Thursday, October 23, 2014

CMDA offers marriage principles

Excerpted from "Leading Christian medical association unanimously affirms traditional marriage," Life Site News, October 13, 2014, - The Christian Medical & Dental Associations (CMDA) unanimously adopted its Same-Sex "Marriage" Public Policy Statement September 18, criticizing the “radical revisionist view” which “ignores millennia of legal and cultural affirmation” of marriage, and endeavors to replace it with a subjective concept of marriage based on emotional relationship.

The CMDA said this skewed belief is divorced from the natural and objective elements of marriage - physical union and procreation.

“Marriage is a consensual, exclusive and lifelong commitment between one man and one woman, expressed in a physical union uniquely designed to produce and nurture children,” the CMDA statement said.

“The universal recognition of conjugal marriage by virtually every civilization throughout history, arrived at from both secular and theistic perspectives, testifies to the natural evidence for marriage, its objective structure and its significant contribution to human flourishing and societal stability.”

The CMDA statement was released just a few weeks prior to the U.S. Supreme Court’s October 6 dismissal of five U.S. states’ petitions to review lower court decisions overturning their marriage protection amendments.

The CMDA said that recognition of marriage as being between one man and one woman does not necessarily impede acceptance of other consensual relationships.

“The core debate hinges not on a moral evaluation of various types of relationships, but rather on the objective qualities that make marriage, marriage,” the CMDA statement said.

The benefits to children raised by both a mother and a father, the greater economic stability of intact families and the high cost to government and society when marriage breaks down were all listed by the CMDA to illustrate the government’s stake in preserving marriage.

The CMDA also critiqued court decisions that have asserted that support for marriage is not rational and instead based on hostility toward homosexuals, saying that these judgments have paved the way for religious persecution toward proponents of traditional marriage.

“Once the government adopts an official position that opposition to ‘same-sex marriage’ is based solely on animus and constitutes discrimination, the state can assert a compelling interest to advance this social policy--even if doing so means trampling the rights of religious conscientious objectors,” the CMDA statement said. “This assertion of government power to enforce the ideology of the state threatens not only the individual exercise of conscience but also the entire constitutional balance of the church-state relationship.”

“Such an aggressive, state-sponsored squelching of the free exercise of religion, as expressed in faith-based dissent, creates a powerful deterrent to free speech and the exercise of conscience,” the CMDA said. “Apart from the intervention of courts and/or a reversal of societal values, faithful supporters of conjugal marriage stand to face a virtual ideological Inquisition of increasing intensity.”

The CMDA statement concluded with a list of policy recommendations that would protect the rights of faith and conscience in law and policy, and in particular safeguard against legal assault of physicians who practice in accord with their conscience.


Jonathan ImbodyCMA VP for Government Relations Jonathan Imbody: “Why even get involved in such a controversial area as same-sex marriage? How does this apply to healthcare professionals?

“A number of medical organizations have officially endorsed same-sex relationships, with sanctions and the censure of dissenting members sure to follow. The administration, through the Dept. of Health and Human Services and other federal agencies, has begun to require assent to its same-sex marriage ideology as a condition for receiving federal grants. As same-sex issues politics takes root in our legal system and professional organizations, you will likely find yourself at risk as a healthcare professional or student if you:

  • deviate from governmental or professional organizational same-sex policies when counseling or treating patients regarding their sexuality;
  • decline to provide a requested recommendation for a same-sex couple seeking to adopt a child;
  • affirm, during a medical school or placement interview, the moral principle of reserving sex for male-female marriage;
  • do not fulfill requests by same-sex couples for reproductive services such as in-vitro fertilization (physicians already have been sued successfully for this on grounds of discrimination).

“The church in Germany in the 1930s failed to heed the warning signs, succumbed to state coercion and experienced the absolute disintegration of their religious freedom. The tragic loss resulted in part because naïve people of faith opted for compromise with the rising Nazi regime and failed to confront ruthless oppression as Hitler marched toward absolute power.

America is not fascist Germany, but the principle remains the same: Government tends to increase its own power at the expense of individual freedoms--unless We the People take action. “Now is the time to determine to remain faithful, to defend truth and religious freedom--and also to prepare to take a stand in the face of pressure and even persecution.”

“Then Mordecai told them to reply to Esther, ‘Do not imagine that you in the king’s palace can escape any more than all the Jews’” (Esther 4:13, NASB).

“But Daniel made up his mind that he would not defile himself with the king’s choice food or with the wine which he drank...” (Daniel 1:8, NASB).

“Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great...” (Matthew 5:11-12, NASB).

Use our easy, pre-written form at our Freedom2Care legislative action website to urge your legislators to support the Marriage and Religious Freedom Act--S.1808, which prohibits discrimination because of moral beliefs regarding marriage and sex.

  1. Read the CMDA statements on what marriage is and on same-sex "marriage." The two new, board-approved public policy statements on marriage state support for public policy measures that:
    • Recognize marriage as exclusively between one man and one woman.
    • Accord protections, incentives and privileges that reflect a recognition of the economic, social and child-related benefits to the state of conjugal marriage.
    • Do not conflate conjugal marriage with same-sex relationships.
    • Comport with the original intent of Amendment XIV of the U.S. Constitution.
    • Maintain equal protection of applicable laws for those who engage in homosexual activity without according special status or privileges based on that activity.
  2. A Thoughtful Approach to God's Design for Marriage, by Sean McDowell & John Stonestreet.
  3. What is Marriage? By Sherif Girgis, Ryan T. Anderson and Robert P. George.

California: Churches must cover abortions

Excerpted from "Churches forced to cover abortion file federal complaint against Calif. agency," Alliance Defending Freedom news release, October 09, 2014 - Life Legal Defense Foundation and Alliance Defending Freedom filed a formal complaint Thursday with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services over the California Department of Managed Health Care’s decision to force all employers, including churches, to pay for elective abortions in their health insurance plans. LLDF and ADF represent seven California churches that object to offering their employees insurance plans covering elective abortions and allege that DMHC’s coercion of abortion coverage violates federal law.

Last month, LLDF and ADF filed a separate complaint with HHS on behalf of employees at Loyola Marymount University that also do not want a health plan that covers abortions. In August, LLDF and ADF lodged a letter with DMHC itself warning it of its violation of federal law. DMHC responded by affirming its decision to force all plans to cover all abortions, without explaining how that decision squares with a federal law insisting otherwise.


Casey MattoxAlliance Defending Freedom Attorney Casey Mattox: “Forcing a church to be party to elective abortion is one of the utmost-imaginable assaults on our most fundamental American freedoms. California is flagrantly violating the federal law that protects employers from being forced into having abortion in their health insurance plans. No state can blatantly ignore federal law and think that it should continue to receive taxpayer money.” audio sound bite

Use our easy, pre-written forms at our Freedom2Care legislative action website to contact your legislators on the following religious freedom bills:
  1. Protect healthcare professionals from discrimination - S. 137 - Protect your choice of pro-life healthcare professionals - take action on the Abortion Non-Discrimination Act
  2. Protect conscience freedom in healthcare: HR 940 - Preserve patient choice and protect pro-life professionals from discrimination for moral and ethical views.
Freedom2Care - CMDA's one-stop source for news, commentary and resources on freedom of faith, conscience and speech

Faith-based health insurance alternatives growing

Excerpted from "Following evangelicals, traditional Catholics create a health insurance alternative," Religion News Service, Oct. 3, 2014 - Taking a cue from evangelicals, a group of traditionalist Catholics on Thursday unveiled a cost-sharing network that they say honors their values and ensures that they are not even indirectly supporting health care services such as abortion that contradict their beliefs. Christ Medicus Foundation CURO, as the group is called, will be financially integrated with Samaritan Ministries International, which was launched in 1991 by an evangelical home-schooling dad. The SMI network now serves 125,000 people and is exempt from the Affordable Care Act.

Proponents of "health care sharing" say they are not insurance plans, but ministries that cut Christians’ health care costs and tend to their souls. The groups, according to the Illinois-based Alliance of Health Care Sharing Ministries, together include more than 300,000 Americans.

Critics point out that health care sharing programs are unregulated and that there is no guarantee that any particular medical need will be covered. As Jonathan Gruber, a health care economist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, told CNBC: “The whole goal of health care reform is to ensure that people are protected against risk and illness, and this violates that fundamental goal.”

As with similar programs, those who join CMF CURO expect other members to pay for most of their medical costs — except preventive health care and pre-existing conditions — for expenses of up to $250,000 for each medical need in the basic program.

For a two-parent household, CMF CURO costs $489 a month; an individual plan costs $264 a month. Members vote on whether to raise the costs of membership, and the program will pay health care providers 125 percent of what they get from Medicare.


Jonathan ImbodyCMA VP for Government Relations Jonathan Imbody: “I attended a religious freedom meeting recently that included a presentation by the founders of this new health sharing initiative. I asked them to candidly summarize what they have found that doctors like and don't like about health sharing ministries. (You can add your own perspective by clicking the "Comment" link below; here's what the program advocates answered.)

  • What doctors like – Faith-motivated doctors can participate in a program consistent with their faith values. Doctors can have a closer patient-physician relationship, because getting paid more (the target is 125 percent of what Medicare pays) can translate into more time with patients. Health sharing programs eliminate the third parties typically involved in order to get paid, involve little to no paperwork and provide cash payment within 90 days.
  • What doctors don't like – the cap on [Samaritan Ministries and CURO] benefits currently only goes to $250,000 (though a new Save to Share program will offer an unlimited amount, and a charity program will also be included). Ministry advocates gave an example of how a representative of one major healthcare institution insisted that a patient under the program would not be accepted, saying, “No, you have to have insurance.” (CURO can intervene in such cases and get involved with the non-cooperating institution.)

“Time and experience will tell whether health sharing ministries prove advantageous for both patients and doctors; more research and analysis is warranted. In the meantime, I appreciate the motivation to (a) protect religious and conscience freedom by offering an alternative that does not subsidize abortion and other items contrary to faith values; (b) provide a way for Christians to band together to support one another financially and spiritually; and, (c) eliminate the bureaucracy that frustrates so many doctors and diverts resources away from real healthcare.

Whether or not you endorse health sharing ministries, if you support the ability of patients enrolled in these faith-based programs to gain equal access to health savings accounts, use our Freedom2Care easy form to voice your values on HR 207.

World Magazine - "Networks of care: Formal and informal groups of healthcare providers are keeping the poor from missing the safety net."

Comparison of Samaritan Ministries and Christian Care Ministry (does not imply endorsement)

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Woman gives birth from a transplanted womb

Excerpted from World first: baby born after womb transplantation,” Medical News Today. October 6, 2014 — In September, a 36-year-old Swedish woman became the first ever to give birth from a transplanted womb. A new paper published in The Lancet provides a "proof of concept" report on the case. The woman received her womb from a 61-year-old family friend. As the recipient had intact ovaries, she was able to produce eggs, which were then fertilized using IVF prior to the transplant.

"Absolute uterine factor infertility" is the only type of female infertility still considered to be untreatable. Adoption and surrogacy have so far been the only options for women with absolute uterine factor infertility to acquire motherhood. However, the news of the first baby to be born from a woman who received a womb transplant brings hope to women with forms of absolute uterine factor infertility.

The researchers who performed the transplant - from the University of Gothenburg, Sweden - have been investigating the viability of womb transplantation for over 10 years. In 2013, the researchers initiated transplants in nine women with absolute uterine factor infertility who had received wombs from live donors. The Swedish woman who recently gave birth was one of these women. Although two of the women in the trial had to have hysterectomies during the initial months - because of severe infections and thrombosis - the team reported success in the other seven women.

According to Prof. Brännström, who led the team of researchers, "Our success is based on more than 10 years of intensive animal research and surgical training by our team and opens up the possibility of treating many young females worldwide that suffer from uterine infertility. What is more, we have demonstrated the feasibility of live-donor uterus transplantation, even from a postmenopausal donor."


Dr. J. Scott RiesCMDA National Director of Campus & Community Ministries J. Scott Ries, MD: “At first glance, it seems like a heartwarming tale of the newest medical ‘miracle’ and a triumph of life. But one doesn’t need to squeeze hard to deliver a very sour and sobering insight of what lies ahead. Though it is at its surface a sweet story of an otherwise impossible birth, deeply thinking and conscientious physicians must pause and ask, ‘At what cost?’

“Three things should deeply concern us in the pushing of these ethical boundaries:
  1. How many developing babies will we immolate on the altar of innovation? This patient on three separate occasions nearly rejected her uterine transplant. How many babies will be sacrificed in future trials of uterine transplantation?
  2. At what age do we stop? If it works for a 36-year-old woman, why not a 56-year-old woman? Or perhaps a 76-year-old woman? Where does the ‘right’ to bear a child end?
  3. Why limit a uterine transplantation to only women? In this day of gay and transgender rights, why not allow a male partner to receive a uterine transplantation? If the barrier is simply vascular anastomosis and hormone infusion, why not permit gestation within the abdomen of a man?
“The story is both a wonder and a worry. That a uterus dormant for years can suddenly spring to life with mere influx of blood and hormone is wondrous testimony to its divine design.

“Yet if we abandon moral standards given by that same Designer, on what basis shall we then make these decisions? We have so quickly progressed from challenging the boundaries of moral standards to repudiating their existence altogether. As followers of the Way, we must infuse in our culture the distinction between what could be and what should be.”


CMDA Resources on Reproductive Technology
CMDA Ethics Statement – Assisted Reproductive Technology

Walking as a superstar

Excerpted from "Walking is the superfood of fitness, experts say," Reuters. September 29, 2014 — Walking may never become as trendy as CrossFit, but for fitness experts who stress daily movement over workouts and an active lifestyle over weekends of warrior games, walking is a super star.

For author and scientist Katy Bowman, walking is a biological imperative like eating. In her book, “Move Your DNA: Restore Your Health Through Natural Movement," she suggests there are movement nutrients, just like dietary nutrients, that the body needs. “Walking is a superfood. It’s the defining movement of a human,” said Bowman, a biomechanist based in Ventura, California. “It’s a lot easier to get movement than it is to get exercise.”

Leslie Sansone, creator of the “Walk at Home: Mix & Match Walk Blasters” DVD, said too many people believe that spending grueling hours at the gym is the only way to fitness. “There’s this “Biggest Loser” idea out there that if you’re not throwing up and crying you’re not getting fit,” she said, referring to the popular television weight-loss show. Three miles (5 kilometers) per hour is a good beginning, gradually working to 4 miles per hour, she said about walking.

Dr. Carol Ewing Garber, president of the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) and a professor of movement sciences at Columbia University in New York, said research suggests that even one bout of exercise causes beneficial physiological effects. But she concedes that walking does not do everything. It is less beneficial for bones than running, and for strength, it is better to lift weights. “Still,” she said, “If you’re going to pick one thing, research says it should be walking.”


Dr. Mark McQuainCMDA Member Mark McQuain, MD: “In her book, Katy Bowman makes the case that the natural movement of humans, namely walking, is the ‘superstar of exercise,’ adding that it is ‘easier to get movement than it is to get exercise.’ The above Reuters article sources additional experts in support of her thesis. Given our struggle with an epidemic of obesity,1 whether secondary to poor diet choices and/or sedentary lifestyles, we would like an easy way back to health. Is walking our panacea? That answer really depends on whether our walking is ‘just movement’ or ‘superstar exercise.’

“A large study by Lawrence Berkley National Laboratory2 found moderate (walking) and vigorous (running) exercise produced similar reductions in hypertension, hypercholesterolemia, diabetes mellitus and possibly CHD, but only with equivalent energy expenditure. That means you have to walk further than you ran for similar benefits. Not exactly ‘just movement.’

“We know lack of movement, as is seen in spinal cord injury, produces increased risks of DVT and osteoporosis,3 and improved motion mitigates some of these risks, even improving psychological well-being.4 The Reuters article references a similar study in able-bodied subjects showing the benefits of minimal movement (three five-minute walks) reversing the harmful effects of prolonged sitting on arteries in the legs.

“Whether movement or exercise, the benefits of walking depend on the type of walking you do.”

1Hicks, A L, et al. "Long-term exercise training in persons with spinal cord injury: effects on strength, arm ergometry performance and psychological well-being." Spinal Cord 41 (2003): 34-43.
2Jiang, S D, L Y Dai, and L S Jiang. "Osteoporosis after spinal cord injury." Osteoporosis International 17, no. 2 (Feb 2006): 180-92.
3Wang, Youfa, and Mary Beydoun. "The Obesity Epidemic in the United States—Gender, Age, Socioeconomic, Racial/Ethnic, and Geographic Characteristics: A Systematic Review and Meta-Regression Analysis." Epidemiologic Reviews (Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health) 29, no. 1 (Jan 2007): 6-28.
4 Williams, P T, and P D Thompson. "Walking versus running for hypertension, cholesterol, and diabetes mellitus risk reduction." Arteriosclerosis, thrombosis and vascular biology 33, no. 5 (May 2013): 1085-91.


Prescribe-A-Resource from CMDA
Complete Guide to Family Health, Nutrition & Fitness

Drug firms release payment information

Excerpted from Drug and device firms paid $3.5B to care providers,” Associated Press. September 30, 2014 — Drug and medical device companies paid doctors and leading hospitals billions of dollars last year, the government disclosed Tuesday in a new effort to spotlight potential ethical conflicts in medicine. The value of industry payments and other financial benefits totaled nearly $3.5 billion in the five-month period from August through December 2013, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which released the data.

It's part of a new initiative called Open Payments, required by President Barack Obama's healthcare law. It was intended to allow patients to easily look up their own doctors online, but that functionality isn't fully developed. In future years, the information will cover a full 12 months and will be easier to search, officials said.

Consumer groups said it's a step toward much-needed transparency. But doctors and industry said the government rushed to release the data, and they raised questions about accuracy and lack of context.

The American Medical Association said it remains "very concerned" about release of the payments file, adding that the data may contain inaccuracies and lacks context to help the average person evaluate the information. Consumer groups say disclosure is overdue. "Research has shown over and over that these financial relationships influence doctors, even a meal," said John Santa, medical director for health projects with Consumers Union. "Studies also show that doctors believe it does not affect them, but strongly believe it affects other doctors."


Dr. John DunlopCMDA Member John Dunlop, MD: “Wow! $3.58 billion spent by pharmaceutical and device manufactures to directly influence physician choice is an impressive amount. I naively thought that these payments and gifts went out with the free lunches and logos on pens several years ago. It appears that those restrictions do not have much substance and thus the potential for ethical abuse persists as a real threat. The number comes from the website “Open Payments,” a project of Obamacare intended to bring accountability to the heretofore undisclosed inducements given by industry to practicing physicians. It should be noted, however, that just two days after this article was released, another article pointed out many potential flaws in this data.

“As Christians, when faced with the possibility of receiving incentives from industry, we must remind ourselves that our primary responsibility is not to make money but to provide the best, compassionate and cost effective care to our patients. In Proverbs 19:6, Scripture warns that receiving gifts influences our behavior, and this may be true even when those gifts do not obligate the recipient to prescribe the products involved.

“The CMDA Ethics Statement on Doctor & Pharmaceutical/Medical Device Industry Relationships states the ethical principle: ‘Doctors should consider carefully the basis of their therapeutic decisions to assure that they are made in accordance with best possible evidence applied to the welfare of the patient. Personal gain must never be the compelling reason for our decisions. Incentives from industry, intended to influence therapeutic choices, can compromise doctor integrity and behavior.’”


Christian Physician’s Oath
Doctor & Pharmaceutical/Medical Device Industry Relationships Ethics Statement
Professionalism in Peril - Part 3: Professional Adultery