Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Abortion ideology trumps aid for victims of human trafficking

Abortion ideology trumps aid for victims of human trafficking
CMA Op-ed published December 7, 2011 in National Right to Life News Today
by Jonathan Imbody, Vice President for Government Relations, Christian Medical Association; Director, Freedom2Care

Question #1: Where does a performance rating of just 69 out of 100 merit an award of more than $2.5 million?

Answer: Only in Washington, D.C.

Question #2: When does a tiny organization without even a qualified financial officer receive a federal grant that will nearly triple its operating budget?

Answer: When the organization submits to the Obama administration’s political ideology and a more qualified grant applicant does not.

Question #3: According to the Obama administration, what one medical “service” trumps all others when caring for human trafficking victims?

Answer: Abortion.

A grueling December 1 hearing by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee revealed the disturbing answers to these questions, in the process infuriating Republican committee members and others concerned with aiding victims of human trafficking.

By the end of an over three-hour long grilling of U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services (HHS) officials, one message had become clear about the Obama administration's criteria for receiving the $4.5 million in federal grants for trafficking victims services: Pro-life groups need not apply.

Withering questioning and comments by majority party committee members included expressions of disgust, dismay and even unusually salty language by a clearly frustrated committee chair, California Republican Darrell Issa. Yet HHS officials under fire stubbornly accepted no responsibility for bias or wrongdoing--either for stipulating that "strong preference" would be accorded to grant applicants willing to participate in abortion and other controversial "services" or for awarding the grants to applicants deemed by objective reviewers to be poorly qualified.

Political appointees "rigged" grant process to weed out pro-life groups

Internal HHS documents obtained by the committee revealed that two organizations awarded grants by HHS officials--Tapestri and the U.S. Committee on Refugees and Immigrants (USCRI)--had submitted applications that received significantly lower scores by independent review panelists than did the application submitted by the pro-life U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). The Tapestri application earned a score of just 74 out of 100; USCRI's application garnered only 69; while the USCCB application received a score of 89.

The radically pro-abortion Obama administration had set up the weighted grant process by introducing new language to a grant program introduced in the Bush administration to aid victims of human trafficking, or modern-day slavery. The funding opportunity announcement for the "competitive" grant stipulated:
    "The Director of [the HHS Office of Refugee Resettlement] will give strong preference to applicants that are willing to offer all of the services and referrals delineated under the Project Objectives. Applicants that are unwilling to provide the full range of the services and referrals under the Project Objectives must indicate this in their narrative ...."
    The stipulations added that "...preference will be given to grantees under this [funding opportunity announcement] that will offer all victims referral to medical providers who can provide or refer for provision of treatment for sexually transmitted infections, family planning services and the full range of legally permissible gynecological and obstetric care..."
Translation: Participate in abortion or forget the grant.

Continue reading full commentary.

Action AlertTo help stop discrimination against those who hold pro-life and faith-based convictions, use CMA's Freedom2Care Legislative Action Center easy-to-use, pre-written email forms to urge your legislators to support the Abortion Non-Discrimination Act:

  1. H.R. 361 cosponsors: Contact your rep re: Abortion Non-Discrimination Act
  2. S. 165 cosponsors: Contact your senators re: Abortion Non-Discrimination Act

Read Abortion Non-Discrimination Act text

Watch video of CMA briefing at U.S. Capitol on conscience rights and religious liberty

CMDA Resources on Human Trafficking

Political agenda seen behind morning-after pill decision

Political agenda seen behind morning-after pill decisionArticle 1 image

Excerpted from "Left 'speechless' as Sebelius overrules FDA access to morning-after pill," The Hill, December 7, 2011--In a decision steeped in 2012 politics, President Obama's top health official on Wednesday overruled government scientists to block wider access to the so-called "morning-after pill."

The decision to leave in place a requirement that women younger than 17 get a prescription for the drug was a huge surprise to liberal groups and advocates for the Plan B contraceptive, some of whom said they were left "speechless" by Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius's involvement. Wednesday was the deadline for the Food and Drug Administration to make a decision about the drug, and the agency's scientists recommended broader over-the-counter access.

"It is commonly understood that there are significant cognitive and behavioral differences between older adolescent girls and the youngest girls of reproductive age, which I believe are relevant to making this determination as to non-prescription availability of this product for all ages," Sebelius wrote. It is highly unusual for the HHS secretary to publicly overrule the decisions made by FDA reviewers. Even major steps such as pulling drugs completely off the market have almost always come from the agency's career staff.

"We expected this kind of action from the Bush administration, so it's doubly disheartening and unacceptable that this administration chose to follow this path," NARAL Pro-Choice America said in a statement.

Republicans believe Plan B causes abortions, and have pressed hard to restrict access to the drug. If the FDA decision had gone forward, it is possible Obama could have come under criticism from the Republican field of presidential candidates for making abortion more accessible.

CMDA Senior VP Gene Rudd, MD (OB/Gyn): "'Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men?' This line is from the radio drama series "The Shadow," popular in the 1930s. While I was not alive to hear the original broadcasts, I vividly recall recording of the voice of Orson Wells as he read this line. According to the drama, "The Shadow knows." Nearly 80 years later, human nature remains unchanged. Evil still lurks in the hearts of men and women, politicians and civil servants.

"You can label me skeptical about all things political. That because the political arena is fertile ground for the greatest of our temptations: money, sex and power. I do not profess to understand specific motives for specific decisions, but I am wary of the potential evil that lurks behind each decision.

"Secretary Sebelius has made a surprising decision; denying OTC Plan B sales to minors. Could there be noble motives? Of course. Siding with CMDA's position, she may be concerned about the lack of safety data for use by minors.

"However, there may be other, less noble reasons. This may be an attempt to avoid flap that could negatively impact upcoming elections. It may be that, despite its promises, Plan B has done nothing to decrease the rates of unplanned pregnancies and abortions. And the decision will likely result in more visits to Planned Parenthood by young women seeking prescriptions.

"Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men?'"

Read CMDA CEO Dr. David Stevens' recent Congressional testimony on conscience rights and contraception

View video of hearing (Dr. Stevens' testimony starts around 23:30)

View CMDA member survey results

Read CMA member Glenn Verbrugge, MD, letter to editor on contraceptives mandate

Politics fueled stem cell research misappropriations

Politics fueled stem cell research misappropriationsArticle 3 image

Excerpted from "Democrats' embryonic stem cell strategy hits scientific wall," The Daily Caller, December 4, 2011--The Democrats' decade-long strategy of hyping embryo stem cell research crashed into a hard fact on Nov. 15. That's when Geron Corp., the world's leading embryo research company, announced it was closing down its much-touted stem cell program, despite the guarantee of more government aid from Democratic-affiliated sources.

The political battle waged over embryonic stem cell research burst onto the front pages in 2001, when many reporters and scientists began touting stem cells as medical miracles that would offer cures for Alzheimer's, diabetes, Parkinson’s and other diseases.

From 2000 onwards, "Democrats and liberals were hyping the research absurdly," Princeton professor Robert George, a member of President George. W. Bush's Council on Bioethics, told The Daily Caller. "There was no real prospect of therapeutic uses of [Geron's] embryonic stem cells."

University of Pennsylvania bioethics professor Art Caplan agreed. "Companies like Geron tried to attract investors by over promising."

The end of Geron's embryo stem cell work now leaves the stem cell field dominated by two other types of stem cells. Both are supported by social conservatives, and both were derided by Democrats and many reporters.

The leading stem cell technology is found in many hospitals, where doctors and surgeons use cells found in patients' own organs. Those "adult stem cells" can be stimulated to regenerate damaged hearts and other organs. It is sufficiently reliable that insurance companies green-light its use for the treatment of multiple sclerosis, lupus and many other ailments, and it is cheered by social conservatives and religious groups because it improves medical treatments without killing human embryos.

The second type is called IPS stem cell technology. It was developed by Japanese researchers in 2007, and uses a surprisingly simple cocktail of human biochemicals to make ordinary cells, such as skin cells, revert into embryo-like cells. IPS stands for "induced pluripotent stem cells." IPS cells are not used for transplants. Instead, they are grown into clumps of kidney cells, brain cells, heart cells or whatever is required. This technology promises to help bring new drugs to market in record time, at a lower cost and with fewer side effects.

CMDA CEO David Stevens, MD, MA (Ethics): "As I've watched the situation surrounding embryonic stem cells unfold, I've thought more than once of the passage, 'For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil' (1 Timothy 6:10, NIV 1984). Avarice has driven many scientists to make ludicrous promises of miracle cures just around the corner if they just had research funds. After more than a decade, these modern-day alchemists seeking patents and notoriety have not been able to turn lead into gold. The public, rightly miffed, is increasingly asking, 'Where are the cures?'

"Some scientists, like Ian Wilmut, the cloner of the sheep Dolly, are abandoning this pseudoscientific vaudeville. He is publically urging his fellow researchers to abandon embryonic stem cell research, admitting that it has little promise and leads to the development of tumors. He now advocates the direct reprogramming of somatic cells avoiding the embryonic stage altogether.1

"Other prominent advocates have quietly exited the stage, but some diehards refuse to do so. Millionaire Silicon Valley real estate developer Bob Klein funded the ballot drive in 2004 in California to create a $3 billion state slush fund to finance ESC research to 'take politics out of science and focus on cures.' He then had himself appointed chairman of the California Institute of Regenerative Medicine tasked with spending the money. Six years later in 2010, after spending more than half of the borrowed money, he admitted that any cures were years if not decades away. He then proposed to ask debt-ridden California voters to approve another $3 billion bond measure in 2014 when present funding expires.2

"It is obvious that true believers in ESC research still hope to find fame and fortune. Their greed and blind faith have led to their folly. The facts are as clear as they were a decade ago. ESC research is immoral, impractical and unnecessary."

1Stem Cell Essays

2Custom Briefings

CMDA Ethics Statement - Stem Cell Research

CMDA Resources on Stem Cell Research

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Medical Society Forgoes Assisted Suicide Option

"Massachusetts Medical Society forgoes assisted suicide option," Daily Free Press, by Sydney Shea. December 5, 2011--The Massachusetts Medical Society voted last week to maintain its stance against physician-assisted suicide, according to an MMS press release. Although MMS officials recognized patient dignity in terminally ill people as a factor, more than 75 percent of the MMS’s House of Delegates voted against facilitated suicide at their assembly last week.

In September, the Massachusetts Death with Dignity Act moved one step closer to a spot on the 2012 ballot when state Attorney General Martha Coakley approved a proposed ballot. The proposition would still need thousands of signatures to pass, as well as a decision from the legislature. However, MMS president Lynda Young said in the press release that medically assisted suicide for terminally ill patients does not match up with the foundation’s objectives.

The MMS’s House of Delegates has recognized a policy against physician-assisted suicide, according to the press release, since 1996. Young said the resolution also includes “support for patient dignity and the alleviation of pain and suffering at the end of life.” She said that the MMS is committed to providing “physicians treating terminally-ill patients with the ethical, medical, social and legal education, training and resources” for the dignity of patients and their families. Oregon and Washington are the only states that currently allow physician-assisted suicide, where doctors can prescribe mentally competent patients with lethal medicine.

Andrew OstenCMDA Member Andrew Osten, 2LT, MSC, USARM'12, Tufts University School of Medicine: "As I participated in the Massachusetts Medical Society discussion on physician-assisted suicide, several lessons quickly became clear. There is a long tradition in medicine – reaching back as far as we can trace our profession – which opposes physician-assisted suicide. Our current AMA Code of Ethics declares it 'fundamentally incompatible with the physician’s role as healer.' Physicians old and young, from past presidents of the society to new members, stood up in force to affirm this tradition. There were a number of others who testified with heart wrenching stories of great suffering and how a death with dignity might have alleviated some of this suffering. This argument shows the great importance of words. 'Dignity' was used by some to refer to 'an innate worth of a human as created being' and by others as 'the right to choose the time and manner of one’s death.' Moreover, there were clear misunderstandings of the moral and ethical concepts at hand.

"Concerns were raised that a strong opposition to physician-assisted suicide (or deliberate intent to prescribe a lethal dose) might prevent physicians from alleviating pain at the end of life (out of concern of hastening death via a second effect). While a strong majority opposed physician-assisted suicide, all physicians present found common ground on the exhortation that when faced with incredible suffering at the end of life, we must diligently work to relieve it. As Christian physicians, we must not accept the lie that the only way to achieve such dignity in death is through suicide. We must educate ourselves on the vocabulary and the ethical concepts at hand. In the months and years ahead, we must be ready to gently educate our colleagues, patients and the public by always promoting a culture of life."

Urge to Shift Away from Embryonic Stem

"Cloning pioneer urges shift away from embryonic stem cells," North County Times, by Bradley J. Fikes. December 1, 2011--Newer and safer forms of stem cell therapy will likely overtake research into the use of human embryonic stem cells, the scientist whose team cloned Dolly the sheep told his peers at a stem cell conference in La Jolla. Direct "reprogramming" of adult cells into the type needed for therapy is gradually becoming a reality, Ian Wilmut told an audience of several hundred at the Salk Institute at the annual Stem Cell Meeting on the Mesa. Such a feat was once thought impossible, but in recent years it has been demonstrated in at least two publications, he said. These reprogrammed cells appear likely to provide the anticipated benefits of embryonic stem cells without their risks, such as forming tumors. That risk will make government very reluctant to approve the use of cells derived from embryonic cells when a safer alternative is feasible, said Wilmut, whose team of researchers cloned Dolly the sheep nearly 15 years ago.

With its $3 billion stem cell program, California placed a big bet on the field known as regenerative medicine, hoping for a big payoff in improving health and boosting its large biotech industry. A major goal is to grow replacement tissues or organs for insulin-producing cells that can be transplanted into diabetics. Embryonic stem cells can grow into nearly any cell in the human body. Artificial embryonic stem cells, or so-called induced pluripotent stem cells, act in much the same way. This plastic quality attracts scientists, who foresee transforming them into nerve cells to repair brains in Parkinson's disease patients or insulin-producing cells for diabetics whose own insulin cells have been destroyed.

The use and value of embryonic stem cells is an intensely controversial issue. Many people object to their use because human embryos, which they consider human individuals, are killed to get the cells. Critics also point to the success of adult cells in approved therapies, while no therapy with embryonic stem cells has yet been approved. Only one treatment with embryonic stem cells is in clinical testing in people. And that company, Geron Corp., recently ended its involvement in what was described as a business decision.

David Prentice, PhDSenior Fellow for Life Sciences, Center for Human Life and Bioethics, and CMDA Member David A. Prentice, PhD: "Ian Wilmut, Dolly’s 'daddy' (the cloner of Dolly the sheep), is making an assessment of the science in the field, not the ethics. But isn’t it interesting that the ethical science is also the successful science? Embryonic stem cells (ES cells) carry not only ethical baggage, relying on the destruction of young human life, but also have significant practical problems such as a tendency to tumor formation, which Wilmut points out. The newer induced pluripotent stem cells (iPS cells) avoid the ethical problems by genetically transforming a normal cell into one that behaves like an ES cell, without using embryos, eggs or cloning (somatic cell nuclear transfer). But, as Wilmut also notes, iPS cells have similar practical disadvantages regarding their tendency to form tumors, since iPS cell behavior mirrors that of ES cells.

"Wilmut, the cloning pioneer who previously moved away from cloning because the science was unworkable and impractical, is now advising researchers to move away from ES cells as well. When even a leading embryo researcher turns away from embryonic stem cells, you know the handwriting is on the wall. The 'direct reprogramming' technique that he mentions directly converts one normal cell type into another normal cell type, without going through any stem cell intermediate. While this newer technique for cell generation is a ways off from any clinical trial, there has been a recent torrent of published studies, including 10 papers in the last six months showing how to turn normal skin (including from human patients) into functional nerve cells. And of course, adult stem cells continue to successfully treat thousands of patients for dozens of conditions right now."

Discrimination Over Hospital Abortion Policy

"New Jersey nurses charge religious discrimination over hospital abortion policy," The Washington Post, by Rob Stein. November 27, 2011--A dozen nurses in New Jersey have rekindled the contentious debate over when healthcare workers can refuse to play a role in caring for women getting abortions. In a lawsuit filed in federal court Oct. 31, 12 nurses charge that the University of Medicine & Dentistry of New Jersey violated state and federal laws by abruptly announcing in September that nurses would have to help with abortion patients before and after the procedure, reversing a long-standing policy exempting employees who refuse based on religious or moral objections.

For decades, most states, including New Jersey, have had laws protecting nurses and other healthcare workers who have moral objections to participating in abortions. In addition, federal laws, such as the Church Amendment, require healthcare facilities that receive taxpayer money to permit workers to refuse on ethical grounds. On Nov. 3, U.S. District Judge Jose L. Linares granted a request for a temporary restraining order barring the hospital from requiring the nurses to undergo training to care for abortion patients, pending a Dec. 5 hearing on the case, which involves 12 of the 16 nurses who work in the hospital’s same-day surgery unit. Matt Bowman, an attorney representing the nurses, said he had received an email from a lawyer for the hospital arguing that no laws had been broken, because the nurses are required to care for abortion patients only before and after the procedure. Bowman argued that requiring the nurses to get involved before and after an abortion violated their right to refuse based on their conscientious objections.

The hospital argued that “the routine, peripheral care that plaintiffs are now expected to provide. . . cannot reasonably be construed as assisting in the performance of abortions” and that state and federal laws do not apply. The hospital also denied having threatened to dismiss any of the nurses. Officials had offered to accommodate the nurses’ objections by transferring them elsewhere, according to the brief. In February, President Obama rescinded most of a controversial federal regulation put in place by President George W. Bush to protect healthcare workers who refuse to provide care they find objectionable on moral or religious grounds. The rule was widely interpreted as shielding workers who object to a range of medical services, such as playing any role whatsoever in abortions, providing birth control pills or even performing in vitro fertilization for lesbians or single women. Bowman would not say whether he planned to file a complaint, but he said the original Bush regulation might have helped protect the nurses. “The more regulations that exist to enforce federal law protecting conscience rights, the better,” Bowman said.

Matt BowmanLegal Counsel with the Alliance Defense Fund Matt Bowman: "The UMDNJ case of forcing nurses to assist abortions is just one of many cases that the Alliance Defense Fund has handled around the country involving medical professionals being coerced to violate their religious beliefs. These cases represent a broader movement to disqualify anyone adhering to Hippocratic principles from medicine. The abortion providers at UMDNJ contend, contrary to federal and state law, that they can completely ban pro-life nurses from any medical department where they might encounter an abortion, including outpatient, OB/Gyn, emergency care and others. UMDNJ further claims that laws broadly protecting health professionals from performing or assisting abortions mean almost nothing, because abortionists have the right to define 'assist' and 'abortion' so narrowly and arbitrarily that pro-life professionals can be forced to participate in almost every aspect of an abortion case.

"Abortionists can also declare even elective abortions to be 'emergencies' in order to trump conscience laws. ADF is committed to defend medical professionals across the country from being coerced to choose between their faith and their profession. If you as a healthcare professional have been coerced to choose between your faith and profession, call 1-800-TELL-ADF or go to"

Action Items
After seeking legal counsel, you can also report your incident of discrimination to the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services through CMA's Freedom2Care website

Conformity for Diversity’s Sake

Excerpt from opinion piece "Conformity for diversity’s sake," Washington Post by George F. Will. November 2, 2011--Illustrating an intellectual confusion common on campuses, Vanderbilt University says: To ensure “diversity of thought and opinion” we require certain student groups, including five religious ones, to conform to the university’s policy that forbids the groups from protecting their characteristics that contribute to diversity. Last year, after a Christian fraternity allegedly expelled a gay undergraduate because of his sexual practices, Vanderbilt redoubled its efforts to make the more than 300 student organizations comply with its “long-standing nondiscrimination policy.” That policy, says a university official, does not allow the Christian Legal Society “to preclude someone from a leadership position based on religious belief.” So an organization formed to express religious beliefs, including the belief that homosexual activity is biblically forbidden, is itself effectively forbidden.

As professor Michael McConnell of Stanford Law School says, “Not everything the government chooses to call discrimination is invidious; some of it is constitutionally protected First Amendment activity.” Whereas it is wrong for government to prefer one religion over another, when private persons and religious groups do so, this is the constitutionally protected free exercise of religion. So, McConnell says, “Preventing private groups from discriminating on the basis of shared beliefs is not only not a compelling governmental interest; it is not even a legitimate governmental interest.”

The question, at Vanderbilt and elsewhere, should not be whether a particular viewpoint is right but whether an expressive association has a right to espouse it. Unfortunately, in the name of tolerance, what is tolerable is being defined ever more narrowly. Although Vanderbilt is a private institution, its policy is congruent with “progressive” public policy, under which society shall be made to progress up from a multiplicity of viewpoints to a government-supervised harmony. Vanderbilt’s policy, formulated in the name of enlarging rights, is another skirmish in the progressives’ struggle to deny more and more social entities the right to deviate from government-promoted homogeneity of belief. Such compulsory conformity is, of course, enforced in the name of diversity.

H. David Stevens, MD, MA (Ethics) ImageCMDA CEO David Stevens, MD, MA (Ethics): "It is difficult to comment on an article by George Will because he covers this topic so thoroughly and well. I doubt any information or opinion I could contribute would add to your knowledge or your concern.

"Instead, I challenge you to do the most important thing: ACT! Immediately pick up your dictaphone or grab your computer keyboard and contact Chancellor Nicholas Zeppos of Vanderbilt University to register your angst. You can contact him directly at to let your voice be heard.

"Relate that this is a first amendment issue of religious freedom and that Vanderbilt can't claim to be protecting against discrimination while actually initiating a policy of discrimination. Use an argument or illustration from George Will's article. Your letter doesn't need to be long. Just put some teeth in it. Tell them that you will not be able to recommend the school’s training programs or refer patients to the institution if the university continues its policy of discriminating against religious groups.

"You can make a difference. A university in Ohio tried to institute this same sort of discrimination and there was such an uproar from the public, organizations, donors and legislators that the school backed down. Time is running out to approach Vanderbilt’s leadership on this issue, so it is important they hear from you now. I urge you to make this a priority. If not, there will be no InterVarsity, Campus Crusade or CMDA fellowship for our children or grandchildren on any secular university campus in the country.

"I hate to think that you and I would let that happen on our watch."

Congressional Letter to Chancellor Zeppos

Thursday, December 1, 2011

From Kenya, with love Article

Article 3 image
"From Kenya, with love," The Salem News. Janice and Dino Crognale say they knew, even as youngsters, that they were meant to go into missionary work. The couple has followed that calling and will soon return to the Kenyan hospital where they've trained doctors and treated patients with a host of ailments they had never encountered in the U.S., except in medical textbooks. Janice and Dino Crognale met in high school while working at the Papa Gino's in Salem, Massachusetts. They went to medical school at the University of Massachusetts, got married and started a family along the way, and worked for close to 10 years at family practices — she practiced in Hamilton-Wenham, and he worked in Danvers. All the while, their hearts were calling them overseas. In 2006, they traveled to Africa with a patient of Janice's who was a Ugandan native. While they were there, they toured Tenwek Hospital.

"Early on in life, we both felt called to be missionaries. It was just a matter of working out what that means," Dino said. "I think we were both exposed to missionaries through the church (growing up), and we thought that's what God wanted us to do." For two years, they worked in the hospital's emergency room and trained Kenyan doctors. The Crognales have learned to adapt and think creatively, treating patients with malaria, tuberculosis, and HIV and its complications — all without many of the resources, supplies and lab tests Western doctors call for without a second thought. "We (worked to) teach people to improve their own wellness, without a lot of resources," he said. “The most rewarding thing is being able to impact patients who otherwise may not have access to doctors," Dino answered. "For me, one of the most exciting parts is training these young men and women (Kenyan doctors) to go out to these further communities that I'll never see, to continue care and to share the love of Christ with the people there."

Daniel Tolan, MDAssociate Director of CMDA's Center for Medical Missions Daniel Tolan, MD: "Fourteen years of medical missions in Kenya, Africa, taught me many lessons. One of the most significant was the importance of training Kenyans at all levels of healthcare. In the early 1990s, the hospital board of directors set the future of Tenwek Hospital to be a teaching institution. Janice and Dino Crognale speak of the teaching programs now in place at Tenwek in the linked article recently published in the Salem News. It is a joy when I return to Tenwek to see more than 80 persons being trained at any one time.

"The early days of training were hard and at times we had difficulty deciding what motivated us – a selfish desire for additional help to carry the heavy load or a more noble desire to empower the national people. Maybe God used a bit of both to accomplish His plans!

"Today there are numerous opportunities for teaching positions, in both the traditional missionary hospitals, and in government operated hospitals and medical schools. Family Practice training programs are developing all over the continent and CMDA has open doors to all of these. CMDA’s Pan-African Academy of Christian Surgeons is a very active and growing program training surgeons all across Africa. The greatest need is for committed people like you who have not only skills and knowledge but the heart of servant-hood to be passed along as well. If you are interested in learning more about teaching positions please contact CMDA’s Center for Medical Missions at".

Opportunities to Serve
Center for Medical Missions
Global Health Outreach
Medical Education International
Pan-African Academy of Christian Surgeons

Human stem cell trial discontinued

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"First test of human embryonic stem cell therapy in people discontinued," The Washington Post. November 14, 2011--The company conducting the first government-approved tests in people of a therapy developed using human embryonic stem cells abruptly announced Monday that it was halting the study, stunning advocates of the highly contentious field. Geron Corp. of Menlo Park, Calif., said the move, which stops one of the most controversial and closely watched medical experiments in the history of biomedical research, was the result of a business decision to focus exclusively on developing cancer therapies. Another company continues to test a second embryonic stem cell therapy in people. But Geron’s announcement marked a major setback and disappointment, researchers and advocates said. “While stem cells are proving invaluable for research, translating the promising science into new therapies is a slow, painstaking process with many setbacks,” said George Q. Daley, a leading stem cell researcher at Harvard Medical School. “A safe first trial would have paved the way for many others to follow.” Human embryonic stem cell research has been the focus of intense excitement and acrimonious public debate, but it has so far shown promise only in animal and laboratory studies. The Geron study was the first government-sanctioned attempt to test a therapy using the cells in people.

The field is fraught with political, moral and ethical controversies. Days-old embryos have been destroyed to obtain the cells, which critics consider immoral. After many delays, the Food and Drug Administration last year approved two experiments testing therapies created from embryonic stem cells in humans, including a study testing Geron’s experimental treatment on 10 patients partially paralyzed by spinal cord injuries. Both studies were designed primarily to determine whether the approach is safe. The studies have been seen by supporters and opponents of embryonic stem cell research as potentially pivotal to the future of the research. Some worried that not enough basic studies and tests had been done in animals before injecting cells into recently paralyzed patients. Others wondered whether patients who are struggling to come to terms with a devastating injury can make the risky decision to volunteer for the study within two weeks of such a trauma, one of the terms of participation.

Opponents of the research pointed to the announcement Monday as evidence of doubts about the research. The decision “may also indicate that it is not as promising as previously described, both in terms of commercial development as well as safety and efficacy,” said David Prentice of the Family Research Council. Proponents dismissed such arguments.

David Prentice, PhDSenior Fellow for Life Sciences, Center for Human Life and Bioethics David Prentice, PhD: "It's highly unusual for a trial to be abruptly canceled in the absence either of serious adverse events or of overwhelming positive results. The economic excuse rings hollow, especially after a promised $25 million from California, the $750,000 from the federal government through Obamacare and repeated hype to investors.

"It is very likely that Geron's ethically-questionable embryonic stem cell trial is just not nearly as promising as the pro-ESC lobby has portrayed, not only in terms of commercial viability but perhaps also in terms of safety. What little we’ve been told is that there were 'no serious adverse events' and that patients showed no improvement. While it may be too early (only one year since the first patient was injected) to see tumor formation, the early indications may have been enough for Geron to decide to get out of the embryonic stem cell field now.

"Indeed, they are dropping not only the current trial, but all of their embryonic stem cell work. In the meantime while the media continue to push the dubious 'potential' of embryonic stem cells, most people (including most physicians) have still not heard about the peer-reviewed results documenting not only safety but also effectiveness of adult stem cells. The published efficacy shows benefit to patients for conditions such as spinal cord injury, acute and chronic heart conditions, multiple sclerosis and dozens of others. This was the message delivered repeatedly by doctors discussing their own trials at a recent international conference on adult stem cells. The real promise for patients is with ethical and successful adult stem cells."

Targeting Down Syndrome by Regulation?

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Excerpt from "Targeting Down Syndrome by Regulation," The Witherspoon Institute. September 6, 2011--Last month, my daughter Juliet began second grade, where her mother and I expect her to maintain her B+ average on spelling tests and straight A’s in Chinese. In addition to being a loving daughter and big sister, Juliet also is endowed with Down syndrome. At the start of the month, the Department for Health and Human Services (HHS) announced that future births of children like Juliet should be prevented. Down syndrome is the most common genetic cause of intellectual disability and, as such, will be targeted in the new HHS regulation’s free nationwide prenatal testing program.

Discussions of HHS’s new regulation have focused on the required availability of free contraceptive services under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA). The regulation is the result of HHS’s adopting, in its entirety, the Institute of Medicine’s (IOM) report on Clinical Preventive Services for Women. Buried in the IOM report is the recommendation for no-cost well-woman visits; these visits include prenatal care—and thus prenatal testing for “genetic or developmental conditions.” The regulation was issued as part of the PPACA’s coverage of preventive services. This prompts the question, how does prenatal testing prevent Down syndrome?

The IOM report defines preventive services “to be measures . . . shown to improve wellbeing, and/or decrease the likelihood or delay the onset of targeted disease or condition.” Down syndrome occurs at conception. Prenatal testing simply identifies whether a pregnancy is positive for Down syndrome—a prenatal diagnosis after which most women choose to terminate their pregnancy. A prenatal test does not decrease the likelihood of Down syndrome in a person; it does allow for a decreased likelihood of a person with Down syndrome surviving beyond the womb. If this is how HHS is justifying prenatal testing for Down syndrome as preventive care, then HHS has ushered in a program meant to target future Down syndrome children. The targeted elimination of people with Down syndrome is, in fact, the goal of other countries that have adopted nationwide prenatal testing programs—a goal some other countries are now realizing. Indeed, according to the Copenhagen Post, Denmark “could be a country without a single citizen with Down’s syndrome in the not too distant future,” due to its nationwide prenatal screening program, in place since 2004.

Robert Resta, a Genetic Counselor, notes in August’s American Journal of Medical Genetics that “there is very little empirical evidence that prenatal knowledge improves medical, developmental, emotional, or adaptational outcomes.” Further, studies have found that prenatal testing increases the mother’s anxiety, regardless of the test results; that women often do not make informed decisions about accepting prenatal testing or decisions made after a diagnosis and that, when abortion is the chosen response, a significant number of women experience post-traumatic stress.

Prenatal testing for Down syndrome should not be labeled as preventive medicine—an inaccurate and misleading description of a procedure that may prevent Down syndrome births, but certainly does not prevent Down syndrome. A regulation should not be allowed to target a portion of our society for elimination without public debate by accountable elected officials. If the regulation is to remain in place, then additional funding should be provided for all the information required to respect a woman’s choice following a prenatal diagnosis. The President and the Congress should see that the new HHS requirements for preventive care expressly exclude coverage of prenatal testing for Down syndrome unless and until there is public debate and balanced funding for the needed resources.

H. Patrick Stern, MD ImageDevelopmental and Behavioral Pediatrician, H. Patrick Stern, MD: "Juliet and her parents speak loudly of the very meaningful quality of life and blessing in the lives of other people which children with Down syndrome create. Children with Down syndrome can become a star on TV as Chris Burke did who played Corky in 'Life Goes On'. The pioneer research demonstrating the effectiveness of early intervention programs for children was conducted on children with Down syndrome. Every special needs child now benefits from early intervention.

"The 1973 U.S. Supreme Court decision Row vs Wade changed the practice of medicine in our country. Now a million children, most of whom have no abnormality, are aborted each year. Euthanasia has become a treatment option in adults, too. The Hippocratic Oath trusts a physician 'to be careful to cause no intentional harm' and 'will not help a woman obtain an abortion.' The right of conscience, which allows physicians to not be involved in practicing medicine if it violates their moral standards, is being challenged at this time in our country.

"When any life is devalued, particularly when it is a vulnerable child or elderly adult, every life is devalued. The Hippocratic Oath states that a physician 'should maintain the utmost respect for human life, carefully guarding the role as healer.' Our profession should maintain these standards even if laws and public opinion wants us to change these historical values. Physicians should not become enablers."

CMDA Ethics Statement - Abortion
CMDA Ethics Statement - Right of Conscience