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The Point Washington Update - March 2012

In this edition:

Article #1
Excerpted from "Supreme Court begins review of health care law," The Washington Post, March 26, 2012: The Supreme Court opened its historic review of the national health care overhaul Monday with an indication that it will be able to decide the constitutional question of whether Congress exceeded its powers despite arguments that the challenge was brought too soon. The court began the first of three days of oral arguments on the 2010 law by examining a statute that keeps courts from hearing tax challenges before they go into effect.

As the review began, hundreds of supporters and opponents of the health care law marched outside the Supreme Court. The demonstrations highlighted the contentiousness of President Obama’s signature domestic initiative, which was signed into law two years ago and continues to galvanize his opponents. The 26 states challenging the Affordable Care Act (ACA), as well as the private organization and individuals who are party to the challenge, also want the court to act now.

Excerpted from "Pelosi on Obamacare: ‘Ironclad constitutionally,’ honors the ‘vows of our founders,’" The Daily Caller, March 22, 2012: As the Democrats’ health care law heads to the Supreme Court, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said the legislation honors the “vows of our founders,” declaring it “ironclad constitutionally.” Alongside Reps. Steny Hoyer of Maryland and James Clyburn of South Carolina at a ceremony on Capitol Hill, Pelosi said, “After 100 years of trying, finally we passed health care for all Americans as a right for all — not just a privilege for a few. It honored the vows of our founders: Of life, a healthier life; liberty; the freedom to pursue our own happinesses.”

Regarding the health care law Supreme Court case, Pelosi was asked how the highest court in the land would rule on the individual mandate.

“We knew what we were doing when we passed this bill. It is ironclad constitutionally. What happens in the courts is another matter but we believe that we’re in pretty good shape going into the court,” Pelosi responded.

A recent Rasmussen poll shows that 56 percent of Americans “somewhat favor” the repeal of the health care law while 46 percent “strongly favor” it, which represents an eight-month high.

Excerpted from Senator Roy Blunt’s Statement On ObamaCare Supreme Court Hearings, March 26, 2012: “As the Supreme Court begins to hear arguments regarding the constitutionality of the President’s health care law, it’s clear to the majority of Americans that this burdensome and costly legislation is bad for families, seniors, and job creators.

"No matter what the Supreme Court ultimately decides, I believe the President’s health care takeover represents an unmitigated intrusion into Americans’ fundamental rights and freedom. That’s why we must work together to repeal this flawed law and enact common-sense bipartisan solutions that will put patients and doctors in control of their health care – not Washington bureaucrats. Twenty-six states have challenged this law and a number of federal judges have already deemed the individual mandate unconstitutional. I hope the Supreme Court will come to the same conclusion.”


Commentary #1
CEO David Stevens, MD, MD (Ethics): "CMDA is working with the Bioethics Defense Fund and other groups, and we submitted an amici brief to the Supreme Court on an overlooked aspect of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) that includes an 'abortion premium mandate.'

"As the brief reads, Found in Section 1303 of the Act, the infringing provisions impose inescapable requirements upon millions of Americans who will be, even unwittingly, enrolled in employer or individual health plans that happen to include elective abortion coverage. Such enrollees are compelled by the Act to pay a separate premium from their own pocket to the insurer’s actuarial fund designated solely for the purpose of paying for other people’s elective abortions.

"Later it says, Section I(C) of this brief outlines our nation’s deeply-rooted history of respecting and protecting the conscience rights of individuals to avoid being forced into the practice or funding of elective abortion. Amici emphasize how these provisions strike at and undermine their most basic principles of morality and religion that call them to respect and protect vulnerable unborn children and to avoid collaborating in the moral evil of directly paying for elective abortion.

"There is no doubt that apart from the Court striking down the law, the Affordable Care Act already has begun to and would continue to impose enormous changes to U.S. health care. CMDA members have varying opinions on how they hope the Supreme Court will rule. As an organization, we don’t have an official position on the ACA, but we have and will continue to speak clearly to the media and the courts on components of the Act that violate our ethical and moral positions on abortion and right of conscience.

"All of us should pray that God’s will would be done on this issue which will affect each of us professionally and personally in the years ahead. God has the power to influence kings, pharaohs and Supreme Court Justices. He has commanded us to pray for those in authority over us.

"Let’s get down on our knees and pray, 'not my will but thine be done.'”


Article #2
Reprint of "HHS Info Contradicts FDA on Plan B’s Abortifacient Nature," commentary published in LifeNews.com, March 16, 2012:

by Jonathan Imbody, CMA VP for Government Relations

Washington, DC--A review of U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services (HHS) documents on contraceptives raises questions as to why HHS is apparently:

(a) contradicting Food and Drug Administration (FDA) labeling in an HHS Office of Women’s Health document on emergency contraception, and

(b) leaving out vital information, in an HHS Office of Population Affairs document, about the drug’s post-fertilization, life-ending effect

–and whether ideological considerations are driving those decisions.

A recently revised web-based fact sheet published by the HHS Office of Women’s Health appears to contradict FDA labeling on emergency contraception pills (levonorgestrel, also known as “Plan B,” “Plan B One-Step,” “Next Choice” and the “morning-after pill”). FDA labeling indicates that emergency contraception can end the life of a developing human embryo by preventing implantation.

The FDA notes, “Plan B One-Step is believed to act as an emergency contraceptive principally by preventing ovulation or fertilization (by altering tubal transport of sperm and/or ova). In addition, it may inhibit implantation (by altering the endometrium).”

In other words, the drug may prevent a living, developing human embryo from implanting in the womb, thus ending the life of the embryo. Because that information is a key concern for any women with pro-life conscience concerns, it must be presented to allow women fully informed consent in making their medical choices.

However, a recently revised version of the HHS Office of Women’s Health fact sheet casts the post-fertilization issue much differently than the FDA, asserting, “While it is possible that ECPs [emergency contraception pills] might work by keeping a fertilized egg from attaching to the uterus, the most up-to-date research suggests that ECPs do not work in this way.” The fact sheet does not provide any scientific references to back up what is asserted to be “the most up-to-date research.”

A previous version of the HHS Office of Women’s Health fact sheet had included a distinct section entitled, “How does emergency contraception work?” The previous fact sheet noted, “Emergency contraception can keep you from becoming pregnant by: Keeping the egg from leaving the ovary; OR Keeping the sperm from meeting the egg, OR Keeping the fertilized egg from attaching to the uterus (womb).”

The newly revised HHS document also refers readers for more information to (a) the FDA, (b) http://ec.princeton.edu and (c) Planned Parenthood. Both the original and revised HHS documents state that they were reviewed by James Trussell, PhD, Director of Office of Population Research at Princeton and a member of an FDA advisory panel that in 2003 recommended that Plan B be sold over the counter.

Another HHS fact sheet on emergency contraception, produced by the agency’s Office of Population Affairs, notes only that “Emergency contraception prevents pregnancy mainly by keeping the ovaries from releasing eggs. Emergency contraception also works by causing the cervical mucus to thicken, which blocks sperm from meeting with and fertilizing an egg.” The fact sheet does not mention at all the potential post-fertilization, life-ending effect of the drug.

Since 2002, the HHS Office of Public Health and Science has provided a process by which individuals and organizations can protest and request correction of wrong or incomplete public information disseminated by HHS.

The conspicuous omission of vital medical information needed to provide women with fully informed consent regarding emergency contraception, coupled with unsubstantiated assertions that contradict FDA labeling, lay the administration open to charges that it is advancing abortion ideology over science and violating President Obama’s barbed pledge in his inaugural address to “restore science to its rightful place.”

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