Life Advocacy Briefing

October 26, 2009

Hope / Apparent Consensus / Thanks / On the House Side / Palin at the Podium
/ Our Calling to Love / ‘Enough is Enough’


THE U.S. SENATE TOOK WHAT MAY BE A STEP BACK last Wednesday from the scheme to take over America’s medical system. By a vote of 47-53, the Senate refused to invoke cloture (close debate and move to immediate consideration) for S-1776, colloquially known on Capitol Hill as “Doc Fix.”

The measure, still technically alive but certainly in limbo, would have changed the formula for physician reimbursement under Medicare, providing for an immediate increase in fees.

Though seemingly favorable to the medical provider community, with which the GOP is generally aligned, all Republicans voted “no” on “Doc Fix,” joined by Democratic Senators Bill Nelson (FL), Evan Bayh (IN), Claire McCaskill (MO), Jon Tester (MT), Kent Conrad & Byron Dorgan (ND), Ron Wyden (OR), Mark Warner & Jim Webb (VA), Robert Byrd (WV), Russell Feingold & Herb Kohl, and Independent Democrat Joseph Lieberman (CT).

The vote was widely seen as a test vote on ObamaCare, as S-1776 was a device by which the Senate Democratic Leadership had diverted about $250 billion of the projected cost of ObamaCare in order to coax budgetary “experts” into projecting that the main proposal – still being negotiated – could be “deficit-neutral.” (We publish at the close of this Life Advocacy Briefing two statements issued by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-TN) explaining the ramifications of S-1776.)

S-1776 was also seen as a tool for luring the powerful American Medical Assn. – lately balking – to rejoin the coalition supporting the healthcare takeover scheme. Back to the drawing board, Comrades!


Apparent Consensus

HERE IS A SAMPLING OF CONCLUSIONS from major publications summarizing the perceived implications of the failure of S-1776:

“Inauspicious start for Democratic Leaders to the formal floor debate on the larger Healthcare Overhaul.” – Roll Call

“That was the first wholesale defection by Democrats on a cloture motion this year.” – Congressional Quarterly

“The Senate found rare bipartisan agreement on a Healthcare issue Wednesday as 13 Democrats joined all 40 Republicans to block a permanent repeal of Medicare’s payment formula for doctors.” – Washington Post

“Democrats lost a big vote on Health Care.” – New York Times

“The setback for [Sen. Majority Leader Harry] Reid represented a warning about the unpredictable road ahead for the far more controversial and expensive propositions at the core of Pres. Obama’s Healthcare Overhaul.” – Los Angeles Times

“The defeat could make it more difficult for lawmakers to win support for the broader Health Overhaul from doctors.” – Wall Street Journal

“That Democrats, who hold a 60-vote majority, could not muster even 51 votes for the bill is a sign of rocky sledding ahead for Health Care. It is a warning shot that even popular legislation – most lawmakers support the Doc Fix – could be easily bogged down if it is viewed as a deficit-busting vote. And comprehensive Healthcare Reform is anything but widely popular in Congress.” — Politico



THOUGH THE VOTE ON ‘DOC FIX’ IS NOT A DEFINITIVE SIGN of the ultimate prospects for ObamaCare, it has unquestionably slowed down the process and opened doubt to ObamaCare’s expected inevitability, giving the social engineers a refreshing pause. Herein lies hope, and that is worthy of thanks – to God and to those lawmakers who delivered this setback to the White House, as well as to every single American who has participated in a “taxed-enough tea party” or anti-healthcare-takeover rally during this tumultuous year.

Senators may be contacted through the Capitol switchboard at 1-202/224-3121. Those who voted “no” on S-1776 should be thanked, and all Senators should be encouraged to vote “no” on the pending “healthcare” proposals. Making matters worse is not “reform,” and forcing taxpayers to fund abortion is not “health care.”


On the House Side

NATIONAL RIGHT TO LIFE (N.R.L.) HAS PUT LAWMAKERS ON NOTICE of the large organization’s opposition to HR-3200, considered the lead ObamaCare legislation in the House of Representatives.

In an Oct. 21 letter to House Members, NRL leaders pledge to “carefully examine the final version of HR-3200 to determine whether it contains provisions that would result in denial of lifesaving medical care on the basis of disability or ‘quality of life’ criteria or facilitate assisted suicide.” Authority to bureaucrats to deny care is considered essential to the cost-cutting goal which the President purports to be seeking; it is this fundamental principle which prompted former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin famously to warn of “death panels” in her July critique of ObamaCare.

The NRL letter goes into great detail on concerns over the legislation’s intent to subsidize the abortion industry. The letter warns that the nation’s principal pro-life lobby will “score” the House roll call on the Rule by which the bill would advance to floor consideration “if, as we anticipate, the Rule fails to allow a vote on the Stupak-Pitts Amendment, which is the amendment that is necessary to prevent federal funding of abortion through the proposed ‘public plan’ and to prevent federal subsidies of premiums for private abortion coverage. A vote for a Rule that protects the pro-abortion language approved in committee is a vote to establish two new federal government programs that will subsidize abortion on demand.”

Even if the abortion subsidy issue were to be resolved by adoption of a responsible Rule and of the Stupak/Pitts/Hyde Amendment, NRL’s letter indicated the group “reserves the right to score the roll call vote on any version of HR-3200 that fails adequately to address [NRL’s] concerns [about denial of care], at the conference committee stage if not before.”


Palin at the Podium

WISCONSIN RIGHT TO LIFE HAS LANDED SARAH PALIN as featured speaker at a Friday, Nov. 6, event at the Wisconsin State Fairgrounds in Milwaukee. Tickets to hear the former Alaska governor and 2008 vice presidential nominee are $30 and must be purchased in advance. More information is available at


Our Calling to Love

Excerpt from Oct. 16, 2009, speech by Most Rev. Charles J. Chaput, archbishop of Denver, to the Phoenix Catholic Physicians Guild

A number of my friends have children with disabilities. Their problems range from cerebral palsy to Turner’s syndrome to Trisomy 18, which is extremely serious. But I want to focus on one fairly common genetic disability to make my point. I’m referring to Trisomy 21, or Down syndrome.

… Down is not a disease. It’s a genetic disorder with a variety of symptoms. Therapy can ease the burden of those symptoms, but Down syndrome is permanent. There is no cure. … Currently about 5,000 children with Down syndrome are born in the United States each year. They join a national Down syndrome population of roughly 400,000 persons. But that population may soon dwindle. And the reason why it may decline illustrates, in a vivid way, a struggle within the American soul. That struggle will shape the character of our society in the decades to come.

Prenatal testing can now detect up to 95% of pregnancies with a strong risk of Down syndrome. The tests aren’t conclusive. They can’t give a firm yes or no. But they’re pretty good. And the results of those tests are brutally practical. Studies show that more than 80% of unborn babies diagnosed with Down syndrome now get terminated in the womb. They’re killed because of a flaw in one of their chromosomes – a flaw that’s neither fatal nor contagious but merely undesirable.

The older a woman gets, the higher her risk of bearing a child with Down syndrome. And so, in medical offices around the country, pregnant women now hear from doctors or genetic counselors that their baby has “an increased likelihood” of Down syndrome based on one or more prenatal tests. Some doctors deliver this information with sensitivity and great support for the woman. But … too many others seem more concerned about avoiding lawsuits or managing costs or even, in a few ugly cases, cleaning up the gene pool. …

Parents of children with special needs, special education teachers and therapists, and pediatricians who have treated children with disabilities often have a hugely life-affirming perspective. Unlike prenatal caregivers, these professionals have direct knowledge of persons with special needs. They know their potential. They’ve seen their accomplishments. They can testify to the benefits – often miraculous – of parental love and faith. Expectant parents deserve to know that a child with Down syndrome can love, laugh, learn, work, feel hope and excitement, make friends and create joy for others. These things are beautiful precisely because they transcend what we expect. They witness to the truth that every child with special needs has a value that matters eternally.

Raising a child with Down syndrome can be hard. Parents grow up very fast. None of my friends who has a daughter or son with a serious disability is melodramatic or self-conscious or even especially pious about it. They speak about their special child with an unsentimental realism. It’s a realism flowing out of love – real love, the kind that courses its way through fear and suffering to a decision, finally, to surround the child with their heart and trust in the goodness of God. And that decision to trust, of course, demands not just real love but also real courage.

The real choice in accepting or rejecting a child with special needs is never between some imaginary perfection or imperfection. None of us is perfect. No child is perfect. The real choice in accepting or rejecting a child … is between love and unlove, between courage and cowardice, between trust and fear. That’s the choice we face when it happens in our personal experience. And that’s the choice we face as a society in deciding which human lives we will treat as valuable and which we will not. …

Just as some people resent the imperfection, the inconvenience and the expense of persons with disabilities, others see in them an invitation to be healed of their own sins and failures by learning how to love. About 200 families in this country are now waiting to adopt children with Down syndrome. Many of these families already have or know a child with special needs. They believe in the spirit of these beautiful children, because they’ve seen it firsthand. …

Nobel Peace Prize winner Albert Schweitzer once wrote that, “A man is truly ethical only when he obeys the compulsion to help all life which he is able to assist and shrinks from injuring anything that lives.” Every child with Down syndrome, every adult with special needs – in fact, every unwanted unborn child, every person who is poor, weak abandoned or homeless – each one of these persons is an icon of God’s face and a vessel of His love. How we treat these persons – whether we revere them and welcome them or throw them away in distaste – shows what we really believe about human dignity, both as individuals and as a nation. …

As individuals, we can claim to be or believe whatever we want. We can posture and rationalize our choices and make alibis with each other all day long, but no excuse for our lack of honesty and zeal will work with the God Who made us. God knows our hearts better than we do. If we don’t conform our hearts and actions to the faith we claim to believe, we’re only fooling ourselves.

We live in a culture where our marketers and entertainment media compulsively mislead us about the sustainability of youth, the indignity of old age, the avoidance of suffering, the denial of death, the meaning of real beauty, the impermanence of every human love, the dysfunctions of children and family, the silliness of virtue, and the cynicism of religious faith. It’s a culture of fantasy, selfishness and illness that we’ve brought upon ourselves. And we’ve done it by misusing the freedom that other – and greater – generations than our own worked for, bled for and bequeathed to our safe-keeping. What have we done with that freedom? In whose service do we use it now? …

In order to work, America depends as a nation on a moral people shaped by their religious faith, and in a particular way by the Christian faith. Without that living faith animating its people and informing its public life, America becomes something alien and hostile to the very ideals it was founded on. …

Changing the course of American culture seems like such a huge task. But St. Paul felt exactly the same way. Redeeming and converting a civilization has already been done once. It can be done again. But we need to understand that God is calling you and me to do it. He chose us. He calls us. He’s waiting, and now we need to answer Him.


‘Enough is Enough’

Sen. Mitch McConnell’s statements on S-1776, issued by the Minority Leader’s office

On the floor of the Senate: Americans are increasingly alarmed by the expansion of our national debt and this spending that we’re putting on the national credit card. They’re asking us to do what they’ve been doing: they want us to take out the scissors and cut the charge card. They want us to live within our means so their children and grandchildren don’t wake up one morning to find the American Dream buried under an avalanche of debt.

Our fiscal situation has simply spiraled out of control. And yet now the proponents of this measure want to put another quarter of a million dollars on the federal credit card.

Republicans offered a fiscally responsible way to prevent a pay cut to Medicare doctors. It was rejected.

We are in dangerous territory. I will vote against this deficit-expanding bill because enough is enough. I urge my colleagues to do the same.

In a news release: In the Senate’s first vote on healthcare spending this year, a bipartisan majority rejected the Democrat Leadership’s attempt to add another quarter-trillion dollars to the national credit card without any plan to pay for it. With a record deficit and a ballooning national debt, the American people are saying ‘enough is enough.’ Today’s vote shows that this message is finally starting to get through to Congress. Hopefully it’s a sign of things to come in the healthcare debate ahead.

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