Thursday, September 27, 2012

HHS mandate bypasses parents on contraceptives for children

Excerpted from "HHS mandate allows minors free contraception, sterilization," Catholic News Agency, Sep 25, 2012--Minor children on their parents’ health care plans will have free coverage of sterilization and contraception, including abortion-causing drugs, under the controversial HHS mandate – and depending on the state, they can obtain access without parental consent.

Matt Bowman, senior counsel for the religious liberty legal group Alliance Defending Freedom, said the mandate “tramples parental rights” because it requires them to “pay for and sponsor coverage of abortifacients, sterilization, contraception and education in favor of the same for their own children.”

The Department of Health and Human Services ruled in January 2012 that most employers who have 50 or more employees must provide the coverage as “preventive care” for “all women with reproductive capacity.” The mandate also requires the coverage for beneficiaries, including minors, on the affected health plans, Bowman told CNA Sept. 20. That means that a minor on her parents’ plan could be sterilized if she finds a doctor willing to perform the procedure.

“She can be sterilized at no cost,” Bowman stated. “Whether her parents will know and/or consent might differ by state. But the Guttmacher Institute and other abortion advocates explicitly advocated for this mandated coverage of minors so that access without parental involvement might be able to increase.”
The Guttmacher Institute, in a Sept. 1 briefing on state policies, said that an increase in minors’ access to reproductive health care over the last 30 years shows a broader recognition that “while parental involvement in minors’ health care decisions is desirable, many minors will not avail themselves of important services if they are forced to involve their parents.” The institute, the former research arm of abortion provider Planned Parenthood, said that 26 states and the District of Columbia allow all minors 12 years and older to consent to contraceptive services. At least one state, Oregon, allows 15-year-olds to consent to sterilization.

There are presently 30 lawsuits challenging the HHS mandate in federal court on religious freedom grounds.


Gene Rudd, MDCMDA Executive Vice President Gene Rudd, MD: “'Beware of Greeks bearing gifts.'
"Sadly, in today’s society, we as parents have to warn our children to avoid adults who try to lure them into doing things that might be dangerous, even deadly. Stereotypically, it is the shady character on the street corner who invites your child to pet his dog or enjoy his candy.

"But what do we do when it is the government or an agency operating with government funds doing this? They also have an agenda, and they wish to entreat our children to take part in that agenda even when we as parents do not approve. And worse, our laws have morphed to make it legal! Yes, there are some differences between their agenda and that of a pedophile, but the outcomes can be just as destructive to the wellbeing of the child and the family.

"So now we must warn our children that adults serving in public positions, those with an element of authority over their lives, might also lure them into behavior contrary to their moral training and dangerous to their health. And as a more definitive step, we must take steps to reverse this social engineering.

"I realize there is an argument to be made for providing care for children in exceptional circumstances, but allowance for the exception has become the rule for all. We must now require our government leaders to scrap the onerous rule that allows for this (included in the Affordable Care Act) and replace it with healthcare reforms that do not undermine the family."

Top Federal Health Slots Eyed for New Administration

Excerpted from "Romney Team Preps to Fill a Cabinet," The Wall Street Journal, September 11, 2012--Mitt Romney's presidential transition team, stocked with veterans of the George W. Bush administration, is studying personnel and policy moves that would prepare Mr. Romney to reorder federal spending and quickly propose a budget, should he win the White House. President Barack Obama's preparations are less cumbersome. But he would likely see significant turnover if he wins a second term, including the planned departures of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner.

The transition team is looking at the Department of Health and Human Services with an eye toward fulfilling Mr. Romney's promise to repeal the president's healthcare law.

Mike Leavitt, the former Utah governor who is overseeing the Romney transition team, briefed campaign donors on the planning process during the GOP convention in Tampa. Participants said his description was reminiscent of a corporate takeover. Mr. Leavitt served under Mr. Bush as head of the Environmental Protection Agency and secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services. Also shepherding the group is Jamie Burke, a former White House liaison to Health and Human Services.

Editor's note: As a nonpartisan organization, CMDA does not endorse any political candidate or party and has worked with administrations of both parties on many issues. As a pro-life organization, we naturally find increased invitations and opportunities for our members to serve at the federal level during administrations that share this conviction.


Jonathan Imbody

CMA VP for Government Relations Jonathan Imbody: "The CMA Freedom2Care Federal Registry provides an avenue for you to explore health-related opportunities for federal service, including top-level slots that would open in a new administration. Our contacts with key leaders can help get your CV in front of decision-makers. Examples of top health-related positions include:

"The above top slots typically require proven experience working with large budgets and staff, consistency with the president's policy objectives and a tough skin. Besides these positions, numerous positions in health agencies and the White House offer opportunities for qualified medical professionals. Senior Executive Service (SES) positions serve just below the top Presidential appointees, do not require Senate confirmation and in 2012 garnered salaries ranging from $119,554 to $179,700.

Two other opportunities: CMA works with administration officials to advance candidates for health-related federal commissions, and members of Congress contact the CMA Washington office for background counsel or expert testimony from medical professionals."
  1. To advance your consideration for a federal health position, send your CV to the CMA Washington office at
  2. Complete the Freedom2Care federal service survey to indicate your experience and interests.
  3. Join the Freedom2Care group on LinkedIn to receive updates on opportunities for landing federal jobs, serving on commissions and providing counsel to Congress.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Court protects pharmacists' conscience rights

Excerpted from "Illinois cannot make pharmacists give 'morning after' pill: court," Reuters, Sep. 21, 2012--An Illinois appellate court Friday affirmed a lower court finding that the state cannot force pharmacies and pharmacists to sell emergency contraceptives - also known as "morning after pills" - if they have religious objections. In 2005, former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich mandated that all pharmacists and pharmacies sell "Plan B," the brand name for a drug designed to prevent pregnancy following unprotected sex or a known or suspected contraceptive failure if taken within 72 hours.

Some anti-abortion advocates object to the drugs, which work by preventing the release of an egg, preventing fertilization or stopping a fertilized egg from attaching to the uterus. In 2011, an Illinois judge entered an injunction against the rule, finding no evidence that the drugs had ever been denied on religious grounds, and that the law was not neutral since it was designed to target religious objectors.

The Illinois appellate court agreed that the Illinois Health Care Right of Conscience Act protects pharmacists' decision not to dispense the contraceptives due to their beliefs. "This decision is a great victory for religious freedom," said Mark Rienzi, senior counsel for the Becket Fund, quoted in a statement about the decision. The American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois, which had filed an amicus brief on behalf of the state, expressed dismay at the court's decision.


Jonathan ImbodyCMA Vice President for Government Relations Jonathan Imbody: "Pro-life legal groups represented the Christian Medical Association in two amici curiae (friend of the court) briefs in this case. Our briefs, written by the Christian Legal Society (CLS) and Americans United for Life (AUL), argued the following:

"CLS brief: The government is prohibited from coercing health care workers to provide health care services that violate their religious beliefs. The rule violates plaintiffs' rights under the Illinois Religious Freedom Restoration Act. The rule substantially burdens the plaintiffs' free exercise of religion and is not narrowly tailored to advance the government's purported interest. The circuit court properly held that the rule is not narrowly tailored; nor is it the least restrictive means of achieving its interest.

"AUL brief: There is no 'problem' of access to 'emergency contraception.' The potential post-fertilization effect of 'emergency contraception' is objectionable to a large number of health care providers and provides ground for the right to object to its provision. The Right of Conscience is guaranteed under the Illinois Healthcare Right of Conscience Act and the Illinois Religious Freedom Restoration Act. The Right of Conscience is a historical right supported by the First Amendment.

"Thankfully in this case, the court recognized that the government of Illinois overreached in asserting its power over the religious liberty interests of pharmacists. Now we need a similar handcuffing of the federal government, which under the new health care reform law has wrongly asserted a coercive contraceptives and sterilization mandate over the religious liberty interests of faith-based nonprofits, educational institutions and other ministries. Next month CMA will be submitting amicus briefs in two consolidated cases--Belmont Abbey College v. Sebelius and Wheaton College v. Sebelius--in the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, to protect religious liberties and conscience rights from the Obamacare contraceptives and sterilization mandate. Pray for justice to prevail."

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Is Prostitution Harmful?

Is prostitution harmful?," Journal Medical Ethics, by Ole Martin Moen, Professor of Philosophy at U. of Oslo, Norway. August 28, 2012--A common argument against prostitution states that selling sex is harmful because it involves selling something deeply personal and emotional. More and more of us, however, believe that sexual encounters need not be deeply personal and emotional in order to be acceptable—we believe in the acceptability of casual sex. In this paper I argue that if casual sex is acceptable, then we have few or no reasons to reject prostitution. I do so by first examining nine influential arguments to the contrary. These arguments purport to pin down the alleged additional harm brought about by prostitution (compared to just casual sex) by appealing to various aspects of its practice, such as its psychology, physiology, economics and social meaning. For each argument I explain why it is unconvincing. I then weight the costs against the benefits of prostitution, and argue that, in sum, prostitution is no more harmful than a long line of occupations that we commonly accept without hesitation.

CMA VP for Government Relations, Jonathan Imbody: "For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness…. [T] hey became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools…" Romans 1:18, 21, 22 (NASB)

"In "The God Who is There, Francis Schaeffer traces the fallacies of modern philosophers, such as this author, for "defining terms without dealing with meaning and purpose." They reject the biblical notion of the knowable reality of God, revelation and absolute truth in favor of their own opinions. Philosopher professor Ole Martin Moen, the author of this article, asserts that "sex need not always be romantically significant in order to be permissible" (emphasis added). What does he mean, permissible? Morally? On what grounds, since he denies absolute truth and morality?

"Moen suggests that the harms of prostitution may not be inherent but simply the result of stigma and laws prohibiting prostitution. He cites past stigma against homosexuality as a parallel, arguing that "statistics [on disease and other harms experienced by homosexuals] were insufficient to establish that there was anything harmful inherent in being a homosexual or in engaging in homosexual practice." Certainly stigma can inhibit testing for the AIDS virus, but to suggest that physical harms such as contracting disease are not an inherent risk of sexual behavior outside marriage is quite a stretch. "Moen argues that "prostitution--though, like most occupations, it has its downsides--is not harmful either."

"This Portrait of Exploitation timeline photo of prostituted women visually drives home the results of prostitution. Few if any physicians, who daily see real prostituted patients who have been violently and sometimes lethally harmed by real diseases and abuse, would condone prostitution. Nor would parents who have lost their children to prostitution."

Human Trafficking Continuing Education Credits

Are doctors burned out?

Is your doctor burned out?," CNN, by Alexandra Sifferlin. August 28, 2012--Job burnout can strike workers in nearly any field, but a new study finds that doctors are at special risk. Nearly 1 in 2 U.S. physicians report at least one symptom of burnout, with doctors at the front line of care particularly vulnerable, the study found -- a significantly higher rate than among the general working population. Overtaxed doctors are not only at risk for personal problems, like relationship issues and alcohol misuse, but their job-related fatigue can also erode professionalism, compromise quality of care, increase medical errors and encourage early retirement -- a potentially critical problem as an aging population demands more medical care.

Led by researchers from the Mayo Clinic and the American Medical Association, the study asked participating physicians to fill out a questionnaire asking about their feelings of burnout -- including "emotional exhaustion" or losing enthusiasm for their work; feelings of cynicism or "depersonalization"; and a low sense of personal accomplishment. The 22-item questionnaire, called the Maslach Burnout Inventory (MBI), is considered the gold standard for measuring burnout; the doctors also completed a shorter, modified version of the MBI, the answers to which researchers used to compare with the general population. Researchers also asked doctors how long they worked each week, how satisfied they were with their work-life balance, and whether they had any symptoms of depression or thoughts of suicide.

The data showed that rates of burnout were high: 45.8 percent of doctors experienced at least one symptom of work-related burnout. "Our finding is concerning given the extensive literature linking burnout to medical errors and lower quality of care," says study author Dr. Tait Shanafelt of the Mayo Clinic. "Most previous studies of physicians from individual specialties have suggested a burnout rate of 30 percent to 40 percent. Thus, the prevalence of burnout among physicians appears to be higher than in the past." In addition, while higher levels of education were associated with less risk of burnout for people in other professions, doctors' advanced degrees didn't afford them the same protection from job-related stress. "While individuals in other professions do experience burnout, it seems to be largely driven by the hours," says Shanafelt. "In addition to their high work hours, there appears to be factors related to the nature of the work that increase the risk for physicians." "Unfortunately, little evidence exists about how to address this problem," the authors write, urging additional research to figure out what can be done to support doctors at the individual, organizational and societal level. "Policy makers and health care organizations must address the problem of physician burnout for the sake of physicians and their patients." Full story can be found here.


Leslie Walker, MD CMDA Member and Chair of Women in Medicine & Denistry, Leslie Walker, MD: "This important but distressing study on burnout shows the first large sample of U.S. physicians across specialties compared to the general population. The results of the study show that levels of depression (on a two-question online screen) and suicidal ideation were similar to the general population, but that rates of burnout were significantly higher among physicians. "Burnout or depression can occur when we have limited autonomy but high levels of responsibility, especially in unpredictable and punitive systems. Medical internship is one of the best examples, and previous studies linked medical errors by residents to high levels of burnout and depression. In the past, doctors expected more autonomy after residency, along with increasing levels of responsibility, respect from patients and more control over schedules to balance work and personal activities, all of which reduce the risk of burnout. But that’s not necessarily the case today.

"'Treatment' for burnout typically involves taking a break, contemplating one's goals and considering whether the schedule or the type of work should be changed. While I do see physicians who take the time to do this, most burned-out doctors just keep working. The authors suggest reducing burnout may require changing the entire U.S. medical system. However, current suggestions for change are likely to increase burnout. Successful practice is increasingly based not on clinical expertise but on 'outcomes' that have less to do with a doctor's skills and more to do with monitored data in computers.

"Vibrant faith in Christ does not universally prevent burnout, but it does remind us that our identity and worth as God's children have nothing to do with how well we've met a series of benchmarks. As Christians, we gain strength from the body of Christ. If you dread going to work or see patients as just a means to a paycheck, take a break to engage with one of CMDA’s resources such as the Completing Your Call program or Grasping Power through Surrender retreats for women physicians and dentists. Join a local CMDA group where you can pray with like-minded colleagues and consider what changes might help you find joy again in the work God called you to do. This community is one of the best weapons against burnout. It serves as a reminder that you are not alone."

Completing Your Call Symposium
CMDA's Resident Community
Standards4Life: Faith and Health

Thoughts on the Upcoming Elections

Excerpted from "Thoughts on the Upcoming Election," The Chuck Colson Center, by Dr. Timothy George. August 27, 2012--Earlier this year, in the midst of the presidential primary season, I was asked to address a group of Southern Baptist pastors on the question of Christian faith and political engagement. Though no one knew for sure who the candidates would be at that time, the first question I was asked was, “How should an evangelical Christian decide who to support in this election?” That was a legitimate question, and has prompted me to think of some wider implications.
  1. We should be grateful to live in a representative democracy where the right to vote and the rule of law are respected. Vote!
  2. The American republic was founded on a clear distinction between church and state, as the First Amendment shows, but this has never meant the separation of faith from public life. What we believe about ultimate matters has a direct bearing on how we deal with issues of everyday life. Distinguish!
  3. In the Manhattan Declaration, Chuck Colson, Robert George and I (Dr. Timothy George) made a public argument, based on biblical wisdom and the right use of reason, that the three most pressing moral issues of our time are the sanctity of every human life from conception to natural death, marriage as a lifelong covenantal union of one man and one woman and religious freedom for all persons. Of course, there are other issues that also call for Christian engagement: racial reconciliation, care of creation, immigration, education, care for the poor and sex trafficking, among many others. But today, life, marriage and freedom are threshold issues that provide a basis for our concern about many other things. They are also the issues most under assault at this moment in our culture. Discern!
  4. There is a difference between Christian discernment and partisan politics. The Kingdom of Christ cannot be equated with any political party. Examine!
Regardless of who wins the election in November, the spiritual and moral issues that ought to inform our political acts will remain on the agenda. In seeking to make a wise decision based on a rightly informed conscience, we need to listen to God’s voice in the Scriptures, learn as much as we can about the candidates and what they stand for, and turn to God in prayer. These words spoken by God to the people of Israel long ago are still pertinent today: “If my people, my God-defined people, respond by humbling themselves, praying, seeking my presence, and turning their backs on their wicked lives, I’ll be there ready for you: I’ll listen from heaven, forgive their sins, and restore their land to health” (2 Chronicles 7:14, MSG). Pray! Click here to read full article.


David Stevens, MD, MA (Ethics)CMDA CEO David Stevens, MD, MA (Ethics): "The most astute thing I can say to Timothy George’s piece is, ‘Amen,’ though I would like to expand upon one comment. Dr. George comments that we should each ‘learn as much as we can about the candidates.’ What should we learn?
“While getting my evening exercise the other night, I listened to the Your Move iTunes podcast of Andy Stanley’s August 19th sermon in his series ‘Recovery Road.’ He hit the nail on the head as he related the story of Nehemiah rebuilding the walls for Jerusalem. Nehemiah not only used his own funds to pay the debts of downtrodden Jews so they could focus on building the wall, but he also faced down the local wealthy Jews who endeavored to loan the poor even more money knowing that Nehemiah would cover their debts. Nehemiah called a meeting to confront them and they all backed down, swearing to never charge interest to another Jew. Why? Because Nehemiah didn't just talk the talk, he walked the walk. Though the Persian king made him governor, he did not levy taxes or enrich himself from the powerful position he held for more than 10 years.
“What did Nehemiah have? He had incredible integrity in every aspect of his life which gave him moral authority as a leader. He was trustworthy.
“Personal integrity does matter, especially for those in politically powerful positions. If a candidate for any office does not have personal integrity, we shouldn't vote for him or her. If they aren't generous with their own money in taking care of the poor, how can we trust them to spend our money wisely to take care of the disadvantaged? If they don't manage their own funds well, how can they wisely manage our tax money? If they are dishonest in their speech, how we can trust that they are telling us the truth? If they are unfaithful to their spouse, how can we believe they will keep the promises they make to us? If they devalue a helpless unborn life, how can they truly value our lives and liberties?
“It makes little difference whether a candidate is a Democrat, Republican, Libertarian or Tea Party candidate. If they have integrity, they are going to be able to honestly and faithfully work with others in government to deal with the huge problems we have in this country. What we need to learn about each candidate is not whether they are the member of the party we favor but simply this, ‘Are they a Nehemiah?’"