Thursday, January 23, 2014

Pro-life movement unites in march on Washington

Excerpted from "Annual 'March for Life' to go on despite ice and cold," USA Today, Jan. 22, 2014 - "We march because 56 million Americans never had a chance to experience snow," the March for Life's Twitter account posted Tuesday, referring to the estimated number of abortions since the 1973 Supreme Court decision that made abortion legal nationwide.

Veronika Johannsen, 22, of College Station, Texas, beat the weather and arrived safely for her second time at the march.

"The face is changing. It's not just white male politicians like the pro-choice people like to say," Johannsen said. "All kinds of people come. Religious groups of all different denominations, former abortion workers, women who have been raped or have been conceived in rape."

This is the 40th year that protesters will march from the National Mall to the Supreme Court, and 2014 is bringing changes like social media and a March For Life app. There is a "virtual march" on Facebook where users who can't make it can post a past March for Life photo as their cover photo to show support.

The theme this year is adoption. Speakers will include Republican House Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Virginia and Democratic Rep. Dan Lipinski of Illinois.

"We want to encourage women facing the option of abortion to choose adoption," said Jeanne Monahan, president of the March for Life Education & Defense Fund. "Adoption is at the center of motherhood. Motherhood is all about sacrifices. This is an ultimate sacrifice for the good of the baby."


Jonathan ImbodyCMA VP for Govt. Relations Jonathan Imbody– “Respect for life need not be a partisan proposition, and thankfully some politicians challenge the notion that a party cannot simultaneously advance the interests of women and babies. That's crucial, because decades ago, a specious argument of radical feminists began to prevail in the courts and with many politicians and women--namely, that a woman cannot advance professionally apart from the ability to terminate the life of her unborn child. Thankfully, many pro-life professional women, including members of organizations like CMDA's Women in Medicine and Dentistry, are demonstrating the fallacy of that assertion.

“I enjoyed the privilege of joining my good friend Jeanne Monahan, president of the March for Life, on stage Wednesday. I felt heartened as I looked out on the enormous crowd on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.—women, children and men who had braved 18-degree cold to join our march to the Supreme Court to solemnly protest the Roe v. Wade 1973 abortion decision. Especially encouraging are the vast numbers of young men and women who have seen through the deception that separates women from their babies and have determined to see the horror of abortion on demand abolished in their lifetime.

“If you can make it to next year's March for Life, please do so and bring family and friends. I hope you will also winsomely engage others in personal conversations, social media networks and professional opportunities to help them unpack the deception of abortion rights and recognize the gift of life.

“You can also help build a culture of life by encouraging and supporting options for women in challenging pregnancies--including by serving as a medical advisor in your community's pregnancy center.”

"We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God…" (2 Corinthians 10:5, NASB).


  1. Join the March for Life next year
  2. Serve in a local pregnancy center (see Action under article below)


Why a feminist changed her mind on abortion

Excerpted from "How I Changed My Mind about Abortion," by Julia Herrington, Patheos, accessed on January 20, 2014 - Abortion was not an issue that I had ever imagined I’d become remotely passionate about. I am a bona-fide feminist with extreme ideas and boisterous opinions. Secretly, I’ve always felt that abortion wasn’t ideal and maybe not even right. But it’s complicated to believe that when you’re a feminist, and it’s certainly not something you profess publicly.

Working at a Pregnancy Resource Center changed all of this. This organization exists to offer women alternatives to abortion. I was pleasantly surprised to find that my co-workers were kind, compassionate and thoughtful.

My perspective changed dramatically because I determined that abortion does not actually benefit women. In so much as this is a women’s issue, it seems that abortion actually oppresses women. Procedurally what abortion requires is the silencing of a woman’s body and the unmitigated dismissing of her gender. What’s more, the reason a woman finds herself seeking out an abortion is that society holds her solely liable for pregnancy. Why are we letting men off the hook?

Abortion has a lot more to do with sex than we might have thought. Pornography, sexual crimes and abuses against women cannot be disconnected from the issue of abortion. Sexual liberation has made slaves out of women; it has only perpetuated and glorified their objectification. Sex that is void of relationship, honor and respect is why we’re here, be it the woman who is raped or the teenager who gets pregnant.

Just because a child is born into tragedy does not mean that his or her life is destined for a tragic ending. Regardless of circumstance, we as Christ followers must possess hope that any situation is redeemable. That’s what Jesus does, He redeems things. To be honest, I’m a fledgling where this conversation is concerned. I have really only just opened the door on this issue.

We cannot disregard this issue. We can no longer allow for the continued unquestioned oppression of women to persist. We need to reclaim healthy sexuality for ourselves, our children, our communities and our culture. And we must defend the weak, the defenseless; the children who might not be born.


Dr. Sandy ChristiansenCMDA Member and Care Net Medical Advisor Sandy Christiansen, MD, FACOG– As an ‘older’ pro-life woman, it does my heart much good to see the next generation taking the standard and running with it. Kudos to Julia Herrington! Right you are that pregnancy centers are all about dispensing the compassion of Jesus to women—and men—at their point of need. Women facing an unplanned pregnancy come to our centers with a jumble of emotions and find a safe place to be heard, to gain valuable information about their bodies and their baby and to explore life-affirming alternatives to abortion.

“Abortion is not healthy for women. In fact, there are no scientific studies demonstrating how abortion improves women's mental health.1 On the contrary, there is a lot data supporting induced abortion's harmful effect on women's wellbeing and mounting evidence of its negative impact on men.

“Not to burst Miss Herrington's feminist bubble, but pregnancy centers actually are responding to this new research and are customizing services for both women and men. Women are more likely to choose abortion because of lack of support and because they don't want to become single mothers.2 Men who have experienced a partner's abortion can struggle with anger, anxiety and depression.3 No matter how you cut it, men are involved and need support, too. To find a pregnancy center near you or to talk to someone who cares, visit”

1Fergusson DM, Horwood LJ, Boden JM. Does abortion reduce the mental health risks of unwanted or unintended pregnancy? A re-appraisal of the evidence. Aust N Z J Psychiatry. 2013 Sep;47(9):819-27. doi: 10.1177/0004867413484597. Epub 2013 Apr 3
2Finer, L. (2005). Reasons U.S. women have abortions: Quantitative and qualitative perspectives. Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health, 37(3), 110–18.
Coleman, P.K., Maxey, C., Spence, M., Nixon, C. (2009). Predictors and correlates of abortion in the fragile families and well-being study: Paternal behavior, substance use, and partner violence. Int J Ment Health Addict., 7(3), 405–22.
3Rue, V. (1996). His abortion experience: The effects of abortion on men. Ethics and Medics, 21(4), 3–4.
Coyle, C. (2007). Men and abortion: A review of empirical reports. Internet J of Mental Health, 3(2).

Dr. Peggy HartshornPresident of Heartbeat International Dr. Peggy Hartshorn– “What a breath of fresh air it was to read this clear and articulate, first-hand account of a woman whose eyes were opened to the fact that abortion, far from advancing women's rights—or human rights for that matter—instead contributes to the increased and continued oppression of women.

“How fitting to come to grips with this truth in a Pregnancy Help Center, which for over 40 years have offered women in the United States and around the world the type of emotional support and practical resources needed in the midst of an unexpected or difficult pregnancy. Out of a sea of statistics showing that the pro-life movement is gaining ground in recent years, stories like Ms. Herrington's burst forth in vivid light and color, screaming, ‘Pregnancy Help Centers are good for America!’

“Today more than ever, physicians and everyone in the medical field have a critical role to play in the protection and cherishing of all life—born and preborn. Pregnancy Help Centers across the nation are adding and enhancing existing medical services, and they are in need of life-minded professionals from all corners of the medical field to lend their expertise to everything from medical advisory boards to staff physicians. What a joy it would be for the director of a local Pregnancy Help Center to receive a call from a pro-life medical professional in its community, asking what he or she can do to help save lives from the violence of abortion.”


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:


Religious freedom policies needed to protect conscience

Excerpted from "Why religious freedom matters" CNN commentary by Robert P. George and Katrina Lantos Swett, January 16, 2014 - Editor’s note: Robert P. George and Katrina Lantos Swett serve as chairman and vice chairwoman, respectively, of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom.
Supporting religious freedom or belief abroad is not just a legal or moral duty, but a practical necessity that is crucial to the security of the United States – and the world – as it builds a foundation for progress and stability. Research confirms that religious freedom in countries that honor and protect this right is generally associated with vibrant political democracy, rising economic and social well-being, and diminished tension and violence. In contrast, nations that trample on religious freedom are more likely to be mired in poverty and insecurity, war and terror, and violent, radical extremism.

Given the compelling case for supporting religious freedom abroad, why is it still so often given short shrift?

Simply stated, powerful concerns and emotions and differing world views are in play. For example, some people erroneously believe that democratic governance requires the exclusion or marginalization of any public dialogue, debate or policy that includes religion. Others view religion and related issues as exclusively personal and thus belonging solely in private life.

Still others worry that, when connected to an issue, religion generates needless and/or unresolvable tensions and controversies and thus is best left alone, perhaps recalling some of history's worst excesses in religion's name. Some are uncomfortable specifically with "organized religion" and may prefer to frame issues in terms of general spirituality. And some who have an exclusively secular approach and a non-theistic perspective may think that promoting religious freedom infringes on their right not to believe.

What all of these concerns share is the view that religion and religious freedom should be off the radar and divorced from foreign policy.

The answer to such concerns is that advocating for freedom of religion overseas is not about supporting a privileged position for religion, but the right to follow one's conscience. It is about insisting that advocating for religious freedom abroad be viewed in the same way as advocating for other essential rights guaranteed under international law. And, contrary to popular myth, this view encompasses not just the freedom to practice peacefully any religion and all that is associated with it, but the freedom not to believe – the right to reject any and all religion, publicly and privately.

While religious freedom cannot be separated from religion, it is actually less about religion per se than affirming a bedrock, internationally-recognized human right, one that has proven time and again to be a foundational freedom for other freedoms.


CMDA Right of Conscience Resources

Thursday, January 9, 2014

New public attitudes about access to medical information, bio tissue for research

Excerpted from “New public attitudes about access to medical information, bio tissue for research,” MedicalXpress. December 13, 2013 -- In this age of surveillance cameras, computer algorithms for tracking website visits and GPS-imbedded cell phones, many people feel their right to privacy is slipping away. This perception extends into the medical realm as well where information gleaned from Electronic Health Records and clinical tissues are being used for medical research purposes with and without patient consent in some situations, though compliant with federal regulations.

With the continued development and importance of the University of Utah's biobank of tissues acquired through research projects and through residual clinical specimens, lead investigator Jeff Botkin, MD, MPH, and his colleagues initiated a study to better understand public attitudes regarding these practices. "There are many technical and financial challenges to establishing a biobank, but we think the largest risk to the enterprise is a loss of public trust if the public is surprised and alarmed by how research is conducted at institutions like ours," says Botkin, associate vice president for research integrity at the University.

The results of the study, published this month in the Journal of Community Genetics, reveal that when the general public is educated about the intricacies involved in collecting and using this information in population-based research—particularly the safeguards and confidentiality measures in place to maintain anonymity—that they support it. "What was surprising is the public is generally not aware of the safeguards in place to assure that research is done in an ethically appropriate fashion," points out Botkin.

"The most important finding from this study was that people, when educated about the safeguards, were fine with their information or tissue being used for research without their signed consent. They were okay with it as long as they had the option to opt out if they wanted," explains co-investigator Erin Rothwell, PhD. The study indicates that once the general public is educated and understands that the risk to their privacy is low, and the option to say "no" (an opt-out) is available, then they are onboard with contributing to the research.


Dr. Jeff FenyvesGastroenterologist Jeff Fenyves, MD: -- “While most of practicing clinicians would agree with Dr. Botkin in regard to the importance of public trust, there are many viewpoints as to the best path to take in the case of Biobanks and research. Educating the public, especially given the diversity of types of biobanks, would be impractical. Prior studies already show that the public generally supports the broad goals of genetic research.1

“Boiled down, the real issue is a widely accepted consent process: opt-in or opt-out, and how much info to go with this? Most agree that formal opt-in, fully explained consent is probably overkill and cumbersome for de-identified specimens. But the public may be rightfully dubious of the assumption of participation, unless they sign an ‘opt-out’ section of a larger document, such as a hospital admission doc or blood draw consent. Or should we find some middle ground, with separate opt-out, or opt-in consent, along with a pamphlet or other informative material?”

1Kaufman D, Murphy J, Scott J, Hudson K. Subjects matter: a survey of public opinions about a large genetic cohort study. Genet Med. 2008;10:831–839. doi: 10.1097/GIM.0b013e31818bb3ab.

  1. Simon CM, L'Heureux J, Murray JC, Winokur P, Weiner G, Newbury E, et al. Active choice but not too active: Public perspectives on biobank consent models. Genetics in Medicine. 2011;13(9):821–831.
  2. Project Mkultra: One of the Most Shocking CIA Programs of All Time
  3. A Biobank for Genomics Research: Do we need Patient Consent?
  4. Informed Consent for Biobanking
  5. CMDA Ethics Statement – Human Research Ethics

Task Force: Ban Drug Reps From 'Ivory Towers'

Excerpted from Task Force: Ban Drug Reps From 'Ivory Towers' MedPage Today. December 11, 2013 -- Drug sales reps should be banned from academic medical centers, but mingling between faculty and pharma researchers is not a problem, according to a conflict-of-interest task force.

"Pharmaceutical sales representatives should not be allowed access to any faculty, students or trainees in academic medical centers or affiliated entities," the task force, convened by the Pew Charitable Trusts, wrote in a 30-page report released in December. "However, faculty may invite pharmaceutical scientists for specific educational or scientific discussions that do not involve marketing of a specific product."

The task force—with representatives from seven academic medical centers, various consumer organizations, the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) and the American Medical Student Association—referenced a review of 29 studies that found physicians who interacted with sales reps prescribed lower-quality, higher-cost drugs compared with non-exposed doctors. Current AAMC policy recommends that sales reps only be allowed on academic medical centers by appointment and that they be prohibited from entering patient-care areas.

Banning sales reps is one of seven recommendations the task force made, all of which would tighten current AAMC recommendations. The conflict-of-interest policies should also apply to training sites such as affiliated hospitals and clinics, the task force recommended. Of the 15 recommendations made, several vary at least somewhat slightly from what the AAMC already recommends to its member schools.

The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), an industry trade group, said it was important for the development of new drugs and for patient safety that physicians and drug companies maintain collaborations. “While PhRMA is still reviewing the findings of the Pew Charitable Trusts’ report, it is important to stress the importance of collaborations between biopharmaceutical research companies and physicians, including at academic medical centers,” PhRMA Executive Vice President Bill Chin, MD, told MedPage Today in a statement. “These interactions improve patient care and contribute significantly to scientific innovation.”


Dr. J. Grady CroslandCMDA Member and Associate Professor of Anesthesiology J. Grady Crosland, MD, MAR: “‘Whatever it is, I fear Greeks even when they bring gifts’ (Virgil’s Aeneid).

“Thus was ‘there is no free lunch’ announced two millennia ago. Men have always expected a quid pro quo. Our fallen human nature leads us into temptation. The question is how do we respond to it? Social scientists say it doesn’t take much to create a sense of indebtedness in those who receive unsolicited gifts.1 I much prefer to teach virtue ethics as a part of the core competency of professionalism. Make the ‘weaker brother’ stronger and leave personal choice to the individual physician.”

1Information from Pharmaceutical Companies and the Quality, Quantity, and Cost of Physicians' Prescribing: A Systematic Review. Geoffrey K. Spurling et al. PLOS: Medicine, October, 2010.

Ethics Statement – Doctor and Pharmaceutical/Medical Device Industry Relationship
Professionalism in Peril

Many women physicians regret delaying reproduction

Excerpted from “Many women physicians regret delaying reproduction,”OB.Gyn.News. October 21, 2013 – Many female physicians say that if they had to do it over again, they might have tried to have children sooner, chosen a different specialty or elected to have embryos frozen "just in case" they had later fertility problems, an investigator said at the conjoint meeting of the International Federation of Fertility Societies and the American Society for Reproductive Medicine.

Dr. Natalie A. Clark and her colleagues surveyed a random sample of female physicians in the United States to ask about their choices for timing of conception, their basic knowledge of reproductive limitations, and how reproductive choices factor into their professional and personal decision making. The investigators randomly selected 600 women who graduated from medical school from 1995 through 2000, and a total of 333 (55.5%) responded.

Asked whether they would in retrospect have changed anything about their reproductive choices, 27.9% said they would have attempted to conceive earlier, 17.7% would have opted for a different specialty, 7.2% would have used cryopreservation of embryos or oocytes, 5.3% would have started medical training earlier, and 4.3% would have taken a leave from training. The survey highlights the unique challenges women of childbearing age face when trying to balance the demands of education, training and career advancement, said Dr. Clark, a third year resident at the University of Michigan department of obstetrics and gynecology in Ann Arbor. "We have a number of highly educated patients who come into our clinic who have finished their MDs or PhDs, and have done a great amount of postgraduate work, and they present at very late reproductive ages. They say, ‘I’m ready to start reproducing, and I don’t want to be too aggressive, but what can I do?’ – not fully realizing that they’ve missed their ideal reproductive window," Dr. Clark said in an interview.

One-fourth (25%) of all respondents had been diagnosed with infertility. "Despite having a medical background, 44% of infertile respondents were surprised about their diagnosis of infertility," Dr. Clark said.


Dr. Sandy Christiansen, MDCMDA Member and Care Net Pregnancy Center Medical Director Sandy Christiansen, MD, FACOG: “Dr. Clark’s survey of 333 U.S. female physicians highlights an important pitfall to the pursuit of a career in medicine for women: the impact of delayed childbearing. As the reproductive clock ticks, female medical students and residents are spending their fertile prime time pouring over textbooks, taking night call and honing their skills as physicians. A significant portion of women physicians surveyed wished they’d tried having children sooner, but that choice brings an entire new set of challenges. One thing seems clear: women in medicine are rethinking their priorities and more are seeking ways to balance the needs of family and career during training years.

“Changing mores within medical education are reflective of increasing numbers of women in the profession. Shared training slots, extended family leave, shortened work days and reduced night call have all helped make room for living life, instead of putting it on hold during training years. The rate of childbearing among surgical residents at one program increased from 7 percent to 35 percent from 1976 to 2009, leading the authors to conclude programs should make accommodations or lose out on well qualified applicants.1 Sometimes, it isn’t the institution that needs to adjust, but one’s own expectations and goals.

“As a Christian physician, when I married and began having babies, my priorities completely shifted. It was scary making changes, at first, but I’ve never regretted subordinating career for my family. Romans 12:2 provides a great counterpoint to society’s ‘you can have it all’ message: ‘Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will’ (NIV 1984). In God’s economy, sometimes less is more.”

1Caitlin Smith, Joseph M. Galante, Jonathan L. Pierce, and Lynette A. Scherer (2013) “The Surgical Residency Baby Boom: Changing Patterns of Childbearing During Residency Over a 30-Year Span.” Journal of Graduate Medical Education In-Press. doi:

Dr. Sandy Christiansen is a Fellow of the American College of OB/GYN, is the medical director of the Care Net Pregnancy Center of Frederick and national medical consultant for corporate Care Net, whose mission is to promote a culture of life within our society in order to serve people facing unplanned pregnancies and related sexual issues and whose vision is a culture where lives are transformed by the Gospel of Jesus Christ and every woman chooses life for herself and her unborn child.

Women In Medicine & Dentistry
Wait ‘til Your Mother Gets Home