Category Archives: Medical

AIUM: Keepsake ultrasounds tied to low birth-gender ratios in California

Think sex-based abortions happen only in India, China, or other eastern countries where boy babies are more desired? Think again.

From a study by the American Institute of Ultrasound in Medicine (AIUM):

Although a definitive cause-and-effect relationship can’t be proved, access to keepsake ultrasound centers continues to be linked with lower numbers of female births among some Asian groups in California, according to a talk at the American Institute of Ultrasound in Medicine (AIUM) annual meeting.

Continuing a trend identified for prior years, several California counties had abnormally low female-to-male birth ratios among Asians in 2010, a development that was associated with the proliferation of keepsake ultrasound centers that offer gender-determination services, according to G. Sharat Lin, PhD, of Advanced Imaging Associates in Fremont, CA….

For several years, Lin has been examining birth-gender ratios (female births per 1,000 male births) to investigate if commercial access to 4D keepsake ultrasound studies could be facilitating gender-specific abortion among Asians in California. In 2010, he presented research at the AIUM meeting that hinted at a relationship between keepsake ultrasound and birth-gender ratios in the state….

Lin found that Asian ethnic groups in the county who were known to have a traditional gender preference for boys had clearly lower female-to-male birth ratios than those Asian ethnic groups who did not have a preference.

“Mothers born in China, India, and Vietnam [have female-to-male birth ratios] that are well below normal, and those from Pakistan are much closer to normal,” Lin told AuntMinnie.com. “Breaking it down by ethnic group is showing us that this is not simply noise or some kind of a random fluctuation. These are showing up where we expect them, in the ethnic groups where there is a cultural preference for boys.”…

Statewide, Asians have had the lowest birth-gender ratio (considered to be less than 930 female births per 1,000 male births) among ethnic groups in California from 1995 to 2010….

Low birth-gender ratios among Asians in urban counties in 2010 were as follows:

  • Sacramento: 888
  • Los Angeles: 889
  • San Francisco: 919
  • Riverside: 919
  • San Joaquin: 927

“While we still don’t have a direct proof of cause and effect, we see a correlation that in counties like San Joaquin County and Sacramento County, [there’s] a downward trend in BGRs, and at the same time, continued proliferation of these keepsake ultrasound centers,” he said. “Another alarming trend is that in the metropolitan areas where there were not many keepsake ultrasound centers before, there are many new ones. It will take some time for us to see what impact that will have, particularly in more maturing immigrant populations.”…

Feminism: aborting itself out of existence. Read it all.

Catholic entities undermine U.S. bishops’ authority

From the National Catholic Register:

Recent headlines have told the story “Catholic Hospitals, Bishops Split on Health Care” and “Catholic Bishops Fight for Authority Over U.S. Flock.”

These volatile headlines refer to the fact that some Catholic individuals and organizations publicly disagree with the U.S. Bishops about provisions of the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, commonly known as Obamacare. This opposition from within the Church makes the bishops’ effort to preserve religious freedom much more difficult, for the Obama administration and some Democrat Congressmen have been quick to use a “divide and conquer” strategy by invoking these dissident groups as if they are legitimate Catholic authorities.

The most prominent Catholic supporter of Obamacare has been the Catholic Health Association of the United States (CHA), led by its president and CEO, Sister Carol Keehan, a Daughter of Charity. Playing a supporting role for her have been the officers of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) and the conference’s lobbying arm, Network. Sister Carol declined to be interviewed for this story….

Nevertheless, Sister Carol and the other high-profile sisters who have publicly opposed the bishops’ position have been hailed by Obamacare supporters as having legitimate moral authority in the Church to counter the bishops. For example, on March 8 — International Women’s Day — Sister Carol was named by the Center for American Progress as one of “13 Religious Women to Watch in 2012 Changing the World for Good” because: “She was instrumental in garnering support for the Affordable Care Act in 2010, when CHA broke with the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops to publicly support the act. As a result, Keehan gave moral permission to legislators who were conflicted about supporting the bill.”

So, what gives these sisters and the CHA authority to grant “moral permission” for disagreement with the nation’s bishops?

Nothing. Neither the sisters nor the CHA hold any authority to speak for the Church on faith and morals: That authority belongs to the bishops alone, as Archbishop Joseph Naumann of Kansas City, Kan., told Catholic News Service during his recent ad limina visit to the Vatican. He said that his group of Midwestern bishops also spoke with Vatican officials about the public support of the CHA and LCWR for the so-called “accommodation” in the HHS mandate. The bishops have rejected the “accommodation” because it still requires religious institutions to provide insurance that covers immoral services.

“Those efforts are really undercutting the Church and trying to divide it again by setting up two teaching authorities when there’s only one within the Church,” Archbishop Naumann said. “It’s a very serious issue, I think, particularly when religious try to insert themselves in the role of trying to be the teachers within the Church. They have important roles to play but they are not the ones to teach on these matters.”…

Read it all.

Paganism in the 21st century, the sequel: Academia doubles down

It’s not enough that the Journal of Medical Ethics published a paper on the ethical underpinnings of infanticide–the editors involved are now justifying the decision to publish and are outraged (outraged, I tell you) and “disturbed” that they are receiving passionate, sometimes rude, responses to that publication. (Infanticide is apparently something to be considered “rationally” but abusive language calls for immediate condemnation–go figure).

Two responses have appeared; one by Julian Savulescu, editor, Journal of Medical Ethics, and in the comments, one by Kenneth M. Boyd, Rev Emeritus Professor of Medical Ethics and the editor responsible for deciding that the paper should be published.

First, Julian Savulescu:

The Journal of Medical Ethics prepublished electronically an article by Alberto Giubilini and Francesca Minerva entitled “After-birth abortion: why should the baby live?

This article has elicited personally abusive correspondence to the authors, threatening their lives and personal safety. The Journal has received a string abusive emails for its decision to publish this article. This abuse is typically anonymous.

I am not sure about the legality of publishing abusive threatening anonymous correspondence, so I won’t repeat it here. But fortunately there is plenty on the web to choose from. Here are some responses:

“These people are evil. Pure evil. That they feel safe in putting their twisted thoughts into words reveals how far we have fallen as a society.”

“Right now I think these two devils in human skin need to be delivered for immediate execution under their code of ‘after birth abortions’ they want to commit murder – that is all it is! MURDER!!!”

“I don‘t believe I’ve ever heard anything as vile as what these “people” are advocating. Truly, truly scary.”

“The fact that the Journal of Medical Ethics published this outrageous and immoral piece of work is even scarier”

(Comments from http://www.theblaze.com/stories/ethicists-argue-in-favor-of-after-birth-abortions-as-newborns-are-not-persons/#comments)

What a thin skin to consider those comments “disturbing” in any way.

As Editor of the Journal, I would like to defend its publication. The arguments presented, in fact, are largely not new and have been presented repeatedly in the academic literature and public fora by the most eminent philosophers and bioethicists in the world, including Peter Singer, Michael Tooley and John Harris in defence of infanticide, which the authors call after-birth abortion.

The novel contribution of this paper is not an argument in favour of infanticide – the paper repeats the arguments made famous by Tooley and Singer – but rather their application in consideration of maternal and family interests. The paper also draws attention to the fact that infanticide is practised in the Netherlands.

Many people will and have disagreed with these arguments. However, the goal of the Journal of Medical Ethics is not to present the Truth or promote some one moral view. It is to present well reasoned argument based on widely accepted premises. The authors provocatively argue that there is no moral difference between a fetus and a newborn. Their capacities are relevantly similar. If abortion is permissible, infanticide should be permissible. The authors proceed logically from premises which many people accept to a conclusion that many of those people would reject.

And this is a very good point, and one that advocates for “choice” had better take a hard look at, because he’s absolutely correct. The logical decision to allow termination of a baby in utero for any reason at any time (which is legal in the U.S.) leads to questioning the arbitrary line of location: inside or outside the womb.

Of course, many people will argue that on this basis abortion should be recriminalised. Those arguments can be well made and the Journal would publish a paper than made such a case coherently, originally and with application to issues of public or medical concern. The Journal does not specifically support substantive moral views, ideologies, theories, dogmas or moral outlooks, over others. It supports sound rational argument. Moreover, it supports freedom of ethical expression. The Journal welcomes reasoned coherent responses to After-Birth Abortion. Or indeed on any topic relevant to medical ethics.

What is disturbing is not the arguments in this paper nor its publication in an ethics journal. It is the hostile, abusive, threatening responses that it has elicited. More than ever, proper academic discussion and freedom are under threat from fanatics opposed to the very values of a liberal society.

On the Blaze which reported it (http://www.theblaze.com/stories/ethicists-argue-in-favor-of-after-birth-abortions-as-newborns-are-not-persons/#comments):

“Liberals are disgusting. They have criminal minds. To think that a person must be considered “worthy” to live is criminal.”

“It seems to me if good people are not going to stand up to do away with people who believe in doing away with live babies, then it means no one is good, and it’s just easier for God to drop a couple asteroids on earth.”

“i can’t even comment on this atrocity. I know these people are murderers in their hearts. And God will treat them as such. They are completely spiritually dead.”

“I have to say that I would personally kill anyone doing a after-birth abortion if I had the chance. Is that clear enough?”

The comments include openly racist remarks:

Racism: bad, bad, bad; infanticide: not so much

“Alberto Giubilini looks like a muslim so I have to agree with him that all muslims should have been aborted. If abortion fails, no life at birth – just like he wants.

“Journal of Medical Ethics” — hahaha! You libs and your quack science. Ya think that’s impressive, Albutt & Franpoop? No ****! I can beat you in my sleep. Here goes:

I take a ‘subject of a moral right to life’ to mean an individual who is capable of attributing to my own existence some (at least) basic value such that being deprived of this existence represents a loss to me.

Here’s the “projected moral status” you comunisti italiani pigs would get: Bang, bang. Drop in toxic waste dump reserved for left-wing contaminants.”

What the response to this article reveals, through the microscope of the web, is the deep disorder of the modern world. Not that people would give arguments in favour of infanticide, but the deep opposition that exists now to liberal values and fanatical opposition to any kind of reasoned engagement.

Infanticide is now a liberal value? Who knew.

And now, Kenneth M. Boyd:

Coming up to me at a meeting the other day, an ethics colleague waved a paper at me. “Have you seen this ?”she asked,  “It’s unbelievable!” The paper was ‘After-birth abortion: why should the baby live?” by two philosophers writing from Australia, Alberto Giubilini and Francesca Minerva.

Well yes, I agreed, I had seen it: in fact I had been the editor responsible for deciding that it should be published in the Journal of Medical Ethics; and no, I didn’t think it was unbelievable, since I know that arguing strongly for a position with which many people will disagree and some even find offensive, is something that philosophers are often willing, and may even feel they have a duty, to do, in order that their arguments may be tested in the crucible of debate with other philosophers who are equally willing to argue strongly against them.

Nothing to see here, folks, it was all just an academic exercise. Don’t worry that bioethics professors actually work on hospital committees that debate on what care, how much care, and whether any care should be provided for patients.

Of course for that debate to take place in the Journal of Medical Ethics, many of whose readers, doctors and health care workers as well as philosophers, may well disagree, perhaps strongly, with the paper’s  arguments, we needed first to make sure that the paper, like any other submitted to the Journal, was of sufficient academic quality for us to publish; and the normal way in which we determine this is to invite academics in relevant disciplines to review the paper critically for us, so that we can eventually make an informed decision about whether or not to publish it, either in its original or (as in this case) a form revised in the light of the reviewers’ reports.

So it appears that this paper passed muster with a number of academics. And none thought to disagree with the authors’ personal (not scientific, not medical) opinion of what a “person” is?

From the paper: We take ‘person’ to mean an individual who is capable of attributing to her own existence some (at least) basic value such that being deprived of this existence represents a loss to her.

Well, that might be their definition, but it’s not my definition or the definition of most people, academics or not. According to this definition, someone unconscious (no matter how short or long) or even someone sleeping does not fit their definition of “person,” much less a baby or an elderly person with dementia, all non-persons according to these academic heavyweights.

Satisfied by the reviewers’ reports and my further editorial review that the paper was of sufficient academic quality to be published in the Journal of Medical Ethics, and being charged with making the decision as an Editor with no conflict of interest [ed. comment: of course not, you’re already born and weren’t terminated as a baby] in the matter, since unlike my fellow-editors in the relatively small world of international academic medical ethics I have never met the authors, and indeed personally do not agree with the conclusions of their paper, I decided that it was appropriate to publish it in the interest of academic freedom of debate.

It has subsequently been suggested to me that people whose lives might have been ended by ‘after-birth abortion’ were this legal, might be deeply offended by this paper. If that is the case I am sorry, but I am also confident that many of these people are equally capable of mounting a robust academic reply to the paper which, again subject to peer-review, the Journal of Medical Ethics will be very willing to consider for publication.

According to this paper, everyone might have had their lives “ended by ‘after-birth abortion'” since the authors hold that killing infants is justified for any reason. So I guess we’re all offended.

Chaput: A thread for weaving joy

From Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, Diocese of Philadelphia, speaking at the Cardinal O’Connor Conference on Life in Washington, DC:

…In practice, medical professionals can now steer an expectant mother toward abortion simply by hinting at a list of the child’s possible defects.  And the most debased thing about that kind of pressure is that doctors know better than anyone else how vulnerable a woman can be in hearing potentially tragic news about her unborn baby.

I’m not suggesting that doctors should hold back vital knowledge from parents. Nor should they paint an implausibly upbeat picture of life with a child who has a disability. Facts and resources are crucial in helping adult persons prepare themselves for difficult challenges. But doctors, genetic counselors, and medical school professors should have on staff – or at least on speed dial – experts of a different sort.

Parents of children with special needs, special education teachers and therapists, and pediatricians who have treated children with disabilities often have a hugely life-affirming perspective. Unlike prenatal caregivers, these professionals have direct knowledge of persons with special needs. They know their potential.  They’ve seen their accomplishments. They can testify to the benefits – often miraculous – of parental love and faith.  Expectant parents deserve to know that a child with Down syndrome can love, laugh, learn, work, feel hope and excitement, make friends, and create joy for others.  These things are beautiful precisely because they transcend what we expect.  They witness to the truth that every child with special needs has a value that matters eternally.

Raising a child with Down syndrome can be demanding.  It always involves some degree of suffering.  Parents grow up very fast.  None of my friends who has a daughter or son with a serious disability is melodramatic, or self-conscious, or even especially pious about it.  They speak about their special child with an unsentimental realism.  It’s a realism flowing out of love – real love, the kind that forces its way through fear and suffering to a decision, finally, to surround the child with their heart and trust in the goodness of God.  And that decision to trust, of course, demands not just real love, but also real courage.

The real choice in accepting or rejecting a child with special needs is never between some imaginary perfection or imperfection.  None of us is perfect.  No child is perfect.  The real choice in accepting or rejecting a child with special needs is between love and unlove; between courage and cowardice; between trust and fear.  That’s the choice we face when it happens in our personal experience.  And that’s the choice we face as a society in deciding which human lives we will treat as valuable, and which we will not….

The Nobel Peace Prize winner Albert Schweitzer once wrote that, “A man is truly ethical only when he obeys the compulsion to help all life which he is able to assist, and shrinks from injuring anything that lives.” Every child with Down syndrome, every adult with special needs; in fact, every unwanted unborn child, every person who is poor, weak, abandoned or homeless – each one of these persons is an icon of God’s face and a vessel of his love.  How we treat these persons – whether we revere them and welcome them, or throw them away in distaste – shows what we really believe about human dignity, both as individuals and as a nation.

The American Jesuit scholar Father John Courtney Murray once said that “Anyone who really believes in God must set God, and the truth of God, above all other considerations.”

Here’s what that means.  Catholic public officials who take God seriously cannot support laws that attack human dignity without lying to themselves, misleading others and abusing the faith of their fellow Catholics.  God will demand an accounting.  Catholic doctors who take God seriously cannot do procedures, prescribe drugs or support health policies that attack the sanctity of unborn children or the elderly; or that undermine the dignity of human sexuality and the family.  God will demand an accounting.  And Catholic citizens who take God seriously cannot claim to love their Church, and then ignore her counsel on vital public issues that shape our nation’s lifeGod will demand an accounting.  As individuals, we can claim to believe whatever we want.  We can posture, and rationalize our choices, and make alibis with each other all day long — but no excuse for our lack of honesty and zeal will work with the God who made us.  God knows our hearts better than we do.  If we don’t conform our hearts and actions to the faith we claim to believe, we’re only fooling ourselves.

We live in a culture where our marketers and entertainment media compulsively mislead us about the sustainability of youth; the indignity of old age; the avoidance of suffering; the denial of death; the nature of real beauty; the impermanence of every human love; the oppressiveness of children and family; the silliness of virtue; and the cynicism of religious faith.  It’s a culture of fantasy, selfishness, sexual confusion and illness that we’ve brought upon ourselves.  And we’ve done it by misusing the freedom that other — and greater — generations than our own worked for, bled for and bequeathed to our safe-keeping.

What have we done with that freedom?  In whose service do we use it now?

Catholics need to wake up from the illusion that the America we now live in – not the America of our nostalgia or imagination or best ideals, but the real America we live in here and now – is somehow friendly to our faith.  What we’re watching emerge in this country is a new kind of paganism, an atheism with air-conditioning and digital TV.  And it is neither tolerant nor morally neutral.

As the historian Gertrude Himmelfarb observed more than a decade ago, “What was once stigmatized as deviant behavior is now tolerated and even sanctioned; what was once regarded as abnormal has been normalized.”  But even more importantly, she added, “As deviancy is normalized, so what was once normal becomes deviant.  The kind of family that has been regarded for centuries as natural and moral – the ‘bourgeois’ family as it is invidiously called – is now seen as pathological” and exclusionary, concealing the worst forms of psychic and physical oppression.

My point is this:  Evil talks about tolerance only when it’s weak.  When it gains the upper hand, its vanity always requires the destruction of the good and the innocent, because the example of good and innocent lives is an ongoing witness against it.  So it always has been.  So it always will be.  And America has no special immunity to becoming an enemy of its own founding beliefs about human freedom, human dignity, the limited power of the state, and the sovereignty of God….

Read it all.

Paganism in the 21st century: Ethicists argue in favor of ‘after-birth abortions’ as newborns ‘are not persons’

Follow up this post with Paganism in the 21st century, the sequel.

You do know that in ancient Rome and Greece, pagans all, they often “disposed” of unwanted and/or deformed newborns by leaving them outside the city walls to die of exposure? Welcome to the 21st century version:

The Abstract from the Journal of Medical Ethics:
Abortion is largely accepted even for reasons that do not have anything to do with the fetus’ health. By showing that (1) both fetuses and newborns do not have the same moral status as actual persons, (2) the fact that both are potential persons is morally irrelevant and (3) adoption is not always in the best interest of actual people, the authors argue that what we call ‘after-birth abortion’ (killing a newborn) should be permissible in all the cases where abortion is, including cases where the newborn is not disabled.

And here’s more:

Two ethicists working with Australian universities argue in the latest online edition of the Journal of Medical Ethics that if abortion of a fetus is allowable, so to should be the termination of a newborn.

Alberto Giubilini with Monash University in Melbourne and Francesca Minerva at the Centre for Applied Philosophy and Public Ethics at the University of Melbourne write that in “circumstances occur[ing] after birth such that they would have justified abortion, what we call after-birth abortion should be permissible.”

The two are quick to note that they prefer the term “after-birth abortion“ as opposed to ”infanticide.” Why? Because it “[emphasizes] that the moral status of the individual killed is comparable with that of a fetus (on which ‘abortions’ in the traditional sense are performed) rather than to that of a child.” The authors also do not agree with the term euthanasia for this practice as the best interest of the person who would be killed is not necessarily the primary reason his or her life is being terminated. In other words, it may be in the parents’ best interest to terminate the life, not the newborns….

The authors go on to state that the moral status of a newborn is equivalent to a fetus in that it cannot be considered a person in the “morally relevant sense.” On this point, the authors write:

Both a fetus and a newborn certainly are human beings and potential persons, but neither is a ‘person’ in the sense of ‘subject of a moral right to life’. We take ‘person’ to mean an individual who is capable of attributing to her own existence some (at least) basic value such that being deprived of this existence represents a loss to her.

[…]

Merely being human is not in itself a reason for ascribing someone a right to life. Indeed, many humans are not considered subjects of a right to life: spare embryos where research on embryo stem cells is permitted, fetuses where abortion is permitted, criminals where capital punishment is legal.

Giubilini and Minerva believe that being able to understand the value of a different situation, which often depends on mental development, determines personhood. For example, being able to tell the difference between an undesirable situation and a desirable one. They note that fetuses and newborns are “potential persons.” …

And what about adoption? Giubilini and Minerva write that, as for the mother putting the child up for adoption, her emotional state should be considered as a trumping right. For instance, if she were to “suffer psychological distress” from giving up her child to someone else — they state that natural mothers can dream their child will return to them — then after-birth abortion should be considered an allowable alternative.

The authors do not tackle the issue of what age an infant would be considered a person….

First Things, a publication of the The Institute on Religion and Public Life, notes that while this article doesn’t mean the law could — or would — allow after-birth abortions in future medical procedures, arguments such as “the right to dehydrate the persistently unconscious” began in much the same way in bioethics journals.

Read it all. Note the appropriation of language: “after-birth abortion” instead of “infanticide.” It takes you a minute to figure out that “after-birth abortion” means killing a child.

Of course, these “ethicists” do have a point. Why is the arbitrary moment in time of the birth the only difference between a “legal” abortion and an “illegal” murder? Good question. Too bad we’ve already ceded so much of the ground in the abortion debate that it becomes harder and harder to argue that the few minutes between inside and outside the womb mean anything in terms of the mother’s ability to “terminate” (see how easy it is to play the semantics game? I mean “kill”) her child.

Promised objectivity, Americans receive Planned Parenthood ideology

From HLI America, part of Human Life International, a report on how the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) used information provided by the Women’s Preventive Services committee of the Institute of Medicine (IOM, part of the National Academy of Sciences) to further their political pro-abortion agenda by insisting that including contraceptives in government-mandated health care is medically necessary, when objective evidence shows that it isn’t.

Virtually all of the Women’s Preventive Services committee members are affiliated in some way with Planned Parenthood or NARAL.

From HLI America:

… But these eleven members—out of a total of sixteen—demonstrate a more than casual commitment to the furthering of the abortion lobby. In fact, according to information available from the public record, a total of $116,500 has been donated to pro-choice organizations and candidates by these committee members. What is more, public records show that not one of the sixteen committee members has financially supported a political candidate who is politically anti-abortion. Whatever one thinks of the relevant issues, one would be hard pressed to argue that this IOM committee is politically non-partisan. This committee was purportedly assembled for the very purpose of providing outside, objective, and expert advice to the policy-making HHS; as the above roll call demonstrates, however, the committee was anything but a balanced sampling of experts….

The committee held three “open information-gathering sessions” to receive expert testimony regarding the preventive services that should be mandated and funded. However, nearly all the invited speakers were known advocates of contraception and abortion on demand. In a press release, Michael O’Dea notes:

At both meetings, the invited speakers represented organizations which advocate coverage of contraception, without cost sharing of expenses. Those organizations include the Guttmacher Institute, the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and the Association of Women’s Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses, Planned Parenthood, The Kaiser Family Foundation and the Society for Family Planning.

Furthermore, there was not one representative from the Catholic health care system, despite the fact that, taken together, it constitutes the single largest provider of health care in our country. Representatives of the pro-life and pro-family organizations (who were forced to seek for themselves permission to speak) were relegated to the brief public comments portion at the end of the day.

This relegation is not insignificant, for though the use of contraception by American women during child-bearing years is nearly universal, support for publicly funded contraception is not. As indicated by a recentRasmussen poll, 46% of Americans do not support the committee’s recommendation, while only only 39% of Americans believe that contraception should be covered free of charge. This diversity in viewpoints should have been reflected both in the makeup of the committee and of the speakers invited to testify at the hearings. Instead, there was a built-in bias in support of the provision of contraception, sterilization, and abortion-inducing drugs….

The central claim of the report, as it is bears on Recommendation 5.5, is “that greater use of contraception within the population produces lower unintended pregnancy and abortion rates nationally” (pg. 92). In support of this claim, the report cites only two sources—one of which is a non-peer-reviewed advocacy report. This spurious source was published by the Guttmacher Institute, the former research arm of Planned Parenthood, and a strong advocate for abortion and contraception. One reason for this dearth of evidence is simple: numerous studies show that greater access to oral contraception and emergency contraception does not in fact reduce unintended pregnancies or abortion….

Read it all. (H/t Stand Firm)

Abortion found to nearly double mental health risks

From EWTN, a look at research published in the British Journal of Psychiatry this past fall:

New research published in the British Journal of Psychiatry shows that abortion nearly doubles a woman’s risk of experiencing mental health problems, often leading to substance abuse and suicidal behavior.

“Women who had undergone an abortion experienced an 81 percent increased risk of mental health problems,” Bowling Green State University Professor Priscilla Coleman states in a summary of her new literature review, published in the journal’s September 2011 issue.

“There are in fact some real risks associated with abortion that should be shared with women as they are counseled prior to an abortion decision.”

Coleman’s findings showed that risks of anxiety and depression both rose by over a third after an abortion, while the rates of suicidal behaviors and drug use more than doubled….

Read it all.

The politically-inspired food pyramid

Before there was “global warming” and “climate change,” there was the government’s food pyramid:
USDA food pyramid
Too bad there was little scientific evidence to back it up:

During the same period that we cardiologists and the health care community were promoting the low-fat/don’t count calories or sugar diet, the nation experienced its epidemic of obesity and diabetes. Cause and effect? We don’t know. But it’s starting to look as if the public health establishment may be responsible for the greatest episode of epidemiological malpractice ever committed….

Check it out, and don’t forget to read Why We Get Fat, and What To Do About It by Gary Taubes.

Six more things everyone should know about the HHS mandate

From the USCCBlog:

1. The rule that created the uproar has not changed at all, but was finalized as is. Friday evening, after a day of touting meaningful changes in the mandate, HHS issued a regulation finalizing the rule first issued in August 2011, “without change.” So religious employers dedicated to serving people of other faiths are still not exempt as “religious employers.” Indeed, the rule describes them as “non-exempt.”

2. The rule leaves open the possibility that even exempt “religious employers” will be forced to cover sterilization. In its August 2011 comments, USCCB warned that the narrow “religious employer” exemption appeared to provide no relief from the sterilization mandate—only the contraception mandate—and specifically sought clarification. (We also noted that a sterilization mandate exists in only one state, Vermont.) HHS provided no clarification, so the risk remains under the unchanged final rule.

3. The new “accommodation” is not a current rule, but a promise that comes due beyond the point of public accountability. Also on Friday evening, HHS issued regulations describing the intention to develop more regulations that would apply the same mandate differently to “non-exempt, non-profit religious organizations”—the charities, schools, and hospitals that are still left out of the “religious employer” exemption….

4. Even if the promises of “accommodation” are fulfilled entirely, religious charities, schools, and hospitals will still be forced to violate their beliefs. If an employee of these second-class-citizen religious institutions wants coverage of contraception or sterilization, the objecting employer is still forced to pay for it as a part of the employer’s insurance plan. There can be no additional cost to that employee, and the coverage is not a separate policy. By process of elimination, the funds to pay for that coverage must come from the premiums of the employer and fellow employees, even those who object in conscience.

5. The “accommodation” does not even purport to help objecting insurers, for-profit religious employers, secular employers, or individuals. In its August 2011 comments, and many times since, USCCB identified all the stakeholders in the process whose religious freedom is threatened—all employers, insurers, and individuals, not just religious employers. Friday’s actions emphasize that all insurers, including self-insurers, must provide the coverage to any employee who wants it. In turn, all individuals who pay premiums have no escape from subsidizing that coverage. And only employers that are both non-profit and religious may qualify for the “accommodation.”

6. Beware of claims, especially by partisans, that the bishops are partisan. The bishops and their staff read regulations before evaluating them. The bishops did not pick this fight in an election year—others did. Bishops form their positions based on principles—here, religious liberty for all, and the life and dignity of every human person—not polls, personalities, or political parties. Bishops are duty bound to proclaim these principles, in and out of season.

Check it out.

Back to the future: HHS regs for Feb. 15 federal register

Okay, people, here it is, read it below: Obama’s great “compromise” on the HHS contraception/abortifacient rules, all decked out in government-ese. Where is Joe Wilson when you need him?

Because from the rules to be published in the Federal Register come February 15, we learn this:

  • Pregnancy is a disease, a “preventable” disease.
  • This “compromise” changes nothing: religious institutions opposed to chemical birth control (including abortifacients) will still, one way or another, be paying for this coverage.
  • Women really are the weaker sex, since apparently we are incapable of functioning without government help.
  • The woman who finds herself with an “unintended pregnancy” is a threat not only to herself, but to society at large.

From the Office of the Federal Register, the final rules for the HHS “Group Health Plans and Health Insurance Issuers Relating to Coverage of Preventive Services Under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act” that will appear in the February 15 Federal Register

(And, don’t forget, sixty days from February 15, these rules go into effect by order of the federal government.)

First, the Summary from page 1:

SUMMARY: These regulations finalize, without change, interim final regulations authorizing the exemption of group health plans and group health insurance coverage sponsored by certain religious employers from having to cover certain preventive health services under provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

And now the Overview (from pages 8-14):

III. Overview of the Final Regulations

In response to these comments, the Departments carefully considered whether to eliminate the religious employer exemption or to adopt an alternative definition of religious employer, including whether the exemption should be extended to a broader set of religiously affiliated
sponsors of group health plans and group health insurance coverage. For the reasons discussed below, the Departments are adopting the definition in the amended interim final regulations for purposes of these final regulations while also creating a temporary enforcement safe harbor, discussed below.

Think about this: HHS actually carefully considered whether to toss the First Amendment (which they’ve done anyway with their so-called “compromise”). And they’ve only created a “temporary enforcement safe harbor.” Changes they are a-coming

During the temporary enforcement safe harbor, the Departments plan to develop and propose changes to these final regulations that would meet two goals – providing contraceptive coverage without cost-sharing to individuals who want it and accommodating non-exempted, non-profit organizations’ religious objections to covering contraceptive services as also discussed below.

PHS Act section 2713 reflects a determination by Congress that coverage of recommended preventive services by non-grandfathered group health plans and health insurance issuers without cost sharing is necessary to achieve basic health care coverage for more Americans. Individuals are more likely to use preventive services if they do not have to satisfy cost sharing requirements (such as a copayment, coinsurance, or a deductible).

Well, of course, you might be more apt to use something given to you for free. Then again, having spent your own money for something usually makes you more conscientious about it. So it’s a toss-up, but let’s have the federal government mandate that private companies (insurers) give something away at no cost to the receiver, because the Obama administration has shown themselves to be such wizs at economics.

Use of preventive services results in a healthier population and reduces health care costs by helping individuals avoid preventable conditions

Pregnancy, the new disease…

and receive treatment earlier. Further, Congress, by amending the Affordable Care Act during the Senate debate to ensure that recommended preventive services for women are covered adequately by non-grandfathered group health plans and group health insurance coverage, recognized that women have unique health care needs and burdens. Such needs include contraceptive services.

They’re right, it is such a burden being a woman, what with being able to create life and all. We need help, we can’t do it ourselves! Please, give us free stuff because we’re helpless otherwise.

As documented in a report of the Institute of Medicine, “Clinical Preventive Services for Women, Closing the Gaps,” women experiencing an unintended pregnancy may not immediately be aware that they are pregnant, and thus delay prenatal care. They also may not be as motivated to discontinue behaviors that pose pregnancy-related risks (e.g., smoking, consumption of alcohol). Studies show a greater risk of preterm birth and low birth weight among unintended pregnancies compared with pregnancies that were planned….

OMG, I think the government has just said that unplanned pregnancies truly are anathema to our nation. Women with “unintended pregnancies” are the new smokers, to be avoided at all costs, frowned upon by society, and offered remedial help (aka abortifacients) if they are unhappy with their pregnant state. Just say no. . .to pregnancy.

The religious employer exemption in the final regulations does not undermine the overall benefits described above. A group health plan (and health insurance coverage provided in connection with such a plan) qualifies for the exemption if, among other qualifications, the plan is established and maintained by an employer that primarily employs persons who share the religious tenets of the organization.

So much for exempting religious institutions like hospitals, charities, etc. The government is pushing religious institutions out of the public square by limiting this insurance exemption to entities that primarily employ persons of the same faith. No one is stopping anyone employed by a Catholic hospital, for example, from going out and buying their own contraception or insurance provision to cover those costs, but that’s not good enough for the government.

As such, the employees of employers availing themselves of the exemption would be less likely to use contraceptives even if contraceptives were covered under their health plans.

A broader exemption, as urged by some commenters, would lead to more employees having to pay out of pocket for contraceptive services, thus making it less likely that they would use contraceptives, which would undermine the benefits described above.

Because, don’t forget, pregnancy is a disease.

And women are the weaker sex and are incapable of taking control of their own reproductive decisions, so the government must step in.

Employers that do not primarily employ employees who share the religious tenets of the organization are more likely to employ individuals who have no religious objection to the use of contraceptive services and therefore are more likely to use contraceptives. Including these employers within the scope of the exemption would subject their employees to the religious views of the employer, limiting access to contraceptives, and thereby inhibiting the use of contraceptive services and the benefits of preventive care….

Because, repeat after me: Pregnancy. Is. A. Disease.

And HHS is wrong–access is not limited by giving those institutions an exemption. Any female employee can go to their doctor and get a prescription with no limits whatsoever. (And, to be honest with you, it’s no business at all of the government to determine whether or not an employee shares the “religious tenets” of their employer or not.)

With respect to certain non-exempted, non-profit organizations with religious objections to covering contraceptive services whose group health plans are not grandfathered health plans, guidance is being issued contemporaneous with these final regulations that provides a one-year safe harbor from enforcement by the Departments.

In other words, to quote Archbishop Dolan, “we have a year to figure out how to violate our consciences.”

Before the end of the temporary enforcement safe harbor, the Departments will work with stakeholders to develop alternative ways of providing contraceptive coverage without cost sharing with respect to non-exempted, non-profit religious organizations with religious objections to such coverage.

You know, I just don’t believe them, and you shouldn’t either. There is little to no interest in working with faith communities on how to deal with this because HHS needs to make sure everyone knows that they, and they alone, make the rules.

Specifically, the Departments plan to initiate a rulemaking to require issuers to offer insurance without contraception coverage to such an employer (or plan sponsor) and simultaneously to offer contraceptive coverage directly to the employer’s plan participants (and their beneficiaries) who desire it, with no cost-sharing. Under this approach, the Departments will also require that, in this circumstance, there be no charge for the contraceptive coverage….

Because we all know that the pharmaceutical companies will make the contraceptives for free, the packaging companies will package them for free, the truck drivers will transport them for free nationwide, and the doctors will prescribe them for free. Because that’s how it works in the minds of those who have no idea of the marketplace. In reality, of course, the employer continues to pay for the coverage through increased premiums for everyone (because nothing is free).

The Departments intend to develop policies to achieve the same goals for self-insured group health plans sponsored by non-exempted, non-profit religious organizations with religious objections to contraceptive coverage.

Um-humm…I don’t believe that either.

A future rulemaking would be informed by the existing practices of some issuers and religious organizations in the 28 States where contraception coverage requirements already exist, including Hawaii.

Why in the world would you call out Hawaii by name, except for the fact that you’re going to use them as a model?

There, State health insurance law requires issuers to offer plan participants in group health plans sponsored by religious employers that are exempt from the State contraception coverage requirement the option to purchase this coverage in a way that religious employers are not obligated to fund it. It is our understanding that, in practice, rather than charging employees a separate fee, some issuers in Hawaii offer this coverage to plan participants at no charge.

And we’ve already gone over the fact that that is a false statement: the insurance company will pass the costs on to everyone through increased premiums, so the religious employers will still be required to pay for coverage they consider morally evil.

The Departments will work with stakeholders to propose and finalize this policy before the end of the temporary enforcement safe harbor….

I’m sure they will, just like they did before the rules were finalized this time.

WSJ: “Immaculate contraception”

Because sometimes, the headline is just too good to pass up. From the Wall Street Journal editorial page:

Here’s a conundrum: The White House wants to impose its birth-control ideology on all Americans, including those for whom sponsoring or subsidizing such services violates their moral conscience. The White House also wants to avoid a political backlash from this blow to religious freedom. These goals are irreconcilable.

So you almost have to admire the absurdity of the new plan President Obama floated yesterday: The government will now write a rule that says the best things in life are “free,” including contraception. Thus a political mandate will be compounded by an uneconomic one—in other words, behold the soul of ObamaCare….

Under the new rule, which the White House stresses is “an accommodation” and not a compromise, nonprofit religious organizations won’t have to directly cover birth control and can opt out. But the insurers they hire to cover their employees can’t opt out. If that sounds like a distinction without a difference, odds are you’re a rational person….

Insurance companies won’t be making donations. Drug makers will still charge for the pill. Doctors will still bill for reproductive treatment. The reality, as with all mandated benefits, is that these costs will be borne eventually via higher premiums. The balloon may be squeezed differently over time, and insurers may amortize the cost differently over time, but eventually prices will find an equilibrium. Notre Dame will still pay for birth control, even if it is nominally carried by a third-party corporation.

This cut-out may appease a few of the Administration’s critics, especially on the Catholic left—but only if they want to be deceived again, having lobbied for the Affordable Care Act that created the problem in the first place….

We couldn’t recall any spirit of conciliation when the birth-control mandate was finalized in January, so we went back and checked the transcript of that call with senior Administration officials. Sure enough, back then they said that the rule “reflects careful consideration of the rights of religious organizations” and that a one-year grace period “really just gives those organizations some additional time to sort out how they will be adjusting their plans.”

A journalist asked, “Just to be clear, so it’s giving them a year to comply rather than giving them a year to in any way change how they feel or the Administration to change how it feels.” Another senior official: “That is correct. It gives them a year to comply.”…

There is simply no precedent for the government ordering private companies to offer a product for free, even if they recoup the costs indirectly….

The larger tragedy is that none of them objected to government health care, which will always take choices away from individuals and arrogate them to an infallible higher power in Washington. Who was it again who claimed that if you like your health plan, you can keep your health plan?

Read it all.

L.A. Times unhappy with Komen

Well, that didn’t take long. The L.A. Times story by Shari Roan takes the Susan G. Komen for the Cure to task for daring to disaffiliate from Planned Parenthood (and no, I never link to PP’s site):

In what looks to be a break between two organizations dedicated to women’s health, a national breast cancer awareness group said it would stop providing funds to Planned Parenthood centers for breast cancer examinations and other breast health services.

So right away, this is being presented as a conflict between two groups “dedicated to women’s health” instead of between a group that provides funding for cancer research and a group that makes most of its money by performing abortions.

Susan G. Komen for the Cure, a leader in fundraising for breast cancer research and famous worldwide for its iconic pink ribbon, said Tuesday that it was halting all partnerships with Planned Parenthood affiliates because of recently adopted criteria that forbid it from funding any organization under government investigation….

Komen has a long history of providing funding to various Planned Parenthood affiliates for such services as manual breast exams and referrals for mammograms and biopsies to check suspicious lumps for cancer. Although that money is not used for abortions, the Komen Foundation may have yielded to demands from antiabortion groups to sever its ties to Planned Parenthood….

Over the last five years, Planned Parenthood has provided about 4 million breast exams and referrals for 70,000 mammograms nationwide. Funding from Komen covers about 170,000 of the breast exams and 6,400 mammogram referrals, [Cecile Richards, PP’s president] said. Although mammograms and biopsies are referred out, Planned Parenthood doctors manage their patients’ cases….

In other words, PP provides no breast screenings–they act as a middleman with referrals to screenings. And notice how no abortion numbers are given.

Antiabortion groups lauded the decision and described it as the result of years of lobbying from Americans who oppose abortion….

Read it all, and note the “human interest” stories about those who might lose PP dollars but none from those agreeing with Komen’s decision. Maybe now Susan G Komen for the Cure will begin to report honestly on the studies that show a link between abortion and breast cancer.

Doctors and AMA split over issue of ObamaCare

From Forbes:

. . . In fact, the AMA now only counts about 17% of doctors as members.

According to a new survey, the majority of doctors do not believe that the AMA represents their views and interests. Much of that dissatisfaction stems from the organization’s support for President Obama’s contentious health care reform package. . .

The survey — conducted by physician recruitment firm Jackson & Coker — is a brutal indictment of both the AMA and ObamaCare. Just 13% of doctors agree with their trade association’s support of the health reform law.

Some doctors are even dissociating themselves from the AMA. Of those who have terminated their membership, 47% cited the organization’s continued backing of the health care law as the primary reason. Increasingly doctors are turning to associations like Docs4PatientCare and the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons that actually do represent their interests. . .

So just 13% of the 17% of total doctors in the U.S. agree with ObamaCare (since only 17% of U.S. doctors are members of the AMA)–so, according to that survey, only 2% of total U.S. doctors agree with ObamaCare. It must have been that 2% at Pres. Obama’s 2009 photo op in their White House-provided white coats as Obama urged support for the as-yet unwritten bill.

Check it out.

The two-minus-one pregnancy

Chilling:

Dr. Richard Berkowitz, a perinatologist at Columbia University Medical Center who was an early practitioner of pregnancy reduction, says: “The overwhelming majority of women carrying twins are going to be able to deliver two healthy babies.” Though Berkowitz insists that there is no clear medical benefit to reducing below twins, he will do it at a patient’s request. “In a society where women can terminate a single pregnancy for any reason — financial, social, emotional — if we have a way to reduce a twin pregnancy with very little risk, isn’t it legitimate to offer that service to women with twins who want to reduce to a singleton?”

But I thought we wanted abortion to be rare. . . /sarc

And what keeps coming into my mind is this line from the Salve Regina:

To thee do we cry, poor banished children of Eve;
to thee do we send up our sighs,
mourning and weeping in this valley of tears.

Yes, yes we do.

Healthcare: waiver favors

At over 1,000 and counting, waivers granted to state and local governments, unions, and private businesses to opt out of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (otherwise known as Obamacare) continue to grow. To find the complete list of who has been granted a waiver so far requires drilling down multiple levels at Health & Human Services (gee, it’s almost like they don’t want you to find it), but start there and then try and find the link to the Center for Consumer Information & Insurance Oversight, then . . . actually, never mind—just google it. (As a matter of fact, the only list still displayed is an old one; it seems as though the “transparency” is gone.)

Three pressing questions worth considering (but I’m not addressing here) are:

  • If Obamacare is the panacea for health coverage problems in the U.S., why are so many clamoring for exemptions from it?
  • Why are some of those who pushed so hard for this legislation [unions and (former) Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY) , I’m looking at you] among those requesting, and receiving, waivers from it?
  • Is it constitutional for the executive branch to unilaterally decide that legislation passed by the legislative branch allows for exemptions not mentioned in the law? For more, check out these two articles by Philip Hamburger, Professor of Law at Columbia Law School.  He writes, in part:

More seriously, it raises questions about whether we live under a government of laws. Congress can pass statutes that apply to some businesses and not others, but once a law has passed — and therefore is binding — how can the executive branch relieve some Americans of their obligation to obey it?. . .

Indeed, can even a small corporation get a waiver? Small businesses provide most new jobs, but the answer is obvious: Waivers are mostly, if not entirely, for politically significant businesses and unions that get the special attention of HHS or the White House. The rest of us must obey the laws.

Of course, the biggest practical question of all for businesses is who at HHS gets to decide who receives a waiver or not, and what criteria (if any) are they using to determine waiver status?

But, just so you know this isn’t something new, let’s take a look at the Great Toy Crisis of 2007. That was the year Mattel voluntarily issued recalls for over 19 million toys made in China because of concerns over lead paint and small magnets that could be swallowed. Congress immediately decided this, too, was a crisis that shouldn’t go to waste and called for legislation to (further) “protect” the consumer, even though there were no deaths reported from lead poisoning and only one death reported from swallowing magnets (and that was in 2005).

So 2008 saw the passage of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA), whose goal was:

To establish consumer product safety standards and other safety requirements for children’s products . . .

One of the more onerous provisions of this new act was the mandating of independent third-party testing on all toys and children’s products (clothes, books, etc.) made for those 12 and younger. Small U.S. toy manufacturers were hit especially hard. They asked why their products, typically made of wood and natural material, should have to undergo expensive outside testing when lead was never a part of their manufacturing process. Small toymakers and toy shop owners banded together and formed the Handmade Toy Alliance to bring their concerns before Congress. In congressional testimony given in 2009, they reported that third-party labs were charging from $150 for testing simple wood blocks up to $4,000 for a wooden rattle—costs small manufacturers just could not afford.

Another unintended (aren’t they always?) consequence of this legislation was (and is) complete confusion in the second-hand resale market, with some bookstore owners removing all children’s books printed before 1985 in order to comply with very confusing and conflicting guidelines from the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and some used-clothing vendors removing children’s clothes altogether.

But what does this have to do with government waivers?

Well, Mattel, the toy giant that first triggered the panic by bringing in contaminated toys from China, lobbied hard to get written into the CPSIA language that allows Mattel to oversee its own testing—no expensive independent third-party labs required.

Unlike the Obamacare waivers, Mattel’s exemption is allowed under the law, but the underlying issue remains the same: big government and big business, working together for their common good, or as the Beatles like to say,

I get by with a little help from my friends. . .

(Originally published on Ricochet)

We are all abortionists now [Update]

Update: Aaron Miller at Ricochet adds more to the story.

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced Monday, August 1, that new regulations have been approved mandating that all health insurance policies must include contraception and voluntary sterilization at no cost to the patient. Since these new regulations cover any Federal Drug Administration (FDA) approved birth control, we are now all complicit, to the largest degree yet, in committing abortions.

From ABC News:

The requirement applies to all forms of birth control approved by the Food and Drug Administration. That includes the pill, intrauterine devices, the so-called morning-after pill, and newer forms of long-acting implantable hormonal contraceptives that are becoming widely used in the rest of the industrialized world.

Both the morning-after pill and intrauterine devices (IUDs) are considered abortifacients, substances or devices that interrupt the ability of the embryo to implant in the uterus. By that time, an embryo has already been created, so the contraceptive is now ending a human life.

Perhaps this is in keeping with the government’s view that pregnancy is a disease (otherwise, why cover medical costs for a benign condition), but since the HHS regulation mandates that there be no co-pay, all U.S. taxpayers are now paying for “free” birth control:

A government study last summer found that birth control use is virtually universal in the United States, according to a government study issued last summer. More than 90 million prescriptions for contraceptives were dispensed in 2009, according the market analysis firm INS health. Generic versions of the pill are available for as little as $9 a month. Still, about half of all pregnancies are unplanned. Many are among women using some form of contraception, and forgetting to take the pill is a major reason.

Notice that the expense of birth control, which is minimal for the individual, is not the reason for unplanned pregnancies, forgetting to take the pill is. I’m afraid the government can’t regulate procrastination. And then there’s this:

Although the new women’s preventive services will be free of any additional charge to patients, somebody will have to pay. The cost will be spread among other people with health insurance, resulting in slightly higher premiums.

Higher premiums so that we can all help eliminate babies.

So, for me, the question becomes Why? Why does the federal government want to take on the cost and controversy of providing contraception prescriptions (as well as sterilization surgery) to millions of women? I can think of three reasons right away, although I’m sure there are more.

Increased dependence: Once we get used to the government paying for something, it becomes our “right” to acquire it. Once contraception seems to be “free” (along with breastfeeding counseling and supplies, among other services), it will be difficult to eliminate as a government program later on. So more expenses, more taxes, more dependence on the government to provide for the individual, and that translates into more votes.

Infantilization of women: This is perhaps a subset of the increased dependence but is striking enough to consider on its own. With this policy, women are presented as unable, without the government’s help, to manage their own reproductive choices. These regulations present them as victims of their own bodies–from pregnancy to breastfeeding, women need government oversight.

Our culture of death: I keep going back to something Rachel Jankovic wrote:

Everywhere you go, people want to talk about your children. Why you shouldn’t have had them, how you could have prevented them, and why they would never do what you have done. They want to make sure you know that you won’t be smiling anymore when they are teenagers. All this at the grocery store, in line, while your children listen.

The truth is that years ago, before this generation of mothers was even born, our society decided where children rank in the list of important things. When abortion was legalized, we wrote it into law. . .

And the last sentence keeps running over and over again in my mind: “When abortion was legalized, we wrote [where children rank in our society and our lives] into law.” I don’t think there’s any greater indictment of our culture than these words. Those whom we should be protecting and nurturing, we are willfully killing, and we are all bearing the costs.