Thursday, April 25, 2013

CMA and others urge HHS to reconsider contraceptives mandate

Excerpted from "Commenting period ends for HHS mandate," National Catholic Reporter, April 22, 2013 - On April 8, the last day that the public could file comments with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services on the contraceptive coverage in its health insurance mandate, Secretary Kathleen Sebelius was addressing students at the Harvard School of Public Health. She told them she had not anticipated how complicated it would be to implement the Affordable Care Act, the president's signature healthcare law.

The mandate requires employee health insurance policies to provide contraceptive coverage without co-pays or deductibles. Some of the fiercest battles have been with religious organizations that have objected to the mandate as a violation of their teachings against the use of contraceptives.

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops filed its comment in March. The bishops still object to the narrow definition of "exempt" institutions, insisting, "The current proposal continues to define 'religious institution' in a way that, by the government's own admission, excludes (and therefore subjects to the mandate) a wide array of employers that are undeniably religious. Generally, the nonprofit religious organizations that fall on the 'non-exempt' side of this religious gerrymander include those organizations that contribute most visibly to the common good through the provision of health, educational, and social services."

Kristina Arriaga, executive director of the Becket Fund, a group that focuses on religious liberty issues, told NCR that her organization remains skeptical of the current proposals.

"HHS has mandated that American employers include all FDA-approved contraceptives in their group health plans without cost-sharing," Arriaga stated in an email. "HHS' mandate covers contraceptives like ella and IUDs that work after conception to end newly-created human life, and HHS knew when it issued the mandate that many Americans -- both Catholic and non-Catholic -- have serious moral objections to these drugs."

"The government is still trying to force many believers to pay for or facilitate access to abortion-causing drugs in ways their religion prohibits. What each organization's religion permits is not the government's call to make," Arriaga said.


Jonathan ImbodyCMA Vice President for Govt. Relations Jonathan Imbody: "As suggested by my colleague Kristina Arriaga of the Becket Fund, which along with Alliance Defending Freedom has been racking up key court victories regarding the HHS mandate, this battle reflects two distinct views of the role of American government and the primacy of religious freedom.

"Despite the President's own testimony that 99 percent of women already access contraceptives, he and his administration appear determined to leverage the full power of the federal government against the expressed interests of the faith community in a drive to ensure that every single woman of child bearing age in the country--from Beverly Hills to The Hamptons--receives contraceptives for free. Under the HHS mandate, every U.S. insurance company must pony up for costly pills, implants and sterilization procedures, regardless of the threat to the company's solvency.

"The government blithely asserts without proof that it will cost less in the long run to prevent babies than to deliver them. Such a policy not only clashes with the traditional American life-affirming ethos; it also may portend an economic crisis resulting from an imbalance of older versus younger citizens. Consider, for example, that preventing babies from being born would only exacerbate the looming Social Security crisis. Funding Obamacare itself hinges in large part on forcing younger, healthy individuals to pay for health insurance and in effect subsidize the cost of healthcare for the older population.

"As to religious freedom, the administration continues to contend--as it did in its failed attempt to win over a single member of the Supreme Court to its radical viewpoint in the Hosanna Tabor case--that governmental interests handily trump First Amendment religious liberty. It is true that on rare occasions courts have allowed a compelling government interest to override individual religious liberty, provided the government uses the least restrictive means to achieve its goals. Yet forcing millions of citizens to violate their consciences and participate in a practice proscribed by their faith--when the administration easily could pursue the far less restrictive alternative of the government itself providing contraceptives without infringing on anyone's religious liberty--hardly meets this criteria.”

Click HERE to urge your U.S. Rep. to support conscience rights bill HR 940

Arm yourself with arguments for religious liberty and against government coercion by reading CMA's and other groups' official comments sent to the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services (HHS).

Administration invites help in battling human trafficking

Excerpted from "Working Together to Support Victims of Human Trafficking," April 9, 2013, U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security blog by DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano - This morning, I joined Senior Advisor to President Obama Valerie Jarrett and Attorney General Eric Holder at the White House Forum on Combating Human Trafficking where we announced the Administration’s latest effort to combat the hidden crime of human trafficking and help victims of human trafficking. During the Forum, we released a draft Federal Strategic Action Plan on Services for Victims of Human Trafficking, which will be open for public comment for 45 days.

Developed collaboratively with Federal partners including the Departments of Justice, Health and Human Services, and Labor, and with leadership and guidance from the White House, this plan will better coordinate efforts across the Federal government to identify, rescue and support victims. You can view the Plan and provide your comments here. When final, the Plan will complement and advance anti-trafficking efforts already underway at DHS.

Nearly three years ago, we launched the DHS Blue Campaign to unite the Department’s effort to combat human trafficking and leverage our relationships with other federal agencies, state, local, tribal and territorial law enforcement, non-governmental organizations, the private sector and international partners.

Last year alone, we received more tips through the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) tip line than ever before, investigated a historic amount of cases and rescued more victims of human trafficking, and provided support to over 1,200 human trafficking victims. We have also expanded our victim assistance program, and will continue to make combating human trafficking a priority.

Working together, we can take comprehensive action to stop this terrible crime, rescue victims and put perpetrators behind bars. We look forward to receiving your feedback. To learn more about human trafficking and what you can do, please visit and the Blue Campaign Facebook page.


Jeffery Barrows, DOJeff Barrows, DO, MA - CMDA anti-trafficking education contributor and Director, Abolition International Shelter Association: “This blog post by Secretary Napolitano announces the recent release of a draft Federal Strategic Action Plan on Services for Victims of Human Trafficking by the federal government as well as an opportunity for the public to submit comments regarding the 'Plan'. CMA is in the process of finalizing its comments for submission pointing out two critical items. First of all, as one of the few professions to regularly encounter victims of trafficking, healthcare professionals play a critical role in identifying and freeing these modern day slaves from their captivity. Second, for several years CMA has been playing a lead role in educating healthcare professionals on the issue of human trafficking. A small group of CMA members have put together a series of 11 online educational modules geared specifically to the healthcare professional that teach in depth about the issue of human trafficking and how to identify a victim within the healthcare setting. These are available for CME and can be found at As healthcare professionals and members of CMA, you have a role to play in helping to end modern day slavery. Consider submitting your comments on the 'Plan' here."

CMDA Human Trafficking CME/CDE modules
CMDA Resource Page for Human Trafficking

Video chronicles abortion clinic horrors

Excerpted from "Pro-Life Group Screens Graphic Kermit Gosnell Documentary to Staffers on Capitol Hill," U.S. News & World Report, April 19, 2013--The staffers of a number of prominent Republican members of Congress attended a briefing and screening Friday morning on the case of Kermit Gosnell, a Philadelphia doctor who practiced abortions for nearly four decades and is now on trial for murder. Gosnell is accused in the deaths of a female patient and seven babies at his Philadelphia clinic.

Staffers from the offices of Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, and Reps. Chris Smith, R-N.J., Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., and Doug Lamborn, R-Colo., watched the graphic documentary, "3801 Lancaster," which detailed the squalid conditions of Gosnell's clinic and showed graphic images of the babies who are believed to have died there.

[WARNING: Graphic Content. See the Documentary HERE.]

Several of the staffers winced or turned away from the screen when images were shown of babies Gosnell allegedly aborted by "snipping," a practice by which a baby's spinal cord is severed with scissors.

The documentary was made by independent filmmakers and screened on the Hill by the Pennsylvania Family Institute and the Washington-based pro-life group the Susan B. Anthony List.

SBA List head Marjorie Dannenfelser encouraged staffers to specifically look into potentially lax regulation of abortion clinics in their home states, as well as fetal pain legislation at the federal level.


Don Thompson, MDDonald Thompson, MD, MPH&TM - Director, CMDA's Global Health Outreach: "Advocates for life should certainly be alarmed by the malicious disregard of young women and their babies in the Gosnell 'House of Horrors' case, as described in the Grand Jury report that is available at the website. The lack of media coverage during the first four weeks of the trial is very troubling as well and has led to foundational questions about ethics in reporting by the media and many allegations of media bias.

"As healthcare professionals, we have a unique level of credibility in the discussion of patient safety, clinical oversight and standards of care. Gosnell’s abuse will be the exception rather than the rule only if state medical boards take on proper oversight of abortion clinics and are transparent with their findings. We should all become patient advocates by exhorting our state elected officials to mandate the same level of oversight of abortion clinics and abortionists as we experience in our medical practices and in similar facilities.

"We encounter women and girls who have been traumatized by abortion or who may be considering abortion. This documentary describes the open wounds that continue to affect the women who suffered in Gosnell’s clinic. These women are suffering from a post-traumatic stress syndrome, just like women we may see in our clinics every day who have also experienced an abortion.

"Will we notice them? Will we ask the right questions? Will we look up from our computer screen and sit down long enough so that they feel we really want to hear about their silent suffering? Let's be ready to help women with these deep scars and also to refer patients to a Crisis Pregnancy Center or other local resource for help."
Write your state representatives and encourage them to introduce women's health and safety clinic regulation bills similar to the Americans United for Life model legislation.

Learn more about recognizing and managing similar cases by studying the new CMDA Human Trafficking CME/CDE modules.

Medical pregnancy centers need physicians willing to volunteer as little as an hour per week to write orders, read ultrasounds and provide oversight to the nurse administering the medical services. To find a pregnancy center near you through a national pro-life organization:

Care-Net centers: Go HERE to see centers in your region or call 703-554-8753 or email.

Heartbeat International centers: email Heartbeat's Medical Specialist -

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Prostitution, AIDS and grants

Excerpted from "Prostitution policy splits NGOs in top court AIDS case," Reuters, April 10, 2013--A Supreme Court case that challenges a law requiring anti-prostitution policies for HIV/AIDS programs seeking federal money has generated a split among non-profit groups that counsel sex workers overseas. The case involves a 2003 law that bars funding for groups that work on HIV/AIDS prevention but do not have a policy opposing prostitution and sex trafficking.
It has pitted two non-governmental organizations that operate programs overseas, backed by umbrella organizations representing others like them, against 46 organizations that have sided with the federal government in defending the law.

"The split is about whether you support the sex industry," Norma Ramos, executive director of the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women, one of the groups siding with the government. "Prostitution is the end point of sex trafficking" and cannot be separated out from efforts to fight public health problems, including the spread of HIV/AIDS, she said.

The organizations challenging the provision on First Amendment grounds do not want to take a stand on prostitution. They say the law interferes with their work providing advice and counseling to prostitutes about the risks of HIV infection. The court on April 22 will consider whether the requirement, which has not been enforced since a 2006 injunction, is valid under the U.S. Constitution.

The Alliance for Open Society International and Pathfinder International - NGOs that receive funding for overseas HIV/AIDS prevention - sued in 2005, citing the First Amendment's guarantee of free speech. The two groups have since been joined in the litigation by the Global Health Council and InterAction, two sizable alliances of NGOs that work in developing countries.

In response to their criticism, Punima Mane, the president and CEO of Pathfinder, said, "We would not want to condemn the groups we work with and for." Such a move would threaten her organization's ability to provide "life-saving health services" to a vulnerable population, she added.

Outside the courtroom, a group representing sex workers started a petition to reverse the policy, saying it has "resulted in the reduction or complete elimination of HIV prevention and treatment services for sex workers in numerous countries." The case is U.S. AID v. Alliance for Open Society International, U.S. Supreme Court, No. 12-10. Full story can be found here.


Jonathan ImbodyVice President for Government Relations Jonathan Imbody: "Prostitution harms, degrades and kills women; it provides sex traffickers and terrorist groups with a lucrative income rivaling that of the drug trade; and it helps fuel the spread of AIDS and other diseases. President Bush noted in his National Security Presidential Directive (NSPD-22), that prostitution and related activities 'are inherently harmful and dehumanizing. The United States Government position is that these activities should not be regulated as a legitimate form of work for any human being.'

"In 2003 Congress passed a law (U.S. Leadership Against HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria Act) aimed at 'eradicating prostitution, the sex trade, rape, sexual assault and sexual exploitation of women and children' and provided that 'No funds made available to carry out this Act … may be used to promote or advocate the legalization or practice of prostitution or sex trafficking.' The law required 'a policy explicitly opposing prostitution and sex trafficking' and made clear that nothing in the law could 'be construed to preclude the provision to individuals of palliative care, treatment' and other help. So the talking point stated above by opponents that the policy somehow precludes providing 'life-saving health services' is completely spurious.

"When some groups opposed the anti-prostitution policy as 'unsophisticated,' CMA prepared, circulated and delivered to the Bush administration a letter, signed by more than 100 organizations and leaders, supporting the government's requirement that grantees document their opposition to prostitution. Years later, CMA wrote a letter strongly opposing the '[Obama] administration’s proposed rule that would relax the requirement of explicit guarantees that U.S.-funded grantees and sub-grantees oppose prostitution and trafficking in persons.'"

"The anti-prostitution policy regarding grants simply ensures that our tax dollars will not be used to promote an activity (prostitution) that spreads the very diseases and injustices the grants are designed to prevent."

Take time to learn more through the CMDA Human Trafficking Continuing Education Course
Letter Opposing President Obama's Change to Prostitution Pledge
Modern-Day Slavery Victims
CMDA Ethics Statement: Abuse of Human Life

Good news on AIDS in Africa

Excerpt from "Good news on AIDS in Africa," Slate, by Jenny Trinitapoli and Alexander Weinreb. March 27, 2013--The latest news on AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa, the epidemic’s epicenter, is good. New HIV infections have declined by 25 percent since 2001, AIDS-related deaths have decreased by 32 percent over the past six years, and there are expanded options for testing and treatment. After decades of doom-and-gloom news about AIDS in Africa, optimism is finally in the air.
What’s behind this positive turn? The standard narrative attributes these recent improvements to Western engagement. The heroes are the best-known acronyms in the world of AIDS (PEPFAR, UNAIDS, WHO), the Global Fund and a host of NGOs. Together, these organizations have waged total war against AIDS in Africa—or what looks like total war if you compare it to efforts devoted to other diseases. They have spent tens of billions of dollars. They have mobilized legions of scientists, medical professionals, development workers, educators, TV programmers, marketing specialists and volunteers. And they have shunned, silenced and demonized those who oppose their good work. The good news about AIDS in Africa—so this standard narrative goes—is the result of their efforts. It’s proof that even on that dark and desperate continent, awash with ancient superstitions, hypersexuality, dangerous traditional practices and poor leadership, AIDS cannot withstand a sustained pummeling by well-intentioned and well-financed outsiders.

This narrative contains some important elements of truth: Pharmacological treatments in particular are transforming HIV from a death sentence into a manageable, chronic condition, at least for those with access to antiretrovirals. But most of the measured improvements in AIDS in Africa are actually the result of cumulative, widespread behavior change that has led to a reduction in new HIV infections. In other words, the standard narrative is wrong. The narrative is wrong because it ignores local African responses to AIDS and characterizes religion and religious leaders as part of the problem. We have systematically studied the role of religious leaders in sub-Saharan Africa for about a decade. As a single class of people, local religious leaders sit at the very top of our list of who should receive credit for the behavior changes that have curbed the spread of HIV in Africa.

This statement may surprise or even irritate people imagining fire-and-brimstone preachers who condemn the use of condoms, push conservative messages about sex and morality and interpret AIDS as God’s wrath. That’s not what African religious leaders have been doing—quite the contrary.

Approximately 90 percent of Africans participate regularly in some religious congregation, and religious leaders have been preaching about sexual morality, in particular about abstinence and fidelity. But Africa’s religious leaders began doing this before PEPFAR and Western public health authorities told them to—long before the attention of the development world turned to AIDS in Africa. What prompted their efforts? Certainly not the fact that they were, or are, getting paid to do this by foreign NGOs. Ninety percent of congregation leaders in Malawi, where we began working on AIDS in 2004, have never seen a penny from any international NGO or their programs. Rather, they started preaching and teaching and facilitating conversations about AIDS when they became overwhelmed with caregiving and burial responsibilities, and when their members—especially the women—began demanding that they do so. On the world’s most religious continent, people use religious ideas, language and organizations to address problems, big and small. This is the source of religion’s positive contribution to the recent improvements in Africa’s AIDS situation. Full story can be found here.


Shepherd SmithPresident and Founder of The Institute for Youth Development Shepherd Smith: "Authors Trinitapoli and Weinreb are to be congratulated for their objectivity in reporting on the primary reason for reductions in HIV infections in Africa during the last decade. Long before the urbanization of Africa and the attending communication networks of radio and now television, Africans had their own communication networks with most revolving around the church or other places of religious worship. Beyond their value of disseminating morals, values and biblical truths, these centers of community involvement were focal points for news, education and interconnections of families and friends. And they have been largely ignored by Western experts until very recently. The role they have played in reducing HIV infections, as the authors point out, should not be underestimated.

"In Malawi, where we have supported a rural faith-centered hospital for more than a decade that serves more than 600 villages and a population exceeding a quarter million people, the abstinence and faithfulness messages that permeate the entire region have had an incredible affect. About 50 miles from the capital of Lilongwe where the HIV infection rate hovers around 15 percent, the catchment area of the hospital now sees a rate falling below 3 percent. In a church service we attended in 2002 in Kampala, Uganda, I can vividly recall a rather dramatic skit played out concerning an unfaithful husband and how he brought AIDS home to his faithful spouse and how it tore the family apart. A very compelling message for the church.

"Regarding the Western experts and their love of condoms, I believe history will show us that the African skepticism of them was well founded. As Ambassador Dr. Mark Dybul testified before Congress, 'the more condoms we sent to Botswana the more we saw their HIV infection rates rise.' As contended by the authors, the role of condoms has been overstated…and the church’s role understated."

Join the CMA AIDS ministry listserv, a networking group of faith-based organizations and professionals engaged in medical ministry to AIDS patients and in AIDS public policy issues. Receive news and participate in discussions as you choose. Visit this address: or contact the CMA Washington office to join.

CMDA Ethics Statement: AIDS
CMDA Washington Office Advocacy in AIDS/HIV

Thursday, April 11, 2013

First state personhood amendment

Excerpted from “North Dakota passes first state personhood amendment in US history,”, March 23, 2013 -- North Dakota House of Representatives has passed the first personhood amendment in the United States, 57-35. SCR 4009 states, "the inalienable right to life of every human being at any stage of development must be recognized and protected." Every major prolife organization in North Dakota has joined forces to defend and endorse SCR 4009, including North Dakota Family Alliance, North Dakota Right to Life, Concerned Women for America North Dakota, North Dakota Life League, North Dakota Catholic Conference, and Personhood North Dakota.

For the first time in United States history, a legislative body has approved a personhood amendment in both the House and the Senate. Now the amendment will be referred to the people of North Dakota for a vote. SCR 4009 was written as to ensure that mother and baby are both treated as medical patients, that medical care is not inhibited, and that fertility treatments are not banned.

Keith Mason, President of Personhood USA said "This amendment strikes the balance of accomplishing more for the unborn than any other amendment the nation has ever seen, while protecting pregnant women and their right to true medical care. We applaud the North Dakota House and Senate for their willingness to protect all of the people in their state." Gualberto Garcia Jones, J.D., legal analyst for Personhood USA, continued: "The North Dakota personhood amendment takes the pro-life plank of the GOP platform and it into practice. Furthermore, it allows the legislature the needed flexibility to implement the specific protections of the right to life through future legislation." Full story can be found here.


Jonathan ImbodyChief of Medicine and CMDA Member Jeffrey Newswanger, DO: "North Dakota lawmakers are leading the way in a campaign to make their state the first in the Union to constitutionally guarantee 'the inalienable right to life of every human being at any stage of development.' Obviously this is a contentious issue, even in conservative North Dakota. By using the politically charged phrase 'right to life,' they may well have touched a nerve among some liberals, heating the debate even further. By necessity, the amendment leaves many questions unaddressed, most notably the definition of when human life begins.

"However, the drafters of the bill have done one thing very well. Although characterized by some as a 'personhood law,' the amendment skirts the entire personhood argument by simply focusing on protecting that which is human. Too much time and energy has been wasted arguing over what constitutes a 'person.' The argument is complicated by the fact that the term 'personhood' is used to mean wholly different things by lawyers, philosophers and the laity. The concept of personhood begs a definition based on function and abilities. Personhood arguments, therefore, open the door to admit non-humans while at the same time cutting off some humans from full participation in their birth-right as a member of the species. As Christians, we do not value human life because of what it can do, but because of the One whose image it bears. All human life, no matter how damaged, bears some remnant of its Maker's artistry. Therefore, we need to avoid surrogate arguments such as personhood and focus on preserving in our culture a sense of honor for that which is human.

CMDA Ethics Statement: Abortion
CMDA Ethics Statement: Human Life Its Moral Worth

Plan B One-Step without age restriction

Excerpted from “Federal judge rules morning-after pill must be available for women of all ages,” Fox News, April 5, 2013 -- A federal judge ruled Friday that the morning-after pill known as Plan B must be made available over the counter for women of all ages. The decision Friday by U.S. District Judge Edward Korman ordered the FDA to make the pill, commonly referred to as the abortion pill, available for all ages. The decision means that unless the FDA appeals and is granted a stay, by this time next month a teenager 16 or under could walk into a local pharmacy and buy the pill off the shelf.

"This ruling places the health of young girls at risk," said Anna Higgins of the Family Research Council. "There is a real danger that Plan B may be given to young girls, under coercion or without their consent. The involvement of parents and medical professionals act as a safeguard for these young girls. However, today's ruling removes these commonsense protections."

The Center for Reproductive Rights, which filed suit against the age restriction, and other groups have argued that contraceptives are being held to a different and non-scientific standard than other drugs and that politics has played a role in decision-making. "I think this is a landmark decision in terms of providing women and girls in the United States access to a safe and effective form of birth control," said attorney Andrea Costello with the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund. Full story can be found here.


David HagerFormer Member of FDA Advisory Committee for Reproductive Health Drugs and CMDA Member W. David Hager, MD: “Plan B (levonorgestrel) has been available as an over-the-counter, 'emergency contraceptive pill' since 2003. This drug may inhibit ovulation if taken just before the time of ovulation, or, as stated in the package literature, it may inhibit implantation of a fertilized ovum. In the 27-4 vote by the Advisory Committee on Reproductive Health Drugs for Women to approve OTC availability for women 17 years of age and older, our opposition to its approval was based on: lack of data on repetitive use; lack of data on safety and efficacy among younger adolescents; and concern that this pill would be used in place of daily contraceptives by sexually-active women. The drug was not immediately made available as an OTC product.

"In 2011, Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius overruled the FDA decision to make Plan B available to all females regardless of age without a prescription. She based her decision on the same concerns that we had in 2003. Concern had also been raised by data from a study by Glasier i which showed no effect on abortion rates with advanced provision of emergency contraceptives; and from a study by Raine ii which revealed no significant reduction in pregnancy rates with pharmacy access and advanced provision. Other studies have reported that subjects frequently do not take Plan B as prescribed in the package insert.

"Those of us who believe the science that supports life beginning at fertilization would be opposed to a medication that would inhibit implantation. Even if you did not believe such, however, a federal judge has now ordered that children may purchase Plan B without parental or healthcare professional knowledge. Since no prescription is required, these girls will not receive counseling to make them aware of the risks of sexually transmitted infections, pregnancy and the emotional consequences of non-marital sexual activity. They will be exposed knowingly or unknowingly to a drug that may act as an abortifacient.

"This is just another step in the calculated effort to minimize parental authority under the guise of 'decreasing unplanned pregnancies,' when the data does not support the contention that the medication decreases pregnancy or abortion rates. We have an even greater responsibility to encourage parents to inform their children of the risks that non-marital sexual activity incurs."


i. Glasier A, Fairhurst K, Wyke S, Advanced provision of emergency contraception does not reduce abortion rates. Contraception 2004; 69:361-366.
ii. Raine TH, Harper CC, Rocca CH, Direct access to emergency contraception through pharmacies and effect on unintended pregnancy and STIs. JAMA 2005; 293:54-62.

CMDA Ethics Statement: Assisted Reproductive Technology
The Emotional Antecedent & Sequelae of Adolescent Sexual Activity by David Hager, MD (PDF)
The morning-after pill, abortion and informed consent, by Gene Rudd, MD (PDF)

Assisted suicide bill set aside, for now

Excerpted from “Connecticut sets aside bill on assisted suicide, for now,” Associated Press, by Stephen Kalin. April 5, 2013 -- A high-profile bill to allow physicians to help dying patients end their own lives was set aside Friday to preserve other proposals that lawmakers considered too vital to risk. Legislators also had concerns about whether the bill, which will be reintroduced during the 2014 session, had enough safeguards to ensure patients’ end-of-life decisions would not be made imprudently. Sen. Jason Welch, R-Bristol, said he supported changes that would have required multiple medical opinions and several waiting periods. But he ultimately opposed the bill, he said, out of concern that protections for the chronically ill were too few and too weak.

The bill would have made Connecticut the fourth state in the country, after Oregon, Washington and Montana, to allow assisted suicide. ‘‘I do think it’s a discussion absolutely worth having,’’ said Rep. Elizabeth Ritter, D-Waterford, one of the bill’s proponents. The Rev. Douglas Peary, president of the Unitarian Universalist Society in Meriden, said at a hearing that his wife begged him to bring her home from the hospital at the end of her life. His father and sister also died after long battles with cancer, he said. ‘‘We are here for the dying,’’ he said. ‘‘We’re not trying to kill people. We want people just to have the choice to stop their pain when they’re dying.’’ Peary said the key to winning support was more education, and compared the issue to the civil rights and gay rights movements.

Welsh also objected, he said, because ‘‘it’s bad public policy’’ for the state to sanction suicide under any circumstances. He suggested it would lead to higher suicide rates in general. Full story can be found here.


Miss America 2011CMDA Member Susan Giles, MD: "'Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth' (2 Timothy 2:15 NIV 1984). These words came alive to me with my recent experience in testifying against a proposed physician-assisted suicide (PAS) bill (euphemistically known as 'compassionate aid to the dying') before Connecticut’s Public Health Committee. To date, I had not been politically active, but upon hearing of the bill’s stealth presentation in my own state, my conscience called me to action just days before the public hearing took place. I hope that my story will convince those of you who have never done so that you too can advocate for what is right in the public arena. After a crash course in civics and familiarizing myself with the helpful ethical resources on CMDA’s website, I wrote my testimony. The nearly 13 hours of public hearing prior to my speaking gave me perspective that the opposition has a very earnest, poignant and human face, yet their arguments are fear-driven and based on the quest for unmitigated self-determination. I was one of only a handful of physicians to testify that long day, and in retrospect, I have a deeper understanding for the credibility our profession carries; our words have clout. Thankfully, the PAS bill in Connecticut has been set side for the moment, but I am certain it will reappear in a modified version, in your state if not in mine.

"More physicians willing to speak against PAS are clearly needed. Educate yourself now on the arguments for and against such practices before a bill is quietly introduced in your state. Familiarize yourself with the data and unintended consequences from the states and countries where PAS is legal. Grapple with the admittedly difficult subset of ALS patients who fear being locked-in and burdening others more than their own pain. Improve your own practices and support others in thoughtful end-of-life decisions, advanced directives and excellent palliative care, thereby reducing the perceived need for PAS. Together we can make a difference to eradicate the notion that PAS is compassionate and dignified, and instead give hope to our terminally ill patients that we will act with integrity and be present with them in both their living and their dying.”

CMDA Members are desperately needed in New Jersey to speak out against Physician Assisted Suicide.
Contact us at this link if you want to get involved in you state’s public policy issues.

Assisted Suicide/Euthanasia Resources
Arguments Against Legalization of Physician-Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia
PAS Talking Points