Thursday, May 22, 2014

Senators promote abortion pain bill

Excerpted from "GOP senators demand vote on banning abortions after 20 weeks," The Hill, May 7, 2014 - Republican senators are demanding a vote on legislation that would ban most abortions after 20 weeks, citing a new study that says fetuses can feel pain at that point in their development.
Sen. Kelly Ayotte
Sen. Kelly Ayotte
Thirty-three senators led by Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) asked Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) to bring Sen. Lindsey Graham’s (R-S.C.) abortion bill to the Senate floor for a vote. The bill, also known as the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, would ban abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy except in cases of rape, incest or when necessary to save the life of the mother.

In the letter to Reid, the senators cited a study from the research arm of the Susan B. Anthony List, a group that opposes abortion. The report calls on the U.S. to end abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, a move it said would be in line with international norms.

“It is time that we in Congress act to bring the United States out of the fringe and closer to international norms on late abortions,” the senators wrote in their letter. Thirteen states have already enacted bans on abortions after 20-weeks, and according to polls, at least a plurality of people in the United States support the idea.

“I find it troubling that the United States is standing with countries such as China and North Korea in allowing elective abortions past 20 weeks,” Graham said. “With an impressive 40 co-sponsors and overwhelming support by the public in poll after poll, it is time that Majority Leader Reid allow a vote on a compassionate 20-week limit.”


Jonathan ImbodyCMA VP for Govt. Relations Jonathan Imbody: “I have worked with Sen. Ayotte on domestic healthcare issues and with Sen. Graham on international healthcare issues, and both senators bring to their office compassion and a determination to defend those who cannot defend themselves. Their bill, the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, builds upon science and testimony such as CMA members have provided to Congress. The bill, which protects pain-capable children beginning at 20 weeks and is expected to save the lives of roughly 18,000 unborn babies each year, deserves our support because:
  • Evidence indicates that unborn children feel pain by at least 20 weeks post-fertilization.
  • Studies show that late abortions substantially risk women’s health.
  • The United States is one of only seven countries to permit elective abortion past 20 weeks, joining China, North Korea, Canada, Vietnam, Singapore and the Netherlands.
  • A 2008 study by the Guttmacher Institute shows that there are at least 140 abortionists willing to perform abortions at 20 weeks fetal age and beyond.
  • The majority of late abortions are performed on an elective basis, according to the testimony of abortionists.1
  • Thirteen states have enacted this legislation, with several more in the process.2 The U.S. House passed this legislation in June 2013 by a vote of 228-196.
  • Consensus exists among Americans to enact legislation protecting unborn babies beginning at 20 weeks. Polling from Quinnipiac (62 percent), the Huffington Post (59 percent) and numerous others consistently confirms the American public’s support for this legislation, especially among women (68 percent according to Quinnipiac).”

Use our Freedom2Care easy, pre-written and customizable form to urge your senators to support this bill.

Testimony on Fetal Pain by Dr. Jean Wright
Testimony on Fetal Pain by Dr. Julie Ann Griffin before the Kansas House of Representatives, Committee on Federal and State Affairs, February 16, 2011.
Fetal Pain Legislation: Is it Viable?
CMDA abortion-related resources
1Sprang, M. LeRoy, and Mark G. Neerhof, 1998, "Rationale for banning abortions late in pregnancy," Journal of the American Medical Association, 280:744-747.
2CLI map

Christians no longer comfortable in culture

Excerpted from "The days of acceptable Christianity are over," World Magazine, May 13, 2014 - Robert P. George, chairman of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, on Tuesday delivered a somber message to Christians: “The days of acceptable Christianity are over.”

George, the McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence at Princeton University, made the remarks at the 10th annual National Catholic Prayer Breakfast in Washington, D.C. George said society calls Christian beliefs bigoted and hateful, and “they despise us if we refuse to call good evil and evil good.” He argued that American Christians no longer have the option to avoid the culture wars, saying “a price must be paid” for holding to traditional church teachings on life, marriage, and sexual ethics.

Former Mozilla CEO Brendan Eich and axed reality show hosts David and Jason Benham are some of the latest to pay that price for their belief in traditional marriage. George said what American Christians are facing is the 21st century version of the question, “Am I ashamed of the gospel?”

“Marriage is inseparable from the gospel,” he said. “These teachings are not the whole gospel, but they are integral to the gospel. They are not optional truths.”

George said even if the current cultural trend is unstoppable, Christians should not stop teaching what the Bible says about human sexuality. “If we deny these truths, we really are like Peter [saying] ‘I do not know the man,’” he said. “If we keep silent, we are like the other disciples, who ran.”

George noted how societal pressures have helped unite Catholics and evangelicals, who he called “our brothers and sisters in Christ.”


Dr. Gene RuddCMDA Executive Vice President Gene Rudd, MD – “I write this while still jet-lagged from a trip to an East Asian country where persecution of Christians is well known. I return with a heightened appreciation of the struggles facing believers who live under the real threat of reprisal for their faith. With signs and symptoms now manifest here, it is easy to agree with Professor George in predicting that our culture is destined to the same fate.

Growing up, I never imagined overt persecution against Christians in the United States. But our faith is now the one that the “tolerant ones” refuse to tolerate. Is it because of our message, or because of hypocrisy and lack of grace? Likely both. The first we must not abandon; for the second we must seek forgiveness.

On a recent flight, I read Nik Ripken’s (pseudonym), The Insanity of God, his personal research of the persecuted church in many cultures. My seatmate must have thought I was daffy. At one moment I would be laughing and in the next, crying. In one of the book’s poignant conclusions, Ripken reminds us that God uses persecution to grow the Body of Christ. We should not disdain persecution. Rather than pray to be delivered from persecution, we must simply pray that we be found faithful.

“Jesus said, ‘Blessed are you when men hate you, when they exclude you and insult you and reject your name as evil, because of the Son of Man. Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, because great is your reward in heaven. For that is how their fathers treated the prophets’” (Luke 6:22-23, NIV 1984).

Full Remarks – Robert P. George at the National Catholic Prayer Breakfast

Governor seeks to thwart abortion clinic law

Excerpted from "Gov. McAuliffe calls for review of abortion clinic regulations in Virginia," Washington Post, May 12, 2014 - Gov. Terry McAuliffe moved to free Virginia’s abortion clinics from strict hospital-style building codes on Monday, loading up the state health board with abortion rights supporters and ordering it to review rules that clinic operators say threaten to put them out of business.

The Democratic governor is also looking for ways to soften or suspend the rules to keep clinics open during the health board’s review, which could take more than two years. The General Assembly approved the regulations in 2011; they are set to take effect as early as June.

“I am concerned that the extreme and punitive regulations adopted last year jeopardize the ability of most women’s health centers to keep their doors open and place in jeopardy the health and reproductive rights of Virginia women,” McAuliffe said.

“This was an overtly political move,” said House Speaker William J. Howell (R-Stafford). “The General Assembly, by law, directed the Board of Health to establish regulations to protect the health and safety of women who seek an abortion. This seems like another attempt by the McAuliffe administration to undermine a law they don’t like, and that is very troubling.”

On Monday, McAuliffe appointed five people to the 15-member health board, filling one vacancy and nudging four other members to wrap up their terms about a month early.

McAuliffe, elected with help from abortion rights groups, made no pretense of ignoring the litmus test, stating flatly that his appointees reflected his views not only on abortion but also on the need to review the clinic regulations. The five appointees “share his commitment to women’s health and support his plan to review the health center regulations,” the governor’s office announced in a written statement.

Yet there could be a political downside for McAuliffe, who takes the step as he seeks to get conservative Republicans on board with Medicaid expansion. Abortion opponents characterized McAuliffe’s move as yet another end run around the legislature.

“Whether the governor and the abortion industry like it or not, the law of Virginia requires that abortion centers have health and safety standards,” said Victoria Cobb, president of the Family Foundation of Virginia.

“The governor is not a king, but he’s doing everything within his power,” Coy said.


Jonathan ImbodyCMA VP for Govt. Relations Jonathan Imbody: “Trying to clarify that ‘the governor is not a king,’ the spokesman for Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe unwittingly highlights the autocratic nature of the governor's scheme to skirt state law on abortion clinic health and safety.

“Virginia's legislature is one of dozens of state legislatures that in recent years have aimed to curb abuses and bring abortion clinics in line with reasonable health and safety requirements of similar facilities. Abortion clinic abuses uncovered in Texas, for example, included the illegal disposal of hazardous bio-medical and infectious waste, including tissue that appeared to be the partial remains of aborted babies; dirty and poorly maintained conditions inside and outside the abortion clinics; drug violations, including the illegal dumping of drug vials containing controlled substances and the availability and use of blank prescription slips; and widespread abuses of Texas’s informed consent law and the mandated 24-hour reflection period.

“Governor McAuliffe, however, is ignoring such abuses and plotting to put abortion ideology over the rule of law, seeking end-runs around the people's representatives and meanwhile stacking the state health board with abortion partisans.

“A year ago May 13, Philadelphia abortion clinic doctor Kermit Gosnell was convicted of murder. Gosnell had openly operated a squalid abortion clinic, let a patient die and butchered babies born alive. The Grand Jury report cited testimony revealing that when pro-abortion governor Tom Ridge took office, ‘high-level government officials’ decided to discontinue abortion clinic inspections. ‘There was a concern that if they did routine inspections, that they may find a lot of these facilities didn’t meet [health and safety standards] and then there would be less abortion facilities...’

“When abortion politics trumps health and safety, ‘back alley abortion clinics’ and their accompanying horrors thrive. As a healthcare professional, your support of abortion clinic health and safety regulation--through testimony before legislatures, behind-the-scenes expert advice and the use of electronic, print and social media--can prove very effective.

Order model state legislation that your state can adopt to protect health and safety.
Use our easy Freedom2Care form to urge your legislators to support S. 369 - Child Interstate Abortion Notification Act.

CMA-led U.S. Senate taskforce report on abortion clinic regulation (access restricted to CMDA members)
After Gosnell's ''House of Horrors'': Women's Health and Abortion in America - webcast
Model clinic health and safety legislation

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Supreme Court ruling defends religious freedom

Excerpted from "Thin skins and legislative prayer,"Washington Post commentary by George F. Will, May 7, 2014 — After the marshal on Monday spoke the traditional “God save the United States and this honorable court,” the Supreme Court ruled that the Upstate New York town of Greece does not violate the First Amendment’s prohibition of “establishment of religion” by opening its board of supervisors’ meetings with a prayer. This ruling would not have scandalized James Madison and other members of the First Congress, which drafted and sent to the states for ratification the First Amendment and the rest of the Bill of Rights. The Congress did this after hiring a chaplain.

Three decades have passed since the court last ruled on the matter of prayers during government meetings. In 1983, the court held:

“From colonial times through the founding of the Republic and ever since, the practice of legislative prayer has coexisted with the principles of disestablishment and religious freedom.” Since then, however, many Americans have become more irritable and litigious and less neighborly. Also, there are many more nonbelievers.

The majority held that ceremonial prayer — an encouragement to gravity and sobriety — is not harmful to the plaintiffs, who felt somehow coerced when present at public prayers, and who said such prayers are necessarily divisive. The court should have told them: If you feel coerced, you are flimsy people, and it is a choice — an unattractive one — to feel divided from your neighbors by their affection for brief and mild occasional expressions of religiosity.

Taking offense has become America’s national pastime; being theatrically offended supposedly signifies the exquisitely refined moral delicacy of people who feel entitled to pass through life without encountering ideas or practices that annoy them. As the number of nonbelievers grows — about 20 percent of Americans are religiously unaffiliated, as are one-third of adults under the age of 30 — so does the itch to litigate believers into submission to secular sensibilities.

The United States would be a more congenial place if it had more amiable atheists who say, as one such did, that “it does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are 20 gods, or no god. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.” Some will say Thomas Jefferson was a deist, not an atheist.

Still, Jefferson made statesmanlike accommodations of the public’s strong preference for religious observances. As president, he attended Christian services conducted in the House of Representatives. They also were conducted in the Supreme Court chamber and the Treasury building. Jefferson attended a service in the House two days after praising (in an 1802 letter) “a wall of separation between church and state.”

Jefferson was no slouch when it came to asserting rights. But Greece’s prickly plaintiffs, having taken their town to court, might now ponder his example of relaxed, friendly respect for practices cherished by others and harmless to him.


Jonathan ImbodyCMA VP for Govt. Relations Jonathan Imbody: “I hesitate to add to the eloquent and insightful commentary by George Will, other than to suggest that Christian healthcare professionals as well as town councils should cheer this decision. Healthcare professionals are not exempt from the rising tide of litigation by people disaffected by faith, whether their complaint focuses on homosexual issues, abortion ‘rights’ or any other of a host of issues that conflict with your conscience and the tenets of your Christian faith.
“Every case the Supreme Court decides in favor of religious freedom builds a bulwark of precedents and highlights what the First Amendment clearly guarantees::
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
“Since the framers of the Constitution never separated conscience and religion, this first right enumerated in the Bill of Rights means that you as a Christian healthcare professional or student have a right to decline or participate in practices and prescriptions according to the dictates of your conscience and moral standards, free from government coercion. The rub, of course, comes when discrimination comes not from the government but from your healthcare specialty college, or the admissions committees of the schools you're trying to get into, or the ethics committee at the hospital where you practice (see reporting discrimination, below).
We need to strengthen and expand conscience protections in law while simultaneously convincing colleagues and countrymen of the benefits to all that come from respecting conscience and religious freedoms: promoting tolerance, diversity and non-discrimination.

  1. Use our easy pre-written customizable message to support H.R. 940 - Healthcare Conscience Rights Act (House bill) and S. 1204 - Health Care Conscience Rights Act (Senate bill)
  2. If you have experienced discrimination, visit our Freedom2Care website for reporting options.
CMA SCOTUS brief in Hobby Lobby religious freedom case
CMA’s Freedom2Care website on freedom of faith, conscience and speech
CMA commentaries

The misery of healthcare

Excerpted from “How Being a Doctor Became the Most Miserable Profession,” The Daily Beast commentary by Daniela Drake, MD, MBA, April 14, 2014 — By the end of this year, it’s estimated that 300 physicians will commit suicide. While depression amongst physicians is not new—a few years back, it was named the second-most suicidal occupation—the level of sheer unhappiness amongst physicians is on the rise. Simply put, being a doctor has become a miserable and humiliating undertaking.

Not surprisingly, many doctors want out. In fact, physicians are so bummed out that 9 out of 10 doctors would discourage anyone from entering the profession. It’s hard for anyone outside the profession to understand just how rotten the job has become—and what bad news that is for America’s health care system.

Unfortunately, things are only getting worse for most doctors, especially those who still accept health insurance. To make ends meet, physicians have had to increase the number of patients they see. The end result is that the average face-to-face clinic visit lasts about 12 minutes. Neither patients nor doctors are happy about that. What worries many doctors, however, is that the Affordable Care Act has codified this broken system into law. While forcing everyone to buy health insurance, ACA might have mandated a uniform or streamlined claims procedure that would have gone a long way to improving access to care.

Yet physicians have to go along, constantly trying to improve their “productivity” and patient satisfaction scores—or risk losing their jobs. And now that Medicare payments will be tied to patient satisfaction—this problem will get worse. Doctors need to have the ability to say no. If not, when patients go to see the doctor, they won’t actually have a physician—they’ll have a hostage.

Almost comically, the response of medical leadership—their solution— is to call for more physician testing. In fact, the American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM)—in its own act of hostage-taking—has decided that in addition to being tested every ten years, doctors must comply with new, costly, "two year milestones." In an era when nurse practitioners and physician assistants have shown that they can provide excellent primary care, it’s nonsensical to raise the barriers for physicians to participate. It is tone deaf. It is punitive. It is wrong. No wonder doctors are suicidal. No wonder young doctors want nothing to do with primary care. But for America’s health to be safeguarded, the wellbeing of America’s caretakers is going to have to start mattering to someone.


Dr. John YarbroughCMDA Psychiatry Section Chair John Yarbrough, MD, MBA:“Working as a physician today is different than it was when my father began his practice in internal medicine nearly 40 years ago. Insurances, laws, decreased time with patients, board certifications and electronic medical records are amongst many potential contributors to making life miserable. The demands placed upon us can be overwhelming.

“Recent experiences on a trip to Am_an, Jord_n were unsettling and left me in need of spiritual and emotional refueling. One event in particular while treating Syri_n refugees was when, outside our building, a young 11-year-old girl emerged onto the street with her upper body lit on fire. She had poured kerosene on herself and lit herself on fire after receiving news that her abusive father was coming to pick her up and she would no longer live with her grandmother. This desperate child saw no other way of escaping her situation and is still in a Jord_nian hospital’s ICU with third-degree burns.

“As Christian physicians, the restoring love and grace offered by Jesus Christ dying on the cross for our sins is our path to salvation and an eternity in fellowship with God. While all of us have a wish list of things we would like to see change in our field, our higher calling is our antidote to misery. We are to focus on storing up treasures in heaven and not focus on earthly things."

Country names censored for security reasons


Faith and Health Resources
Contentment by Richard A. Swenson, MD

New study shows effects of casually smoking marijuana

Excerpted from “Even casually smoking marijuana can change your brain, study says,” The Washington Post. April 16, 2014 — The days when people thought only heavy Cheech-and-Chong pot smokers suffered cognitive consequences may be over. A study in The Journal of Neuroscience says even casual marijuana smokers showed significant abnormalities in two vital brain regions important in motivation and emotion. “Some of these people only used marijuana to get high once or twice a week,” said co-author Hans Breiter, quoted in Northwestern University’s Science Newsline. “People think a little recreational use shouldn’t cause a problem, if someone is doing OK with work or school,” he said. “Our data directly says this is not the case.”

The study analyzed 20 pot smokers and 20 non-pot smokers between 18 and 25. Scientists asked them to estimate how much marijuana they smoked and how often they lit up over a three-month test period. Even those who smoked once a week showed brain abnormalities, while larger changes were seen in those who smoked more.

In the study, scientists compared the size, shape and density of the nucleus accumbens and the amygdala, which control emotion. Those who had smoked had abnormally large nucleus accumbens, an area of the brain that controls pleasure, reward, and reinforcement learning. In the brains of marijuana users, natural rewards are less satisfying.


Dr. J. Scott RiesCMDA’s National Director of Campus & Community Ministries Dr. J. Scott Ries, MD: “Innocent until proven guilty...or dubious until proven safe?

“There is little dispute about the medical hazards of heavy marijuana use. What remain in question are the demonstrable potential effects of so-called ‘casual’ marijuana consumption.

“This study highlights apparent physical changes observed in the amygdala and nucleus accumbens of casual users compared to non-users. Granted, causality is not proven, but does it need to be for us to be concerned?

“Setting aside ‘legality,’ where does our duty begin with regard to caution of an unknown hazard? Should we, as those charged with advising the health of our patients, not demand evidence that such hazards are not present before acquiescing to the capricious eagre of our mercurial society?

“The most telling and scientifically accurate message should be that there is no known level of ‘safe’ recreational use of marijuana. Let us not retreat from wisely counseling our patients with Paul’s advice that while everything may be legal, everything is not good. “We are free to do all things, but there are things which it is not wise to do. We are free to do all things, but not all things are for the common good” (1 Corinthians 10:23, BBE).

Legalized recreation pot - A commentary from Dr. David Stevens
A five-part series on marijuana from Dr. Walt Larimore
The Effects of Marijuana, by Donal O’Mathuna