Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Anti-Choicer Dems Threatening to Derail Health Care Reform

From the great mcjoan at dailykos:

WaPo reports today that a number of anti-choice holdouts among Democrats are "threatening to oppose the measure over the issue of abortion to create a question about its passage."

"I will continue whipping my colleagues to oppose bringing the bill to the floor for a vote until a clean vote against public funding for abortion is allowed," Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.) said Monday in a statement. He said last week that 40 Democrats could vote with him to oppose the legislation -- enough to derail the bill.

To be clear, Stupak and his colleagues are joining with Republicans in trying to prevent the bill from coming to the floor at all if their extreme anti-choice amendment is not allowed. Stupak wants to prohibit abortion coverage completely in the exchange, meaning that if a woman wanted reproductive health coverage that included abortion servcies, she'd have to purchase an additional insurance rider. That would mean that a young woman covered by her parent's plan would have to negotiate with her parents for the coverage. Or a woman in an abusive relationship would have to negotiate that with her partner. Women would have to plan in advance, think ahead to whether any circumstance in their future life might lead them to have an unplanned or unwanted pregnancy and buy that extra insurance, just in case.

It's a backdoor attempt by Stupak and his colleagues to get abortion coverage excluded from private insurance, as well as public--which has been in place since 1976 with the Hyde Amendment, a rider that has been attached to appropriations bills for the past 33 years. The proposed House bill already goesmuch further in restricting access to abortion services than pro-choice advocates like, and in many ways marks a significant step back for choice. One of the primary issues is that it would codify the Hyde Amendment, making it permanent law.

But the Stupak amendment is much worse. He says he as some 40 Members with him to vote no on letting the bill onto the floor without banning abortion. It's not clear that he actually does have 40. We know of these 29 who are with him. Incidentally, 28 of them are men. Shocking, I know.

  • Jason Altmire
  • John Barrow
  • Dan Boren
  • Bobby Bright
  • Chris Carney
  • Travis Childers
  • Jerry Costello
  • Kathy Dahlkemper
  • Artur Davis
  • Lincoln Davis
  • Steve Driehaus
  • Parker Griffith
  • Tim Holden
  • Dale Kildee
  • Frank Kratovil
  • Dan Lipinski
  • Jim Marshall
  • Jim Matheson
  • Mike McIntyre
  • Charlie Melancon
  • Michael McMahon
  • Alan Mollohan
  • Jim Oberstar
  • Collin Peterson
  • Nick Rahall
  • Mike Ross
  • Heath Shuler
  • John Tanner
  • Gene Taylor

As Chris says, this makes just 30 members along with Stupak, not enough to stop the bill from coming to the floor unless he can find nine more. He says he has 40 some, so it's possible. So if you happen to recognize any of those above names as being your Representative, give them a call and let them know that you don't appreciate they're working with Republicans to attempt to derail this reform.

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Taking The Hits: Anti-Choicers Respond.

I was kind of asking for it, wasn't I? A few things you should know about me, from reader reactions at JillStanek to my recent AlterNet article. Like the fact that I am a confirmed racist slut.

And I thought they would be upset about the cross-stitch comments and the potato.
I don't think I've ever read an article where I thought so little of a writer's personality than I do after reading this Alternet piece by Ann Neumannwho went "undercover" to the PA Pro-Life Federation's annual conference. It's amazing how her snideness drips out of this. After having to endure the presence of pro-lifers whose fashion sense wasn't up to her New York standards, she exits in a cowardly fashion after briefly asserting her belief in cultural relativism with a retired woman


The alternet piece was choice. I love religion writers who are athiests. I also love her smugness at asserting how "fringe" we are. Pray tell, what was so horrific at anything she reports as said at that conference? I guess the certitude that life is precious is what she thinks is so ridiculous.

However, Neumann unintentionally reveals something very profound about her life and sin. What shakes her faith, and renders her on her godless path she now espouses? The premarital sex in college. That forbidden fruit, that loss of holy innocence, leads her down the road further and further from the Truth. There but for the grace of God go I.


As much as I enjoy sex, even the premarital sort I once had in college(oh my!)-I'm afraid I didn't find it to be so wonderful as to set it as the centerpiece of my life and world view. Once again, a case of grossly misplaced priorities rules the day.

Although, I don't think this one is so much in thrall of the sex as she seems to be challenging her established societal norms and moral boundaries with which she grew up. And she's 40 years old? How immature.


I realized I didn't phrase my end well. I do not support premarital sex. I think it is morally (as well as socially and personal development-wise) wrong. The "there but for the grace of God..." is more referring to what I almost did and did do before marriage with my now-wife, and what we both wish we hadn't, and knowledge that I could have easily fallen to the same trap that she did.

But I think we both latched on the money quote:

"When I found sex, at the seemingly late age of 20 in a university dorm room to the tunes of Led Zeppelin, all my absolute ideas about religion, moral certitude and God's jurisdiction over my body went right out the open window."

There is a great emotional immaturity in that line that seems to persist to this day.


I understand what you were getting at, Michael, I just don't agree. I think this woman would be reprehensible in some other area of her life if her parents thought premarital sex was a-ok. Personally, I don't think there's anything wrong with it under certain conditions, but I didn't do it just to get a rise out of others, I did it for myself and my relationship. This woman is foolish beyond words to have seemingly chosen her values and life philosophy according to how much it would piss off her parents. Screwing up yourself to spite others is the height of stupidity.

(article title at AlterNet was written by editors.)


GeriPal: Family Meetings, DNR Orders and Quill.

From Alex Smith at GeriPal comes this story of how medical personnel handle family meetings where members disagree about the manner in which to proceed with treatment:

We moved on to discuss a challenging conflict that occurred during a recent family meeting. The patient was in her 80’s, had advanced dementia, and had experienced a precipitous decline in her health status since suffering a compression fracture one month prior to admission. She no longer walked due to back pain. She had developed bedsores. She was admitted to our service with urosepsis, her third admission in the last month. In the family meeting, the patient’s husband agreed to the suggestion that she not be resuscitated in the event of a cardiac arrest. The patient’s son and daughter, however, strongly opposed a “Do-Not-Resuscitate Order,” saying, “We want everything done for our mother.” I asked the intern, who ran the family meeting, how he felt when this conflict came up. He said that while he wanted to support the husband, he didn’t know what to say to the adult children. He felt he had lost control, as family members had begun talking over each other and the medical team, and tensions were rising. I passed out an article published in the Annals of Internal Medicine by Quill et al., “Discussing Treatment Preferences With Patients Who Want ‘Everything.’” This terrific article describes a structured approach to addressing these issues with patients and families, beginning with an examination of the underlying reasons and emotions behind the request, an exploration of the benefits and burdens of treatment options and their alternatives, and culminating with a recommendation for care that encompasses what is known about the patient’s values and preferences. We role-played the family meeting, with the other house officers playing the part of family members. The intern used the suggested structure and his own words. He still struggled, and we had to rewind a few times to play parts over, but ultimately he learned, and felt more prepared to run a “real world” family meeting.

We on the outside can talk about coercion, natural death, end of life planning, and medical proxies all we want. But the actual experience of consulting with a family - and Smith's effort to share that with us - is a necessary lesson to those of us who write and think about end of life care.

The article referred to in this excerpt can be found at the above link and here.

An aside: Quill has taken a lot of flack from "pro-life," anti-choice-in-dying advocates because of his role in the Vacco v. Quill court case in 1997 which challenged New York states law against assisted suicide. Below is an excerpt from an interview conducted with Quill regarding that case.

A case with one of your patients led to a national debate in 1991. What happened?

A longtime patient, Diane, developed acute leukemia, with a 20 percent chance of long-term survival with aggressive treatment. I recommended treatment; she told me, “I don’t think so.” …

I was taken aback; she was a relatively healthy young person … but I eventually accepted it, and we referred her to hospice care.

But Diane said: “I want a choice; I want some medication if it gets hard at the end.” We had a number of family meetings, and she convinced me she’d worry about the end. I prescribed her barbiturates with the promise that she would meet with me before she took them to be sure we turned every stone.

She had a wonderful three months on hospice. …

I got the bright idea I was going to write about this case with Diane. I thought [Jack] Kevorkian was too easy to dismiss, … and I thought this case would be something people would struggle with. I wrote it up in narrative form. sent it to the New England Journal of Medicine and got a call from (the editor), who asked me if I knew what I was getting into. …

I was told I would never be successfully prosecuted, but I went through a serious process on the way to that.

What led to Vacco v. Quill, the Supreme Court case that challenged New York’s ban on physician-assisted suicide in 1997?

In the 1990s, there were initiatives to try to legalize physician-assisted suicide – in Washington state, California and Oregon, where it passed.

At the time, a number of people decided we would try to challenge the laws preventing assisted suicide; we thought patients should have the right to request and doctors the right to respond. We do allow some patients to decide –– patients on ventilators –– but patients suffering more who aren’t on ventilators don’t have the choice.

This went all the way to the Supreme Court, where the vote was 9-0 against the right to assisted suicide. … But there was language in the decision about the right to a dignified death, a death that avoids pain and despair, that encouraged debate at the state level and opened the door to terminal sedation to relieve suffering. …

The middle ground has moved forward. Palliative care and hospice have moved forward. There’s increased acknowledgment of tough cases and a lot more conversation, evaluation and exploration of options.

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Redemptive Suffering: Pain, Prison, and Assisted Suicide.

Garrett Keizer wrote in a 2005 essay for Harpers on physician assisted suicide titled, "Life Everlasting: The religious right and the right to die," that those who oppose aid in dying in the US are "protecting pain."

The first reason he notes for why opponents fight to protect pain is religious; the church deems suffering and pain to be redemptive.

The second reason, which can always be counted on to exploit the first, is political: the belief that pain is fundamental to justice, which makes perfect sense if justice is conceived as nothing more than a system of punishments and rewards. The essence of punishment is pain. Whoever owns pain owns power.

It's a chilling assessment (and essay) that I return to again and again as I think through and write about the aid in dying movement.

I wrote about a month ago regarding the pending Baxter v Montana appeal case before that state's supreme court which, if upheld, will determine aid in dying constitution in Montana:

But this isn’t a case about who’s responsible for ending a life. All patients who seek a death with dignity have already been meted out a sentence of death, either by cancer, multiple sclerosis, or some other painful, debilitating disease. Who ends a life that is already ended is not what advocates on both sides are contesting. The heart of Baxter v Montana – and the assisted suicide movement in the US – is really: Who has jurisdiction over suffering?

There are at least four bodies within society that have historically laid claim to the realm of suffering, either directly or indirectly: the state; the medical profession; God (or the church); and the individual patient.

From ReligionDispatches today comes an interview with Caleb Smith, the author of the new book, The Prison and the American Imagination, that, when viewed through the lens of the aid in dying movement, sheds much new and needed light on religion, suffering and redemption. In it Smith states:

The reformers who built the model institutions of the early nineteenth century called them penitentiaries, to compel penitence. They drew from Christian traditions—Quaker tenets of nonviolence, Catholic and Calvinist varieties of asceticism and moral rigor—and they often represented the cell as a place of spiritual rebirth. As a precondition for that resurrection, they led convicts through mortifying processes including “civil death,” a loss of legal personhood with origins in European monasticism. The Philadelphia reformer Benjamin Rush quoted scripture in describing the rehabilitated convict as a man who “was lost and is found—was dead and is alive.” My book is animated by my fascination with this resurrection plot and all of its contradictions.

Can hospitalization be considered a form of incarceratin? Smith reminds us of the interwoven nature in Western society of state power and church theology.

Ideas of salvation and redemption not only govern how we treat those who have offended society in criminal ways, but of those who, as Susan Sontag might put it, offend society by contracting terminal illnesses.

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LifeNews Email: We'll "Out-Hustle" RHRealityCheck.

You call it educate....

Dear LifeNews.com Readers,

I want to thank you for the steadfast support and encouragement you have given to LifeNews.com over the last month.

We opened our October fundraising campaign not knowing what to expect, but hopeful that our faithful readers would give LifeNews.com a shot in the arm with an additional $5,000 in donations above and beyond what we normally receive.

Thankfully, you responded to that call and I am pleased to tell you that we raised over $8,000 -- nearly doubling our anticipated goal. Whether large or small, the gifts you sent to us are a real blessing and none of them go unappreciated.

We also are moved beyond words to receive the emails you send thanking us for providing LifeNews.com as a means of keeping hundreds of thousands of people informed about the latest pro-life news, information and action items. We can't always respond to every email or written note but know that they are all read word for word.

This month, as we attempt to arm as many pro-life people as possible with information about the pro-abortion health care bills pending in Congress, we are challenging you with a new goal.

And that is to help us take on our main opponent, our main nemesis or competition in the abortion news race.

As you probably know, there are several good news sources that provide pro-life news coverage. We don't regard our friends at places likeWorldNetDaily, CNS News, OneNewsNow or Lifesite as competition -- they are our much-needed partners because we have the same shared agenda of a commitment to protecting the inherent dignity of the unborn and others. In fact, I hope you receive some of their news as a supplement to the single-issue pro-life coverage we provide here at LifeNews.com.

No, apart frm the pro-abortion mainstream media, and pro-abortion web pages like Huffington Post and others our mail single-issue pro-abortion competition comes in the form of a pro-abortion "news" outlet that is more of an opinion blog, rant sheet, or forum for extreme pro-abortion activists: RH Reality Check.

You've seen us mention RHRC before and it is funded with hundreds of thousands (perhaps millions of dollars) by the pro-abortion and Ted Turner-created United Nations Foundation. It bills itself as a counter to the pro-life reporting of web sites like LifeNews.com - which it frequently mentions and criticizes.

The site is popular with abortion advocates and often features opinion columns from the likes of Cecile Richards, Nancy Keenan and other members of the abortion industry.

While LifeNews.com has little chance of keeping up with the funding RH Reality Check receives, we know that, with your help and support, we can out-hustle them.

According to Alexa, which ranks the hundreds of millions of web sites, LifeNews.com led RH Reality Check in readership from its creation in mid 2008 through much of this year. However, the pro-abortion side has discovered this lone forum for pro-abortion news and information and RHRC now holds the lead.

After taking a week-long break in anticipation of the upcoming health care battles, LifeNews.com's ranking now stands at 77,138. That compares with RHRC's ranking of 69,716.

Our goal for the month of November is to eclipse RHRC every week and for the month overall -- enough to raise our ranking above our pro-abortion opponents.

Why does it matter?

The hallmark of the abortion battle is education and we have always known we have the truth on our side. The more people who are exposed to the truth of abortion and how it kills children and hurts women, the sooner we will be able to end this travesty. And on the flip-side, the more people who know about key abortion battles like the abortion funding in the health care bills, the better able we will be to stop abortion.

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Do one of these things, do all of them, do them every day. Sit and watch your favorite movie on the couch and help promote our news, make it a family competition, challenge your kids, your youth group -- whatever it takes.

At the end of the month, your hard work will ensure that more pro-life people are better informed to save babies from abortions now and will make sure more people are exposed to the truth about Planned Parenthood, Obama and their pro-abortion activist allies.

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Again, thank you for your support last month and we look forward to making November one in which the pro-life sides outworks and outpaces our opponents: abortion and its enthusiastic supporters. Because lives literally hang in the balance.

For the unborn,

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Fetus-Shaped Potatoes?

I've a new piece up at AlterNet about my attendance at the Pennyslvania Pro-Life Conference in Scranton last weekend.

Please read and let me know what you think.

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A Canadian Quadriplegic Addresses Euthanasia Laws.

Steven Fletcher, a Canadian C4 quadriplegic, writes today for the NationalPost that he supports the proposed euthanasia bill there, preferring that patients have a choice to end their pain and suffering, but asks that it not be the only choice:

A critical element that informs our discussion of euthanasia is the level of support that we, as individuals and as a society, provide to people who have reached such difficult crossroads as mine. This means more than just controlling pain and keeping a person alive. The prospect of a good quality of life bolsters the will to live. With proper medical and social assistance, people who want to end their lives often change their perspective about life itself. In my case, my own wish to be euthanized in the time after my accident (suicide by my own hand was not an option, as I was trapped in my body) changed as I began to received more support.

There are situations in which all the resources in the world cannot help. Physical pain cannot always be managed. Sue Rodriguez suffered from a degenerative condition called ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s disease. Doomed to suffocate as her muscles and lungs collapsed, this courageous woman went all the way to the Supreme Court requesting the right to die. She was denied, and chose to commit suicide illegally with the help of an un-named doctor. In a situation such as Sue Rodriguez’s, I support the right to choose death.

When speaking of euthanasia, the metaphor of “the slippery slope” is often raised by the disabled community — the idea being that the mercy-killing of even one person may lead to the wholesale culling of the ranks of the disabled.

But I see the slippery slope going in two directions. In one direction, people could be killed because others think their pain is intolerable — just as disabled advocates claim. But there is another direction, too, whereby people can be forced to live in pain that truly is intolerable.

To be clear, one direction that Canada can never slip down is that of Robert Latimer, who arbitrarily decided to kill his young disabled daughter. This was clearly murder. But other situations are more nuanced.

As soon as I could speak after my accident, I had a lawyer develop a living will. This document explains to my parents and loved ones my wishes. My living will allows the prospect of euthanasia under certain circumstances. Unfortunately, the euthanasia provisions in my living will may not be binding or enforceable, which is why I agree that changes should be considered to our current law. Heaven forbid that the provisions in my living will ever need to be carried out, but if the situation does arise, my wishes may be trumped by the criminal code.

I want to be empowered to make the best decisions for myself; and if I am unable, I want the people who love me to do what they think is in my best interest. I do not want to be forced to live in a hell because the law does not take into account my “unique” circumstances or because someone imposed their values on the meaning of life on me. Given the choice of existence without living or death, I would rather choose the latter and take my chances on the other side.

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Baltimore Bill to Require CPCs Post Signs Saying They Don't Provide Abortions.

Since the failure in the mid- to late- 70s of Human-Rights Amendments, legislative efforts to define life as beginning at fertilization, anti-abortion activists have focused on limiting access to abortion and to direct pregnant women in crisis, sometimes with false information on the damages of abortion, toward adoption. (Other access-limiting efforts have included parental notification laws, such as the one taking effect in Illinois today.)

Kathryn Joyce recently wrote for The Nation on the coercion used by CPCs to convince expecting mothers to give their child up for adoption.

A new legislative bill in Baltimore, introduced by Stephanie Rawlings-Blake (D), City Council President, would require crisis pregnancy centers there to post signs that they do not provide abortion services.

According to the BaltimoreSun:

But leaders from several pregnancy centers flatly denied that they create any confusion and said the legislation is a form of political harassment because it is so narrowly focused.

Carol Clews, who oversees one center, showed a release form and a statement of care they post in their facility. Both indicate that no abortions are performed.

"We already inform our clients in a variety of ways about the services we perform," Clews said.

Pro-choice advocates disagreed, pointing to a January 2008 report commissioned by NARAL Pro-choice Maryland Fund, where staff at pregnancy centers told NARAL investigators that abortions cause an increased risk of
breast cancer, infertility and depression. The report does not show with specificity which centers in Maryland gave out that information.

"If a woman is in a crisis and is pregnant she may be making an assumption that she may be able to find all of her options [in a center] but in fact she can't," said Keiren Havens, a Baltimore Planned Parenthood spokeswoman.

Bishop Denis J. Madden of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Baltimore said that the bill "serves no useful purpose" and was baffled about why the City Council president would raise the issue.

"With all of the concerns of our city," he said after testifying, "the City Council should choose which battles they are going to fight."

Four CPCs in Baltimore would be effected; two are funded by the Roman Catholic Church. MedicalNewsToday writes:

The Sun also included a letter to the editor by Jennifer Blasdell, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Maryland. Blasdell wrote, "If limited service pregnancy centers in Baltimore are up front in explaining that they do not offer services or referrals for abortion or birth control, then they have nothing to worry about under this proposed ordinance." She added, "As ... Rawlings-Blake explained at the hearing, this bill is about truth in advertising. That is something we should all support" (Blasdell, Baltimore Sun, 10/28).

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