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The Point Washington Update - January 2012

In this edition:

Article #1
Excerpted from "Blue Campaign Announces New Human Trafficking Trainings," January 11, 2012 blog entry posted by Alice Hill, Senior Counselor to U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano.

Today, I’m proud to announce several new human trafficking awareness and training materials for the general public, federal workforce, first responders and airline employees. These new materials aim to help increase awareness and provide education on the indicators of human trafficking and the importance of reporting it to officials. We can’t end the horrendous crime of human trafficking on our own--we need individuals and communities to spot the signs of human trafficking and report it to authorities.

The new trainings were unveiled earlier today at a meeting with DHS officials, other federal agencies along with representatives from non-governmental organizations (NGO), the private sector and the international community at a human trafficking event. Subject matter experts from across the government also engaged in a dialogue with stakeholders on methods and services to support victims, ways to engage local communities, and new initiatives taking place in the NGO, private sector and international communities. The session gave participants the opportunity to provide ideas to federal experts leading an array of anti-human trafficking programs and services. I’m very excited for the ideas that were expressed, and am hopeful that they will lead to new ways to prevent the terrible crime of human trafficking.

To learn more and take our general awareness training, please visit www.dhs.gov/humantrafficking.


Commentary #1
CMA VP for Govt. Relations Jonathan Imbody: "Following up on an idea advanced by the Christian Medical Association in previous meetings with U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security officials, agency officials at this meeting I attended announced a new program to engage health care professionals to help recognize and report victims of human trafficking.

"Sec. Janet Napolitano's Sr. Counselor Alice Hill announced, '[DHS Chief Medical Officer] Dr. Alexander Garza will present a medical project developed based on comments from you. It's a powerful example of your idea that came out of our meetings." After raising the idea of engaging medical professionals, CMA had provided Dr. Garza with examples of training materials developed by CMA member Dr. Jeff Barrows, an OB/Gyn physician who now runs Gracehaven, a shelter in Ohio for female teen victims of human trafficking.

"Dr. Garza unveiled a video and explained the outreach to the health care community being developed, observing that that 'conversations with stakeholders including you helped us realize that more needed to be done to [reach the medical community].' Human trafficking awareness materials now available on the DHS website include a wallet-sized card for health care professionals.

"In August, I had presented an idea to Secretary Napolitano of engaging leaders of medical specialty groups at a White House summit on human trafficking. Sec. Napolitano promised to bring up the idea that day in a White House cabinet meeting with U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. (See Meeting with DHS Sec. Napolitano on human trafficking.)

"HHS officials, however, recently discriminated against faith-based groups engaged in fighting human trafficking by taking away from a faith-based group a federal grant to aid trafficked victims on the basis that the group declined to participate in abortions. A Catholic group had by all accounts successfully served victims for five years under a federal grant program. Despite past proven performance and much higher objective scores by a grant review panel, the Catholic organization lost the competition for a new federal grant because of a new stipulation--inserted by administration political appointees and likely including the approval of Secretary Sebelius--that gave preference to applicants willing to refer victims for abortions. (See Abortion Ideology Trumps Aid for Victims of Human Trafficking.) Increasingly here in Washington it appears that few issues remain that partisan politics don't pollute."


Article #2
Excerpted from "The Global Health Initiative: Maximizing Impact on Global Health," December 2011, by Lois Quam, executive director of the Global Health Initiative.

The Global Health Initiative (GHI), the Obama administration’s strategy to maximize the impact of U.S. investments in global health, aims to protect Americans, save millions of lives around the world and create strong nations. Our health agenda is taking on the hardest and most intractable challenges, including maternal and child mortality, HIV/AIDS and malaria.

This unified effort is driven by the combined leadership of key U.S. agencies and builds on current programs, such as the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and the President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI), to deliver a focused, cost-effective and results-oriented program for enhancing global health. To achieve its goals, GHI also reaches beyond the health sector to areas that intersect with health, such as safe water, sanitation, health financing and education for girls.

GHI is rooted in seven core principles:

  1. Focusing on woman, girls and gender equality.
  2. Encouraging country ownership and investing in country-led plans.
  3. Building sustainability through health systems strengthening.
  4. Strengthening key multilateral organizations, global health partnerships and private-sector engagement, and leveraging resources of key stakeholders.
  5. Increasing impact through strategic coordination and integration.
  6. Improving metrics, monitoring and evaluation.
  7. Promoting research and innovation.

Through GHI, the United States also seeks to achieve major improvements in health outcomes by reforming the way it supports countries in delivering health services. Strategies include working to increase the number and types of local partners, such as nonprofit organizations, private businesses, civil society, faith-based organizations and partner governments, and strengthening the capacity of partner countries to lead, manage and oversee health programs.


Commentary #2
CMA VP for Govt. Relations Jonathan Imbody: "I recently sought to persuade the author of this article, GHI Executive Director Lois Quam, and other high-ranking Obama administration officials to respect conscience rights in order to gain the crucial partnership of faith-based health organizations overseas and in the U.S.

"In a meeting this month at the U.S. Department of State with Ms. Quam and officials from the CDC, USAID, HHS and the Office of the Global AIDS Coordinator, I urged administration officials not to discriminate against faith-based organizations on the basis of their conscientiously held moral convictions, especially considering that such organizations often can best accomplish the vast majority of the health care goals aimed at by domestic and international grant programs.

"A World Health Organization report reveals that between 30 percent and 70 percent of the health infrastructure in Africa is currently owned by faith-based organizations. The Gallup World Poll asked sub-Saharan Africans in 19 countries about their confidence in eight social and political institutions. Overall across the continent, they were most likely to say they were confident in the religious organizations (76 percent) in their countries.

"I explained to the U.S. officials at our State Department meeting that the same faith that compels faith-based individuals and organizations to care for the poor also compels them to minister according to faith-based moral and ethical standards. For the government to ignore those convictions or worse, to purposely exclude faith-based groups on the basis of those convictions, is to throw away the critical assistance of a huge sector of the health care community, especially in poor and medically underserved countries and regions. Why reject the partnership of a faith-based group, I asked, simply on the basis of one area of disagreement when that group is willing and ideally equipped and positioned in a community to achieve 90 percent of the health goals of a federal program?

"I cited the recent discrimination by HHS against a Catholic group by taking away a federal grant to provide care for victims of human trafficking, after the group declined to participate in abortions as stipulated by revised grant requirements. I urged federal officials at our State Department meeting to put systems in place to review grant requirements to insure that they do not unnecessarily or illegally discriminate against faith-based organizations."


Article #3
Excerpted from United States Senate News Release, "Hatch, Johanns Push Back on Administration Decision On Birth Control Insurance Rule," January 20, 2012.

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and Mike Johanns (R-Neb.) today pushed back on a decision made by the Obama Administration to mandate preventive services, including birth control and emergency contraception, for health insurance plans. In July 2011, the Institute of Medicine recommended several mandatory health services, as called for by the new health care law. This included a recommendation requiring all health care plans to provide controversial services, including contraceptives. Subsequently, Johanns and Hatch authored a letter, signed by 26 of their colleagues, to HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius outlining constitutional concerns regarding conscience protections.

“Today’s decision by the Obama Administration shows once again that in their mind, politics will always trump the Constitution,” Hatch said. “The problem is not that religious institutions do not have enough time to comply, it’s that they’re forced to comply at all. Unfortunately, this Administration has shown a complete lack of regard for our central constitutional commitment to religious liberty.”

“Forcing religious institutions to violate a cornerstone of their faith by providing contraceptives in their health care plans completely defies the Constitution,” said Johanns. “The President promised to uphold life and conscience protections in the health care law, but rather than live up to his word, he has regrettably chosen to punt on implementation of the controversial mandate until after the elections. I will do everything I can in the next year to ensure that the conscience rights of these churches, charities, hospitals and other religious organizations are protected.”


Commentary #3
CMA President David Stevens, MD, MA (Ethics): "The original decision by the Obama administration to mandate contraception coverage without a meaningful conscience exemption was outrageous--a blatant violation of the First Amendment and long-standing American principles of religious freedom. This recent decision to wait a year before forcing the mandate down the throats of organizations that oppose the coercion on conscience grounds is a cynical and meaningless political ploy. If subsidizing potentially life-ending contraceptives such as Ella and the morning-after pill is morally wrong in our eyes now, it will be morally wrong a year from now. The only thing that will change in a year is the likelihood of a court challenge to this conscience- and religious freedom-trampling requirement."

 

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