Thursday, March 26, 2015

Abortion and human trafficking: CMA commentary in Washington Post

Jonathan ImbodyReprinted from “The Hyde Amendment’s effect on human-trafficking victims,” commentary by CMA VP for Govt. Relations Jonathan Imbody, published in the Washington Post, March 21, 2015: In annual appropriations bills since 1976, Democrats routinely have united with Republicans in passing the Hyde Amendment, which simply prevents taxpayer monies from funding abortions except in cases of rape or incest or to save the life of the mother. Americans overwhelmingly oppose opening public coffers to the abortion industry.

Nevertheless, Democrats increasingly have been injecting abortion partisanship into human trafficking programs. Congressional hearings revealed how Obama administration officials denied a grant to a faith-based organization over abortion and other morally objectionable issues.

Many would note that abortion would only add to the trauma that human trafficking victims have already experienced. Yet even the Hyde Amendment does not disallow government-funded abortions in cases of rape, nor does it prevent abortions paid for with nongovernment funds. So protests over the Hyde Amendment in this trafficking-victims program are little more than partisan politics designed to enforce a radical abortion ideology. Jonathan Imbody, Ashburn. The writer is vice president for government relations for the Christian Medical Association.


CMDA Resources on Human Trafficking
CMDA Resources on Abortion


Educate yourself (CME credit available) with CMDA’s comprehensive online education modules on recognizing, reporting and caring for victims of human trafficking:

Marriage merits: CMA commentary published in The Tennessean

Jonathan ImbodyReprinted from “Tennessee affirms opposite-sex marriage, not bigotry,” commentary by CMA VP for Govt. Relations Jonathan Imbody, published in The Tennessean, March 13, 2015 - Re: "Discriminated after crossing state lines," March 6, 2015 - In a letter to the editor, a Chicago resident complains that Tennessee does not recognize in law the fact that Illinois considers him married to another man; he labels Tennessee's legal definition of marriage a matter of discrimination and inequality.

The state of Tennessee retains a constitutional right, highlighted in the Supreme Court's recent Windsor decision, which deemed a federal definition of marriage as usurping states' rights, to determine by objective qualifications and definitions who qualifies for a marriage license. Tennessee also uses objective qualifications to determine which of its citizens can vote, practice medicine, own a gun or teach in public schools.

These qualifications only constitute "discrimination" in the sense of discerning the relevant factors that merit granting legal status and privileges.

Why would Tennesseans legally define marriage as between a man and a woman?

Social science research clearly demonstrates that marriage between a man and a woman in a lifelong, exclusive commitment offers society, and children in particular, unique benefits — economical, educational, psychological — that no other relationship offers as well.

These benefits have led governments for millennia to recognize and endorse in law the marriage of a man and a woman.

A state's recognition of the unique benefits of man-woman marriage does not preclude love, respect, dignity or the extension of a host of government benefits and privileges to non-married citizens.

It's simply an objective affirmation of what marriage is and an endorsement of the unique benefits it provides to society and children.

Jonathan Imbody, VP Government Affairs, Christian Medical Association

CMDA Marriage Public Policy Statement
CMDA Same-Sex "Marriage" Public Policy Statement

Learn how to legislatively counteract the politics of same-sex marriage to prevent harm to children served by faith-based groups providing social services:
  • Child Welfare Provider Inclusion Act - S 667 - would ensure that organizations with religious or moral convictions are allowed to continue to provide services for children
  • Youth services bill OPPOSED for gender / religious freedom issues threatening services by faith-based organizations to runaway youth - S 262

DC tramples religious freedom in healthcare

Excerpted from "Sen. Ted Cruz seeks to upend D.C. laws on contraception coverage, gay rights," Washington Post, March 18, 2015 - Last month, more than a dozen prominent conservative groups and Catholic institutions asked Capitol Hill leaders to overturn the two D.C. laws, calling them “unprecedented assaults upon our organizations.” The laws would restrict the ability of private groups to discriminate based on religious beliefs.

One, the Reproductive Health Non-Discrimination Amendment Act of 2014, would prevent employers from taking action against workers based on their decision to use birth control or seek an abortion. The other, the Human Rights Amendment Act of 2014, repeals a longstanding, congressionally imposed measure exempting religiously affiliated educational institutions from the city’s gay nondiscrimination law.

As is the case for all D.C. laws, the two are now under a mandatory 30-day review period before Congress. Without congressional action, they could take effect as early as next month. That happened last month with the city’s marijuana-legalization law, when, despite threats from House Republicans, no lawmaker introduced a measure to stop it. Some Republicans feared a vote on marijuana legalization could expose a rift between conservative and libertarian wings of the party.

Freshman Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.), who co-introduced the measures [disapproval resolutions of Congress to overturn the DC laws], issued a statement Wednesday saying “what the D.C. Council has done is a major threat to the fundamental right to religious freedom for D.C. residents and organizations, and a brazen display of intolerance.” As evidence that Congress would be within its rights to disapprove the D.C. measures, Lankford pointed to a Supreme Court decision last year that family-owned businesses do not have to offer their employees contraceptive coverage under the Affordable Care Act if doing so conflicts with owners’ religious beliefs.


Jonathan ImbodyCMA VP for Government Relations Jonathan Imbody: “The Washington Post suggests that these recently enacted DC ‘laws would restrict the ability of private groups to discriminate based on religious beliefs.’ In fact, the laws target and discriminate against religious groups by dictating that they must hire individuals who directly contradict the groups' tenets, standards and mission.

“That's a flagrant violation of First Amendment freedoms, as upheld by a unanimous Supreme Court in the Hosanna Tabor case and by Congress in the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

“What the ironically entitled Human Rights Amendment Act of 2014 actually does is repeal a measure that for decades had advanced tolerance by ensuring that the DC Human Rights Act could not be used to coerce religiously affiliated schools into violating convictions of conscience.

“The DC Council apparently has decided, however, that there is not enough room in the District for religious dissenters who question the Council's edicts on sexual morality. Their discriminatory laws inject unconstitutional governmental coercion that subverts the democratic process of free speech and debate that historically has shaped American public opinion and values.

“Intolerance does not advance tolerance.”

Resources - CMA's one-stop-shop for news, analysis and resources on freedom of faith, conscience and speech.


Protect conscience freedom in healthcare - HR 940, which would preserve patient choice and protect pro-life professionals from discrimination for moral and ethical views.

Protect freedom of faith and conscience related to abortion - S 50. No health professionals should be forced to choose between their careers and following the principles of ethical medicine.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

New study finds link between doctor’s office and deadly bacteria

Excerpted from CDC investigates deadly bacteria’s link to doctors’ offices,” CNN. February 26, 2015 — The Centers for Disease Control is raising a red flag that a potentially deadly bacteria may be lurking in your doctor's office. The bacteria, C. difficile, is typically found in hospitals, but a study out Wednesday, February 25 reports a substantial number of people contracted the bug who hadn't been in a hospital, but had recently visited the doctor or dentist.

The bacteria can cause deadly diarrhea, according to the CDC, with infections on the rise. The new report shows nearly half a million Americans infected in various locations in one year, with 15,000 deaths directly attributed to C. diff. The CDC is so concerned that they're starting a new study to try to assess nationally whether people are getting C. diff in doctors' offices.

In the meantime, patients should wash their hands after visiting the doctor's office -- with soap and water, because alcohol-based gels don't get rid of C. diff. Another tip: Question your doctor whenever you're prescribed an antibiotic. Powerful broad-spectrum antibiotics wipe away good bacteria in your gut that fight off the bad bacteria, which leads the way to C. diff. Johns Hopkins safety expert Dr. Peter Pronovost recommends asking your doctor if you really need an antibiotic, if there's a less powerful one that will treat your infection, and if you're being prescribed the antibiotic for the shortest time possible.

The CDC study, published Wednesday in The New England Journal of Medicine, said 150,000 people who had not been in the hospital came down with C. diff in 2011. Of those, 82% had visited a doctor's or dentist's office in the 12 weeks before their diagnosis. The CDC is hoping its new study will help determine cause and effect, because it's possible the patients had C. diff to begin with and went to the doctor to get help. It's also possible that antibiotics prescribed during the doctor's visit, and not microbes at the doctor's office, caused the infection.


Dr. Eva QuirozInfectious Disease Specialist and CMDA Member Eva Quiroz, MD: “Clostridium difficile infections are of significant concern given the recent CDC reports of increased incidence, mortality and changing epidemiology of the disease. CDC reported half a million infections in the year 2011, and 29,000 people died within 30 days of initial diagnosis.

“Two of the most common preventable risk factors are: antibiotic prescription and infection control practices. (There are also many other risk factors being investigated such as food, animals and household contacts.) Antibiotics disrupt intestinal microbiota which renders a person more susceptible to illness. One study showed that some bacteria remain disrupted for long periods of time: up to two years following treatment with Clindamycin and up to four years after treatment for H. Pylori with Clarithromycin, Metronidazole and Omeprazole.

“I recommend screening our patients for diarrhea much like we screen for the flu. I would ask about history of diarrhea more than three times per day, any antibiotic exposure and exposure to anyone in the household who is ill with diarrhea. You can then test for c. diff if pertinent. We can also educate our patients about the perils of taking antibiotics when not needed, the importance of hand hygiene and how to avoiding handling food while sick with diarrhea.

“The organism is a spore and it might survive longer in the environment, so you need to decontaminate exposed areas with a sporicidal agent and wash your hands with soap and water between patients, even if you use gloves. The danger of acquiring the infection not only lurks in our offices but anywhere we are exposed to the spores excreted in the feces of an infected person.”


More information from CDC

Colorado seeks to extend abortion protections

Excerpted from Abortion bill scheduled for state house committee,” 9News. March 2, 2015 — The third abortion bill sponsored by Republicans in the Colorado legislature appears in committee on Tuesday. The "Born-Alive Infant Protection Act" addresses infants born alive during a botched abortion.

HB15-1112, sponsored by Rep. Lois Landgraf (R-Fountain), would require a physician to "take all medically appropriate and reasonable steps to preserve the life of a born-alive infant" and prohibits denying nourishment to a born-alive infant with the intent of ending the infant's life. It also prohibits using a born-alive infant for scientific research or other experimentation.

In 2002, President George W. Bush signed into law the "Born Alive Infants Protection Act" recognizing that every infant born alive at any stage of development is to be recognized as a person and a human being. This act, however, only applies to providers and hospitals operated by the federal government or which receive federal funding. HB15-1112 would expand born-alive infant protections to all hospitals and providers in the state.

The bill sponsor acknowledged that there are no cases of born-alive infants being refused life saving measures in the state of which she is aware, but, she says, the bill puts guardrails around the practice to prevent it from happening and "keeps doctors from coming into Colorado and doing this."

Rep. Lois Court (D-Denver) feels that the legislation is unnecessary. "It is already illegal to kill a living human being," Court said, also adding, "I am really tired of my Republican colleagues bringing forward divisive social issues when we really should be focused on rebuilding our middle class here in Colorado."


Steven AdenSenior Counsel for Alliance Defending Freedom Steven H. Aden, Esq: “From the time of Roe v. Wade in 1973, medical-legal evidence has played a critical role in shaping courts’ views of the nature of abortion and its risks. This is all the more true since the U.S. Supreme Court’s last pronouncement on abortion in 2007, Gonzales v. Carhart, in which the Court held that as long as the legislature had ‘some evidence’ on its side, it will be enough for the statute to pass constitutional muster. ‘The Court has given state and federal legislatures wide discretion to pass legislation in areas where there is medical and scientific uncertainty,’ the Court instructed.

“Consider Texas’ admitting privileges and chemical abortion regulations, which effectively closed approximately three-quarters of the state’s abortion clinics. The court of appeals that upheld the law particularly credited trial testimony offered by pro-life physicians Dr. John Thorp and Dr. James Anderson. The court found that Dr. Thorp ‘offered the most comprehensive statement of the requirement’s rationale,’ and quoted his testimony on the benefits of admitting privileges verbatim. Dr. Anderson, an ER physician and CMDA member, testified that ‘an abortion provider with admitting privileges is better suited than one not admitted to know which specialist at the hospital to consult in cases where an abortion patient presents herself at an ER with serious complications.’

“While the work that testifying experts do is best known to the public, it should be noted that there are other levels of involvement available, such as reviewing medical records or serving as a ‘consulting expert’ who equips the lawyers to understand medical evidence but does not testify. The process of testifying as a medical expert is a little more involved, but not terribly complicated. Court rules qualify expert witnesses to render opinions when they have ‘scientific, technical, or other specialized knowledge [that] will help the [court] to understand the evidence....’ Thus, even physicians in general practice may be able to offer opinions in cases involving specialties, depending on their particular education, training and clinical experience. Doctors who enable lawyers to put on evidence in abortion defense cases provide an invaluable service to both professions and the sanctity of human life itself.”

If you are interested in getting involved by testifying, reviewing medical records or serving as a consulting expert, sign up for CMDA's Freedom2Care coalition's Federal Registry on LinkedIn (registration is free) and stay updated with notices of opportunities plus tips, updates and discussions.


CMDA Standards for Life - Abortion
CMDA’s Abortion Ethics Statement

Smart implants making a difference for patients

Excerpted from "CyborgRx: How Smart Implants Could Change Medicine," NBC News. February 17, 2015 — The cyborgs are coming ... and that's a good thing. A new breed of smart devices designed to be implanted in the brain, heart and other body parts could be used to treat everything from epilepsy to Parkinson's disease. They're already helping people like Chelsey Loeb. The 26-year-old can't feel the responsive neurostimulator (RNS System for short) firing electrical pulses into her brain. It's about the size of an iPod Nano and is constantly monitoring electrical activity from under her skull, looking for signs of a seizure so it can send out a targeted pulse to cut one off before it begins.

Designed by Silicon Valley-based NeuroPace, the RNS System is on the frontier of this new technology. But there are hopes that devices implanted under the skin could one day do things like automatically regulate glucose levels in diabetics or tell someone when their knee is about to give out. Right now, smart implants are giving hope to epilepsy patients like Loeb. Across the nation, 128 of them have been installed since the FDA approved the device in 2013. Clinical trials showed a 38 percent drop in the average number of seizures per month.

DARPA, the research arm of the U.S. Department of Defense, is also looking into smart implants. In August 2014, it announced the Electrical Prescriptions (ElectRx) program, which encourages the development of "ultraminiaturized devices" the size of nerve fibers that would "continually assess conditions and provide stimulus patterns tailored to help maintain healthy organ function."

Researchers are also starting to think about how multiple smart devices might work together. The EU-funded WISERBAN is a project aimed at creating a 'wireless body-area network' (WBAN) that would let smart implants communicate wirelessly with each other and the outside world without draining their limited power resources.


Dr. William CheshireCMDA Ethics Committee Chair and Academic Neurologist William P. Cheshire, MD, MA: “As physicians, we have become doctors of cyborgs, and that's a good thing, provided we meet the ethical challenges. The wise application of sophisticated technology always requires proportionately thoughtful ethical analysis to enable appropriate use, prevent inappropriate use and limit unintended harmful consequences.

“Talk of cyborgs conjures up fantastic science fiction images of men and women whose bodies have been taken over by powerful runaway technologies threatening to supersede our humanity. The present reality, by contrast, is that technology is being used to rescue patients. Nearly all physicians in the developed world care for patients who have been implanted with artificial joints or pacemakers. A smaller but growing number of patients are living healthier lives with implanted cardiac monitors, nerve or brain stimulators, cochlear implants and programmable catheters. These and other biomedical electronic devices are to be welcomed for their therapeutic potential to bring healing and restoration to patients with disease and disability.

“Cyborg biomedical technologies also touch on profound questions about what it means to be human and what it might mean to be a redesigned human. Futurist Ray Kurzweil predicts, ‘We're going to become increasingly non-biological to the point where the non-biological part dominates and the biological part is not important any more.’ Taken to the extreme, the philosophy of transhumanism looks to the day when the human organism will be radically redesigned, if not inevitably replaced, by synthetic, artificial intelligences.

“Aside from the practical question of whether radical re-engineering of the human species is technically possible is the more immediate concern—if we were to become too enamored by technological bodily enhancements, how would we then regard our biological neighbors? We know one another not as amalgams of flesh and silicon but as embodied persons bearing the image of God. Would we value people less if we believed that bodily parts were easily replaceable or that minds could be uploaded to computers? Would remaking humanity in our own image cause us to lose sight of the face of Christ in those who suffer?

“Chelsey Loeb's story reminds us that each and every one of us is unique and special. ‘It's like a big puzzle,’ she says, ‘because my brain is unlike any other.’ Chelsey's experience is yet another example of how advances in neuroscience and biotechnology do not lead to a cold, mundane, materialistic understanding of humanity. Rather, through science we discover new levels at which human life is a great mystery.”


CMDA’s Eugenics and Enhancement Ethics Statement
Till We Have Minds by Dr. William Cheshire
Why Human Bioenhancement Technologies Are a Bad Idea