Life Advocacy Briefing

September 28, 2009

Bogged Down? / Markup on ‘Baucus’ Underway / Turning their Backs on Life? / Americans Say ‘No’ to ‘Abortion in Healthcare Plan’ / Common Sense / Standing Up in Spain / Simple Courtesy – Denied / Will You Stand? / House Resolution 759

Bogged Down?

USUALLY BY THIS LATE IN SEPTEMBER, we would be publishing roll calls on amendments to major spending bills, and we’d be reporting on which traditional restrictions on abortion spending were secure and which might be in jeopardy.

But despite one party overwhelmingly controlling both the White House and the two houses of Congress, we approach the end of the fiscal year (Sept. 30) with none – not one – of the 12 major appropriations bills having gone through the Congressional process toward the President’s desk.

Late last week, the Democratic Leadership in Congress surfaced a continuing resolution to “keep government going” into the new fiscal year until the House and Senate can get around to deliberating on one of the few duties the Constitution awards the nation’s lawmakers.

Stay tuned. We’ll let you know, as soon as we know, if any of the Life-related policies are brought forward on any of the spending measures, assuming Congress does turn attention some month soon to the appropriations process.


Markup on ‘Baucus’ Underway

THE SENATE FINANCE COMMITTEE BEGAN TUESDAY the laborious process of refining Chairman Max Baucus’s news release into a legislative proposal to overhaul America’s medical care system.

By the time the markup session began, some 564 amendments had been filed. Since not all the amendments will be considered, we will not single out any specific amendments for comment. What is required of pro-life citizens is a sustained message to our lawmakers in Washington: “Abortion must be explicitly excluded from any healthcare proposal. No bailout for the abortion industry!”

Members of the Finance Committee are: Chairman Baucus and Democratic Senators Blanche Lincoln (AR), Thomas Carper (DE), Bill Nelson (FL), John Kerry (MA), Debbie Stabenow (MI), Robert Menendez (NJ), Jeff Bingaman (NM), Charles Schumer (NY), Kent Conrad (ND), Ron Wyden (OR), Maria Cantwell (WA) and John Rockefeller (WV).

Also, Republican Senators Chuck Grassley (IA – Ranking Member), Jon Kyl (AZ), Mike Crapo (ID), Pat Roberts (KS), Jim Bunning (KY), Olympia Snowe (ME), John Ensign (NV), John Cornyn (TX), Orrin Hatch (UT) and Mike Enzi (WY).

Call theseSenators via the Capitol switchboard: 1-202/224-3121; e-mail via That same phone number and e-address path can be used for other Senators as well. We cannot afford to expect them to get it right.


Who Are the Losers?

NATIONAL RIGHT TO LIFE HAS IDENTIFIED A PROVISION in the Baucus bill which NRL executive director David O’Steen calls “‘the cruelest and most effective way to ensure that doctors are forced to ration care for their senior citizen patients.

“‘It takes the telltale fingerprints [away] from the government,’” he said in an NRL news release. “‘Instead of bureaucrats directly specifying the treatment denials that will mean death and poorer health for older people, it compels individual doctors to do the dirty work. It is an outrageous way to provide coverage for the uninsured,’” said Mr. O’Steen, “‘by taking it away from America’s senior citizens.’

“The provision penalizing doctors,” reads the NRL release, “establishes that for at least five years, Medicare physicians who authorize treatments for their patients that wind up in the top 10% of per capita cost for a year will lose 5% of their total Medicare reimbursements for that year. This means,” warns NRL, “that all doctors treating older people will constantly be driven to try to order the least expensive tests and treatments for fear that they will be caught in that top 10%.

“It is noteworthy,” the NRL release says, “that this feature operates independently of any considerations of quality, efficiency or waste. If you authorize enough treatment for your patients – however necessary and appropriate it may be – you are in danger of being one of the one in 10 doctors who will be penalized each year.

“Moreover,” adds NRL, “it creates a moving target; by definition, there will always be a top 10%, no matter how far down the total amount of money spent on Medicare is driven.”

Mr. O’Steen likened the proposed system to “‘a game of musical chairs, in which there is always one chair less than the number of players, so no matter how fast the contestants run, someone will always be the loser when the music stops.’”


Turning their Backs on Life?

THERE ARE DISTINCTIONS between the Baucus bill and the major House proposal, HR-3200, but on one point they are united: Abortion is not explicitly excluded from coverage mandates.

And now a Samford University law professor has warned passage of such legislation, writes Kathleen Gilbert for, “could threaten the existence of Catholic hospitals, which would in turn render America vulnerable to a widescale dehumanization of health care.”

Interviewed by National Review magazine, Prof. Leonard J. Nelson III said, reports Ms. Gilbert, “‘At their best, Catholic hospitals offer a distinctive product by combining traditional healthcare services with a commitment to serving the poor and promoting the sanctity of Life. If Catholic hospitals disappear,’” he warned, “‘there will be even a greater likelihood that health care in the United States will become a unitary governmental system. … Catholic hospitals,’” he said, “‘are the primary alternative to government-owned and for-profit hospitals in the United States.’”

Prof. Nelson is the author of the book Diagnosis Critical: The Urgent Threats Confronting Catholic Health Care. In the National Review interview on which Ms. Gilbert bases her story, Prof. Nelson noted, “‘There is already a prevalent view among post-Christian elites in the West that the sanctity-of-life ethic is archaic and should be replaced by a utilitarian framework that would be used to allocate healthcare services at both the beginning and the end of life.

“‘As we move into an era of increased demands on healthcare resources due to the aging of the baby-boomer generation,’” he said, reports Ms. Gilbert, “‘it is likely that there will be proposals to ration health care through physician-assisted suicide and euthanasia. At the other end of the spectrum,’” he said in the interview, “‘abortion and even infanticide of handicapped babies will be advanced as humanistic alternatives to reduce the costs of health care.’”

We ask our readers – both among the public and on Capitol Hill – to face the reality that putting our medical care under government coverage must lead to rationing and other utilitarian responses to what would inevitably be a skyrocketing cost to already burdened taxpayers.

America has set the standard for medical care the world over; we cannot afford to trust it to the crass behavior of bureaucrats nor to the anti-human instincts of elitists.


Americans Say ‘No’ to ‘Abortion in Healthcare Plan’

THE RESPECTED RASMUSSEN POLLING ORGANIZATION discovered in a mid-September national telephone survey of 1,000 likely voters that 48% of the American people “believe any government-subsidized healthcare plan,” states, “should be prohibited from covering abortion procedures. [Only] 13% believe such plans should be required to cover abortions, and 32% favor a more neutral approach with no requirements in either direction.” Given the tendency of courts to order such coverage if it is not explicitly excluded, however, and the clear bias of Obama bureaucrats toward funding the abortion cartel, “neutrality” can be achieved only by an explicit ban.

“Most Americans (52%) also think it is too easy to get an abortion in America,” states Rasmussen Reports, and “58% say abortion is morally wrong most of the time.”


Common Sense

AS A SIGN OF THE [SICK] TIMES, the Roman Catholic Bishop of Phoenix, Arizona, has found it necessary or wise to issue a four-page guideline titled “Directives for Catholics Concerning Artificially Administered Nutrition & Hydration.”

In so doing, Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted is aiming, reports Peter J. Smith for, “to help individuals, families and healthcare providers understand how to pursue medical treatment in light of the [Catholic] Church’s moral thinking.”

His guidelines can be summarized in his phrase quoted by LifeSite, “‘Simply put, a person should die from one’s illness and not because a basic necessity of life was denied them.’ …

“The guidelines make clear,” writes Mr. Smith, “that food and water are basic necessities that must be provided to patients even when they are ‘unable to manually feed themselves.’ To deny water based on a person’s condition is ‘inhumane,’ reminded the bishop,” quoted by Mr. Smith, “further illustrating that the undue interruption of food and fluids has the effect of euthanasia. ‘In short,’” he said, according to LifeSiteNews, “‘a person should not die because of being deprived nutrition and hydration, even if that nutrition and hydration is administered artificially.’”

Bishop Olmsted drew attention to his “directives” by issuing a news release about the guidelines, in which he declared, quoted by LifeSite: “‘When someone is faced with severe physical and medical challenges, it is essential that his or her dignity as a person created in the image and likeness of God be respected and protected. … I pray that these guidelines will help that to happen.’” Amen.


Standing Up in Spain

PERHAPS FORECASTING WHAT COULD HAPPEN HERE if Pres. Obama succeeds in stripping medical providers of their conscience rights, pro-life doctors in Spain have declared they “are willing to face jail,” writes Hilary White for, “rather than kill unborn children under a new law.”

Responding to Justice Minister Francisco Caamano, who, writes Ms. White, “said that Spain’s abortion law would not allow doctors the right to refuse to commit abortions,” Dr. Esteban Rodriguez declared, “‘We will not kill our patients, nor will we commit a crime against the public health deliberately harming the health of women, no matter how much the Minister of Justice threatens us and abuses his power.’”  Dr. Rodriguez is spokesman for Derecho a Vivir (Right to Life).

The pro-life doctors’ group warned that Spain’s socialist government’s proposed abortion law “would be much more permissive,” writes Ms. White, “than the laws in other European Union countries.”  Dr. Rodriguez further noted, reports LifeSite, the law proposed by the Zapatero government “denies women information on the nature of abortion and leaves the unborn totally unprotected.”

Despite having elected a socialist extremist as prime minister, the Spanish people, notes Ms. White, are “strongly Catholic,” and the reporter quotes Right to Life calling the popular reaction to the proposal “remarkable. … The group is organizing a mass demonstration on Oct. 17. Calling ‘unprecedented’ the number of people signing up for bus transportation to the event, Dr. Gador Joya,” reports Ms. White, “said they expected it to be ‘one of the largest in the democratic era,’ with over a million anticipated participants.”


Simple Courtesy – Denied

TWO LONELY MICHIGAN CONGRESSMEN HAVE FILED a resolution offering condolences to the family of slain pro-life sidewalk witness Jim Pouillon, who was gunned down earlier this month while carrying on his vigil across the street from the high school in Owosso, Michigan. The suspect in his killing has reportedly told police he resented Mr. Pouillon’s signs and targeted him for his pro-life message.

HRes-759, introduced by Rep. Dave Camp (R) and Rep. Dale Kildee (D), has been referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary.

We publish the text of the resolution at the close of this Life Advocacy Briefing. Readers are invited to guess how long the House Leadership will hold this resolution in committee, having pulled a resolution mourning slain abortionist George Tiller out of committee for adoption just five days after its introduction on June 4 of this year. On mourning Jim Pouillon, the clock is running.


Will You Stand?

PRO-LIFE CITIZENS WILL TAKE TO THE STREETS this Sunday, Oct. 4, across America and Canada in silent witness to the sanctity of Life. Holding signs such as “Jesus Forgives & Heals,” “Abortion Kills Children,” “Abortion Hurts Women” and “Pray to End Abortion” – as well as a few other prescribed messages – men, women and children will stand for an hour Sunday afternoon at major intersections or along major highways.

Listings of Life Chain sites and coordinators can be found via the Internet website Promotion tools and guidelines are also available through the website. Beyond an hour of time, there is no cost to participation and no special skill required.


House Resolution 759

Expressing condolences to the family of Jim Pouillon on his passing. Reprinted by Life Advocacy Briefing from the Internet website of the United States Congress

In the House of Representatives, September 22, 2009:

Whereas James ‘Jim’ Pouillon was murdered in Owosso, Michigan, on September 11, 2009;

Whereas Jim Pouillon is mourned by his family, friends, community and fellow defenders of the First Amendment and the unborn;

Whereas Jim Pouillon, 63, was a veteran, was wounded in the defense of his country, was a father of 5, and was a retired auto worker;

Whereas Jim Pouillon was killed outside a public high school, a place intended for peace and deliberation but in a moment became a place for violence and murder;

Whereas places of learning and all public areas protected by the United States Constitution should be sanctuaries for the free exercise of speech and civil discourse; and

Whereas violence is deplorable and never an acceptable avenue for expressing opposing viewpoints: Now, therefore, be it

Resolved, That the House of Representatives –

  1. offers its condolences to Jim Pouillon’s family; and
  2. commits to the American principle that the suppression of thought by any means and by either government or individuals must always yield to the right of free speech and that violence is never an appropriate response to a difference in beliefs.

Permission granted to quote with attribution. Reproduction rights granted only by express authorization.