Life Advocacy Briefing

August 21, 2017

Arkansas Wins a Key Appeal / So Does David Daleiden
Advance in Texas / Franklin Graham Goes After Planned Parenthood
Warning to/from Europe / The Incalculable Risk in Healthcare ‘Ethics’
V.P. Pence Speaks to Young Americans

Arkansas Wins a Key Appeal

THE 8th CIRCUIT COURT OF APPEALS last Wednesday upheld the authority of Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) to disqualify Planned Parenthood from state funding, reversing a ruling by US District Judge Kristine Baker. The governor’s unilateral cut-off came quickly after the Center for Medical Progress released undercover videos documenting Planned Parenthood’s involvement in trafficking of aborted baby body parts.

“‘This is a substantial legal victory,’” said Gov. Hutchinson in a statement quoted by Nate Raymond for Reuters, “‘for the right of the state to determine whether Medicaid providers are acting in accordance with best practices and affirms the prerogative of the state to make reasoned judgments on the Medicaid program.’”

The ruling came, reports Mr. Raymond, in a case brought by “three women who claimed Arkansas violated their rights under the federal Medicaid law to choose any qualified provider offering services they were seeking.”

The appellate decision came on a 2-to-1 vote, reports Mr. Raymond, ruling “the provision of the Medicaid law the women relied on does not unambiguously create a federal right for individual patients that they could enforce in court.”

Planned Parenthood Federation of America’s chief medical officer, Raegan McDonald-Mosley, issued a statement, reports Reuters, vowing “the fight ‘is not over.’”

No one would figure it would be, but this round went to the side of American taxpayers and American legal principle. How refreshing.

So Does David Daleiden

DAVID DALEIDEN WON A KEY ROUND IN COURT last Monday in his legal battle to get the publicly funded University of Washington’s Birth Defects Research Laboratory to release documents related to its use of aborted baby body parts. The Seattle-based lab is a grantee of the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

Though US District Judge James Robart had inexplicably granted the university a preliminary injunction blocking Mr. Daleiden’s inquiry into the institution’s complicity with Planned Parenthood and other abortionists in the trafficking of such tissue, Mr. Daleiden and his attorney with the Thomas More Society, the Hon. Peter Breen, won their appeal of the Robart ruling in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, where a three-judge panel ruled unanimously that Mr. Daleiden and the public were entitled to the information the young investigative journalist was seeking.

Mr. Breen is chief counsel with the Chicago-based pro bono pro-life law firm, is a state representative who was recently named GOP House Floor Leader, and is a reader of Life Advocacy Briefing. He is the source of our report of the 9th Circuit’s ruling, stunning because of the 9th Circuit’s leftwing track record.

Though the 9th Circuit left the Robart decision in place “temporarily,” its requirement to Judge Robart to show cause for the injunction – which the panel noted he had not done – represents a high hurdle for an obviously politically motivated judge. (These are our comments, not Mr. Breen’s or Mr. Daleiden’s.)

Advance in Texas

TEXAS GOV. GREG ABBOTT (R) SIGNED LEGISLATION last Tuesday to bar insurance coverage for abortions except via optional plans purchased specifically for abortion.

“‘As a firm believer in Texas values,’” said Mr. Abbott, quoted by Fr. Mark Hodges for, “‘I am proud to sign legislation that ensures no Texan is ever required to pay for a procedure that ends the life of an unborn child. … This bill prohibits insurance providers from forcing Texas policy holders to subsidize elective abortions. I am grateful to the Texas legislature for getting this bill to my desk and working to protect innocent life this special session.’”

The new law was passed during a summer special session called by the governor, who had listed the proposal in his summons.

“‘What we’re saying here is: If you want to buy this coverage, you can buy it,’” said Rep. John Smithee (R) during House debate, quoted by Fr. Hodges. “‘This isn’t about who can get an abortion. It is about who is forced to pay for an abortion.’”

Franklin Graham Goes After Planned Parenthood

LEADING CHRISTIAN HUMANITARIAN FRANKLIN GRAHAM excoriated Planned Parenthood last week on various social media posts pointing out the self-proclaimed sex education outfit’s promotion of “transgenderism to 3- and 4-year-olds,” reports Lianne Laurence for

“‘Planned Parenthood’s true colors are showing,’ he wrote,” reports Ms. Laurence. “‘They’re in the news this time because their website gives “guidelines” that instruct parents to teach their children – even preschoolers – that “your genitals don’t make you a boy or girl.”’”

He also posted, as quoted by Ms. Laurence: “‘Remember, Planned Parenthood is the largest abortion provider in the US, performing over 300,000 abortions annually. The thought of that alone is staggering – what a tragedy.’”

Warning to/from Europe

Aug. 9, 2017, BreakPoint commentary by Eric Metaxas

            A recurring topic here at BreakPoint is the demographic challenge – “crisis” isn’t too strong a word – facing the industrialized world. From Tokyo to London, people are having fewer and fewer children: In some cases, they’re having barely half as many kids as are needed to maintain a stable population without relying on mass immigration.

            This “birth dearth,” as it’s called, poses economic and social challenges to much of Europe, as well as Japan, South Korea and even China.

            The impact of this “birth dearth” is not lost on European leaders and their counterparts in Asia. They’ve gone to extreme – and even comical – lengths to reverse the trend. Last year, we told you about the Danish government’s “Do It for Denmark” ad campaign. Russia offered women who had a second child not only money but also “cars, refrigerators and other prizes.”

            Singapore even went so far as to establish a government-run dating service in a bid to increase one of the lowest fertility rates in the developed world.

            Not surprisingly, few if any of these measures met with much success. It could scarcely be otherwise since, especially in Europe, the message from leaders seems to be, “do as we say, not as we do.”

            As George Weigel noted in First Things magazine, the leaders of four of Europe’s five largest economies are childless: Germany’s Angela Merkel, Britain’s Theresa May, France’s Emmanuel Macron and Italy’s Paolo Gentiloni. The sole exception is Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, who has an increasingly un-European two children.

            This childlessness isn’t limited to Europe’s “Big 5.” The leaders of the Netherlands, Sweden and Luxemburg are also childless, as is the President of the European Union.

            This spate of childlessness among European leaders brings to mind something Oscar Wilde’s character Lady Bracknell once said: “To lose one parent may be regarded as a misfortune; to lose both looks like carelessness.”

            Similarly, while it’s not unheard of for a political leader to be childless – for instance, George Washington – when an entire generation of leaders is childless, something else is probably going on.

            As Weigel tells us, the “childlessness in this elite cohort certainly has different causes, given the diverse personalities involved.” For some of them, “their childlessness [is] a sorrow – although none seems to have taken the option of adopting children.”

            But for the other leaders, their childlessness is a “stark illustration” of what Weigel calls “Europe’s demographic suicide.” According to the historian Niall Ferguson, Europe’s low birth rates have put it on track for “the greatest sustained reduction in European population since the Black Death in the 14th century.”

            Yet not even Europe’s leaders seem concerned enough about the looming catastrophe to have children themselves.

            Weigel, taking his cue from Pope John Paul II, draws a line between Europe’s “self-chosen sterility” and its “rapidly accelerating embrace of euthanasia.” Both manifestations of what John Paul II called the “culture of death” represent what Weigel calls “a colossal evangelical failure.” By “evangelical failure,” Weigel, a Catholic, means a failure to preach the Gospel and unapologetically proclaim what Christianity has to say about what human beings should aspire to: self-giving, not self-aggrandizement.

            Only this proclamation stands any chance of inspiring Europeans “to reject demographic suicide and rediscover the joy of creating the future through having children.” Without it, all the future holds is leaders with no one to follow them.

The Incalculable Risk in Healthcare ‘Ethics’

Commentary by Wesley J. Smith in the Weekly Standard dated Aug. 21, 2017

            When I was a small boy, polio terrified me. Each year, it would strike thousands of children like me – and you never knew when or where it would hit next. In the 1952 epidemic, a very bad year, there were nearly 60,000 reported cases in the United States and more than 3,000 deaths.

            Summer was the worst time, and I recall my parents’ tension as “polio season” approached. Most vividly, I remember my horror at the prospect of being encased in an iron lung. I had seen the photographs: hospital wards with children in iron lungs, only their heads visible outside the great metal beast, a mirror strategically angled so they could view their immediate surroundings.

            That long-ago era came to mind the other day as the National Right to Life Committee’s executive director, David O’Steen, introduced me before a lecture on euthanasia. O’Steen described having polio as a youngster and wondered whether the same unequivocal commitment to recovery that he and his fellow patients experienced would continue to prevail in a healthcare system increasingly driven by utilitarian decision-making and cost-containment imperatives.

            In those difficult days, there was never any question of letting a child with polio die based on a determination that his or her life would not be worth living. This included my late friend Mark O’Brien, who contracted a catastrophic polio infection at age 6 and spent most of his nearly 44 remaining years in an iron lung. Even so, Mark graduated from UC/Berkley, became a journalist, a published poet, a disability rights and anti-assisted-suicide activist. (He was the subject of the Academy Award-winning documentary, Breathing Lessons, and a motion picture, The Sessions.)

            It’s comforting to believe today’s far more sophisticated healthcare system would swing into action should a similar decades-long epidemic leave tens of thousands of disabled children in its wake. To be sure, medicine’s full armamentarium would be deployed to treat the acutely ill and find a vaccine. But what about the Mark O’Briens – people whose lives might be saved with extended intensive interventions, albeit with a high probability of profound disability? Would they receive the same unequivocal commitment as during the polio epidemic, or would the greater impetus be toward letting them die – with “dignity,” of course?

            And if the patients and their families insisted on continued care against medical advice, would hospitals and doctors force them off life-sustaining treatment – would care be deemed “futile” or “inappropriate,” to use the jargon already prevalent among bioethicists? Indeed, would seriously disabled patients such as Mark be considered candidates for the lethal “treatment” of euthanasia, as they are today in the Netherlands and Belgium?

            I fear so. At the very least, I suspect that the unequivocal commitment to saving the life of every polio victim that so benefited America’s O’Steens and O’Briens in the 1950s is already a relic of the past. Today, people with disabilities often complain about being pressured by hospital personnel to sign “do not resuscitate” orders under circumstances in which able-bodied patients are not. Families of elderly patients and parents of children with developmental disabilities may meet similarly cold attitudes.

            Victims of a contemporary polio-style epidemic might even be rationed out of receiving expensive treatment based on principles of “distributive justice.” This would especially be the case if the disease, unlike polio, affected their cognitive capacities. Thus bioethicist Ezekiel Emanuel – an influential adviser on ObamaCare – strongly implied in a 2009 Hastings Center Report column that care considered basic for most people should not be guaranteed for those “who are irreversibly prevented from being or becoming participating citizens. … An obvious example is not guaranteeing health services to patients with dementia.”

            And how would people caught up in such an epidemic fare if we ever adopted the “quality-adjusted life year” (QALY) form of medical rationing, currently applied in the United Kingdom and popular among bioethicists? For example, the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) called (unsuccessfully) for QALYs to be deployed as a tool of ObamaCare cost containment, saying “the best way to improve health and save money at the same time is often to redirect patient care resources from interventions with a high cost per QALY to those with a lower cost per QALY.”

            What does that mean? QALY formulas can be complicated, but to illustrate the concept, consider a highly simplified hypothetical. Let’s say I have a serious illness and that Medicine A will give me two calendar years of life as an able-bodied man, or two QALYs. Now, let’s say that my friend and contemporary Mark O’Brien is sustained by an iron lung. Let’s say he has the same illness and Medicine A would also give him two calendar years of life. Because he is confined to the breathing contraption, his two remaining years might be deemed worthy of only a .5 QALY. His continued life would be deemed of less benefit than mine, due to his disability.

            Next, the cost of the treatment is measured against the perceived benefit. Let’s say the cost for each of us would be $200,000. Under a QALY rationing system, I would be more likely to be approved for the treatment than Mark because that expense would buy me 2 QALYs and in his case would buy a mere .5 QALYs.

            In supporting such an invidious system, the authors of the NEJM article deploy an extreme example: “A ban on valuing life extension [via a QALY system] presents its own ethical dilemmas. Taken literally, it means that spending resources to extend by a month the life of a 100-year-old person who is in a vegetative state cannot be valued differently from spending resources to extend the life of a child by many healthy years.”

            For that matter, the QALY approach dictates that if the situation were reversed and the child had the severe cognitive disability, the child would be allowed to die while the older adult received support.

            To say that one human life has greater value than another based on health prospects or disability is to declare the most weak and vulnerable among us, essentially, expendable. So David O’Steen was wise to worry. Many things have unquestionably improved in medicine since he came down with polio. But the introduction of a pernicious “quality of life” judgmentalism into the ethics of health care sure isn’t one of them.

V.P. Pence Speaks to Young Americans

Excerpt from Aug. 4, 2017, speech by Vice Pres. Mike Pence to Young America’s Foundation

            … Let me say from my heart how meaningful it is to me to serve with a President who stands without apology for the sanctity of life.

            In one of his very first acts in office, Pres. Trump reinstated the Mexico City Policy to keep taxpayer funding out of organizations that perform and promote abortions abroad, and our President has expanded that policy to cover nearly $9 billion in foreign aid.

            And Pres. Trump has empowered states to withhold federal funding from abortion providers like Planned Parenthood, and I’m humbled to say that at the President’s direction, I was able to cast the tie-breaking vote in the Senate to allow states to defund Planned Parenthood.