Monday, July 28, 2014

Planned Parenthood


Cecile Richards compares abortion to colonoscopies

Planned Parenthood has been desperate for a long time to make themselves out to be purveyors of women’s health care, when really, their business revolves around — what else? — abortion. Oh, sure, they like to pretend that they care about things besides abortion. They certainly do offer other services, but their own annual report shows that abortion is their bread and butter.
According to their annual report, abortion makes up 94% of their pregnancy “services”, and the number of abortions they performed has increased over the years, while their other health care services have decreased. It’s all about the money for Planned Parenthood, and abortion sure is lucrative. That’s why they have required all Planned Parenthood affiliates to perform abortions, causing them to subsequently lose affiliates that actually did care about health care. What abortion is not, is PR-friendly. People don’t like abortion. So Planned Parenthood has to pretend they actually care about women’s health, even lying about the services they perform. (Remember the mammogram debacle?)

So it’s kind of cute — and by cute, I actually mean enraging — to see Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards try to compare abortion to actual necessary medical procedures. In an interview with Bill Moyers, Richards compared women getting abortions to men getting colonoscopies, asking us to imagine if men had to endure protests in order to get medical procedures performed. Because war on women!
BILL MOYERS: What do you think will come from the court’s junking of the 35-foot buffer zone?
CECILE RICHARDS: Well, we’re already seeing in Massachusetts that absolutely, immediately after that decision eliminating the buffer zone we had record numbers of protesters outside of the following women all the way up to the door of our health center in Massachusetts. These are not all kindly, elderly ladies simply whispering in the ears.
And even if they were, it is the right of women in this country to be able to access healthcare that they need without harassment and without the advice of dozens of people outside their health center. I mean, can you imagine if, you know, if men in this country, before going into their doctor had to walk through a gauntlet of protesters telling them, you know, whether it’s not to get a colonoscopy or just go down the list? It’s incredible.
MOYERS: Is there a war on women? Or has that become a convenient metaphor?
RICHARDS: It’s not a term I use. But in some ways, if the shoe fits, you know, I feel like I don’t like to think there’s a war on women. But the evidence is that there is certainly within some, certainly some elements of the Republican party, and unfortunately a lot of the leadership, and a lot of politicians in this country, folks who are uncomfortable, I believe, with women being equal in America.
Does anyone else find it revealing that Richards equates an unborn child with a person’s bowels?
Anyway, there goes Cecile Richards, trying to turn abortion into “health care” again. See, it’s just so, so wrong for women to have to endure protests on the way to murder the little demon spawn growing inside of them! But let’s just compare abortion to a colonoscopy. A colonoscopy, according to WebMD, is:
Colonoscopy is a test that allows your doctor to look at the inner lining of your large intestine camera.gif (rectum and colon). He or she uses a thin, flexible tube called a colonoscope to look at the colon. A colonoscopy helps find ulcers, colon polyps, tumors, and areas of inflammation or bleeding. During a colonoscopy, tissue samples can be collected (biopsy) and abnormal growths can be taken out. Colonoscopy can also be used as a screening test to check for cancer or precancerous growths in the colon or rectum (polyps).
Sounds pretty important, right? Not only important, but potentially life-saving. Abortion, on the other hand, is the act of killing an unborn child. Dress it up in whatever cheerful euphemisms you want, but that’s what it is. It is almost never medically necessary, despite constant caterwauling from abortion advocates to the contrary. This has become especially fashionable for the abortion lobby to claim regarding late-term abortions — it’s because of health issues with the baby or the mother! — but that’s not true.

Even the pro-abortion, former arm of Planned Parenthood, Guttmacher Institute owns up to the fact that the vast, vast majority of abortions are performed because of convenience. It makes a pleasant talking point, sure, that abortions are mostly performed because of a birth defect or because otherwise the mother will die, but it just isn’t the truth.
So comparing a legitimate and potentially life-saving medical procedure to an elective, almost always unnecessary, procedure that takes the life of an unborn child just doesn’t quite fly. Cecile Richards and her ilk have always tried to deny the unborn of their inherent humanity, calling them “clumps of tissue” or “products of conception”. But comparing a polyp to a fetus?

By the time any abortion is performed, the baby almost surely already has a heartbeat and brain waves, not a useless and potentially cancerous piece of tissue. And the fact that Cecile Richards sees any similarity between the two at all shows just how depraved her mind truly is

Source: LiveAction News

New Radical Bill


Where do Senate Democrats running for election stand on the “Abortion Without Limits Until Birth” Act?

By Andrew Bair
The "Abortion Without Limits Until Birth" bill "seeks to strip away from elected lawmakers the ability to provide even the most minimal protections for unborn children, at any stage of their prenatal development." - National Right to Life President Carol Tobias, testifying against S.1696.
The “Abortion Without Limits Until Birth” bill “seeks to strip away from elected lawmakers the ability to provide even the most minimal protections for unborn children, at any stage of their prenatal development.” – National Right to Life President Carol Tobias, testifying against S.1696.

Last week, the Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing on a radical pro-abortion bill (S.1696) sponsored by Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Ct.) and promoted by major pro-abortion advocacy groups.
If enacted, the law would nullify virtually all limits on abortion nationwide, including protective measures that enjoy broad public support, including informed consent laws, waiting periods and laws that protect pain-capable unborn children from excruciating abortions late in pregnancy.
The bill, which has been characterized as the “Abortion Without Limits Until Birth” Act, currently has 35 co-sponsors, all Democrats.

With nearly two thirds of Senate Democrats on board with Blumenthal’s plan to expand abortion, the question must be asked: Where do the Democratic candidates running for Senate this fall stand on this legislation?
In the competitive race for Senate in Alaska, incumbent Sen. Mark Begich’s position is clear. He supports tearing down virtually all limits on abortion nationwide as indicated by his signing on as a cosponsor.
Congressman Bruce Braley, who is running for the open Senate seat in Iowa, is a cosponsor of the House version of the bill.
In Kentucky, Democratic nominee Alison Lundergan Grimes told the Huffington Post’s Howard Fineman in 2013 that she was “pro-choice down the line on abortion.”
EMILY’s List, a pro-abortion PAC that backs only female Democratic candidates who embrace abortion-on-demand, is one of Grimes’ biggest financiers, according to the Washington Post.
EMILY’s List is also investing heavily in Michelle Nunn’s candidacy in Georgia. Nunn ran sponsored Facebook posts touting the endorsement from the pro-abortion PAC.
However, as noted in the Wall Street Journal, Democrats running in traditionally red states, like Georgia, have deliberately downplayed their positions on abortion.
Nunn’s campaign has only offered the tired platitude that she would like to see abortion “safe, legal and rare.”  Voters in Georgia deserve to know where she stands on this bill.
Like Nunn, Sen. Kay Hagan in North Carolina is abiding by a similar playbook on abortion. She has not commented on Blumenthal’s bill and has generally dodged the abortion issue.
However, it’s not difficult to draw conclusions based on her record. Hagan, another EMILY’s List beneficiary, has a 0% rating from the National Right to Life Committee, indicating solidly pro-abortion voting record. Most recently, Hagan joined Planned Parenthood in advocating for a bill taking aim at pro-life conscience protections.

Sen. Mark Pryor of Arkansas, another Southern Democrat facing a tough reelection in 2014, has come under fire for saying one thing on abortion and doing another. Pryor’s opponent, pro-life Republican Tom Cotton, has put the issue front and center in the campaign.
Cotton spokesman David Ray said, “Senator Pryor says one thing in Arkansas, and votes the opposite way in Washington. He says he’s pro-choice, then he says he’s pro-life. He says he’s against late-term abortion, but he won’t do anything about it. He says he’s against taxpayer funding of abortion, but he’s voted for it repeatedly. Senator Pryor simply can’t be trusted on this issue.”

Thus far, Sen. Mary Landrieu in Louisiana has avoided discussion of Blumenthal’s “Abortion Without Limits Until Birth” bill. But she has been in the hot seat after indicating she would not support legislation to protect unborn children who are capable of experiencing pain.
Republican Congressman Bill Cassidy, who is running to challenge Landrieu, said she is “clearly pro-abortion rights.” It’s time for Landrieu to inform voters how she would vote on Blumenthal’s bill if brought to a full Senate vote.

In Colorado, Sen. Mark Udall, who is engaged in a tough race against pro-life challenger Rep. Cory Gardner, has not signed on as cosponsor of Blumenthal’s legislation. Udall has repeatedly hit his opponent on abortion in the campaign, attempting to characterize him as extreme on the issue. Voters should demand to know where Udall stands on his colleague’s extreme bill to invalidate longstanding protective measures for unborn children and their mothers.
Sen. Blumenthal told Roll Call in a November interview, “As the election approaches, I think the voters are going to want to know where legislators stand on these issues.”
In her testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee on the bill, National Right to Life President Carol Tobias urged the Senate’s Democratic leadership to agree to a proposal by Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) that the Senate hold two votes, one on Blumenthal’s S.1696 and one on Graham’s S.1670, the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act.

“We challenge you, and the leadership of the majority party, to allow the American people to see where every senator stands on both of these major abortion-related bills. Let the American people see which bill reflects the values of each member of the United States Senate—life or death for unborn children?,” said Tobias.

As Americans in key states prepare to elect lawmakers to be their voice in Washington, it’s vital that candidates engage in an honest discussion of where they stand on important issues. No candidate running for Senate should be given a free pass to dodge answering where they stand on Blumenthal’s “Abortion Without Limits Until Birth” bill and Graham’s Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act.

Source: NRLC News

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Abortion Industry


Dealing—Poorly—with the Stigma of Working in the Abortion Industry

By Dave Andrusko
noshameabortionreSome things never change because they are part of the human condition. And that holds true even for the most inhuman of behaviors–or perhaps especially so–because those actions so cut against the grain of our deepest instincts.

We’re re-posting the revealing quotes Sarah Terzo extracted from a post on a pro-abortion blog. (See “’Abortioneer’ talks about stigma of working in an abortion clinic”)

The title of the piece was “Working 9-5: How We Talk (or Don’t) about Abortion, subtitled “The ins and outs and ups and downs of direct service in the field of abortion care.” It is enormously helpful in understanding the toil exacted from people who work in the abortion industry.
When the author wrote the piece, likely in the back of her mind was the apprehension that someone like me would comment on her ambivalence bordering on depression at working at an abortion clinic. But she had to get it out, especially about the isolation best captured, perhaps, in her comment that “Only recently have I been able to have conversations with my dad about abortion after years of bitter silence.”

You don’t read a lot of these admissions by abortion insiders. Why? In addition to not wanting to provide ammunition to the enemy (us), it’s very difficult to admit there is (as the author of this piece concedes) a “stigma” to trafficking in the blood of unborn babies (obviously my characterization, not hers).

And if you do normal “mommy things” (as she described it) with the mother of your son’s best friend—whom you like—you are loath to come right out and admit that killing is what you do for a living, in case the mother is one of those you-know-who.
One of the very first pieces I ever read about the bottled up turmoil of those who worked in the abortion trade was a piece that appeared in the American Medical News July 12, 1993: “Abortion providers share inner conflicts.”

The story drew on discussions at workshops sponsored by the National Abortion Federation. Over the years I have re-read it several times. Here are the operative three paragraphs that catch the core of their “inner conflicts”:
“The notion that the nurses, doctors, counselors and others who work in the abortion field have qualms about the work they do is a well-kept secret.
“But among themselves—at work, or at meetings with other providers—they talk about how they really feel. About women who come in for ‘repeat’ abortions. About women whose reasons for having abortions aren’t ones they consider valid. About their anger toward women who wait until late in their pregnancies to have elective abortions. And about the feelings they have toward the fetus, especially as gestational age increases.
“They wonder if the fetus feels pain. They talk about the soul and where it goes. And about their dreams, in which aborted fetuses stare at them with ancient eyes and perfectly shaped hands and feet, asking, ‘Why? Why did you do this to me?’”
To return to “Working 9-5: How We Talk (or Don’t) about Abortion,” the author finishes her pep talk/justification by telling us she can live with the protestors and the unappreciative boss and the inability to freely talk about her job. She sticks around because she is “committed to something larger (the ‘work’).” She feels “like I’m making a difference in someone’s life … and I’m motivated by that.”

Wouldn’t it be wonderful—and much easier on her psyche—if she found motivation not by lethally choosing sides, but because she had found a way to make a positive difference in both lives, the mother’s and her unborn child’s?
Likely? No. But it has happened before and it will inevitably happen again
 Source: NRLC News

New Website

The truths not so hidden between the lines of “abortion stories”

By Dave Andrusko
not-alone-2“This New Website Is Encouraging More Women To Talk About Their Abortions” announced the headline to Tara Culp-Ressler’s story at Okay, I thought, let’s read what she has to say and then check out the new website.
The hook for writing the piece, I gather, was that Emily Letts had joined, “an organization encouraging women to talk about their abortions that just launched a new website this week.” (This was a couple of weeks back.)

You’ll remember that Letts, an aspiring actress who works as a counselor at a New Jersey abortion clinic, took it upon herself –from her perspective—to demythologize abortion. Women have to know that having an abortion is as easy as falling off a log and safer than, well, practically anything.
Letts placed second in the Abortion Care Network’s “Stigma Busting” video competition. Her video went viral, and Letts has been giving interviews ever since. Video of what? Her unborn child’s last few minutes.

According to Culp-Ressler, Letts was flooded with correspondence and “she ended up connecting with Beth Matusoff Merfish, who received similar feedback after she published a personal account of her mother’s abortion in the New York Times.“

We wrote about Merfish.  Letts and Merfish clearly are a perfect match.
Merfish didn’t know that her mother had aborted until Merfish was in college. And while it took a few years for that shock to wear off, “knowing made me even more proud of her and more determined to defend reproductive rights.” Pardon?
All it took, apparently, was to be told “that her choice was the right one and that her love for my sister and me was unequivocal” and “My mother said she wanted to reassure me that I had no reason to doubt her support in any situation I might face in my own life.”


It read as if Merfish’s pride in her mother’s willingness to tell her own story trumps what is in that story—the death of an older sibling. As if being told she would stand behind Merfish’s decision to abort her grandchild compensates for the truth that it could have been Merfish who was aborted. As if being assured that her mother’s love was “unequivocal” would wipe away the truth that her love (and that of her fiancé later husband) failed the test when it mattered most.

So it became “clear” to Letts and Merfish, Culp-Ressler writes, “that more people needed an outlet to talk about their experiences in this area. So they decided to team up, and created an online space for women to record and upload their own personal videos about abortion.”
I went to this afternoon. The lead video is of “Emily M” of London, UK. I will visit the site again next week, but here’s three preliminary takeaways.
Like Letts, Emily M tells us she had “unprotected sex” and has ever since she was a teenager. I mention that because both women struggle (however fleetingly in Letts’ case) with what Emily M calls “self-blame.” However, in the final analysis (she was “lucky” to already be in therapy for something else), she tells her viewers that she’d come to understand that “accidents do happen” and that “two people were involved.”

So #1 any notion of adult responsibility is not only foreign to these women, it is, to them, just another form of guilt-tripping that the “culture” insists they endure. The baby is not even an after-thought—except to place his or hers death on the Internet, as grotesquely disrespectful an act as I can imagine.

#2. In explaining her decision, Letts talked about how there was a “YouTube clip of a woman taking the abortion pill “[a chemical abortion], but not surgical abortions. Emily Y had a chemical abortion. Here are a few of her descriptions:
It was “one of the most painful things I’ve ever experienced”; “unbelievable pain”; “insanely painful”; she had bled “for five weeks”; and the physical impact on her body was “absolutely shocking.” She also experiences “chronic pain.”
#3. As is the case with so many of these “abortion stories,” Emily tells us that she slipped into depression almost immediately, crying and crying and crying, although she ends offering the assurance she is “stronger” for having had the abortion and is “at peace with my decision,” having come through “the other side of it.”
And, rest assured, the abortion “has been life-changing.” Among other insights
“And I now feel so much appreciation of being a woman, what my body can do. And I feel a great appreciation of motherhood may one day be, should I should decide to conceive.”
Now she feels a “great deal of responsibility” for her body, the strong hint being you have to “go through something”—the abortion—to “feel differently.”

The conclusion? “Speak, you’re not alone”: you are “strong and will get through this”; and “you have NOTHING to be ashamed for.”
To the proponents of women telling their abortion stories, the central belief is that there is strength in numbers. The more, the merrier.
You would think that (even for them) the one time that theory wouldn’t apply is when the number is 56 million…and counting.
But you would be wrong.
Source: NRLC News



Decoding Hillary Clinton’s interview on NPR’s “On Point”

By Dave Andrusko
HillaryClinton88reYou would think that being in the limelight since the late 1970s, Hillary Clinton would be more adroit in dealing with “the media.” As we talked about a couple of weeks ago, Mrs. Clinton, formerly both a United States senator and Secretary of State, started off her book tour on the wrong foot. Or, more accurately, with foot squarely placed in mouth.

Clinton, like her husband staunchly pro-abortion, took another run at it this week in an interview with NPR’s “On Point,” hosted that night by John Harwood. The interview, understandably, was primarily about her stint as Secretary of State, current foreign policy hotspots, and Harwood’s query “[I]s there a management deficit in this administration?” (Clinton deflected the question, instead blaming “gridlock and opposition to the president that started the first day he went into office”—aka “a political deficit.”)

Harwood ended the interview with a reference to former New York Times editor Jill Abramson’s recent critical characterization of Clinton’s expectations of journalists:
“Last question, Madam Secretary, before we run out of time. It’s about you and the press. Jill Abramson, my longtime boss and friend, said recently, ‘Hillary Clinton has terribly unrealistic expectations for journalists.’ And my question for you is, have you been so scalded by your past interactions that it makes you difficult for you to communicate in the way that you would need to as a presidential candidate or otherwise?”
Clinton answered:
“Well, I don’t think so. I think maybe one of the points Jill was making is that I do sometimes expect more than perhaps I should, and I’ll have to work on my expectations. But I had an excellent relationship with the State Department press that followed me for four years and I enjoyed working with them, and whatever I do in the future, I look forward to having the same kind of opportunities.”
Where to begin?

First, in her interview with POLITICO, what Abramson actually told Gail Sheehy last week was that Clinton was “incredibly unrealistic about journalists. She expects you to be 100 percent in her corner, especially women journalists.” Harwood conveniently left off the second sentence (and particularly the last three words), which is arguably the heart of Abramson’s critique, and certainly the most biting.

Second, far from being “scalded,” most of the time Mrs. Clinton luxuriates in a bath of highly favorably media coverage. She has trouble when she makes the most incredibly insensitive, elitist statements. That is, when she isn’t questioning the competence of reporters, which is not a formula for making friends.

For example, if Clinton had “an excellent relationship with the State Department press that followed me for four years,” what’s the implication?
I wrote about this back in June in “Hillary Clinton, gaffes, and the list of all-purpose excuses.”
Her apologists strongly suggest that her problems (if there actually are any) with the political press is that they are not the sharpest knives in the drawer. Or as Carl Bernstein (who wrote a boilerplate book about Hillary Clinton) put it, “Part of her problem goes to her mistrust, justified in significant measure, of the press, and its difficulty in handling complexity and ambiguity in context.”
That is arguably one of the silliest, most disingenuous comments you will ever read. Hillary Clinton utters these clunkers (such as coming out of the White House dead broke,” indeed in debt) because she’s been forced to reduce “complexity and ambiguity” into language those dolts in the press can handle? Please.

The important thing to remember is that it is significant that even this far out, Clinton is the acknowledged front-runner to be her party’s 2016 presidential nominee. No matter how many gaffes—once memorably defined as “when a politician tells the truth”—Clinton has many protectors in the media and they will do everything possible to explain away her forays into truth-telling.

 Source: NRLC News

Life Saving Legislation

Pennsylvania passes the Down Syndrome Information Act

By Mark Leach
Chloe Kondrich prays as Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett signs “Chloe’s Law"  (used with permission of Kurt Kondrich)
Chloe Kondrich prays as Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett signs “Chloe’s Law” (used with permission of Kurt Kondrich)

Last week, Pennsylvania joined the growing number of states passing the Down Syndrome Information Act.
In 2012, Massachusetts passed the law. In 2013, Kentucky passed it. And, then, this year, Maryland, Delaware, Louisiana, and now Pennsylvania have passed their versions of the Down Syndrome Information Act.

In Pennsylvania, the Act is referred to as “Chloe’s Law,” after the daughter of Kurt Kondrich, the advocate who steered the legislation through to passage.
Campbell North reported on the law’s passage in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Dr. Kishore Vellody, medical director of the Down Syndrome Center at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC, is featured in the article:

“Published data shows that less than half of people felt like their training was accurate in communicating prenatal diagnosis,” he said. “Even in my med school textbooks, a lot of things we learned about Down syndrome was inaccurate because it takes so long to have them updated.”
* * *

“Our goal in medicine is to make sure people receive balanced and accurate information when they make decisions about health care,” Dr. Vellody said. “That’s why we support endeavors to help expectant parents.”
Mark Bradford, executive director of the Lejeune Foundation USA, attended the bill signing with his son. His organization has an excellent write up of the law’s enactment, with helpful links and a photo gallery of the bill signing.

My thanks to Mark for mentioning my assistance at the start of the process. Already this week I’ve been contacted by advocates in two states wanting to get the law passed in their home states. The bipartisan support and overwhelming vote margins passing this Act show that the Down Syndrome Information Act can be passed in any state.

Editor’s note. This appeared at

Source: NRLC News

Friday, July 25, 2014



Why Obama matters even though he is “not on the ballot” this November

By Dave Andrusko
Pro-abortion President Barack Obama
Pro-abortion President Barack Obama

Yesterday we discussed the November elections and the daunting prospects Democrats face, given the rocky political terrain.
In that context, we mulled over President Obama’s approval numbers which (if you were an Obama supporter looking for the “good news”) had not changed much in the past few months.
But 43.2% is extremely low which means Mr. Obama is highly unlikely to provide buoyancy for sinking Democrats. If you read a column by the Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza today (“Here’s why President Obama’s dismal approval ratings matter this November”), clearly the President is more like an anchor.
Cillizza says he is answering the observation that no matter how “lackluster” Obama’s poll numbers may be, it doesn’t really matter. He “isn’t on the ballot.”
After examining a number of polls and considering the historical context of Presidents in their second terms, the conclusion of this well-thought out piece is starkly simply and deeply concerting if you are a Democrat:
“What those numbers suggest is that while Obama is not the only factor in how people will vote this fall, he is absolutely a factor in how people are making up their minds. And, at the moment, people who see 2014 as a way to send a signal of disapproval about Obama greatly outnumber the people who want to use their vote to show their support for him and his agenda.”
The conclusion is so important I jumped to it without citing the evidence. Here is just some of it.
About three in ten people in a Pew Research Center poll said their vote this fall would be against Obama, as opposed to only 19% who said it would be for him. That’s bad enough for Democrats.
“Among self-identified Republicans, 55 percent say their congressional vote is meant to be against Obama; 61 percent of conservatives say the same,” Cillizza writes. “On the other end of the spectrum, just 36 percent say that their vote for Congress is meant as a vote for Obama.”


But what about the all-important Independents? “More than one in four (27 percent) of independents say their vote is against Obama; just 10 percent say it is in support of the president.”
A second and very much related piece that ran in today’s Post (by Scott Clement) essentially answered “yes” to the question posed in the headline: “Has President Obama bottomed out yet?” Why?
“After six years in office, Obama has developed a bedrock of supporters — around 40 percent — that apparently won’t write him off without a major catastrophe,” Clement concludes. He gives himself some wiggle room at the end but clearly he believes the President has sunk about as far as he can go.
Two very quick points. First, what you might call mini-catastrophes are everywhere. With almost no exceptions, there is very, very little likelihood any of them will be “resolved” in a manner that improves the President’s standing. And that’s assuming nothing new breaks out.
Second, as we have written about repeatedly in NRL News Today, the public’s trust in the President’s competency continues to tumble. Moreover with more and more Americans convinced that Mr. Obama is acting as if he has effectively almost retired with more than two years to go in his term, he may be perilously close to tumbling down to the high 30s in approval rating, if not lower. 

Source: NRLC News



They may not be Death Panels, but they are Death Advocates, and they are back

By Jennifer Popik, JD, Robert Powell Center for Medical Ethics
Editor’s note. This story appeared on page four of the July issue of National Right to Life News. You can read the issue online in its entirety online at
The Obama administration is considering whether to reimburse doctors for  conducting end-of-life conversations with patients. © AP
The Obama administration is considering whether to reimburse doctors for conducting end-of-life conversations with patients. © AP

In a recent Politico Magazine article titled, “Let’s Talk About Death Panels,” Harold Pollack urges reviving one of the most notorious proposals that did not make it into the Obama Health Car Law – “advance planning consultations.”
During the debate over Obamacare’s enactment, there was considerable controversy over a provision in an early version under which health care providers would have been paid by Medicare to discuss with their patients whether they would want life-saving medical treatment.
After former Alaska governor and vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin dubbed the planning sessions “death panels,” the provision was dropped from the law ultimately enacted.

As Pollack acknowledges, “The ‘death panel’ charge stuck because it tapped into the primeval fears of millions of Americans. It’s only human to worry that we might someday be abandoned when we are old and sick, and thus judged to be a social burden. Such worries run especially deep among senior citizens, who had the most reason to feel vulnerable, and who perceived that they had the least to gain from the ACA.”

In the time since the “advance care planning” provisions were struck from the Obama Health Care law, there have been several attempts to resurrect the concept through various stand-alone bills in the House and Senate. Now, according to media reports, the American Medical Association (AMA) is working directly with the Obama Administration to implement reimbursement by administrative action, bypassing Congress.

In to a Stateline Article from the Pew Foundation titled, “Feds to Consider Paying for End-of-Life Planning,” Michael Ollove writes, “The current effort began last year, when the Illinois State Medical Society recommended that the AMA adopt specific medical codes for the reimbursement of doctors for advance care conversations. Medical codes provide a uniform description of hundreds of medical procedures and services and are used by medical providers, hospitals and insurers across the country. In response to the Illinois request, an AMA panel approved a new code for advance planning.”
The AMA is expected to submit the proposal to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services soon so that providers all across the country can be reimbursed for these “advance planning conversations.”
Such federally funded “advance care planning” conversations pose a very real danger, because they are likely to be used to nudge people to reject life-saving medical treatment they might otherwise want.
Advocates of using tax dollars to pay for “advance care planning” claim it is intended to promote neutral, fully informed planning by which patients can be assisted to implement their own values through legally valid advance directives. Unfortunately, however, there is abundant evidence that a combination of cost pressures and the ideological commitment of a significant number of health care providers to limitation of life-saving treatment for those deemed to have a “poor quality of life” would in practice lead to many federally funded advance care planning sessions being used to exercise subtle – or not-so-subtle – pressure to agree to reject life-preserving treatment.

While the advance care planning provision in the early version of what became Obamacare was being debated in Summer 2009, author and blogger Lee Siegel, in general a strong advocate of President Obama’s approach to health care restructuring, wrote:
[O]n one point the plan’s critics are absolutely correct. One of the key ideas under end of-life care is morally revolting.
. . . .
The section, on page 425 of the [original House] bill, offers to pay once every five years for a voluntary, not mandatory, consultation with a doctor, who will not blatantly tell the patient how to end his or her life sooner, but will explain to the patient the set of options available at the end of life, including living wills, palliative care and hospice, life sustaining treatment, and all aspects of advance care planning, including, presumably, the decision to end one’s life.
The shading in of human particulars is what makes this so unsettling. A doctor guided by a panel of experts who have decided that some treatments are futile will, in subtle ways, advance that point of view. Cass Sunstein, Obama’s regulatory czar, calls this “nudging,” which he characterizes as using various types of reinforcement techniques to “nudge” people’s behavior in one direction or another. An elderly or sick person would be especially vulnerable to the sophisticated nudging of an authority figure like a doctor. Bad enough for such people who are lucky enough to be supported by family and friends. But what about the dying person who is all alone in the world and who has only the “consultant” to turn to and rely on? The heartlessness of such a scene is chilling.

It has become widespread to now talk about treatment as being costly and burdensome, depending on one’s ‘quality of life.” Pollack himself illustrates this, writing, “Under the current system, physicians can bill Medicare for aggressive imaging, procedures and chemotherapies treatments that may bring little patient benefit in advanced illness. Doctors and hospitals are far more handsomely rewarded for the placement of a feeding tube or a ventilator than they are for meeting with patients and families to determine whether these therapies are helpful or wise.”
In a taxpayer-funded advance care planning session, a patient with cancer might well be told chemotherapy provides little benefit because it will leave him or her with a disability and only “prolong life,” without a cure. The extra period of life might be exactly what a person would want, but because the treatment was presented in such a negative way the patient might well be lead to agree to reject treatment.
A major campaign (the subject of a forthcoming NRL News Today article) is now being waged to show videos to patients that are clearly weighted to persuade them to forego cardio-pulmonary resuscitation, and its proponents do not hesitate to cite the financial savings associated with the increased number of viewers (as opposed to patients not subjected to the videos) who agree to DNRs. Importantly, there is no apparent realistic way to adequately monitor the interactions in such tax-funded sessions to ensure that the presentation of options is done in a neutral way, rather than one biased toward rejection of treatment.

A precedent on the federal level is a Veterans Affairs patient decision-making aid that was the subject of considerable discussion during the debate over the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, a 53-page

entitled “Your Life, Your Choices.” The booklet had worksheets to fill out for “Current Health,” “Permanent Coma,” “Severe Dementia,” “Severe Stroke” and “A future situation of concern when I might not be able to express my wishes.”

For each of these there was a section on “quality of life.” Only for current health was there a choice to affirm that life is worth living without reservation. For all of the others, the choices were “Life like this would be difficult, but acceptable,” “Life like this would be worth living, but just barely,” and “Life like this would not” – the “not” is underlined – “be worth living.” In each circumstance except current health a negative picture was given. For example, “Terminal Illness” was described as a state in which you “have a lot of discomfort that requires medication [,] are in bed most of the time due to weakness [, and] need help with getting dressed, bathing, and bowel and bladder functions.” You can read more about this at; and
Of course, what people experience when terminally ill varies widely depending on the particular illness and many other factors, but this booklet seemed designed to lead people to believe that life with terminal illness will be almost unremittingly bleak. In the words of Paul Malley, President of the national non-profit organization Aging with Dignity, “’Your Life, Your Choices’ encourages our nation’s service men and women to look at illness and disability as things that render life not worth living.”

When “advance planning” is so heavily promoted by advocates of cost-cutting and the “quality of life” ethic, we need to consider it with a critical eye – one that asks “who is driving these conversations, and what will they say to people in a vulnerable position?”

The National Right to Life Committee supports the use of advance directives by which individuals may indicate their wishes regarding medical treatment should they become incapable of making health care decisions; indeed, we promote our own alternative, the “Will to Live,” and make available separate forms complying with the laws of each of the states.

Our concern is that in practice federally funded “advance care planning sessions” are likely to pressure patients into rejecting treatment essential to preserving their lives in a manner they would be unlikely to agree to under conditions of truly informed consent.

Source: NRLC News

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Meriam Free and in Rome

Meriam Ibrahim Finally Leaves Sudan After Being Sentenced to Death for Her Faith

by Steven Ertelt  

The Sudanese woman who was pregnant and sentenced to death for not recanting her faith has finally been allowed to leave Sudan after she spent weeks in a U.S. embassy after her release from prison.
At eight months pregnant, Ibrahim had been sentenced to death for not renouncing her Christian faith and she was imprisoned and eventually forced to give birth in chains while shackled in the Omdurman Federal Women’s Prison in North Khartoum, Sudan.

Ibrahim was freed from prison after an appeals court found a lower court’s death penalty sentence to be unfounded. Ibrahim and her husband, who has both Sudanese and U.S. citizenship, traveled to the airport in Khartoum to leave the country for the U.S. They were arrested at the airport and accused of using forged travel documents, a claim Ibrahim denies.
meriam20After they were released, they went to the U.S. embassy, where they were in a “makeshift” home there. But they had been there for some time.
Now, Ibrahim has flown to Italy on her way to the United States — a flight that came one day after pro-life Rep. Chris Smith led a Congressional hearing about Ibrahim’s plight featuring pro-life leader Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council.
In an email to LifeNews, Perkins expressed deep gratitude and relief early this morning after
that Meriam Ibrahim and her family arrived in Italy. “We celebrate Meriam Ibrahim and her family’s escape to freedom. It is our hope and prayer that Meriam and her family will now enjoy the liberty to practice their Christian faith without government interference or persecution,” he said.
“We are grateful to several members of Congress on both sides of the aisle who have worked to secure Meriam’s freedom and facilitate her entry into the United States. Particular thanks to U.S. Reps. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), Chris Smith (R-N.J.), and House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), who were very instrumental in Meriam’s release,” he added. “Additionally I want to applaud the efforts of other Members of Congress like Trent Franks (R-Ariz.), Frank Wolf (R-Va.) and Sens. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Mary Landrieu (D-La.) who were deeply involved in securing Meriam’s freedom. I also thank the European governments that worked to secure her release.”
Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, said “a warning should be sounded across America” over the Obama administration’s “virtual silence” toward the Sudanese government’s persecution of Meriam Ibrahim, who was imprisoned in Sudan for being a Christian.
Shortly after Perkins testified Wednesday before a House Foreign Affairs subcommittee, Ibrahim and her family – two young children and her American husband – were allowed to leave the U.S. Embassy in Sudan, where they took refuge on June 27.
They arrived in Rome on Thursday, their exit from Sudan reportedly negotiated by the Italian government and the Vatican — not the United States.

In his testimony to Congress, Perkins said Ibrahim has shown more courage than the Obama administration throughout her ordeal:
“We are here because of the courage of a 27-year-old mother — a 27-year-old mother, if you’ll just imagine the situation for a moment, in a prison on Khartoum [Sudan], which the U.N. says has an infant mortality rate of one child dying per day in that prison. At her side, at eight months pregnant, is a 21-month-old boy. And she is told that if she will denounce her faith in Jesus Christ, there’s the door, you can be a free person. But yet she refused to denounce her faith because she had the courage to stare death in the face.”
“What has America done?” Perkins challenged. “Where is the courage in America?”
“While other governments have called attention to Meriam’s situation, including the European parliament passing a resolution and the British government’s prime minister speaking out publicly, the U.S. government has been practically mute,” Perkins said.
Ibrahim is due to meet Pope Francis in the Vatican today, after being rescued from Sudan by Italy’s deputy foreign minister.
Ibrahim was greeted at Rome’s Ciampino Airport by Prime Minister Matteo Renzi and his wife, Agnese, after being accompanied on an official government plane from Khartoum by Lapo Pistelli, the deputy foreign minister.She is expected to remain in Rome for a few days before heading on to the United States.
Meriam is a Sudanese Christian, married to a U.S. citizen, who was sentenced to death by a Sudan court for the “crime” of converting from Islam, and 100 lashes for “adultery.” Meriam spent months in a notoriously rank Sudanese prison with her 21-month-old son and her newborn daughter

Source: LifeSite News

Assisted Suicide and Celebraties


Andrew Lloyd Weber Changes Mind on Suicide

By Wesley J. Smith
Andrew Lloyd Weber
Andrew Lloyd Weber

Andrew Lloyd Weber might not still be here if assisted suicide had been legal. He wanted to die and almost was set to go to Switzerland. Now, he’s glad he didn’t. From the Telegraph story:
“Lord Lloyd-Webber, the West End impresario, was so convinced he wanted to die last year that he took steps to join Dignitas, the Swiss assisted suicide clinic, he has disclosed. The composer said he now believes that taking such a step would have been ‘stupid and ridiculous’ but that it was all he could think of amid a bout of deep depression triggered by the pain from a series of operations.
“He is among members of the Lords likely to oppose the bill tabled by Lord Falconer, the former Lord Chancellor, to legalise ‘assisted dying,’ which will have its first parliamentary airing [last Friday]. It came as Dominic Grieve, who until this week’s reshuffle was the Government’s chief law officer, said the proposals could open the door to a form of ’legalised execution.’
“’It is not something that a civilised society should do,’ he told The Daily Telegraph.”

And don’t tell me he didn’t die so what’s the big deal. If it had been legal he might have. Indeed, I have no doubt Dignitas would have helped poison him and happily garnered the publicity.
And don’t tell me he isn’t terminally ill, so he couldn’t have obtained assisted suicide. That limitation is just a way station on the way to death on demand.

Moreover, many of the Swiss assisted suicides of Brits have been by people who were not terminally ill. Dying isn’t driving this agenda, despair and fear are.
Way to go ALW! That’s beautiful music to my ears.
Editor’s note. This appeared on Wesley’s great blog.

Source: NRLC News