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Thursday, July 28, 2016

Dem, GOP platforms contrasted on life issues

Both major political parties recently issued new platforms that communicate contrasting core values to the American people. Following is a breakdown of where each party stands on the life issues of particular concern to readers of this blog: abortion, sex education, embryos and stem cell research and assisted suicide:

Abortion

The Democrat party platform maintains that “that every woman should have access to quality reproductive health care services, including safe and legal abortion” (p. 37).
The Republican party platform focuses on “The Constitution’s guarantee that no one can ‘be deprived of life, liberty or property’ deliberately echoes the Declaration of Independence’s proclamation that ‘all’ are ‘endowed by their Creator’ with the inalienable right to life” (p. 13).
Democrats: “We will continue to stand up to Republican efforts to defund Planned Parenthood health centers, which provide critical health services to millions of people” (p.37).
“We will continue to oppose—and seek to overturn—federal and state laws and policies that impede a woman’s access to abortion, including by repealing the Hyde Amendment [which prohibits most government funding of abortions]” (p. 37).
“We will support sexual and reproductive health and rights around the globe. In addition to expanding the availability of affordable family planning information and contraceptive supplies, we believe that safe abortion must be part of comprehensive maternal and women’s health care and included as part of America’s global health programming. Therefore, we support the repeal of harmful restrictions that obstruct women’s access to health care information and services, including the “global gag rule” and the Helms Amendment that bars American assistance to provide safe, legal abortion throughout the developing world” (p. 46).
Republicans: “We oppose the use of public funds to perform or promote abortion or to fund organizations, like Planned Parenthood, so long as they provide or refer for elective abortions or sell fetal body parts rather than provide healthcare” (p. 13).
“We will not fund or subsidize healthcare that includes abortion coverage” (p. 13).
“Because of [Democratic party] opposition to simple abortion clinic safety procedures, support for taxpayer-funded abortion, and rejection of pregnancy resource centers that provide abortion alternatives, the old Clinton mantra of “safe, legal, and rare” has been reduced to just “legal” (p. 14).
“We condemn the Supreme Court’s activist decision in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt striking down commonsense Texas laws providing for basic health and safety standards in abortion clinics” (p. 14).

Sex education

Democrats: “We recognize that quality, affordable comprehensive health care, evidence-based sex education and a full range of family planning services help reduce the number of unintended pregnancies and thereby also reduce the need for abortions” (p. 37).
Republicans: “We renew our call for replacing ‘family planning’ programs for teens with sexual risk avoidance education that sets abstinence until marriage as the responsible and respected standard of behavior. That approach — the only one always effective against premarital pregnancy and sexually-transmitted disease — empowers teens to achieve optimal health outcomes” (p. 34)

Embryos and stem cell research

Democrats: No mention.
The 2012 platform had noted that “the President issued an executive order repealing the restrictions on embryonic stem cell research.”
The 2008 platform had issued a call to “lift the current Administration's ban on using federal funding for embryonic stem cells– cells that would have otherwise have been discarded and lost forever–for research that could save lives.”
Republicans: “We call for expanded support for the stem cell research that now offers the greatest hope for many afflictions — through adult stem cells, umbilical cord blood, and cells reprogrammed into pluripotent stem cells — without the destruction of embryonic human life. We urge a ban on human cloning for research or reproduction, and a ban on the creation of, or experimentation on, human embryos for research” (pp. 37-38).

Assisted suicide and euthanasia

Democrats: No mention.
Republicans: “We oppose the non-consensual withholding or withdrawal of care or treatment, including food and water, from individuals with disabilities, newborns, the elderly, or the infirm, just as we oppose euthanasia and assisted suicide” (pp. 13-14).


Friday, July 15, 2016

Resources and summary of Planned Parenthood baby parts scandal

Resources from colleagues on Capitol Hill regarding the Planned Parenthood baby parts scandal:
One year ago the first of a series of videos showing Planned Parenthood and fetal tissue brokers discussing harvesting and selling baby body parts was released.  In the months following, the House responded to the information in the videos by voting to defund Planned Parenthood six times. The House also passed a bill to protect babies who survive abortions and established a Select Panel on Infant Lives to investigate. 

 Resources


Executive Summary 

Select Investigative Panel Interim Update to the House

I.                    Congress Created the Select Investigative Panel

a.       Following the release of undercover videos documenting shocking admissions and graphic footage of abortion clinics and so-called “tissue procurement companies,” Congress initiated hearings and subsequently created a Select Investigative Panel to carry out an in-depth investigation into the allegations revealed by the videos. The primary allegation was that abortion clinics received a payment for aborted babies’ body parts from tissue procurement companies who then resold those parts for researchers.

II.                 Formation of the Investigative Plan- Applicable Laws, Regulations, and Commissions

a.       Federal Laws that Address the Treatment of Women and Children

                                                              i.      There are guidelines in place meant to prevent the callous treatment of women and children whose privacy and well-being the Panel’s investigation reveals are being violated. Among them are the Born Alive Protection Act, the Belmont Report, the findings of several Presidential Commissions on bioethics, the HIPAA Privacy Rule, the Common Rule, Institutional Review Board Regulations, and federal statutes. Investigative evidence shows that the motive for disregarding these safeguards is financial gain. Abortion clinics remedy these problems by, among other activities, overbilling the government for Medicaid reimbursements and, more disturbingly, profiting from the sale of the leftover body parts of babies they have just aborted.

b.      Federal Statutes Governing the Transfer of Human Fetal Tissue

                                                              i.      The NIH Revitalization Act of 1993 (42 U.S.C. § 289g-1 and 42 U.S.C. § 289g-2): Rep. Waxman, a Democrat, offered the amendment to the NIH Revitalization Act of 1993 that governs the donation of fetal tissue, specifically §289 g-2(a). It states that “it shall be unlawful for any person to knowingly acquire, receive, or otherwise transfer any human fetal tissue for valuable consideration if the transfer affects interstate commerce.”

                                                            ii.      The Statute Informed the Panel’s Investigative Plan: The main point of the Panel’s inquiry centered on this question: If fetal tissue is transferred from one entity to another, does the transfer violate the intent of §289 g-2? To answer this question, the Panel has analyzed four business models currently operating in the market sector and one operating in the public sector: 1) The Middleman Model; 2) The University/Clinic Model; 3) The Biotech Company/Clinic Model; 4) The Late-Term Clinic Model; and 5) The Government Funded Research Model.
                                                          iii.      Fetal Tissue Sales and Abortion Clinic Fiscal Problems: Although abortion providers and abortion rights advocates have a long history of stating that “it’s not about the money” but about women’s reproductive health, the Panel’s investigation has produced evidence that financial interests are increasingly driving management and clinical practice decisions.

III.              The Ethics of Fetal Tissue

a.       Amazing scientific and biomedical advances are continuously being discovered and developed. Congress, research institutions, and the medical community must continue to work together to promote medical advancements while simultaneously ensuring that laws and regulations on ethics remain up to date. On March 2, 2016, the Panel held a hearing entitled Bioethics and Fetal Tissue. The hearing focused on ethical issues raised as a result of information recently made public about fetal tissue donations, transfer of fetal tissue, and use of fetal tissue by research institutions.

IV.              Case Studies of the Fetal Tissue Industry

a.       At a hearing on The Pricing of Fetal Tissue, the Panel compared documents produced from StemExpress, LLC, a for-profit business, to the applicable federal statute. StemExpress obtains fetal tissue from abortion clinics and offers it for resale to researchers. The documents show that StemExpress embedded employees within a group of abortion clinics to procure fetal tissue, and those employees then shipped the tissue to customers. StemExpress paid the abortion clinics a per-tissue fee for each tissue its employees procured, plus a per-tissue bonus to StemExpress employees.

V.                Biomedical Research and Fetal Tissue

a.       The Panel’s investigation has produced a fact-based picture of the history, utility, and uses of fetal tissue in biomedical research. The importance of fetal tissue has been mischaracterized by political rhetoric. The Panel continues to seek ethical methods for the conduct of important research to find treatment and cures for injuries and disease.

VI.              Compliance with Congressional Subpoenas


a.       At least four entities from whom the Panel requested documents have failed to fully comply with the Panel’s requests. As a result, the Panel was forced to serve subpoenas on Southwestern Women’s Options, the University of New Mexico, Advanced Bioscience Resources, and StemExpress. However, none of these entities have complied with their subpoenas, making it impossible for the Panel to fully conduct its investigation. In some cases, the Panel has been made aware, through other sources, of documents missing from productions. The absence of these important documents raises the concern that others are missing as well.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Despite court losses, pro-life movement presses on

I represented the Christian Medical Association and Freedom2Care  today in Washington, DC for a strategy and prayer summit of leaders of the pro-life movement in the United States. Two stinging Supreme Court losses last week triggered our meeting: an overturning of a Texas law protecting women’s health and safety in abortion clinics, and a decision to refuse to review a lower court ruling allowing Washington state to force pharmacists to peddle potential abortifacients like Plan B. The latter decision portends dark and challenging days ahead for people of conscience in healthcare.
Our mood was both sober and determined.
We felt sobered by the decline in our culture—a decline which, according to 40 Days for Life leader David Bereit, parallels the historic pattern of crumbled civilizations. History has shown that sexual immorality, the disintegration of the family and a loss of respect for human life have marked the end of some of the world’s greatest civilizations.
At the same time, we also felt determined.
No one in that room had entered the pro-life movement with an illusion that building a culture of life would be any easier than the contentious work that Ezra and Nehemiah undertook in biblical days to rebuild the walls around the holy city, Jerusalem. These men and women are culture warriors, not fad followers.
They are motivated, first by a steadfast faith that God has made every human being in His image and calls us to protect the most vulnerable, and second by sheer compassion for the victims of the culture of death—both those who are killed and those who have been deceived into killing.
So we talked about strategically investing in the political process, to ensure that men and women of courage and conviction replace the typical politicians who run at the mention of opposition on pro-life issues.
We talked about influencing the culture, from polling to messaging to winning over millennials, who show encouraging trends toward a pro-life viewpoint.
I noted that our pro-life movement typically begins its outreach at the college age, in contrast to current movements to influence even elementary age students toward all kinds of anti-Chrsitian viewpoints. I suggested that we find out who is reaching children and teenagers with a pro-life message, and that we create new resources and structures to reach that age group.
Such an outreach to children and teenagers could incorporate medical and scientific information regarding fetal development and other evidence related to pro-life issues.
Perhaps you or someone you know is already providing resources to reach children and teenagers from a pro-life perspective? If so, I’d like to hear from you. Simply email me at washington@cmda.org, tell me what’s being done and provide contact information if you have it.
If we can reach the next generation to align themselves with God’s design for life, our laws eventually will reflect a new commitment to life.
Thank you for all you are doing to advanced that cause. God bless you, and keep up the good fight without wavering.