personally challenged governors to consider for themselves a new life in Christ.
Paul never separated evangelism from engaging with government, and neither should we. We the people of faith enjoy an opportunity to influence our government as few Christians in history or today enjoy.
The first two chapters of the biblical book of Romans show that God has revealed Himself to every person--through nature and through our consciences. Tragically, many reject that revelation, preferring self to God.
Yet many respond to that revelation, making moral choices in line with His kingdom principles. A pregnant teen chooses adoption over abortion. A tempted spouse chooses faithfulness. A person raised in bigotry chooses racial reconciliation. While none of these choices alone constitutes salvation, they all represent faith steps taken toward God. When individuals make moral choices in line with God's kingdom, they keep their hearts and minds open to God.
And that's what public policy engagement is about for Christian believers--encouraging our countrymen to take faith steps toward God. To choose life, to defend the defenseless, to advocate for the poor and downtrodden.
With this perspective, we must not disdain but instead honor the ministry of working in the political realm as an evangelistic ministry. By encouraging faith steps toward God and His principles, believers can help their fellow citizens and nation keep hearts and minds open to God and His Good News.
The Wall Street Journal notes in its article profiling Moore that "many in the religious right are stepping back from the front lines." The article also quotes Mark DeMoss, a Christian consultant for evangelical leaders in the past including Jerry Falwell, as commenting that "a growing number of evangelicals simply find politics distasteful."
Rather than stepping back from politics, more believers need to engage in public policy, proactively advancing policies promoting the welfare of their countrymen and defensively advancing religious freedom for people of faith. We can't desert the battlefield just because a few soldiers have misfired.
If some believers have fought political battles in an antagonistic way, let us show how to engage in a winsome way. If others have let bigotry and hubris mar their testimony, let us demonstrate Christ's love with grace and humility. If others have proven emissaries of ill will, let us serve as ambassadors of good will.
Like Jesus' parable of the Pharisee proudly praying in the temple while a sinner pleads for mercy, it's easy to contrast ourselves with those who have failed in the political arena, thanking God that we are not like that political-party-idolizing sinner. It's a lot harder to maintain that proud perfection in battle, with enemy bullets flying and friendly fire sending comrades running for cover.
We must not despair of the battle. Let us choose our weapons carefully and fight on.
"Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God" (I Corinthians 5:20).



Tuesday, October 15, 2013

"Are you my Mother?" - FDA to consider three-parent genetics manipulation and "designer babies"

Public comment sent today to FDA re: "designer babies" hearing on genetic manipulation, Oct. 22-23:


October 15, 2013
Christian Medical Association
PO Box 7500
Bristol, TN 37621

Food and Drug Administration
Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research
1401 Rockville Pike, HFM-71
Rockville, MD 20852
Transmitted via email to Gail.Dapolito@fda.hhs.gov

RE: Public comment submission to the Cellular, Tissue and Gene Therapies Advisory Committee, regarding its consideration of oocyte modification in assisted reproduction for the prevention of transmission of mitochondrial disease or treatment of infertility
The 16,000-member Christian Medical Association (CMA, www.cmda.org) opposes germ line genetic engineering on prudentialethical and humanitarian grounds:
1.     Mitochondrial transfer poses an unacceptable prudential risk, since our nascent knowledge of genetics remains grossly inadequate to predict unintended genetic consequences passed down to future generations.
2.     Germ line genetic engineering also transgresses the ethical principle of autonomy; no successive generation can provide informed consent for the consequences of the precursor generation's genetic experimentation.
3.     Techniques such as "pronuclear transfer"--a method of cloning from an IVF embryo--involve destroying living, genetically complete human embryos, further violating moral and ethical boundaries.
4.     Procedures involving germ line genetic engineering are not essential, since ethical options remain for women with an identified high risk. Providing a loving home for a child through adoption, for example, far surpasses any perceived value of retaining a measure of genetic relation attained at the risk of tragic genetic consequences.
5.     Opening the door to germ line genetic engineering also opens the door to the dehumanizing, utilitarian quest for perfect children--"designer babies." Rather than treating children as a commodity fulfilling parents' dreams, our humanitarian values and our Constitution require us to treat every human being as inherently valuable and worthy of love, respect and protection.
We urge the Committee to reject oocyte modification in assisted reproduction as unacceptably risky, unethical and inhumane.
Thank you for your consideration of these views.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Healthcare reform is not brain surgery - even Congress can do it


Despite years of its own polls showing the American people in clear and persistent opposition, USA Today editorials have propped up Obamacare. News reports blame "Republican lawmakers" for the law's persistent unpopularity, suggesting that only "confusion and misinformation" prevent people from embracing its benefits. 
In fact, Obamacare's dunking in the polls will turn into drowning when many of the unaware uninsured--especially the young people on whose backs the cost of national healthcare will now rest--realize that the administration is actually forcing them to buy insurance. Force is the only way this administration can implement its unpopular ideology, as evidenced by Obamacare's coercive, First Amendment-trampling mandate to provide pills like Ella and Plan B that the FDA notes can cause abortions.
When we the people finally convince Congress to can Obamacare, Congress should pass carefully measured, bipartisan health reform. Provide a safety net for patients in crisis. Maximize patient choice and cost savings through tools such as health savings accounts. Protect patient access to competent physicians with conscience protections and limits on frivolous lawsuits. Crack down on rampant Medicare and Medicaid fraud. Improve efficiency by cutting bureaucracy and streamlining recordkeeping. Provide reasonable reimbursement to physicians who care for poor patients.
Health reform is not easy, but it's not brain surgery. Even Congress can do it.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Washington Post flouts federalism


In an editorial entitled, "Republicans should get out of the way of Obamacare," the Washington Post flouts federalism in blaming state lawmakers for not submitting to Obamacare's foisting of federal power on states. The editorial also lambastes the GOP for purely partisan opposition, yet the Post recently reported that "a new Washington Post-ABC News poll finds that a group of once loyal Democrats has been steadily turning against Obamacare."
The backroom-brokered law that no one bothered to read and no one can figure out how to implement now threatens the nation's health system and economy. Bumbling bureaucrats kicked the can down the road by illegally postponing the employer mandate. No one can stanch the hemorrhage of jobs and wages lost because the short-sighted law forces employers to choose between full-time employees or Obamacare penalties.
The courts' review and rebuke of Obamacare continues to escalate. Just one facet of Obamacare--the First Amendment-trampling abortifcacients mandate--has spawned 67 cases and is now barreling toward the Supreme Court.
The imperative is not "an obligation to cooperate in good faith" with Obamacare but a duty to protect citizens and the economy from job loss, to uphold federalism's balance of power and to construct a careful consensus on healthcare reform.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Washington Post: Human embryo not a living being


The Washington Post is entitled to its own editorial opinions but not its own facts, and scientific fact clearly contradicts the assertion that "contraception … defeats a fertilized egg’s chances of becoming a living being."
Embryology textbooks clarify the lay term "fertilized egg" as "… a zygote or fertilized ovum which is the primordium or beginning of a new human being. Human development begins at fertilization…. This highly specialized, totipotent cell marked the beginning of each of us as a unique individual."[1]
"Although life is a continuous process, fertilization is a critical landmark because, under ordinary circumstances, a new, genetically distinct human organism is formed…."[2]
So contrary to the Post, not only is a "fertilized egg" a living being; he or she is a human being. A human being is by nature a person, defined as "a human being regarded as an individual."[3] 
But political ideology prevents the admission that abortion claims the life of a moving, smiling, hiccupping, grimacing, living human being--a person.


[1] Keith L. Moore & T.V.N. Persaud. The Developing Human: Clinically Oriented Embryology, 6th Edition, 1998
[2] Ronan O’Rahilly & Fabiola Muller, 2001 Human Embryology & Teratology, 3rd Ed.
[3] Apple Inc. dictionary, ver. 2.2.1.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Off the bench and onto the field


How the September 11 Pentagon attack changed one survivor's spiritual outlook

Early in the morning of the September 11 attack on the Pentagon, at 3 a.m., Sandy Robinson woke up suddenly.
"I had an incredible sense to pray," she recalls. "Such an urgency--from the Holy Spirit--to pray for my husband's protection." She prayed fervently.
Later that morning, Sandy's husband Scott left home to commute as usual to the Pentagon, where he served as a Lieutenant Colonel in the Army. Sandy left for a business meeting.
A few hours later, Sandy's colleague interrupted the meeting with heart-stopping news: The Pentagon had just been hit in a terrorist attack.
"You wouldn't believe what went through my body at that moment," Sandy recalls. Frantically, she dialed her husband's cell phone--but couldn't get through. Within an hour, however, Sandy finally received a voice mail message from Scott. He had survived the attack.
Sandy would later learn that Scott had been working perilously close to the site of the crash. Rocked by the blast, he had encountered impenetrable smoke billowing through the hallways. Screams from colleagues battered his ears and an acrid smell assaulted his nostrils. Scott managed to stumble away from the fire and escape out of the building. Then he and his colleagues set about aiding the victims.
A few hours later, Scott and Sandy finally connected by phone, and he reassured her that he was safe. Sadly, 20 of Scott's colleagues--including a very dear friend--had not survived.
Two weeks after the attack, Scott and Sandy shared their testimonies at McLean Bible Church in McLean, Virginia. Scott noted that the one question that keeps coming to him from reporters and friends is why he thinks he survived. To Scott, the answer is clear.
''I was spared to glorify God," he says.
Describing what he termed a "lukewarm" Christian faith before the tragedy, Scott says the event has forced him to take stock of his faith and priorities.
"I was on the bench," he laments. "I need to get on the field."
Scott sees his survival as an opportunity to share God's love and compassion with others. He notes the newfound openness across the nation to discussing spiritual matters in the media and in the workplace.
"People are looking for answers," he observes. "The answer--the only answer--is Jesus Christ."
Sandy agrees that their mission is one of service and testimony. Throughout the ordeal, Sandy testifies, "God has given us the stamina, the strength, to minister to others."
Through tears, she notes that Scott's living beyond the attack "is an incredible blessing from the Lord."
Scott and Sandy say they have drawn comfort from Psalm 46, verse 1: "God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble."

Reflections on 911

The commentary below was published just after 911. I wrote the personal reflection that follows below in 2006 on the five-year anniversary of 911. Thought it might be of interest today as we remember the fallen and the heroes.
---
Remembrances left at Pentagon 2001

An American foundation

Published in the Washington Times, September 13, 2001
by Jonathan Imbody
The atrocities of September 11 left many Americans wondering how terrorists could strike at the heart of our nation's power. In fact, they did not--and never can.
The heart of our nation's power has never been our military and financial might but our commitment to a civilization based upon liberty and love. Reaffirming these highest values--even more so than rebuilding our physical security--now poses the greatest test of our nation's mettle.
As we commence this task, let us take inspiration from the selfless firefighters and paramedics who died trying to save strangers trapped in the World Trade Center. Let us follow the example of servant-leaders like Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, who joined the many service men and women at the Pentagon tending to the wounded. Let us imitate the quiet love shown by hundreds of citizens who stood in line to donate blood to aid their suffering neighbors. This is a nation of citizens who respond with love in action to the question, "Who is my neighbor?"
Such acts of selflessness, service and love will carry us through extremely difficult days ahead. And our reaffirmation of these values will strengthen an American foundation that can never be shaken.

---

Personal reflection on 911

At this time five years ago, I was sitting in my home office, as I am now. Our daughter Bethany had called from work with the news about the attacks on the World Trade Center. As I watched that New York scene on TV, I felt and heard a thud. That thud turned out to be a plane crashing into the Pentagon, a few miles from our home.
Bethany had left the Pentagon on her morning commute into Washington an hour and a half before the plane hit. A series of cell phone calls to her followed, as the news unraveled about the terrorist attacks and rumors swirled about bombs exploding and fires in DC. We didn’t know what target would be next, and with Bethany’s office located in the Watergate and directly across from the Saudi embassy, her security was uppermost in our minds. I loaded a bike and a moped into our van and headed toward the city to get her out—a daunting challenge with much of DC evacuating outward. We eventually met up in Vienna, VA and I brought Bethany home safely.
But for thousands of Americans, of course, the news was much worse.
Our region here in DC remained in a state of siege for weeks to come. We fell asleep to the sound of fighter jets and awoke to machine-gun-touting soldiers in areas where we used to walk unconcerned.
Today we mourn the loss from that day of rescue workers, military personnel and innocent citizens. Five years after the attacks, we live in relative peace and apparent security, though our soldiers fight and give their lives on our behalf overseas. The war against terror rages on, even as we go about our daily business.
It occurs to me that our war on terror is a picture of spiritual warfare. A crisis, an attack occurs in our lives, and we earnestly seek God for intervention and protection. As He does so, and as we regain peace and security, it is easy to forget that spiritual warfare still, in fact, rages and roars all around us:
Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls about like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. But resist him, firm in your faith 

Friday, August 30, 2013

Obamacare set to fund abortions with your tax dollars


Your tax dollars soon will begin funding abortions. Take action at end* of this posting.
All the obfuscation deliberately built into Obamacare by abortion advocates can't hide the fact that the law puts the government--and our tax dollars--into the abortion business. The American people have long opposed such policy.
Expert analysis by a Congressional insider explains how it works:
Under the Hyde amendment and other abortion funding bans the longstanding policy was that no taxpayer funds will go to pay for abortion or for insurance plans that include elective abortion. Individuals could always go out and buy a separate policy rider if they wanted to, but the government funded basket of covered services did not include abortion except in cases of rape, incest or to save the life of the mother.
  • Obamacare was a major departure in that it allows insurance companies selling taxpayer subsidized plans to decide "whether or not the plan provides coverage of services described in subparagraph (B)(i) or (B)(ii) [abortion] as part of such benefits for the plans year."
  • If the insurance company decides to include elective abortion, then the insurance company is required to collect an abortion surcharge to pay for abortions covered under the plan. Insurance companies cannot include abortion in Obamacare plans in the 23 states that have "opted out" of abortion coverage for their state.
  • There will not be abortion coverage in plans in 23 states, but the taxpayers-- through their federal taxes--in those 23 states will still be subsidizing plans that include elective abortion in the other 27 states.
  • Plans are not required by the federal government to include elective abortion, but they may choose to cover it and it is likely most insurance companies will chose to cover abortion. It is possible that some states may be coercing plans to include elective abortion.
  • The federal government will sponsor at least one "multi-state" plan in each state that does not include elective abortion. So there will always be a "pro-life" plan in each state. Although it is possible that that some pro-life purchasers will not want to select this plan because it does not meet other health care preferences (like having their doctor in-network, etc).
  • Plans that include abortion will charge an abortion surcharge of at least $1, but under the secrecy clause, that charge will only be made known to the purchaser as part of the summary of benefits, so some purchasers may end up with an abortion-funding plan and be forced to pay the surcharge without even knowing it.
  • Even if a pro-life purchaser can find a plan that meets his/her health care needs and does not include abortion, he or she will still be contributing to plans that include abortion by paying taxes that in turn flow as subsidies to plans that include abortion. That is where the deviation from longstanding precedent comes into play.
Abortion advocates will claim that there is no taxpayer funding for abortion because the taxpayer subsidies only go to the non-abortion part of the premium, and the individual will pay the abortion surcharge separately. However, abortion is still included in the basket of services covered by the taxpayer-subsidized plan -- something that was not allowed before Obamacare. In this case, taxpayer subsidizes will flow to plans that include elective abortion--something prohibited in the Hyde amendment, which has two parts - 1) no funding for abortion and 2) no funding for plans that include abortion. The Obamacare scheme would violate the second part of Hyde, but the Hyde amendment does not apply to Obamacare.
*Take action
Rep. Smith
The solution: Congress needs to pass the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act (HR 7, S 946), sponsored by Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ) and Sen. Roger Wicker (R-MS).
Let your legislators know it's time to pass this bill and get the government out of the abortion business.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

USA Today's Gannett Company is not the only for-profit with First Amendment freedoms


USA Today' editorial, "Contraception mandate applies to business," condescendingly casts conscientious objectors as foot-stomping outliers who "demand exemptions" to the Obama administration's mandate to supply the "morning-after pill, which they say cause the equivalent of abortions."
"They say" implies imagined evidence, yet the FDA has pronounced that Plan B--the morning-after pill--can end the life of a developing human embryo by "inhibiting implantation." The drug label concedes it may "prevent attachment" to the womb of an oocyte--the early developmental stage of an already genetically complete human being. So those who decline to participate in the distribution of such potentially life-ending pills do so on the basis of a conscience informed by both moral principle and science.
The issue is not, as the editorial suggests, the arguable promise or peril of contraception, but rather whether providing already universally accessible drugs justifies the federal government compelling virtually every conscientious objector outside a church sanctuary to bow to the government's edict.
The First Amendment, which protects our freedom of speech and free exercise of religion from government suppression, applies not only to news corporations such as the Gannett Company, Inc. These inalienable rights apply also to those who run corporations by ethical principles and to the millions of other Americans who refuse to surrender their free speech and faith rights to a conscience-trampling government.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Memo to senators: Charity is not a loophole; it's a lifeline

George Will, photo by Washington Post

Columnist George Will applauds the Senate Finance Committee for aiming to simplify the tax code but neglects to note that when Committee leaders put every tax deduction on the table, they opened the door to misdirected assaults on charity.
Targeting the charitable gift tax deduction became alarmingly clear in meetings I participated in recently with four senators and staff of the Senate Finance Committee. One of the most insidious cuts under consideration would eliminate deductions for gifts to charities such as universities, the arts and churches that do not provide sufficient tangible services to be deemed a "public benefit."
The 100-year-old tax deduction for gifts given "exclusively for religious, charitable, scientific, or educational purposes" enforces the First Amendment's proscription against government infringement of the free exercise of religion. Imagine the IRS determining which churches and faith-based charities merit approval for tax deductions.
Cutting the charitable gift tax deduction would decrease giving and cut an estimated $140 billion in charitable services to needy Americans.
Congress should take aim at real tax reform while protecting charity and those who depend on it. Charity is not a loophole; it's a lifeline.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Now Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius is not radical enough to work at Rite Aid

Tolerance. Diversity. Broad-mindedness. Those are the words.
Bullying. Discriminating. Compelling. Those are the deeds.
The contradictory words and deeds often come from one and the same individuals--and in a case I learned about today, companies. Turns out the words of tolerance, diversity and broad-mindedness only apply to those who comply with the dogma and submit to the will of the speakers.
Here's an email I received this morning from a pharmacist member of the Christian Medical Association:
"Subject: Forced to resign over mandate to sell the morning after pill.
"Just to let you know that Rite-Aid corporation came out with a stricter policy on July 5, 2013 that requires all employees to accommodate the sale of the morning-after pill to all comers, of either gender and of any age.  I tendered my resignation within the hour, it was accepted, and my last work day is July 20th.  I realize that I am an 'at will' employee and I do not expect any recourse. Just for your information to add me to the list of those quitting pharmacy solely because of the policy change.  Keep up the good work. The battle rages.  The Lord is able to supply our needs."
Remember that even the Obama administration health department opposed the unlimited sale of the morning-after pill, citing health concerns. So presumably, even the radically pro-abortion Secretary of Health and Human Services, Kathleen Sebelius, is not radical enough to work at Rite Aid.
Unfortunately, Secretary Sebelius and President Obama trashed the only federal regulation protecting health care professionals from discrimination and firings for reasons of conscience. They and other abortion advocates also can't seem to muster enough liberality to support the tolerant, diversity-respecting and broad-minded principles of the Healthcare Conscience Rights Act (S 1204 and HR 940). 
While the regulation and the law apply specifically to government-funded programs, each can help establish an environment of true respect for conscience, tolerance and diversity that will protect health care professionals nationwide. Until then, pharmacists, obstetricians and family docs who still adhere to the Hippocratic oath and faith tenets remain subject to job loss, discrimination and ostracism for their life-affirming views.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Take action now: Tell Congress not to cut aid to needy by cutting gift tax deduction


Behind closed doors, Members of Congress have been proposing charitable gift deduction cuts that would severely harm giving, charities and those they serve. That's why a coalition of leaders of nonprofit organizations last week met at the Capitol with U.S. senators and staff, to urge them not to kill tax breaks for donations to charities--a move that would hurt donors, cripple faith-based charities and deprive those they serve of desperately needed services.
A person gives from the heart, of course, but tax policies can significantly influence how much donors feel able to give. The charity deduction is unique in that it simply acknowledges that a person is giving away income to help others in need. The charitable gift deduction is not a loophole--it's a lifeline.
With the self-imposed deadline for Congressional action--i.e., a draft bill by the end of the month--fast approaching, we need to explain clearly and quickly why the proposed cuts to charitable giving would harm millions of Americans. 
Please visit the Freedom2Care website now to learn more and take action on this issue that impacts your charitable tax deductions, charities and most importantly, the millions of individuals served at home and abroad through American charities.

Take Action:

Use this easy form now to tell your legislators to protect your gift tax deduction, charities and most importantly, those they serve!