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Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Judge Neil Gorsuch on assisted suicide and euthanasia

Judge Neil Gorsuch, moments ago nominated to serve on the Supreme Court, has written extensively on assisted suicide and euthanasia. His writings will encourage those who value protecting individuals at the end of life from the pressures that can arise by legalizing these deadly practices:
  • "[I]t is the physician’s assessment of the patient’s quality of life as ‘degrading’ or ‘deteriorating’ or ‘hopeless’ that stands as the ultimate justification for killing.”

-- Neil M. Gorsuch, The Future of Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia, p. 111.
  • "Helen was a breast cancer patient in her mid-eighties when the Oregon law went into effect. Helen’s regular physician refused to assist in her suicide; a second doctor was consulted but also refused, on the stated ground that Helen was depressed. At that point, Helen’s husband called Compassion in Dying. The medical director of the group spoke with Helen and later explained that Helen was “frustrated and crying because she felt powerless.” Helen was not, however, bed-ridden or in great pain…. The Compassion in Dying employee recommended a physician to Helen. That physician, in turn, referred Helen to a specialist (whose specialty is unknown), as well as to a psychiatrist who met Helen only once. A lethal prescription was then supplied."

--Gorsuch, The Future of Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia, p. 124.
  • "[I]t is also rather remarkable that, while physicians in Oregon are held to a standard of professional competence in administering all other treatments they provide, the Oregon assisted suicide statute creates an entirely different regime when it comes to administering this 'treatment,' specifically and uniquely immunizing doctors from criminal prosecution, civil liability, or even professional discipline for any actions they take in assisting a suicide, as long as they act in 'good faith.' Thus, while a doctor may be found liable for mere negligence in any other operation or procedure, there is no recourse for family members when a doctor kills a patient even on the basis of gross negligence by misdiagnosing the patient as terminal or by misassessing the patient as competent."

-- Gorsuch, The Future of Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia, p. 119.
  • “How does it serve the putative goal of autonomous patient decision making to set up a regime that allows peo-ple to commit suicide without considering wheth-er they are, in fact, acting freely, competently, and autonomously at the time of suicide?”

-- Gorsuch, The Future of Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia, p. 180.
  • "Many jurisdictions have expressly reconsidered these laws [against assisting suicide and euthanasia] in recent years and reaffirmed them.  In 1980, the American Law Institute conducted a thorough review of state laws on assist[ed] suicide in the United States and acknowledged the continuing widespread support for criminalization. Accordingly, it endorsed two criminal provisions of its own. In the 1990s, both New York and Michigan convened blue-ribbon commissions to consider the possibility of legalizing assisted suicide and euthanasia.  The New York commission issued a thoughtful and detailed report unanimously recommending the retention of existing laws against assisting suicide and euthanasia.  The Michigan panel divided on the issue, but the state legislature subsequently chose to enact a statute strengthening its existing common law ban against assisted suicide.  .  .  . Meanwhile, repeated efforts to legalize the practice—in state legislatures and by popular referenda—have met with near-total failure."

--Neil M. Gorsuch, The Right to Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia, 23 Harv. J. L. & Pub. Pol’y 599, 639-41 (2000).

Thursday, January 19, 2017

No tax dollars for abortion bill moving through new Congress

The House Rules Committee is scheduled to meet next Monday, January 23, to consider the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act (H.R. 7). Text of the bill is available here, and a Washington Times story about the bill is here.
The No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act (H.R. 7) introduced by Rep. Chris Smith (NJ-04), seeks to do three things. The bill:
  1. Makes the Hyde Amendment and other current abortion funding prohibitions  permanent and government-wide;
  2. Ensures that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) faithfully conforms to the Hyde Amendment while Congress works to repeal and replace the ACA;
  3. Until a new plan year begins, the bill ensures full disclosure, transparency and the prominent display of the extent to which any health insurance plan on the exchange funds abortion.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Physicians urge Congress to shift health funds toward federal centers and away from abortion industry

The 18,000-member Christian Medical Association today urged Congressional leaders to  shift health funds toward federal centers and away from abortion industry. CMA CEO Dr. David Stevens wrote to House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell the following letter:
Dear Speaker Ryan and Majority Leader McConnell:
Thank you for your strong, principled and common-sense leadership on the issue of preventing American tax dollars from funding abortion on demand. Thank you also for your commitment to providing healthcare access to the poor and other vulnerable patients in need.
On behalf of the over 18,000 members of the Christian Medical Association, we urge you to:
1.      ensure the reallocation of funding currently used by abortion-performing, partisan political organizations such as Planned Parenthood, by directing that funding instead to the over 13,000 Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) and Rural Health Centers (RHCs); and,
2.      overturn, through the Congressional Review Act, the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) rule finalized December 19, 2016, titled "Compliance with Title X Requirements by Project Recipients in Selecting Subrecipients," in order to ensure that states are allowed to take a similar direction in allocating federal funding.
Many of our members serve in federally funded centers that focus on providing care to patients regardless of who the patient is or what the patient's values, orientation, ethnicity or any other qualities may be. As you know well, needy patients depend on these centers and on physicians like our members to provide healthcare when likely no one else would provide healthcare for them. FQHCs provide comprehensive services and a “medical home” for whole families and work in the areas of most critical need.
According to the independent government watchdog (GAO) in 2012, FQHCs served 21 million individuals and provided services including STD testing, cancer screening and contraceptive management, as well as other services including immunizations and general child wellness exams. FQHCs and RHCs often meet patient needs on modest budgets, and those who serve in these centers often do so at great personal financial sacrifice. Unlike Planned Parenthood, which follows an aggressive business plan designed to maximize profits on services such as abortion, these centers exist for the purpose of serving the nation's most needy patients.
Yet some medical groups like the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, whose pro-abortion ideology aligns with Planned Parenthood and whose members profit personally from working with Planned Parenthood, decry "political interference in the patient-physician relationship." This cry comes, oddly enough, while applying pressure on politicians to fund political groups like Planned Parenthood. It is also worth observing what sources such as the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics and PolitiFact National have confirmed--that Planned Parenthood spends millions of dollars each year for one partisan purpose: to elect Democrats and defeat Republicans.
It's hard to get more political than that, and it's impossible to get more politically partisan than that.
The majority of Americans do not want their tax dollars to subsidize abortion, and they certainly do not want their tax dollars to subsidize an abortion-performing partisan political machine. Because of the strong concern of American taxpayers, existing federal law addresses direct funding of abortion. However, the fungible nature of federal grants to Planned Parenthood means that every American's tax dollars, regardless of their convictions about abortion, are being used to prop up the abortion industry.
Any organization that wishes to avoid political entanglement can do so quite easily--by simply foregoing government funding. Those who seek funding should expect federal and/or state oversight, requirements and standards.
Even the most modest of standards should disqualify from federal funding organizations such as Planned Parenthood, given the recent findings of the Select Investigative Panel on Infant Lives, the list of 15 criminal and regulatory referrals made by the Panel, and the referral by the Senate Committee on the Judiciary to the FBI and the Department of Justice for investigation and potential prosecution.
If any organization can and should do without federal funding, the billion-dollar, corrupt abortion business Planned Parenthood is a prime example.
We respectfully urge you to reallocate American tax dollars away from such profit-centered, divisive and partisan organizations and provide funding instead to patient-centered, non-controversial and nonpartisan Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) and Rural Health Centers (RHCs). And we urge you to ensure that states can do the same, applying reasonable state standards and requirements to those who seek to use taxpayer funds.
Thank you very much for your consideration of these views.
Sincerely,
David Stevens, MD, MA (Ethics)
CEO

CMA court victory protects doctors on transgender decisions

In the waning days of the Obama administration in 2016, the US Department of Health and Human Services launched a new regulation aimed at conforming all healthcare professionals and facilities to the Obama administration's ideology on transgender issues.
The rule left no room for medical judgment or religious objection regarding treatments and procedures demanded by patients who did not want to remain the biological sex they were born with.
To protect the right of medical professionals to (a) exercise medical judgment based on research and evidence regarding transgender issues and (b) to exercise First Amendment religious freedom based on faith convictions, the Christian Medical Association launched a lawsuit to fight the government's coercion. We enlisted the services of Becket Law, known for its many victories for religious freedom, notably the Hobby Lobby and Little Sisters of the Poor Supreme Court cases.
On New Year's eve, a federal judge issued a favorable ruling, a preliminary judgment to stop enforcement of the aspects of the rule objected to in the CMA lawsuit. Becket Law announced the victory on December 31, 2017:

Court strikes down harmful transgender mandate

Ruling protects children and doctors, hospitals from federal regulation
For Immediate Release: December 31, 2016
Media Contact: Melinda Skea | media@becketfund.org | 202-349-7224
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Moments ago a Texas court protected the rights of families and their doctors to make medical decisions for their child free from government bureaucrats’ interference.
The court ruling comes after eight states, an association of almost 18,000 doctors, and a Catholic hospital system challenged a federal regulation that requires doctors to perform gender transition procedures on children, even if the doctor believes the treatment could harm the child. Doctors who followed their Hippocratic Oath to act in the best interest of their patient would have faced severe consequences, including losing their job.
“This is a common-sense ruling: The government has no business forcing private doctors to perform procedures that the government itself recognizes can be harmful, particularly to children, and that the government exempts its own doctors from performing,” said Lori Windham, senior counsel at Becket Law, which filed a lawsuit against the new federal regulation. “Today’s ruling ensures that doctors’ best medical judgment will not be replaced with political agendas and bureaucratic interference.”  
The new regulation applied to over 900,000 doctors—nearly every doctor in the U.S.—and would have cost healthcare providers and taxpayers nearly $1 billion. The government itself does not require its own military doctors to perform these procedures. It also does not require blanket coverage of gender transition procedures in Medicare or Medicaid—even in adults—because HHS’s experts admitted research is “‘inconclusive’ on whether gender reassignment surgery improves health outcomes,” with some studies demonstrating that these procedures were actually harmful. But a doctor citing the same evidence and using their best medical judgment would have faced potential lawsuits or job loss. 
 A recent website provides leading research on this issue, including guidance the government itself relies on, demonstrating that up to 94 percent of children with gender dysphoria (77 to 94 percent in one set of studies and 73 to 88 percent in another) will grow out of their dysphoria naturally and live healthy lives without the need for surgery or lifelong hormone regimens.
“This court ruling is an across-the-board victory that will ensure that deeply personal medical decisions, such as gender transition procedures, remain between families and their doctor,” said Windham.
Becket Law defended Franciscan Alliance, a religious hospital network sponsored by the Sisters of St. Francis of Perpetual Adoration, and the Christian Medical & Dental Associations from the new government regulation. The States of Texas, Wisconsin, Nebraska, Kentucky, Kansas, Louisiana, Arizona, and Mississippi joined Becket’s legal challenge. More information can be found at www.transgendermandate.org.
For more information or to arrange an interview with a Becket attorney, please contact Melinda Skea at media@becketfund.org or 202-349-7224.  Interviews can be arranged in English, Chinese, French, German, Portuguese, Russian, and Spanish.
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