Life Advocacy Briefing

September 19, 2016

Stand Firm on Keeping Zika Funding Clean! / Victory in Court
Discerning the Real Point / Trashing the Constitution in California
Resist the Set-Up!

Stand Firm on Keeping Zika Funding Clean!

AS THE HOUSE & SENATE APPROACH THE LOOMING DEADLINE for passage of legislation funding the federal government past the Sept. 30 end of the 2016 Fiscal Year, Majority Members and their leadership are under increasing pressure from the left-wing Minority to provide a new pot of taxpayer cash to Planned Parenthood in the name of Zika-virus-caused birth-defect prevention.

Even acknowledging the questions raised in some medical and epidemiological circles about whether Zika is actually responsible for an uptick in microcephaly in certain Latin American regions – as outlined by Life Issues Institute’s Bradley Mattes in a commentary we reprinted in last week’s Life Advocacy Briefing – we acknowledge that the media-driven public perception of Zika has prompted most Americans to believe that the mosquito-borne virus must be stopped in order to prevent birth defects. That is certainly true of most of our political leaders, and we cannot blame them for a sense of urgency.

Political leaders on the Left, in league with Planned Parenthood, seek to block the birth of microcephalic infants by seeing to it that infected women who are carrying developing babies never give birth and by massive distribution of condoms, which fosters promiscuity more than offering healthy options. Thus Congressional Democrats in both the House and the Senate – led by the likes of SanFrancisco Rep. Nancy Pelosi and Nevada Sen. Harry Reid – use the Zika scare as an excuse to seek an earmark of funding for Planned Parenthood in the omnibus appropriation bill, just as they have been seeking in the now-derailed military appropriation measure to which Republicans had attached Zika prevention spending.

Along with Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins, in an FRC/Action Alertwe reprint at the close of this Life Advocacy Briefing, we urge our readers to contact their Representatives in the US House and Senate and urge them to vote against any effort to add funding for Planned Parenthood in the omnibus spending bill and to stand with the House and Senate Majority Leadership in seeking to subject Zika spending to the Hyde Amendment in order to block taxpayer-funded abortions in the context of Zika prevention. They may be reached via the Capitol switchboard at 1-202/224-3121.


Victory in Court

THE U.S. SIXTH CIRCUIT COURT OF APPEALS HAS UPHELD a lower court ruling, reports Catholic World News (CWN), in exonerating a Catholic hospital from liability in a lawsuit brought by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).

At issue was whether Mercy Health Partners of Muskegon, Michigan, had failed to meet the state-prescribed standard of care by “‘not tell[ing]’” the plaintiff “‘that terminating her pregnancy was an option and the safest course for her condition,’ in the words of the lawsuit,” reports CWN.

The appellate court ruled, reports CWN, that the fact that the Catholic hospital “did not present abortion as a treatment option did not violate laws against negligent care” on the books in Michigan.

The mother in question “miscarried her 18-week-old unborn child after her water broke,” explains the CWN report. “The ACLU alleged that the US [Catholic] bishops’ healthcare directives ‘prohibited that hospital from complying with the applicable standard of care in this case.’”

But the opinion stated by the 6th Circuit judges, reports CWN, stated, “‘We do not doubt that [the plaintiff] suffered physical and mental pain, emotional injuries, a riskier delivery, shock and emotional trauma from making funeral arrangements for her dead child. … But these allegations are not sufficient to state an injury under Michigan negligence law.’”


Discerning the Real Point

Sept. 13, 2016, commentary by Alliance Defending Freedom senior counsel Casey Mattox, reprinted from the Daily Signal

What do you give to a cash-flush abortion business and political ally that has everything? More taxpayer dollars, of course. In his remaining few months in the Oval Office, Pres. Barack Obama has found a new way to direct more taxpayer money to his friends at Planned Parenthood.

The Dept. of Health & Human Services has announced a new regulation that would force states to give federal family planning funds to Planned Parenthood and other abortionists. The move could mean millions more in taxpayer dollars for the nation’s abortion market leader at the expense of women’s health.

Title X [Ten] is a federal program designed to fund “family planning” for low-income individuals. Created in 1970, it was only authorized through 1985. But Congress just keeps appropriating hundreds of millions of dollars anyway, and a large share of that goes to Planned Parenthood every year.

It’s difficult to read the President’s new regulation as anything other than a parting taxpayer-funded gift to a loyal crony.

The Office of Population Affairs, which runs Title X, grants funds for “family planning services” (like contraceptives and sterilizations) and “education and information” for low-income individuals. While the common understanding is that Title X-paid counselors must inform a woman of all her options, the Clinton-era regulations actually make adoption counseling optional, perhaps explaining Planned Parenthood’s sometimes over 300-to-1 ratio of abortions over adoptions.

Grants are available to both public entities (like state health departments) and private networks. Where a state health department chooses not to apply, private entities often receive and distribute Title X funds. Among states that receive Title X funds, some have wisely chosen to prioritize the funds to more comprehensive healthcare providers than Planned Parenthood, thereby avoiding state entanglement with abortion. That’s why the Obama Administration is upset.

Consider Kansas. Recognizing that it made little public health sense to have women go to one location for birth control pills and another for other health needs, Kansas chose to prioritize the Title X funds it received to public health departments and clinics, nonpublic hospitals and federally qualified health centers.

This would mean that any woman receiving Title X services would also be connected to a provider that could meet the primary care needs for her and her family, including preventive services, immunizations, diagnostic and radiological services (often including mammograms) and pediatric care. She would have one primary care provider who knows her medical needs and history and wouldn’t need to travel to multiple sites for services that can be provided at one location more cost-effectively. Planned Parenthood is simply not equipped to provide these primary care services.

Kansas’s desire to consolidate public health funding to encourage primary care and preventive services rather than discrete “family planning” boutiques that detach patients from the broader healthcare system is shared by other states like Texas, Utah, Arizona, Wisconsin, Indiana and others that have passed similar laws.

The Obama Administration itself recognizes that “primary care providers are critical for ensuring better coordinated care and better health outcomes for all Americans.” So there should be common ground here on directing Title X funds to places where these primary care providers can be found, better coordinating an individual’s health care.

Alas, Planned Parenthood sued Kansas. Kansas won, but rather than allowing Kansas to meet women’s healthcare needs better through other providers, the Obama Administration cut Title X funds to Kansas, hurting women in retaliation for the perceived slight to its ally.

A similar pattern has played out in Tennessee, New Hampshire and other states where the Obama Administration has directly granted money to Planned Parenthood, ignoring the judgment of states that Title X services should be provided where patients can connect to providers able to meet their comprehensive healthcare needs.

In New Hampshire, the Administration even refused to disclose information about its direct Planned Parenthood grant, claiming disclosure would harm the nonprofit’s “competitive position.” But in just a few months, Obama won’t be around to help his friends at Planned Parenthood any more, so the Administration is trying to make it official before Obama is gone.

In the three decades since Title X’s authorization lapsed, many other government programs have served the purpose it was once intended to serve. Federally qualified health centers serve at least eight times as many patients than Planned Parenthood. Medicaid has expanded, and many states employ federally approved Medicaid waiver programs to provide the same services covered under Title X to many more people. And, of course, Obamacare now mandates coverage of contraceptives on virtually every health plan.

In 2016 there would seem to be little need for a program that was supposed to end in 1985. Certainly, there is no need for that program’s more recent use to direct patients away from preventive services and primary care providers – unless, of course, the aim is actually to reward an industry that has been one of the President’s chief supporters, even at the expense of public health. …


Trashing the Constitution in California

Sept 9, 2016, BreakPoint commentary by John Stonestreet

Those who saw the videos recorded by the Center for Medical Progress that exposed Planned Parenthood’s baby-parts-for-cash racket will never forget them. Not knowing they were being filmed, Planned Parenthood officials matter-of-factly discussed making profit from the salvaged organs and tissue of aborted babies.

Though Planned Parenthood escaped any meaningful sanction for what the videos revealed, the efforts of the Center for Medical Progress left a mark. So in response, Planned Parenthood and its sympathizers have harassed and have tried to even punish those responsible for its embarrassment.

The latest example is AB-1671, currently under consideration in the California legislature. This bill would, if it becomes law, “make it a crime for a person who unlawfully eavesdrops upon or records a confidential communication with a healthcare provider … to intentionally disclose or distribute the contents of the confidential communication without the consent of all parties … unless specified conditions are met.”

The key words here are “unlawfully,” “healthcare provider,” and “disclose or distribute.” It is already unlawful in California to eavesdrop on or record a confidential communication without the other parties’ consent. Thus, if the Center for Medical Progress videos had been made in California, they could have been charged with a crime.

Thus, protecting people from non-law enforcement “sting” operations is clearly not this bill’s intention, since that’s already covered in the law. The bill’s true purpose is to protect Planned Parenthood from any further embarrassment, including in those instances where people are willing to go to jail to expose their wrongdoing.

This was made clear in the original draft, which said that “the bill would also make it a crime for any person to aid and abet any person in the commission of these offenses.”

As originally written, the bill could have been applied to news organizations, or even BreakPoint. Anyone who quoted or linked to the videos could be charged with abetting in their distribution.

This was too much for even critics of the Center for Medical Progress. As the LA Times wrote, “The proposal had civil libertarians, new organizations and filmmakers in an uproar, and rightly so. Even if you decry the Center for Medical Progress’s work, the version of AB-1671 that reached the Senate floor could have criminalized sharing or reporting on legitimate, valuable and even potentially life-saving undercover video work.”

The amended bill now limits criminal penalties to those who actually make the video, but even the Times editorial board remains rightly concerned: “Why a healthcare provider merits special protection,” they wrote, “even when discussing things that don’t involve patient privacy is mystifying.”

Well actually, it’s not so mystifying. As the Times later added: “Make no mistake, this measure would heap more criminal and civil penalties on … an act that’s already prohibited by state law, even when done in the public interest – simply to satisfy an interest group popular among Sacramento Democrats.”

Nor is this bill consistent. Planned Parenthood wants to be considered a healthcare provider in this bill, but wants none of the oversight required of the surgical healthcare providers, for example, in Texas. All of this is further evidence, as if any more were needed, that to its committed advocates, the right to an abortion trumps virtually every other freedom: of speech, of religion, of the press, and the public interest more generally.

All of which prompts a disturbing question: Even if you don’t believe abortion takes a human life, does that so-called “right” that demands such illiberal protections have any place in a liberal democratic society?


Resist the Set-Up!

Sept. 13, 2016, Action Alert by FRC/Action president Tony Perkins

Democrats in the Senate have repeatedly blocked a bill to fund research and health care related to the Zika virus, which can severely harm the unborn. However, the mainstream media’s headlines are totally misleading, claiming that Republicans added a “poison pill” to defund Planned Parenthood [to] this emergency funding bill. This is simply not true! There is no provision in the bill designed to defund Planned Parenthood.

The truth is, at Planned Parenthood’s behest, Senate Democrats have taken a bipartisan bill and turned it into a fight over Planned Parenthood simply because they [Planned Parenthood] do not get any pork-barrel spending in the bill.

With pressure building as Zika is spreading from Puerto Rico to Florida and other states, Congress is expected to attach Zika funding to must-pass spending legislation to fund the government. We need you to weigh in with your Member of Congress to not surrender to Planned Parenthood’s false “poison pill” narrative.

[House] Speaker [Paul] Ryan hit the nail on the head when he said at a briefing last week, “First of all, there’s no Planned Parenthood [provision] in this bill, and to put an earmark for Planned Parenthood is something we won’t do.”

Instead of funding health care and vaccine research for this mosquito-carried disease, Democrats continue to put politics over people. The fact is, Congress should be able to fund health care for medical emergencies without also specially funding leftist abortion groups. Let’s agree to fund life-saving vaccines and mosquito control, which are the keys to stopping the harmful effects of the Zika virus on unborn children.

If Democrats won’t let funding go to hospitals, state health departments and public health networks such as Medicaid to fight Zika unless there is a special payout for Planned Parenthood, Congress could drop the healthcare provisions entirely – and instead just focus spending on much-needed vaccine research and mosquito control. But under no circumstances should Congress reward Planned Parenthood’s extortion tactics with a special taxpayer-funded handout.

Please take a moment to contact your Members of Congress in the House and Senate to encourage them to target mosquitoes, not babies, as they agree to legislation that funds both the government and the important fight against the Zika virus. [Members of the House and Senate may be contacted via the Capitol switchboard at 1-202/224-3121.