Life Advocacy Briefing

August 25, 2008


Conscience Rule Released for Public Comment / How to File Official Comments on Conscience Rule / Obama Responds to NRL, But … / Softening Stance? / Promising Ethical Research / Evansville Officials Show the Way / Making the Case for Defunding Planned Parenthood

Conscience Rule Released for Public Comment

THE HEALTH & HUMAN SERVICES DEPT. HAS ISSUED A DRAFT RULE implementing federal legislation protecting conscience rights for medical personnel. The rule was published in the Federal Register last Thursday, Aug. 21, triggering a 30-day public comment period. Life Advocacy Briefing readers’ comments on the regulation may be filed with the federal government (see prescribed delivery methods below).

In penning an Internet weblog entry on the proposal, HHS Secretary Michael Leavitt said the issue “became a topical matter when the American College of Obstetricians & Gynecologists (ACOG) issued guidelines [in late 2007] that could shape board certification requirements and necessitate a doctor to perform abortions [in order] to be considered competent.

“Physician certification,” Secretary Leavitt notes, “is a powerful instrument. Without it, a doctor cannot practice the specialty. Putting a doctor (or anyone who assists them),” he writes, “in a position where they are forced to violate their conscience in order to meet a standard of competence violates more than federal law. It violates decency and the core value of personal liberty,” declares Secy. Leavitt. “Freedom of expression and action are unfit barter for admission to medical employment or training.”

Secy. Leavitt notes he “called on the organization that oversees Ob-Gyn board certification to alter its guidelines to assert that refusal to violate conscience will not be used to block board certification. Their answer,” he writes, “was dodgy and unsatisfying.”

The result was months of deliberation within the Department to produce a regulation “aimed,” writes Secy. Leavitt on his blog, “at increasing compliance with existing federal laws protecting provider conscience.”

The regulation applies not only to physicians, notes Secy. Leavitt, but also to “institutional health care providers.” The hook is federal funding, which could be withdrawn in the event of violations of “laws protecting provider conscience rights. … The proposed rule,” writes Mr. Leavitt, “also charges HHS officials to work with any state or local government or entity that may be violating the law or the proposed rule to encourage voluntary steps to remedy the problem. …

“Our nation was built on a foundation of free speech,” declares Secy. Leavitt. “The first principle of free speech,” he writes, “is protected conscience. This proposed rule is a fundamental protection for medical providers to follow theirs.”


How to File Official Comments on Conscience Rule

COMMENTS MAY NOT BE FILED BYFACSIMILE but may be filed by one of four means – electronically, by postal mail, by express or overnight mail, or by hand or courier – before the third week in September. Do not submit duplicate messages; use only one means.

The proposed regulation itself is 42 pages long and can be read via the Internet at Its official designation, which should be cited in comments submitted in support, is “45 CFR Part 88 RIN 0991-AB48, Provider Conscience Protection.”

To comment by electronic mail, address your comments to [email protected]. Attachments, notes the rule, “should be in Microsoft Word, WordPerfect or Excel;” Microsoft Word is preferred.

To comment by postal mail or by express or overnight mail, send one original letter and two copies to: Office of Public Health & Science, Dept. of Health & Human Services, Attn: Brenda Destro, Hubert H. Humphrey Building, 200 Independence Ave. SW, Room 728 E, Washington, DC 20201.

To deliver comments by hand or courier, deliver one original and two copies to the same address as by mail. Access to the Humphrey Building “is not readily available to persons without federal government identification,” notes the rule, so commenters by hand or courier “are encouraged to leave their comments in the mail-drop slots located in the main lobby of the building. A stamp-in clock is available,” assures the rule, “for persons wishing to retain proof of filing by stamping in and retaining an extra copy of the documents being filed.”

Comments will be published, as they are received, at the Internet website

We at Life Advocacy Briefing add that the first “rule” about filing a comment on this regulation: please do. The abortion lobby and some in the medical profession have already signaled angst about the HHS conscience protection regulation before it was even published; they will undoubtedly carry on a major campaign to object now that the battle is joined.


Obama Responds to NRL, But …

DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE-IN-WAITING BARACK OBAMA called the folks at National Right to Life Committee “liars” Aug. 16 in a televised interview after the Saturday night forum at Saddleback Church in California.

Stung by his own poor performance in his first forum opposing Arizona Sen. John McCain, the GOP’s likely nominee, the leftish Senator from Illinois lashed out in yet another attempt to pull the wool over voters’ eyes with respect to his pro-infanticide record as an Illinois State Senator.

But the day after his intemperate accusation, his campaign acknowledged the Senator himself had been misspeaking concerning his votes against the Born-Alive Infants Protection Act in the Illinois state senate. Maintaining he “would have voted for” the state bill if it had been worded the same way as the federal measure, which every US Senator voted for, has served the Senator well over his past four years of wool-gathering. But National Right to Life, as we reported last week, has documented the deceit in his attempted self-exculpation.

Backtracking yet again, his campaign sent surrogates onto television talk shows later in the week to claim Mr. Obama’s trouble with the baby protection measure had some esoteric connection to a couple of other bills in the three-bill package. But official records show the Born-Alive bill in question was debated and voted on separately, and Sen. Obama was the only lawmaker to speak against it in State Senate debate – not just once but in two successive legislative sessions.

The definitive expert on this matter is columnist Jill Stanek, who as a labor/delivery nurse first blew the whistle on induced-birth abortions and infanticide-by-neglect at Christ Hospital in Oak Lawn, Illinois. It was Mrs. Stanek, who writes a “Pro-Life Pulse” Internet blog at, who crafted, steered, lobbied and testified for the Born-Alive protection legislation both at the Illinois General Assembly and before the Congress. She is an eyewitness to the Obama performance in this defining issue and, along with National Right to Life Committee, is telling the truth about the Senator from Illinois.


Softening Stance?

THE EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF THE ILLINOIS RIGHT TO LIFE COMMITTEE, Bill Beckman, has published a column comparing the 2008 proposed Democratic Party platform plank on abortion with the 2004 plank adopted by the same party, opining, contrary to media reports, that the 2008 proposal “suggest[s] to me a stronger statement of support for abortion under any circumstances” than even the 2004 platform.

Here is the language from the 2008 proposal, quoted by Mr. Beckman: “‘The Democratic Party strongly and unequivocally supports Roe v. Wade and a woman’s right to choose a safe and legal abortion, regardless of ability to pay, and we oppose any and all efforts to weaken or undermine that right. The Democratic Party also strongly supports access to affordable family planning services and comprehensive age-appropriate sex education which empower people to make informed choices and live healthy lives. We also recognize that such health care and education help reduce the number of unintended pregnancies and thereby also reduce the need for abortions. The Democratic Party also strongly supports a woman’s decision to have a child by ensuring access to and availability of programs for pre and post natal health care, parenting skills, income support, and caring adoption programs.’”

Here is the language of the 2004 Democratic Party platform plank: “Because we believe in the privacy and equality of women, we stand proudly for a woman’s right to choose, consistent with Roe v. Wade, and regardless of her ability to pay. We stand firmly against Republican efforts to undermine that right. At the same time, we strongly support family planning and adoption incentives. Abortion should be safe, legal, and rare.”

Mr. Beckman concludes the proposed plank constitutes “unconditional support for the agenda of Planned Parenthood and NARAL Pro-Choice America.”


Promising Ethical Research

THE NATIONAL INSTITUTES OF HEALTH (N.I.H.) AGENCY has established a bone marrow stem cell transplant center within the Institute for Arthritis and Musculoskeletal & Skin Diseases.

What prompted this advance in ethical research? According to, it was success in adult stem cell therapy for injured horses which opened the eyes of the researchers to the promise of bone marrow stem cells in musculoskeletal applications.

“Veterinarians are already using stem cells of horses, injected back into the animal’s leg,” writes Hilary White for LifeSiteNews citing Wired magazine as source, “to heal leg injuries. In many cases, Wired reports, the stem cells re-grew damaged tendons and ligaments.”

The report cites the work of NIH researcher Rocky Tuan in “creat[ing] tissue to replace spinal disks using stem cells grown around a polymer scaffolding. The use of cells taken from the patient and not developed from embryos,” notes LifeSiteNews, “negates any ethical problems and also makes the new tissue a genetic match, ruling out problems with immune system rejection.”

Though the NIH lab breakthroughs in growing human muscle, cartilage and spinal disks in vitro “are not ready for human transplants, researchers told Wired magazine that it is only a matter of time,” reports LifeSiteNews.

“‘Stem cells are very promising,’” said Mr. Tuan, quoted by Wired and LifeSiteNews, “‘but what they do for horses may not work so well for humans, because humans are the hardest animal to rebuild’ … . But given time,” reports LifeSiteNews, “he thinks that his research could end the need for invasive spinal surgery to repair” certain injuries.


Evansville Officials Show the Way

THE VANDERBURGH COUNTY, INDIANA, COMMISSION has shown what local officials can do – with a little creativity and moxie – to thwart the abortion industry.

The county commission enacted a “patient safety ordinance” earlier this month, allowing commission of abortion only by doctors with local hospital admitting privileges and requiring abortionists to guide their customers to available follow-up care in the event of complications.

The legislation took the public by surprise, and the commission’s president and attorney both, reports Kathleen Gilbert for, “acknowledged that fear of controversy prevented them from publicizing the ordinance; however,” writes Ms. Gilbert, the commission president “said that he did not think the actual ordinance was controversial, only the fact that it addressed abortion. ‘This is just providing [women] a safe and clean place to go to if they have post-abortion problems, end of story,’” commission president Jeff Korb told the Evansville Courier Press, according to Ms. Gilbert.

Vanderburgh County is not yet experiencing the enormity of an abortuary, but that did not stop the president of Planned Parenthood Indiana from huffing and puffing about the ordinance.

Indiana Right to Life president Mike Fichter, though, placed a statement on his group’s Internet website, reports Ms. Gilbert, calling the ordinance a “ ‘proactive step making sure that proper safety requirements are in place if a woman experiences complications after an abortion.’” The website further notes, writes Ms. Gilbert, “that similar legislation in 2007 and 2008 requiring hospital admitting privileges for doctors performing abortions passed in the Indiana State Senate but was defeated in the Indiana House.”

Such legislation in Missouri sharply curbed the abortion industry in the state, prompting the shuttering of about half the abortuaries in the state, virtually overnight.

Since the Vanderburgh County Commission is currently enduring predictable flak over their bold action, readers of Life Advocacy Briefing may wish to send notes of encouragement to Mr. Korb via electronic mail at [email protected] or c/o Vanderburgh County Commission, Room 305 Civic Center Complex, 1 NW Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., Evansville, IN 47708.


Making the Case for Defunding Planned Parenthood

July 9, 2008, special order speeches in the U.S. House; source: Congressional Record. Please note: We at Life Advocacy Briefing are not expecting that this Congress will actually take up the Pence Amendment to defund Planned Parenthood in this election year; nevertheless, we find the “special order” speeches a compelling tool for educating the American people about the injustice in the massive subsidies taxpayers are forced to remit to Planned Parenthood. This week’s is by Rep. Jean Schmidt (R-OH).

REP. SCHMIDT: … In 1997, it came to light the Title X grantees were not reporting rape incest, sexual abuse, child abuse and molestations. In response, Congress rightfully included language in the 1999 Labor/HHS bill to appropriately clarify that Title X grantees are not exempt from state reporting laws. I only wish that Cincinnati Planned Parenthood was doing this, because let me tell you what is going on there.

Cincinnati Enquirer on May 10 of last year reported an incident of two young ladies who were victims of sexual abuse … .

The first one was a young lady who was continually molested by her father. The abuse began when she was just 13 years of age. In November of 2004, she was forced by her father to have an abortion. She told the employees at Planned Parenthood that she was being forced to have sex and do things she didn’t want to do. But despite this fact, no report was made. She was sent home to endure another year-and-a-half of sexual abuse. The abuse only ended when she told a school official what was going on at home.

Thankfully, because of our wonderful prosecutor in Warren County, her father is now serving hard time in prison. Not long enough but what the law allows him to serve. She has filed a civil case against Planned Parenthood. Unfortunately, even if her allegations are proved true, no financial reward can bring back the extra year-and-a-half of absolute abuse she had because Planned Parenthood looked the other way and failed to follow Ohio’s law.

But that’s not the end of the story. In another case, a 14-year-old girl was taken by her 21-year-old soccer coach to have an abortion. She allegedly used her junior high school ID, and her abuser paid for the procedure with a credit card and driver’s license and said he was her guardian. The abuse was never reported.

According to the same Enquirer story regarding the second case I mentioned, a form filled out by Planned Parenthood said, ‘The patient reports pregnancy is a result of sexual assault by a stranger. After consultation with an attorney, report of a crime to the police was not made due to physician-patient privilege. We are prohibited from reporting as no severe bodily injury was reported.’ What about the mental injury, the mental abuse that this girl suffered?

You know what happened? … Some time later, she was back at the doctor with her parents, and the doctor said, ‘Do you know your daughter had an abortion?’ That’s how her parents found out she had an abortion, and she ’fessed up it was the soccer coach.

The young lady’s attorney said that the prosecutors in four local counties know of no such exemption to the reporting issue, and it isn’t [exempt] in Ohio [statute].

You know, we’re giving this organization money, and this organization is forcing these young women to have abuse. … I think this is a very serious issue.


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