Life Advocacy Briefing

June 09 , 2008

Calls Needed for Pitts-Hyde Amendment to Indian Health Bill / Abstinence Funding Alert
/ Rationing Life? / Hastening Death / On Second Thought … /
Facing Reality / Putting Candidates – & Citizens – on Notice

Calls Needed for Pitts-Hyde Amendment to Indian Health Bill

A VOTE COULD COME ANY DAY in the US House – quite possibly this week – on protecting taxpayers from being forced to underwrite abortions as part of the medical subsidy for American Indians, administered by the Indian Health Service (IHS) in the Interior Department.

Rep. Joseph Pitts (R-PA) was expected to offer an amendment to bar such subsidies in the Committee on Energy & Commerce, which was supposed to mark up the IHS reauthorization as HR-1328, but the panel’s chairman, Rep. John Dingell (D-MI) and Health Subcommittee chairman Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ) have reportedly refused to call up HR-1328 if Rep. Pitts persisted. Enough pro-life Democrats serve on the Commerce Committee to make the Pitts bid viable.

Indeed, the National Indian Health Board recently adopted a resolution, Res. 2008-001, which included the following provision: “Whereas, the NIHB was informed that the chairman of the Health Subcommittee of Energy & Commerce will not bring HR-1328 to full committee until it is assured no vote will be required regarding codification of the Hyde amendment.”

Sen. David Vitter (R-LA), in a surprising 52-to-42 victory in February, succeeded in attaching the same amendment to the Senate version of the IHS measure to codify the abortion-funding restriction which is currently being observed as a matter of administration policy, which could well change in 2009. The amendment tracks the Hyde Amendment, named for the late Rep. Henry J. Hyde (R-IL), which annually bars abortion subsidies in the Medicaid program for indigent Americans; a key difference is that Vitter/Hyde/Pitts is a permanent change in the law rather than an annual appropriations rider.

The baby-protection amendment is apparently the only “controversy” remaining in the IHS reauthorization measure, and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) is believed to be planning to bring up HR-1328 on the “suspension calendar” in the full House; that procedure is normally reserved for non-controversial measures whose provisions have been worked out and should not be used for House consideration of HR-1328. If the bill is brought up under “suspension” rules, its passage will require a two-thirds vote.

The only recourse for pro-life Members of Congress, in the event Mr. Hoyer pulls his maneuver, will be to vote “no” on the entire measure. With the abortion provision the only controversial question in the bill, Members’ votes on final passage will constitute a vote on abortion funding policy.

Calls are needed now to Representatives in Congress, asking them to “Please support the Pitts/Hyde Amendment to HR-1328, Indian Health Care, and if Pitts/Hyde is not considered, please vote against the bill.” Members may be reached via the Capitol switchboard at 1-202/224-3121. Anyone who does not know the name of his or her Representative should either check with the local library reference desk or give his or her zip code to the Capitol operator to be connected with the appropriate office.


Abstinence Funding Alert

THE FUTURE OF THE ABSTINENCE EDUCATION MOVEMENT is in doubt, thanks to efforts by Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT) to write legislation which could be critical to Title V funding, due to expire June 30.

Sen. Baucus, chairman of the Senate Committee on Finance, is characterized by the Abstinence Clearinghouse as “a firm opponent of abstinence education.” In his hands, reports the Clearinghouse, is “a comprehensive Medicare bill, which has the primary purpose of preventing cuts in payments to doctors who serve Medicare patients. A series of Medicaid provisions are expected to be added to this legislation as well,” reports the Clearinghouse.

Where does abstinence education come in? Many of the abstinence programs established in recent years across the country were spawned by Title V legislation offering federal funding for grantees fostering abstinence until marriage and eschewing a mixed message promoting premarital sexual intimacy. Title V, notes the Clearinghouse, “has traditionally been paired with Transitional Medical Assistance (TMA), a Medicaid provision that provides health coverage to low-income families. Opponents of abstinence education have repeatedly attempted to kill the Title V program by extending TMA without linking it to Title V,” reports the Clearinghouse, allowing Title V’s abstinence program to expire.

The Baucus Medicare/Medicaid reauthorization is “being written without the participation of committee Republicans,” reports the Clearinghouse, “and concerns have been raised that an effort is underway to add an extension of the TMA program” without Title V. “If successful,” warns the Clearinghouse, “this effort would effectively kill the Title V program.”

We join the Abstinence Clearinghouse in urging citizens to contact US Senators “as soon as possible [to] emphasize … support for abstinence education.” Senators may be reached by calling the Capitol switchboard at 1-202/224-3121. Those who are not certain of the names of their two US Senators may simply advise the Capitol operator of their home state in order to be connected to the appropriate offices.


Rationing Life?

AN OREGON WOMAN RECEIVED A CHILLING LETTER from the state’s Health Plan informing her, reports Tim Waggoner for, the state’s socialized medicine plan would not cover “her oncologist-prescribed medication that would slow the growth of cancer” in her lungs, but that the plan, writes Mr. Waggoner, “would cover doctor-assisted suicide should she wish to kill herself.”

The woman “says she was shocked by the decision,” reports LifeSiteNews. “‘To say to someone, we’ll pay for you to die but not pay for you to live, it’s cruel,’” she said. “‘I get angry. Who do they think they are?’”

“They” are the government, ma’am, and they are not here to help you. And it appears it’s getting worse for the people of Oregon.

“According to an Associated Press story on [the lung cancer patient’s] case,” writes Mr. Waggoner, “local oncologists in Oregon have said that, despite the Health Services Commission’s assertion that they were just clarifying policies already in place, healthcare practitioners have observed a sizable shift in policy in the way recurrent cancer is treated in the state. Increasingly, say local oncologists,” writes Mr. Waggoner, “sufferers of recurrent cancer are not receiving coverage for chemotherapy. They are always, however, eligible for state-funded assisted suicide.”


Hastening Death

THE LOWER HOUSE OF THE CALIFORNIA LEGISLATURE HAS PASSED a bill authorizing doctors and nurses to recommend and administer “death by unconscious dehydration,” reports Tim Waggoner for The measure cleared the Assembly by 41 to 32, a one-vote margin in the 80-member body.

“AB-2747 would authorize total sedation without nutrition and hydration for depressed and confused patients,” writes Mr. Waggoner, “whether or not their natural death was imminent. The bill would also allow family members to order the death of a mental disabled person when a nurse opines they have less than a year to live.”

The proposal passed the lower house in late May and has yet to be considered by the upper chamber. It was authored, reports LifeSiteNews, by “the same Democrats who unsuccessfully carried physician-assisted suicide bills for the last three years.

“But this year, instead of proposing to have doctors administer lethal injections,” writes Mr. Waggoner, “AB-2747 aims to produce death by sedation abuse, a clear violation of life-affirming medical ethics. Until now,” he notes, “total sedation has been used only when death was imminent – within hours or days – and when strong pain medication was not enough.

“Medical ethics require that food and water (nutrition and hydration) not be removed,” writes Mr. Waggoner, “when sleep-inducing drugs are used, since doing so would cause unnatural, as opposed to natural, death. Yet AB-2747,” he notes, “pushes total sedation even if patients have not rejected food and water. …

“‘Drying up and shriveling to death through dehydration is a fate worse than lethal injection,’” said Randy Thomasson, president of the California-based Campaign for Children & Families, quoted by Mr. Waggoner. “‘By transforming palliative sedation into a vehicle for assisted suicide,’” commented Mr. Thomasson, “‘AB-2747 would transform doctors and nurses from healers and comforters into killers like Dr. Jack Kevorkian.’”


On Second Thought …

SARASOTA’s HABITAT FOR HUMANITY HAS WITHDRAWN from its potential deal with Planned Parenthood, according to American Life League (ALL) vice president Jim Sedlak.

The board of the humanitarian organization “voted [June 3] to disengage itself from PP and not go through with a planned land deal,” Mr. Sedlak reported in a news release from ALL.

“In early May, Sarasota Habitat had agreed to buy a piece of land from Planned Parenthood for $10,” explained Mr. Sedlak, “and agreed to build multi-family housing on the land. This agreement,” as Life Advocacy Briefing reported last week, would have “allowed Planned Parenthood to fulfill a zoning requirement it needed in order to get an occupancy permit for a new abortion facility it is building in Sarasota.”

Publicity about the pending deal, circulated by ALL and other organizations including Life Advocacy, “result[ed] in a large number of phone calls to local Habitat offices as well as Habitat for Humanity International offices,” noted Mr. Sedlak.

We join American Life League in thanking the pro-life citizens of our country for responding and intervening. You got the job done!


Facing Reality

PRIESTS FOR LIFE DIRECTOR Fr. FRANK PAVONE HAS POSTED a new video on the YouTube site on the Internet, this time demonstrating the inhumane nature of second trimester prostaglandin abortions in which babies are delivered intact at too young an age to survive or are killed first by lethal injection and then delivered whole.

The video shows – in a respectful manner – the bodies of two victims of the technique, whose brutal bruises and perfect formation are drawing agonized responses from viewers. It is the third abortion-technique demonstration Fr. Pavone has published on the popular site.

The brief educational video can be seen at


Putting Candidates – & Citizens – on Notice

Statement from Priests for Life, released June 4, 2008

With the primaries now behind us, the general election season is underway. As we have done in the past, and as we do all year long, Priests for Life will again be very vocal in the coming months about the responsibilities we all have “to participate in building the culture of life” (US Bishops, Living the Gospel of Life, n. 34).

The voters will hear from us, the candidates will hear from us, and the message will be clear: “The direct and intentional destruction of innocent human life from the moment of conception until natural death is always wrong and is not just one issue among many. It must always be opposed” (US Bishops, Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship, n. 28).

At the outset of this general election battle, we have some questions for several groups of people:

    • To candidates whose position is that abortion should remain legal, we offer the following quotes from abortionists, medical textbooks and court documents, and we ask, “When you say the word ‘abortion,’ is this what you mean?”
      • “[T]ypically the skull is brought out in fragments rather than as a unified piece … .” (Sworn testimony given in US District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin, [Madison, WI, May 27, 1999, Case No. 98-C-0305-S)], by Dr. Martin Haskell, an abortionist. He describes legal activity.)
      • “A long curved Mayo scissors may be necessary to decapitate and dismember the fetus … .” (From the medical textbook Abortion Practice – Dr. Warren Hern, p. 154, describing legal activity.)
      • “For example, a leg might be ripped off the fetus as it is pulled through the cervix and out of the woman. The process of evacuating the fetus piece by piece continues until it has been completely removed.” (US Supreme Court, Gonzalez v. Carhart, 2007, describing legal activity.)
      • “Question: Can the heart of a fetus or embryo still be beating during a suction curettage abortion as the fetus or embryo comes down the cannula? Answer: For a few seconds to a minute, yes.” (Sworn testimony given in US District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin [Madison, WI, May 27, 1999, Case No. 98-C-0305-S], by Dr. Harlan Raymond Giles, an abortionist. He describes legal activity.)
    • To candidates who oppose abortion, we do not merely want to hear that you believe it is wrong. Rather, we ask, “What specifically will you do to advance the protection of children threatened by the violence of abortion?”
    • To voters who do not consider the political process helpful or who are not enthusiastic about the candidates, we ask, “When you are troubled by the outcome of the election or by the laws passed and court decisions issued by public officials who should not be in office in the first place, whose responsibility will that be?”
    • To those outside the Church who think the Church should keep her mouth shut about political matters, we ask, “Since when do you get to decide which citizens should have more of a voice in the public process than other citizens?”
    • To those inside the Church who are so cautious about political matters that they don’t take any risk or initiative on anything related to elections, we ask, “When a party that is committed to closing your churches rises to power, can we come back to you then and count on you to say something? Exactly how bad do things have to get in order for you to find your courage?”

Fr. Frank Pavone, National Director of Priests for Life, pointed to the statement of Pope John Paul II in the “Gospel of Life,” which states that when a state makes abortion legal, “the disintegration of the State itself has already begun” (n. 20). “That sounds like more than just a single issue to me,” Fr. Pavone stated, “and our organization doesn’t intend to sit on the sidelines and watch it happen.”

Fr. Pavone will announce, in the coming weeks, a series of conference calls and web seminars that will enable interested citizens to engage the political process to advance the culture of life. To sign up to receive such announcements, visit


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