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Missouri Family E-NewsJanuary 4, 2011


Judge Rules Planned Parenthood Broke Law in Teen Abortion


An Ohio judge has ruled that Planned Parenthood violated that state's laws when it performed an an abortion on a 14-year old minor without proper informed consent. 


Hamilton County Court Judge Jody Luebbers ruled that Planned Parenthood failed to meet with the girl 24 hours before the abortion to hold a mandatory counseling session, as required under the state's informed consent and 24-hour waiting period law.


The parents of the minor filed suit against Planned Parenthood after their daughter underwent an abortion in 2004 without their knowledge at a clinic operated by Planned Parenthood of Southwest Ohio.  The girl had been brought to the clinic by her 22-year old soccer coach, who had impregnated her.  The coach was subsequently convicted of sexual battery and served three years in prison.


Planned Parenthood also appears to have violated other state laws in the case.  Planned Parenthood never notified the parents of the abortion, as required under the state's parental consent laws.  The clinic also failed to notify civil authorities of the statutory rape involved, in which an adult had sexual relations with an underage minor. 


Tony Perkins, President of the Family Research Council, said the episode reveals the true motives of Planned Parenthood.  "Once again, we see how Planned Parenthood has failed to protect the health and safety of women.  As we can see from this case, procuring an abortion is more important to Planned Parenthood than following the law on something as important as protecting young women from sexual predators."


Perkins says the Planned Parenthood cover-up of sexual abuse is yet another reason why the abortion provider should no longer receive taxpayer funding.  "Planned Parenthood is a billion dollar a year organization, raking in approximately $350 million annually in state and federal grants.  Isn't it time to stop taxpayer funding of such a group?"


Pro-life groups are urging the new Congress to approve legislation to do just that.  Congressman Mike Pence of Indiana has introduced the Title X Abortion Provider Prohibition Act.  The proposed law would ban the distribution of federal family planning funds to organization that perform abortions.


The Missouri Legislature adopted legislation last session providing for full informed consent for women seeking abortions similar to that in Ohio.   Scrutiny will now be given to how Planned Parenthood complies with that law in Missouri as well. 




Judge Bans Invocations at City Council Meetings

A New Jersey judge has ordered the city council in the borough of Point Pleasant Beach to stop praying before its public meetings.  Judge Vincent Grasso has ruled that the council's practice of offering invocations at the beginning of its meetings is unconstitutional.

The Point Pleasant Beach Council had recently settled a lawsuit with the American Civil Liberties Union on the subject of public prayer.  The ACLU had challenged a longstanding practice of the Council to open its meetings with a recitation of the Lord's Prayer.

The Council adopted a new policy calling for individual members of the Council to offer nonsectarian prayers at the start of their meetings to solemnize their official proceedings.  At its meeting in early November, Councilman Jeffrey Dyer prayed for wisdom for the Council, and closed his prayer "in Jesus' name."

The ACLU then filed a second lawsuit, saying that the prayer favored one religious faith over another.  Judge Grasso agreed, saying that the new policy was also unconstitutional.

Councilman Dyer says he hopes the Council appeals the ruling.  "I happen to be a Christian, but I'm not fighting just for Christian prayer, I'm fighting for the right to pray.  If I went to a meeting in Lakewood, which is predominantly Jewish, where the council is made up of predominantly Jewish people, I would respect the invocation of a Jewish prayer."

Brett Harvey, senior legal counsel for the Alliance Defense Fund, says the judge's decision is a distortion of the First Amendment.  "When you look at the history of the nation, the United States Congress hired a paid chaplain to give sectarian prayers and three days later, they settled on the final wording of the First Amendment.  Congress obviously didn't believe that having a minister give a sectarian prayer violated the First Amendment."

The Missouri Family Policy Council will once again be pursuing legislation during the new session of the General Assembly to ensure that government bodies in our state can include invocations in their meetings.   

Obama Administration Bypasses Congress on End-of-Life Policy

The Obama Administration has done an end-run around Congress to implement end-of-life "counseling" programs for participants in the federal Medicare program.  Under regulations issued in late November, physicians will be reimbursed for conducting "advance care planning" consultations with elderly patients during annual "wellness visits."

The unilateral actions by the Obama Administration follow the removal of similar provisions from the recent federal health care legislation promoted by President Obama and adopted by Congress.  The "advance care planning" provisions were dropped from the bill after critics charged that such language would encourage the removal or denial of health care services to senior citizens suffering from mental or physical infirmities.  The controversy reached its peak when former Vice-Presidential candidate Sarah Palin derided the plan as government-run "death panels."

National pro-life leaders are expressing concern about the ramifications of the new regulations.  "The danger is that subsidized advance care planning will not just discover and implement patient treatment preferences, but rather be used to nudge or pressure older people to agree to less treatment because it is less expensive," says Burke Balch, director of the Robert Powell Center for Medical Ethics.

The "advance care planning" language was originally inserted into President Obama's healthcare legislation by Congressman Earl Blumenauer of Oregon.  The language was drafted by Compassion and Choices, a pro-euthanasia group that used to be known as the Hemlock Society.  Representative Blumenauer has been a strong backer of Oregon's assisted suicide law.

It appears that Congressman Blumenauer is continuing his surreptitious activity.  The New York Times reports that Blumenauer sent a memo to his allies urging them to keep quiet about their success in sneaking "advance care planning" language into the new Medicare regulations.  "Thus far, it seems that no press or blogs have discovered it.  The longer this goes unnoticed, the better our chances of keeping it."

The new regulation will be administered by Donald Berwick, the administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.  Berwick is a defender of health care rationing, admires the state-run health care system in England, and believes that it is appropriate for the government to intrude into the physician-patient relationship.

Matt Staver, President of Liberty Counsel, is concerned about the potentially coercive nature of "advance care planning" consultations.  "I'm not opposed to having end-of-life directives, but the problem is when the doctor gets paid to hold such consultations on an annual basis.  Doctors will have a financial incentive to encourage patients to sign advance directives.  Elderly patients will get confused and will end up signing documents without having a clue what they are signing, and they will sign away care they might really want."

Even if the new regulations emphasize the "voluntary" nature of the "end-of-life" consultations, they are a treacherous tool in the hands of the Obama Administration, which is exceedingly hostile to the sanctity of human life.  President Obama has bemoaned the fact that "the chronically ill and those toward the end of their lives are accounting for potentially 80 percent of the total health care bill out there." 

Ezekiel Emmanuel, the chief architect of the the President's health care plan, has stated in the past that medical services under a government-financed health care system should not be given to "individuals who are irreversibly prevented from being or becoming participating citizens.  An obvious example is not guaranteeing health services to people with dementia."

Rahm's opinion of who he believes to be "participating citizens" is illustrated by further comments he has made about health services that should be "socially guaranteed."  He stated, "A less obvious example of [services that should not be guaranteed] is neuropsychological services to ensure children with learning disabilities can read and learn to reason."

Conservative health policy commentator Betsy McCaughey  believes the new regulations are reflective of a "quality of life" philosophy.  "Government shouldn't be scripting what doctors say to patients.  The government isn't a trusted educator--it has a stake in reducing the care provided to elderly patients."

"When end-of-life counseling first came up, doctors' quality ratings were going to be determined in part by the percentage of patients who have a living will and those who follow it up.  If they make advance care planning a protocol, it's not voluntary, despite the use of the word."

The Wall Street Journal, in an editorial, shares the same perspective.  "Under highly centralized national health care, the government inevitably makes cost-minded judgments about what types of care are 'best' for society at large, and the standardized treatments it prescribes inevitably steal life-saving options from individual patients."
Republican Congressional leaders are pledging to vote in the coming days on legislation to repeal President Obama's health care legislation.  As of this writing, there has been no proposed action out of Congress to repeal or revise the Obama Administration's new end-of-life regulations.

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