Thursday, May 23, 2013

Senator: International health advances American values and interests

Excerpted from "Sen. Graham Urges Religious Groups to Rally Support for Foreign Aid to Combat AIDS," Christian Post, May 15, 2013 - The U.S. government program that helps treat and prevent AIDS in foreign countries is threatened by budget cuts, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) warned Tuesday. He urged faith-based organizations to increase their efforts at rallying support for the program.

"You're going to have to up your game because pressures exist today unlike any time in politics," Graham said at a Washington, D.C. event co-hosted by a number of organizations that have worked together to fight AIDS around the world, including World Relief, World Vision, Pan African Christian AIDS Network, UNICEF and the United Methodist Church.

Foreign aid is only about 1 percent of the budget and not the cause of the nation's budget woes. For this reason, Graham believes it is important for faith groups to let their congressional representatives know they will stand behind them, or "provide a safety net," if they do not cut foreign aid programs to fight AIDS.

"In my state, the evangelical Christian community, the church community, the faith community is listened to," Graham said.

The primary federal program for AIDS relief is The President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, or PEPFAR. It was first passed under President George W. Bush with bipartisan support and continues under President Barack Obama.

Graham also argued that foreign aid benefits national security by building allies abroad and rooting out the suffering that terrorist organizations use as a recruiting tool. Graham also believes that PEPFAR has used taxpayer dollars wisely; 67,000 people received treatment for AIDS in 2004, Graham said, and now over 5 million people are getting treatment through the program.

"This is a smart investment," Graham said. "We're building friends and allies for the future. We're doing the right thing. God will stand with us as long as we stand with Him."


Jonathan ImbodyCMA Vice President for Govt. Relations Jonathan Imbody: "CMDA CEO Dr. David Stevens accompanied Senator Graham in 2012 to meet with then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to discuss strategies on continuing international health aid in the midst of a struggling economy. I've also been working with Senator Graham on this issue and attended the above-mentioned event at a U.S. Senate office building celebrating 10 years of PEPFAR's success in fighting AIDS and treating patients.

"When the program called for us all to join in singing 'Amazing Grace,' I jokingly wondered to a colleague next to me if the Capitol police might storm the meeting and carry us out in handcuffs, citing an imagined church-state violation. But that didn't happen, and the remarkable coalition of faith community leaders, AIDS activists, Republican politicians and Obama administration officials gathered there focused on the common ground and goals we all share in pursuing healing and hope for AIDS patients.

"Several statistics demonstrate the basis for such co-belligerence ('waging of a war in cooperation against a common enemy without a formal treaty of military alliance')--a phrase applied by Christian philosopher Francis Schaeffer to alliances of Christians and others for a shared purpose.
  • The World Health Organization released a report revealing that between 30 percent and 70 percent of the health infrastructure in Africa is currently owned by faith-based organizations.1

  • The Gallup World Poll asked sub-Saharan Africans in 19 countries about their confidence in eight social and political institutions. Overall across the continent, they were most likely to say they were confident in the religious organizations (76 percent) in their countries.2

"Thankfully, even administrations antagonistic to many of our public policy positions recognize this strength and continue to work with the faith community in the fight to eradicate disease and minister to patients overseas."

1. "Faith-based organizations play a major role in HIV/AIDS care and treatment in sub-Saharan Africa," February 8, 2007:
2. Gallup Poll, "Africans' Confidence in Institutions -- Which Country Stands Out?" January 18, 2007:

US bill would ban late-term abortions

Excerpted from "GOP Rep. Franks to offer late-term abortion ban following Gosnell case," The Hill, May 17, 2013 - Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.) will offer a bill to ban late-term abortions in response to the gruesome case of Kermit Gosnell, an abortion provider recently convicted of killing three viable infants. Franks announced Friday that he will revise his measure banning late-term procedures in the District of Columbia to apply to the nation as a whole. The bill will criminalize abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy based on the disputed premise that fetuses can feel pain at that stage.

In a statement, Franks compared late-term abortions to Gosnell's killing of three infants born alive after failed abortion procedures. The conviction took place Monday. The case, notable for its grisly details, received attention from congressional Republicans starting in late April. Greater media coverage followed after the GOP accused journalists of avoiding a difficult story about abortion.


Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.) Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.): [excerpted from news release]: "I know when the subject is related in any way to abortion, the doors of reason and human compassion in our minds and hearts often close, and the humanity of the unborn can no longer be seen. But I pray we can at least come together to agree that we can and should draw the line at the point that these innocent babies can feel the excruciating pain of these brutal procedures.

"The case of Kermit Gosnell shocked the sensibilities of millions of Americans. However, the crushing fact is that abortions on babies just like the ones killed by Kermit Gosnell have been happening hundreds of times per day, every single day, for the past 40 years. Indeed, let us not forget that, had Kermit Gosnell dismembered these babies before they had traveled down the birth canal only moments earlier, he would have, in many places nationwide, been performing an entirely legal procedure. If America truly understands that horrifying reality, hearts and laws will change.

"To this end, I have re-introduced the D.C. Pain Capable Unborn Protection Act, which will now be amended to broaden its coverage so that its provisions will apply nationwide.

"Knowingly subjecting our innocent unborn children to dismemberment in the womb, particularly when they have developed to the point that they can feel excruciating pain every terrible moment leading up to their undeserved deaths, belies everything America was called to be. This is not who we are."

Use our easy, pre-written form to tell your US Rep. to support the Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act” (H.R. 1797).

Congress investigates abortion clinics; Congressman gets personal

Excerpted from "Life Depends on the Choice" National Review Online, May 20, 2013 - "I can’t imagine how scared my mom must have been and how alone she felt,” Marlin Stutzman, a congressman from Indiana, would later comment. After he heard about Dr. Kermit Gosnell, he did what congressmen do: He went to the House floor, where he pleaded with the media to cover the case of the since-convicted Philadelphia abortion doctor, whose filthy clinic has exposed the right to abortion as the right to a dead baby, a right that emanates from the penumbras of Roe v. Wade.
“I went to the floor because innocent life is worth defending,” Stutzman tells me. “A monster in Philadelphia — not halfway around the world — murdered newborn babies, preyed on vulnerable women, and stuffed bodies and body parts into the freezer in boxes, bags, and cat-food tins.” The Gosnell trial “should have been front-page news across the nation,” but the mainstream media were largely ignoring it. “The American people deserved to know the truth about it, and I was seeking to raise awareness,” he says. Abortion is such a grave, ugly reality. We mask it “behind convenient euphemisms like ‘choice’ and ‘safe, legal, and rare’ instead of taking a hard look at what abortion really is,” Stutzman observes. “The Gosnell case stripped away all those euphemisms and showed that abortion isn’t safe and it isn’t rare.”

But that day in April when the second-term congressman went to the House floor to talk about Gosnell, he had no idea how personal an issue this was for him. When he phoned his mother a few days later, he learned that she was trying to figure out how to get to an abortion clinic when she was pregnant with him in 1975.

“I could never imagine how this case would change my own life,” Stutzman tells me. “When my mom told me her story — how her house had just burned down, how she was alone and terrified, and how she wanted to find a way to make it 40 miles to get an abortion but couldn’t — we both cried.”

“I can’t help wondering what would have happened if there was a Gosnell clinic four miles away instead of 40,” he reflects. “How many fathers, wives, teachers, doctors and public servants are missing today because of abortion?”

“We have to stand for life, for babies and for young women like my mom,” Stutzman says. “While Planned Parenthood talks about ‘choice,’ the sad reality is that the abortion business depends on women who feel like they don’t have another option. We need to show compassionate action and offer help to the women who find themselves in an unimaginably hard situation.”

And in the wake of the Gosnell verdict we cannot be satisfied with moving on or even simply knowing that Congress has now sent out fact-finding letters to state attorneys generals and health officials for the purpose of investigating what’s happening in abortion clinics across the nation.


David Stevens, MD, MA (Ethics)CMDA CEO David Stevens, MD, MA (Ethics): "Abortion clinics are the most unregulated industry in the U.S. Most do not have doors wide enough to get a stretcher through in an emergency, lack resuscitation equipment and don’t get true informed consent. The doctors doing the abortions fail to follow up with their patients or take care of their complications. Women have no choice – they put their life in danger when they walk into an abortion clinic. Abortion federations are complicit in what happened at Gosnell’s clinic. They resist and attack anyone who advocates regulating or inspecting abortion clinics. The many red flags over decades should have brought greater scrutiny to Gosnell’s activities.
  • The clinic was given approval to open in 1979, but there was no inspection by the Pennsylvania Department of Health until 1989. They found no trained nurses and multiple other violations but left with only Gosnell’s promise to rectify them.
  • They didn’t visit again for three years and found all the same problems … and again let his practice continue.
  • In 1993, the Pa. Dept. of Health instituted a policy of no inspection of abortion clinics unless there was a complaint. They feared a reduction in abortion clinics in the state.
  • In 1996, a complaint was filed due to a perforated uterus. No action taken.
  • In 1997, Dr. Schwartz, head of adolescent services at Children’s Hospital, hand-delivered a complaint that contended that patients referred to Gosnell’s clinic were contracting Trichomoniasis due to unsterilized instruments. No action taken.
  • In 2002, a former employee complained of anesthesia administrated by unlicensed personnel, flea-infested cats roaming the clinic, a broken autoclave and re-used disposable instruments. Gosnell also reportedly ate his lunch in the procedure rooms. No action taken.
  • Later that year, a patient died from a perforated uterus and septicemia, resulting in a $900,000 civil settlement. No action taken.
  • In 2003, a complaint contended that aborted fetuses were stored in paper bags. No action taken.
  • A total of 46 lawsuits were filed against Gosnell over 32 years.

"Planned Parenthood abandoned their early tack of defending the indefensible Gosnell and instead claimed he was an aberration and should be punished. The truth is that there are probably replications of Gosnell-like horrors all across the country, but many abortion rights advocates likely do not want them to be revealed. Until such revelations translate into action, one of the most dangerous things a pregnant woman can do is to walk into an abortion clinic."

  • View the acclaimed documentary, "3801 Lancaster," on the Gosnell clinic.
  • Read CMA-led strategy paper on abortion clinic health and safety regulation (members only).
  • Read the House Judiciary Committee letter to state attorneys general asking questions about efforts to protect the civil rights of newborns and their mothers. Read related Judiciary Committee press release.
  • Read the House Energy and Commerce Committee letter to state public health asking questions about the licensing and monitoring of abortion clinics.


  1. 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.
  2. Consider how you can influence your medical specialty college (if specialty is appropriate) or state medical board to advocate for enactment and enforcement of health and safety standards in abortion clinics. Read and share model legislation.
  3. To protect your right to decline to participate in abortions, click on our Freedom2Care legislative action alert H.R. 940, the Health Care Conscience Rights Act. You will be provided with an easy-to-use, prewritten editable form letter and also more detail on the bill.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Use Of Embryo Donation As A Family Building Option

Excerpted from “Boston IVF Receives $1 Million From U.S. Health and Human Services To Develop National Protocol To Promote The Use Of Embryo Donation As A Family Building Option,” Wall Street Journal, April 23, 2013 -- A leading medical practice providing specialized infertility treatment since 1986, has received a two-year federal grant, totaling $1 million, from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to improve patient understanding of and interest in donating frozen embryos resulting from in vitro fertilization (IVF) to others undergoing infertility treatment. The second half of the grant funding is to develop the Frozen Embryo Donation Service, including training protocols for infertility clinics aimed at enhancing clinician and patient awareness and interest in embryo donation. There will be a development of educational services for patients with embryos in storage, as well as potential recipients, to increase the number of patients willing to consider donation. New procedures, including appropriate patient consent forms, laboratory protocols and legal and financial materials will also be created as part of this initiative.

"A major goal of the Frozen Embryo Donation Service is to develop training programs for infertility clinics, including physicians, nurses and mental health counselors, and facilitate new protocols to support embryo donation in the U.S.," said Alison Zimon, MD, a Reproductive Endocrinologist at Boston IVF and Principal Investigator for this program.

Working with researchers from Brandeis University, data on donor attitudes and responses, recipient knowledge and interest, and changes in patient behavior, including donation rates, are being evaluated. Changes in clinical staff knowledge and attitudes are also being studied. "By educating clinicians and other key staff, and enhancing patient communication, we hope to establish frozen embryo donation as a realistic, cost effective and successful treatment option for many patients undergoing infertility treatment," added Zimon.

The Office of Population Affairs (OPA) within the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Health (OASH), within HHS, is conducting a multi-year public awareness campaign, to increase public awareness of embryo donation and ultimately promote the use of embryo donation as a family building option. Since 2002, nine organizations have received grant funding as part of this effort. Boston IVF is the largest infertility practice to be selected by HHS to participate in this grant program. Full story can be found here.


Jeff KeenanMedical Director for the National Embryo Donation Center Jeffrey Keenan, MD: “Currently, there are more than 600,000 human embryos cryopreserved in clinics and storage facilities around the country. We applaud the grants that have been provided by the federal government over the last 10 years to increase awareness and provision of embryo donation and adoption services. These grants have been quite effective in achieving their goal, as evidenced by more than a 50 percent increase in the number of donor embryo transfers during that period. For the first time, more than 1,000 donor embryo transfers were performed in the U.S. in 2011 (the most recent year for which we have data). Pregnancy rates are uniformly high with this procedure and costs significantly lower than for in vitro fertilization and donor egg IVF. In total, we estimate that about 4,500 babies have been born as a result of embryo donation/adoption.

"Perhaps more importantly, this form of assisted reproduction provides the embryo donors with a life honoring alternative for their remaining embryos if they cannot use them personally for any reason.

"It is a shame that the federal government has ended funding for this valuable and effective program. In view of all the well-documented fraud seen with the distribution of government monies, it would appear that other programs could have been better candidates for termination.

"The National Embryo Donation Center was also a grantee for the funds mentioned in the article, and we are just now rolling out a national database where donors and recipients from around the country can go to facilitate this process. The NEDC is also still in need of affiliates in other parts of the country to assist in our backlog of donors and recipients desiring our services. To contact the NEDC please call toll free 866-585-8549."

Lake Breaking News: NEDC Helps Pass Landmark Assisted Reporduction Law for Embryo Donation, Parentage Rights in TN
CMDA Ethics Statement: Assisted Reproductive Technology
The Embryo Donation Center
Reginald Finger, MD MPH describes and advocates for embryo adoption (video)

Vermont to legalize physician-assisted suicide

Excerpted from “Vermont about to become 4th state with aid-in-dying law,” CBS News. May 14, 2013 -- Vermont is poised to join three other states permitting doctors to prescribe lethal doses of medication to terminally ill patients after the state House approved a compromise bill similar to Oregon's 1997 law. The bill, approved on Monday, now goes before Gov. Peter Shumlin, a strong supporter of the legislation. It marks the first time a state has granted legislative approval to such a measure. By a 75-65 roll call vote, the House concurred with a Senate version of the bill that largely mirrors the Oregon law for three years and then shifts to a system with less government monitoring.

Critics continued to voice their concerns during House debate on Monday, while supporters, who knew they had the votes to pass the bill, were more muted. "There is potential here for abuse of the disabled," said Rep. Carolyn Branagan, R-Georgia, "especially disabled elders," she said. "This is not medical care. It is the opposite." Sen. Richard McCormack, D-Windsor, watched the debate from the House gallery. "This bill makes no judgment about the value of anybody's life," he said after the vote. "It makes a very positive judgment about the value of personal freedom and the right to make one's own choices."

If Shumlin signs the bill, Vermont would become the fourth state, and the first east of the Mississippi, to allow doctors to help patients die by writing a prescription for a lethal dose of medication. Oregon passed the first-in-the-nation law by referendum; Washington state followed suit in 2006; and a court order in Montana made it legal in that state. Debate included two packed Statehouse hearings in which supporters and opponents took turns voicing their views on the legislation, sometimes dubbed "death with dignity" by backers and "physician-assisted suicide" by opponents. After July 1, 2016, Vermont would move to a model pushed by some senators who complained the Oregon system has too much government intervention. Those changes would require less monitoring and reporting by physicians. However, there's widespread expectation that lawmakers may push to eliminate the changes set to take effect in 2016, leaving an Oregon-style law in place. Full story can be found here.


Dave Stevens, MD, MA (Ethics)CMDA CEO David Stevens, MD, MA (Ethics): "CMDA members, as part of the Vermont Alliance of Ethical Healthcare and the leadership of CMDA board member and renowned Christian bioethicist Dr. Bob Orr, have successfully fought legalization of PAS in Vermont for around 10 years. As happened in other states, proponents just keep coming back and finally got the numbers they needed.

The Vermont Senate originally passed a much more liberal one page bill simply stating that a physician couldn’t be held legally responsible if they prescribed pain medicine knowing that the patient was going to take an overdose and a physician or family members could be present as the patient killed themselves. It was so loosely constructed that it could have easily allowed a physician to start an IV, hook up pain medicine drip and then allow the patient to start their overdose, bringing us that much closer to legalized euthanasia. The bill passed, which will likely be signed by the governor, only puts the ineffective Oregon style law (two oral, one written request, second opinion, two week waiting period and reporting) into practice for three years with the assumption that the state will remove all monitoring and “safeguards” then.

The domino on the eastern side of the U.S. has fallen. Legalization is already being considered in New Jersey, New Hampshire and Massachusetts. Proponents, now emboldened with this success, will push even harder. George Soros and other well-heeled funders will throw their pocketbooks open wider with the goal of getting liberal Western and Northeastern states to join the lemmings heading over the cliff. They will then sweep across every state in between. PAS may be in your state soon.

CMDA is fighting this tsunami of death that will destroy patient trust and the doctor-patient relationship while also endangering our patients. The right to die will quickly become the duty to die and will expand from the terminally ill to the chronically ill, from the physical ill to the mentally ill, from assisted suicide to euthanasia and from those who can give consent, to those who can’t and finally to those who won’t. The tragedy we have seen in Holland, Switzerland and Belgium will be our reality too.

It isn’t time to wring our hands and despair. It is time to dig in and fight. The key is you – individual doctors standing up as prophetic voices to their government and the people in their state. CMDA will train you, equip you and go with you into the battle. We will pray for you and rally others to your side, but our success will be in direct proportion to the number of Christian doctors who will stand up.

We’ve lost the battle in Vermont but the war continues. It is still winnable. All we need is faithful men and women to enlist in the fight. Will you answer the call?

'All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.'
Edmund Burke

Ethics Statements for Euthanasia, Physician-Assisted Suicide and Suicide
Testimonies Against Physician-Assisted Suicide
Arguments Against Legalization of Physician-Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia
PAS Talking Points