Earlier this week, the Obama administration set the stage for the challenge to the constitutionality of the federal health care law, known as Obamacare, to go to the U.S. Supreme Court. The core provision being challenged is the one which mandates purchase of health insurance. Various courts around the country have ruled on the law with some finding it constitutional and others decidedly unconstitutional.
The most comprehensive challenge arose in Florida where 26 states, including Wisconsin, challenged the law. A Florida judge ruled the law unconstitutional and a three judge panel on the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals recently upheld the judge’s decision. The Obama administration has decided not to ask for review by the full 1th Circuit. It is now likely the U.S. Supreme Court will receive the case sometime next summer, according to the Washington Post.
What does this mean to Wisconsin? As reported time and again, the Obamacare law contains provisions which would lead to federal funding of abortions and rationing of health care. The only recourse the federal law gives to the states is a provision allowing a state to opt-out of abortion coverage in the health insurance exchanges set up by the law. Wisconsin can do that by passing SB 92.
Authored by Senator Rich Zipperer (R-Pewaukee) and Rep. Robin Vos (R-Racine, SB 92 would give Wisconsin relief from federal taxpayer dollars going for abortions. Wisconsin Right to Life is urging citizens to call, write or email their State Senator asking him/her to vote in favor of SB 92. You can find your State Senator here.
The House Committee on Energy and Commerce has sent a formal letter to Cecile Richards, President of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA), requesting numerous documents to commence an investigation of the organization. “Pursuant to Rules X and XI of the United States House of Representatives, the Committee on Energy and Commerce is examining the institutional practices and policies of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) and its affiliates, and its handling of federal funding,” writes Committee Chairman Cliff Stearns (R-FL).
PPFA documents requested by the committee include internal audit reports; any reports of improper billing under federally-funded programs; policies in place to prevent overbilling; documentation ensuring that no federal dollars are used to subsidize abortion; audits of PPFA by state agencies; documentation on how many PPFA affiliates receive Title X family planning funding and also provide abortions; policies ensuring compliance with federal mandates to keep Title X funding separate from abortion-related services; summaries of how PPFA detects criminal conduct and policies to prevent or report it; policies to report all cases of suspected sexual abuse including statutory rape; and policies and procedures to ensure that sex trafficking is reported.
An investigation is just that. PPFA is not charged with any wrongdoing. The investigation most certainly results in part from the undercover work done by Live Action where individuals enter PPFA clinics and record what staff is saying to clients. Some of these discussions have been eye-opening and have tarnished the “halo” of goodwill that PPFA has enjoyed for far too long. Stay tuned for developments on this investigation.
It is remarkable how often judges shrug at the killing of sick and disabled people. In the UK, a man plead guilty to manslaughter of his terminally ill wife, and walked out of court a free man. From the London Evening Standard story:
Stuart Mungall, 71, smothered former actress Joan, 69, at their home in Tooting last December. The prosecution accepted his plea in July of guilty to manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility caused by depression following the strain of caring for her. Mungall smiled and was given a thumbs-up sign from supporters in the public gallery at the Old Bailey after being given a 12-month sentence suspended for two years.
Well, she probably asked for it, right? Wrong.
Prosecutors claimed there was no evidence Mrs Mungall, who had the degenerative Pick’s disease, had wanted to die. Mark Dennis said she had told a nurse a day before her death that she was “taking it all in my stride”. He argued it was Mungall who could not cope, and that he smothered his wife with a pillow, then tried to kill himself with pills. Miranda Moore defending, insisted Mungall had acted after he “saw it in her eyes” that his wife wanted to die. She had not shown any signs of resistance, and Mungall had responded to his wife’s pain.
Sounds to me as if he put her out of his own misery.
This case is important because its impact will extend far beyond Mr. Mungall. Throughout the UK now, we see an increasing number of people assisting their loved ones’ suicide–with nothing being done about it by the authorities even though assisted suicide is against the law. With this case, we see the beginning of the same trajectory with outright homicide–even though the deceased didn’t ask to be killed.
And the message to people who are dying, disabled, and frail elderly is clear: Your lives don’t matter as much as the lives of healthier or able bodied people. If you are killed, nothing substantial will be done about it in a court of law.
Legislation to prohibit the sale or use of body parts of aborted unborn babies for research purposes (AB 214/SB 172) has raised the standard ire and arguments of University of Wisconsin researchers – limit what we do and we will threaten to leave the state and create a black hole in the Wisconsin economy.
Through abortion, an unwanted unborn child can be destroyed for any reason. Researchers have added an additional burden the aborted baby must bear. Not only is his/her humanity denied, but if we don’t use the baby’s remains, others may not be healed or may die, smart people will leave Wisconsin and the Wisconsin economy will be drained.
But, is this “catastrophe” real? AB 214/SB 172 only limits research using children who were aborted. It does not prohibit use of miscarried or stillborn babies who die a natural death. From a research standpoint, there are equivalent or better sources of fetal material found in amniotic fluid, umbilical cord blood and placental tissue with no ethical concerns. Decades ago, it was believed that only “young” tissues would exhibit long-term growth lines. Adult tissues are now found to be far more effective than initially believed. There are alternatives – and very good ones.
The researchers’ “sky is falling” attitude is grossly overstated. If only eight researchers at UW out of hundreds are using fetal tissue from aborted babies, does prohibiting the sale or use of fetal body parts really halt research substantially? When other equivalent or better sources are available?
Using aborted babies for research can create a situation where more pressure can be exercised on the vulnerable woman faced with an unplanned pregnancy, and another “reason” — helping medical science — cited for her to abort. Are women persuaded to abort specifically so that transplant tissues are available for themselves or another family member? Would a woman become pregnant so that her aborted baby can provide fetal tissue for a sibling?
The lesson has been clear throughout the ages – devalue the humanity of a member of the human family and any abuse is possible. Today, the unborn child is the least protected member of the human family. The war on unborn children has escalated dramatically since the 1973 Roe v Wade decision to the point where unborn children are now viewed by researchers as a mere product – not really human to justify what they are doing, but valuable nonetheless simply because they are human. They can’t have it both ways.
Let’s allow researchers the freedom to explore all avenues to improve the human condition. Let’s also make certain that it is not at the expense of any member of the human family.
This op ed piece was featured in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
While the country and the 50 states are largely focused on the economy, jobs, and budgets, assisted suicide advocates, namely Compassion and Choices, have been hard at work seeking to legalize or expand physician-assisted suicide.
Assisted suicide is currently legal in two states– Oregon and Washington–and may have some legal protection in the state of Montana, because of a court decision. While doctor-prescribed death is legal in only these two Northwest states, assisted suicide advocates have announced they plan on getting a foothold in the Northeast: in Vermont and Massachusetts.
Should they succeed, momentum could leave many other New England states vulnerable.
And it is no accident that advocates of doctor-prescribed death are seeking to further weaken one so-called “safeguard” in Oregon. Major Push in New England
In Massachusetts, there is a two-front risk of legalization of assisted suicide. On September 7th, the Attorney General’s Office produced a summary for voters and certified a proposal to the ballot. Proponents must now gather and file the signatures of 68,911 registered voters by December 7, 2011. If they get the requisite number, the proposal would first be sent to the state Legislature before the first Wednesday in May 2012. The Massachusetts Legislature can either pass it directly into law, or do nothing.
If the Legislature does not enact the proposal into law, proponents get a second bite at the poisoned apple. If they can gather an additional 11,485 signatures from registered voters by early July 2012, they can have the measure placed on the November 2012 ballot. The well-funded Compassion and Choices is trying to raise money in an effort to gather the necessary signatures; they have used paid signature-gatherers in the past.
In nearby Vermont, Gov. Pete Shumlin (D) was narrowly elected in 2010. Throughout the gubernatorial campaign, he made his intentions unmistakably clear: he repeatedly promised that he would make it a priority to sign an assisted suicide bill into law.
A bill modeled on Oregon’s law was introduced in the legislature. Despite the fact that powerful forces aligned in favor of passage of doctor-prescribed death, the legislation was not considered, thanks primarily to the resistance of the disability-rights community.
However, after the 2011 legislative session ended, Shumlin renewed his promise to help legalize assisted suicide. He indicated that he will work on it next year. Vermont‘s assisted suicide advocates are no doubt well-funded, and motivated. Expanding Doctor-Prescribed Death in Oregon
In addition, Compassion and Choices has recently announced that they are launching a lobbying effort in the state of Oregon aimed at removing the state’s already inadequate reporting requirements.
Under current Oregon law, the state produced sparse reports that show such basics as how many were prescribed lethal drugs; if there were complications; and how long they held on to the lethal drugs before the patient took them. The underlying data is not available for the public to view, kept by the Oregon Health Department for one year, and then destroyed.
Opponents of assisted suicide have long sought to highlight that assisted suicide advocates have a broader agenda, one they often reveal. If the reporting requirement is eliminated it would mean that the doctors who prescribe lethal prescriptions, who already face very few consequences for misconduct, would face even less scrutiny.
Compassion and Choices, with a goal of radical “autonomy,” has adopted the strategy of legalizing assisted suicide with so-called “safeguards,” and then work to erode them over time. For one such example, after the court decisions in Montana, Compassion and Choices issued a factsheet for legislators that said, “The Legislature should affirm the Court’s guidelines, and not place obstacles in patients’ way. The Legislature should affirm that physician participation is voluntary, and enact protections from civil liability and professional sanctions for physicians who practice within the court’s guidelines.”
But the court, while setting a few vague boundaries, never actually issued guidelines. Compassion and Choices does not really advocate for guidelines, so much as employ them to give voters and legislators a false sense of security that people will not be abused under these laws.
While assisted suicide is often promoted as a “personal decision” in the hands of the individual, there has been story after story of the government steering patients to inexpensive suicide drugs. The most well known cases involve Barbara Wagner and Randy Stroup, both of whom wanted treatment, but were initially denied, and sent letters reminding them of their right to assisted suicide.
More than this, there are dangerous loopholes in Oregon’s and Washington’s laws. Death certificates are falsified, listing an underlying condition as the cause of death, not suicide. The effect is it can hide the real number of suicides. Heirs can serve as witnesses to requests. With no witness at the time of death, how can anyone be sure if the person (if they are even personally taking the drugs) is in any position to make decisions with lethal consequences? And the slipover impact should not be missed. Sadly, in 2010, Oregon’s rising suicide rate was a whopping 35% higher than the national average.
In a world where financial concerns and feelings of being a “burden” run rampant, state-sanctioned suicide is the worst kind of message to send. Life at any age is precious, and the true compassionate response would never to be to hand you a lethal prescription.
A study out of the University of Wisconsin released late Sunday night concludes that embryonic stem cells (ESCs) and induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) are 99% identical. While caution should always be exercised, the potential impact is enormous.
ESCs are lethally extracted from human embryos. iPSCs come from the patient’s own body in a process by which an adult cell—typically a skin cell—is reprogrammed and induced to revert back in time. The former is laden with ethical controversy; the latter is burdened with none.
In the past couple of years new technologies have shown the two types of stem cells to be similar. But until now, nobody has had the ability to look at the proteins, the molecules that do most biological functions, said Joshua Coon, an associate professor of chemistry and biomolecular chemistry who directed the project, in a statement.
New technology (“cutting edge proteomic technologies”) allowed researchers to measure the way the cells regulate their proteins. In a study that appeared online in Nature Methods, Coon’s team looked at four embryonic stem cells and four iPS cells.
“We looked at RNA, at proteins, and at structures on the proteins that help regulate their activity, and saw substantial similarity between the two stem-cell types,” Coon told physorg.com. By “substantial” he meant 99% similar! The team measured more than 6,000 individual proteins.
Not only are iPSCs free of ethical controversy, because they come from the patient’s own body, it circumvents the issue of tissue rejection.
While this is very encouraging news, it’s also important to remember that there is already in use a proven alternative to embryonic stem cells: adult stem cells from bone marrow, umbilical cord blood, and other tissues. They are treating thousands of patients around the globe, with an estimated 50,000 adult stem cell transplants occurring annually worldwide.
The British House of Lords has turned back legislation to legalize doctor prescribed death on several occasions. Proponents of using lethal drugs to kill people have found a way to allow doctor prescribed death without it being officially legal. It’s really slick the way this was accomplished.
The question arose as to whether a person could be prosecuted for taking a loved one to Switzerland for doctor-prescribed death. Government officials were convinced that new “guidelines” were needed to determine when people could be prosecuted and issued them. The London Telegraph now reports that 44 people have been killed using doctor prescribed death with no prosecutions.
No one knows what the real number is because there is no requirement to report non-prosecutions. It is clear that in the UK, one need not fear a criminal charge if they assist a loved one to procure a lethal drug. Very sad indeed.
Wisconsin abortion proponents want to bring RU 486 chemical abortions into our rural communities. Planned Parenthood of the Heartland did over 2,000 web cam abortion procedures in Iowa as a pilot program with the goal to import this procedure to other areas of the country.
Wisconsin Right to Life has long claimed that Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin wants to bring RU 486 chemical abortions to Wautoma and Rhinelander and Wausau and many other small towns in our state. NARAL Pro-Choice Wisconsin has corroborated this claim in its news release yesterday with the statement that a bill supported by Wisconsin Right to Life would have the effect of “restricting access to abortion care for rural women by prohibiting the use of new technology that enables a doctor to videoconference with a patient at a rural clinic to administer RU-486.”
Through April of 2011, the FDA reports 2207 adverse events related to use of RU 486. These events include 14 deaths, 612 hospitalizations, 58 ectopic pregnancies, 339 blood transfusions, and 256 cases of infection. A European drug manufacturer has publicly stated that 29 women have died worldwide after using RU 486.
A woman in Janesville would be given this dangerous abortion drug without an in person examination by a physician. The person talking to her over the web cam could be in Madison or Milwaukee or San Francisco. Wisconsin residents need to know that abortion may be coming soon to their community.
Wisconsin Right to Life is supporting efforts to prohibit abortions without an in person physical examination. It’s the least we can do to protect women from the harmful effects of RU 486.
RU 486 is not the morning after pill. RU 486 is a two drug regimen administered to a woman diagnosed as between five and nine weeks of pregnancy with the specific intent to cause an abortion.
Senator Mary Lazich (R-New Berlin) and Rep. Michelle Litjens (R-Oshkosh) are poised to introduce a bill in the Wisconsin legislature called the Woman’s Protection Act. A newly-released landmark study by Priscilla Coleman from Bowling Green State University, published in the British Journal of Psychiatry, provides overwhelming evidence for the need for this legislation.
Coleman reviewed 22 previous studies published over a 14 year period on abortion and mental health which include data on 877,181 women from six countries, 19% of whom had an abortion.
According to a news release from Americans United for Life, “The results revealed moderate to high increased risk of mental health problems after abortion. Women with a history of abortion had an 81% higher risk of subsequent mental health problems. More specifically, the study found that women with a history of abortion had an increased risk of anxiety (34% higher), depression (37% higher), alcohol (110% higher), marijuana use (220% higher), and suicidal behavior (155% higher).”
These numbers are staggering and corroborate the anecdotal stories heard from women every day in right-to-life Pregnancy Help Centers and here at Wisconsin Right to Life. By trying to “protect” a woman’s “right to choose,” proponents of abortion are ignoring a significant and very real mental health issue for women.
Wisconsin Right to Life applauds Senator Lazich and Rep. Litjens for having the vision to provide more information to women prior to the irreversible act of abortion. The time has come for the Woman’s Protection Act, and we are honored to work with Lazich/Litjens to protect women from the devastating impact of abortion.
Wisconsin Right to Life just participated in some of the most grueling elections ever in Wisconsin – the infamous recalls. And, there are more recalls on the horizon come 2012. What we found this summer is the most important asset that unborn children have is our people who care about their lives.
You are needed to help us continue the fight. In September, Wisconsin Right to Life is bringing you a special offer – contribute $5 and you will receive a beautiful Precious Feet Pin! You can participate in this special by going here