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The Point Washington Update - November 14, 2013

In this edition of The Point:


Article/Commentary #1

Published in USA Today, November 7, 2013, personal commentary by CMA VP for Government Relations, Jonathan Imbody - If only the GOP would throw up the white flag and surrender "hard-line positions on abortion" and other social issues, they might win like Democrats, suggests a USA editorial ("How GOP candidates can win: Our view," Nov. 6).

If Republicans had followed such advice in the nineteenth century, we would still be trading in slaves.

A 2013 Gallup poll revealed that by at least a 17-point margin, women, independents and young voters all favored the GOP position of making abortion illegal in most cases. The movement against abortion on demand garners even more support when the specific abortion issue is parental consent, partial-birth abortion, second and third trimester abortions and informed consent.

Meanwhile, a Brookings Institution poll found that "Republicans have a better opportunity to attract Democratic defectors with … a socially conservative message than an economically conservative message."

Republicans' socially conservative position on abortion clearly syncs with American voters' values. Yet even if polling on abortion ran counter to the GOP platform, who could ever trust a political party that sacrificed on the altar of political expediency its commitment to the "right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness?"


Article #2

Excerpted from "Court strikes down birth control mandate," published in The Hill, November 01, 2013 - A federal appeals court on Friday struck down the birth control mandate in ObamaCare, concluding the requirement trammels religious freedom.

The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals — the second most influential bench in the land behind the Supreme Court — ruled 2-1 in favor of business owners who are fighting the requirement that they provide their employees with health insurance that covers birth control.

Requiring companies to cover their employees’ contraception, the court ruled, is unduly burdensome for business owners who oppose birth control on religious grounds, even if they are not purchasing the contraception directly.

Legal analysts expect the Supreme Court to ultimately pick up an appeal on the birth-control requirement and make a final decision on its constitutionality. In the meantime, Republicans in Congress have pushed for a conscience clause that would allow employers to opt out of providing contraception coverage for moral or religious reasons.

The split ruling against the government on Friday was the latest in a string of court cases challenging the healthcare law’s mandate. Friday’s ruling centered on two Catholic brothers, Francis and Philip Gilardi, who own a 400-person produce company based in Ohio.

"They can either abide by the sacred tenets of their faith, pay a penalty of over $14 million, and cripple the companies they have spent a lifetime building, or they become complicit in a grave moral wrong," Brown wrote.

The Obama administration said that the requirement is necessary to protect women’s right to decide whether and when to have children.


Commentary #2

Matt Bowman, Senior Legal Counsel, Alliance Defending Freedom – “Two new cases have vindicated religious freedom for people in their everyday professions, and have upped the ante for another Supreme Court showdown, in 2014, with the Obama administration over religious liberty and Obamacare. The U.S. Courts of Appeals for the Seventh and D.C. Circuits, in Chicago and Washington, respectively, both ruled in the last few days that when people of faith engage in a business they do in fact possess the freedom to exercise their religious beliefs when the government commands them to violate those beliefs. The Gilardi family out of Ohio, the Korte family of Illinois and the Grote family in Indiana all run businesses and seek to do so consistent with their Christian faith. They object to the Obamacare mandate to provide abortifacient drugs, contraception and sterilization in their employee health plans.

“On November 9, the Seventh Circuit declared that the Korte and Grote families and their businesses can assert rights against the federal government under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 (RFRA), which ‘operates as a kind of utility remedy for the inevitable clashes between religious freedom and the realities of the modern welfare state, which regulates pervasively and touches nearly every aspect of social and economic life.’

“The court went on to declare that the abortifacient/contraception mandate is not justified against religious objectors, because the government merely asserts that free contraception promotes ‘health’ and ‘equality.’ Rebutting the government’s assertion of a so-called ‘right’ to such things as abortion and contraception, the court declared that ‘the government has failed to demonstrate how such a right...can extend to the compelled subsidization of a woman’s procreative practices’ by private citizens.

“On November 26, the Supreme Court will look at three petitions from businesses that have filed similar challenges to the abortifacient/contraception mandate, and it could decide that afternoon to set one or more of those cases for argument in the spring of 2014.”


Article #3

Excerpted from "You Can't Predict Destiny by Designing Your Baby's Genome," commentary by Megan Allyse and Marsha Michie, published in The Wall Street Journal, Nov. 8, 2013 - In the 1997 film "Gattaca," wealthy parents regularly use what's called preimplantation genetic diagnosis to pick children with the most desirable characteristics. Using in vitro fertilization, PGD creates several embryos and then uses the most genetically promising one to attempt a pregnancy.

As distant as a Gattaca-style dystopia may seem, recent developments suggest it's not as far-fetched as it once was. California genetic testing company 23andMe announced in October that it has patented a method for determining the traits, including eye color and height, a hypothetical child would inherit from its parents.

Sperm donors deemed genetically inferior--or invalid, in Gattaca terms--will presumably be rejected and have to pass on their genetic material the old-fashioned way. These innovations expand on an existing service for prospective parents called carrier screening. The screening detects gene variants that, when present in both parents, significantly increase the risk of certain diseases in offspring.

The question is no longer whether we can design our offspring, but if we should-and what happens when we try. It may seem like creating the perfect child will eventually be a matter of who can pay for it. But predicting whether a couple's offspring will be the next Mozart or Einstein is about as easy as predicting the precise location and airspeed of a hurricane nine months in advance. That's because our genes are too complex to predict.

Parents have always tried to control their children's destiny, and complex gene algorithms are merely the latest manifestation of those efforts. But these techniques will only reveal that human life is too multifaceted to be reduced to a mathematical formula.


Commentary #3

CMDA Member and Senior Fellow for Family Research Council David Prentice, PhD: “Our genes are not our destiny. Even with the ultimate genetic selection technology—cloning—the cloned animal offspring are not exact duplicates of the progenitor from which they were cloned. Yes, despite the fact that the cloning process uses the exact DNA of another individual (technically ‘somatic cell nuclear transfer’ is the most common form of cloning attempted) in an attempt to replicate that individual, the few clones that survive show that we are all more than just a readout of a genetic menu. One of the clearest examples of this lack of ‘genetic determinism’ is CC, the ‘carbon copy’ cat, which was cloned in 2001. She has a different coat pattern than the cat from which she was cloned, and different behavioral patterns.

“We are not our genes! Epigenetics (which genes are expressed, when and where) and environment have a huge effect. Even our experiences in the womb help shape who we are.

“This newest eugenic attempt to control our children and their outcomes, whether by ‘screening out’ less desirable traits or individuals, or ‘designing in’ what we might consider more desirable or fashionable traits, is a self-centered exercise that lacks respect for the uniqueness of each individual’s genetic endowment. The new human becomes the created property of another, designed and crafted to meet the maker’s desires; it is man making man in his own image, yet without any higher standard to which the craftsman is held. A key ingredient is lacking—love. Each new human individual is a gift to be loved. We are each of us fearfully and wonderfully made!”

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