Commentaries - "the point"

Share This    

The Point Washington Update - September 19, 2013

In this edition of The Point:

Article #1

Excerpted from "Doctor on a mission to combat modern slavery," (Ky.) Courier-News, August 31, 2013 - As he talked to Louisville doctors and medical students last week, Ohio physician Jeffrey Barrows said he saw familiar expressions on their faces. Shock. It was the same response he had when he began learning about modern slavery less than a decade ago.

Barrows had worked for years with the Christian Medical & Dental Associations, conducting short-term educational trips throughout Asia and Africa. Through a contact with the State Department, Barrows said, he was asked to do research into the health effects of human trafficking as it relates to the global spread of HIV and AIDS.

“The more I read, the more I was shocked,” Barrows, an obstetrician and gynecologist, recalled in an interview Aug. 23 after his Louisville lecture. Many people are still not aware, he said — and his fellow doctors can play a vital role in combating it.

“Of all the sectors within society, health care is one of the most likely to encounter these victims,” he said. Research indicates that a quarter to a half of trafficking victims encounter health care professionals at some point when they are enslaved, Barrows said.

Barrows spoke at Norton Hospital at the University of Louisville Department of Pediatrics Grand Rounds, a continuing-education lecture attended by about 160 students, doctors and other social-service and government representatives. Barrows spends his time educating health care professionals on the signs of trafficking and promoting the development of homes that help recovering victims. He is vice president of Abolition International, a group that works to end sex slavery.

Emergency-room staff and other medical professionals need to watch for the signs of trafficking, Barrows said — just as they have been trained on signs of domestic violence and child abuse.

“Getting the word out is part of the puzzle, getting the people to understand this is happening,” Barrows said. Otherwise, “they’ll encounter a patient and they’ll walk away saying, ‘Something strange is going on, but I don’t know what it is.’”

Warning signs, he said, include:

The victim being accompanied by a highly controlling person — who might even be a family member.
The body language of the patient indicating fear of the accompanying person.
Tattoos indicating a handler’s street name — often a brand of “ownership” by the trafficker.
Signs of abuse.
For sex workers, multiple sexually transmitted diseases.
For manual laborers, such injuries as back trauma or hearing loss.
The victim may also be unaccountably silent on some issues — such as why he or she waited until symptoms became severe to seek medical help.

Commentary #1

CMDA Health Consultant on Human Trafficking Jeffrey J. Barrows, DO, MA (Bioethics) – “Dr. David McLario, a CMDA member, is on staff at Louisville Children’s hospital and made the arrangements for this presentation. He also did an excellent job organizing a symposium afterward to develop a protocol for their ED to respond to trafficking victims. His reward was encountering a patient the next day who, with further investigation, may turn out to be a victim of trafficking.

“Consider following his example by learning about trafficking and developing a strategy to respond. Every healthcare professional working with patients needs to be educated on human trafficking. Limited studies show between 28 to 50 percent of trafficking victims encounter a healthcare professional while being trafficked.

“CMDA has an excellent educational resource available online at It’s even free if you don’t take the available CME credits. If you need assistance in developing a response strategy, contact me at”

Article #2

(Excerpted from "Ken Cuccinelli’s ‘personhood’ travails," Washington Post editorial, Sep. 4, 2013) -- Six years ago, when Virginia’s General Assembly considered the so-called “personhood amendment” to the state constitution, which granted full rights to “preborn human being[s] from the moment of fertilization,” the list of co-sponsors was short. Not only would the amendment have banned abortion, as the sponsors clearly intended, it also provided an opening to prohibit common methods of birth control, including the pill and intrauterine devices.

The practical effects of “personhood” measures … would easily include banning the most popular forms of contraception. This is because the pill, as well as other forms of birth control, work partly by preventing the implantation of eggs in the uterus wall after they have been fertilized. If the “preborn” are protected “from the moment of fertilization,” as the 2007 bill demanded, then contraception — which defeats a fertilized egg’s chances of becoming a living being — could be prohibited.

Commentary #2

CMA VP for Govt. Relations Jonathan Imbody: The Post is entitled to its own editorial opinions but not its own facts, and scientific fact clearly contradicts the assertion that "contraception … defeats a fertilized egg’s chances of becoming a living being."

Embryology textbooks clarify the lay term "fertilized egg" as "… a zygote or fertilized ovum which is the primordium or beginning of a new human being. Human development begins at fertilization…. This highly specialized, totipotent cell marked the beginning of each of us as a unique individual."1

"Although life is a continuous process, fertilization is a critical landmark because, under ordinary circumstances, a new, genetically distinct human organism is formed…."2

So contrary to the Post, not only is a "fertilized egg" a living being; he or she is a human being. A human being is by nature a person, defined as "a human being regarded as an individual."3 But political ideology prevents the admission that abortion claims the life of a moving, smiling, hiccupping, grimacing, living human being--a person.

1Keith L. Moore & T.V.N. Persaud. The Developing Human: Clinically Oriented Embryology, 6th Edition, 1998
2Ronan O'Rahilly & Fabiola Muller, 2001 Human Embryology & Teratology, 3rd Ed.
3Apple Inc. dictionary, ver. 2.21.

Article/Commentary #3

Editor's note: AUL attorney Mailee Smith, whose commentary appears below, has written several amicus briefs for the Christian Medical Association, which has participated in 40 court cases.

Excerpted from "The state of pro-life legislation, commentary by Mailee Smith, staff counsel at Americans United for Life (, published in The Washington Times, Sep. 4, 2013 -- In 2013, life-affirming federal and state legislation designed to protect women from the harms inherent in abortion has garnered increasing attention and support from legislators and the American public — and engendered increasing fear and consternation among abortion advocates and their allies.

Abortion advocates appear particularly dismayed with recent legislative efforts to enact laws prohibiting abortion after five months of pregnancy. The reality is that a woman seeking an abortion at 20 weeks is 35 times more likely to die from abortion than she is in the first trimester. At 21 weeks or more, she is 91 times more likely to die from abortion than she is in the first trimester. Legislative efforts to limit abortion after this point directly protect maternal health, no matter how the pregnancy began. Even the liberal Huffington Post recently admitted that Americans overwhelmingly support limitations on such late-term abortions.

Yet abortion advocates oppose banning late-term abortion as well as laws requiring that women be informed of the health risks they face from abortion. The evidence of abortion’s devastating harms to women is overwhelming. Consider this partial list of the short-term and long-term physical and psychological risks associated with abortion:

  • Short-term risks include blood loss, blood clots, incomplete abortion, infections such as pelvic inflammatory disease, cervical lacerations and other injuries to organs.
  • Premature birth: At least 130 studies have shown an increased risk of subsequent premature birth and low birth-weight infants after abortion. The increased risk of these devastating complications is estimated to be approximately 37 percent after one abortion, 90 percent after two abortions and further increased risk for each additional abortion.
  • Placenta previa is the condition during pregnancy in which the placenta covers the cervix, increasing the risks of life-threatening maternal hemorrhage, premature birth and perinatal child death. Abortion increases the risk of placenta previa in subsequent pregnancies by from 30 percent to 50 percent, and much more so for women who have had multiple abortions.
  • Breast cancer: It is undisputed that a woman’s first full-term pregnancy reduces her risk of breast cancer. Numerous studies show that abortion may increase a woman’s lifetime risk of breast cancer. In one study funded by the National Cancer Institute, pro-choice researcher Dr. Janet Daling found that “among women who had been pregnant at least once, the risk of breast cancer in those who had experienced an induced abortion was 50 percent higher than among other women.”
  • Mental health: A 2011 study in the British Journal of Psychiatry examined 22 studies conducted from 1995 to 2009 and found that women face an 81 percent increased risk of mental health problems following abortion. Women experienced increased risks for anxiety at 34 percent, for depression at 37 percent, for alcohol abuse at 110 percent and for suicide at 155 percent.
  • Maternal mortality: Abortion advocates wrongly assert that abortion is safer than childbirth. Many studies show the opposite, including one that found maternal death to be three times more likely from abortion than from childbirth.
  • Risks of later-term abortions: Abortion’s risks increase the further into pregnancy it is performed. Beginning at five months of pregnancy, the risk of complications from abortion rises dramatically.

Abortion advocates cannot counter this growing medical data. Instead, they resort to outrageous arguments camouflaging the fact that they are ignoring the health risks of abortion to pregnant women, who deserve our protection.

Related Publications

The Point

e-newsletters | January 09, 2014