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Archive for the ‘Federal Legislation’ Category

Hobby Lobby, I stand with (2)The U.S. Supreme Court today upheld, by a 5-4 majority, the right of business owners to operate their family companies without violating their deeply held religious convictions against abortion.

The decision in the Sebelius (now Burwell) v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. ruling, is here, with legal comment here.

Justice Samuel Alito authored the majority opinion, declaring that the ‘HHS contraception mandate’ (a regulation issued under Obamacare) substantially burdens the Constitutionally-protected free exercise of religion.

The essence of this ruling is that the government may not create an artifice of a health mandate to force citizens to underwrite and promote abortion.

Although regularly termed as litigation against the HHS contraceptive mandate, Hobby Lobby (and other businesses) filed suit specifically in objection to being forced to provide some contraceptives—those that act to abort human embryos—under the HHS mandate.

Specifically, they objected to 2 drugs and 2 IUD devices, labeled as contraceptive, that actually can prevent implantation of the already-formed human embryo into the womb for gestation, also called a ‘post-fertilization abortifacient function’. (Read a thorough analysis of contraceptives from pro-life OB/GYN, Donna Harrison here.)

Furthermore, when evaluating the governmental interference with religion, the Court found that the HHS mandate violates the “least restrictive means” test of the 1993 Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA). RFRA demands that interference with religious freedom must be based on a compelling governmental interest, and be executed in the least restrictive means needed. Without ruling whether the goal of insurance provision of contraception is really a compelling governmental interest, the Court ruled that the HHS mandate, as a means of achieving that goal, is out of bounds.

The Court affirmed that freedom of religious expression is not limited to a person in his/her private, individual capacity, but –as set out in RFRA — extends to him/her when acting as a corporation, whether for-profit or non-profit.

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U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS)

U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS)

Kansas’ U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts has taken a leadership role in battling government restrictions on health care and to that end, on Tuesday filed the “Repeal Rationing in Support of Life Act,” see video here.

This is the third in a series of bills, part of a comprehensive effort by Sen. Roberts, to prevent the federal government from limiting access to life-saving medical care for patients at all stages of life.

“Obamacare has made many Americans fearful that cost-cutting and rationing of care will limit their options for health care at a time when they are vulnerable–when they are sick or battling a life threatening condition,” Roberts said. “By introducing this bill, we are fighting against hidden barriers to treatment and life-saving medicine.”

Roberts’ bill targets four rationing provisions of Obamacare for repeal:

1) the “excess benefit” tax coming into effect in 2018, which unfairly limits employee plans from keeping pace with medical inflation;
2) the current exclusion of adequate health insurance plans from the exchanges;
3) limits now curtailing senior citizens’ ability to add their own money in addition to Medicare payment for health insurance including Medicare Advantage; and
4) federal limits on the care doctors are allowed to give their patients.

Roberts’ legislation (see bill details here) is endorsed by the National Right to Life Committee, which has delineated rationing dangers in Obamacare in this NRLC report and in a recent Q & A article here.

Mary Kay Culp, executive director of Kansans for Life, stated, “Obamacare authorizes Washington bureaucrats to create one uniform, national standard of care that is designed to limit what private citizens are allowed to spend to save their own lives. We commend Senator Roberts for his bill and his consistent leadership to end Obamacare’s rationing.”

The bill is cosponsored by Senators Jerry Moran (R-KS), Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), Thad Cochran (R-Miss.), and Roger Wicker (R-Miss.).

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Obamacare grants HHS head, Kathleen Sebelius, powers

Obamacare grants HHS head, Kathleen Sebelius, unprecedented powers

We strongly urge you to read– in full– this excellent analysis of the built-in rationing in Obamacare, from Carol Tobias, president of our national affiliate. Learn the facts and help spread the word!
(Note, the Sebelius graphic is KFL’s addition.)

                  Yes, It Is Rationing
Dec. 2, 2013, Washington, D.C. —  “It’s four years overdue, but America is finally beginning to have the debate about Obamacare we were promised. Barack Obama had assured us – another in his long series of broken promises – that the meetings held to devise the plan would be televised on C-SPAN.  Americans would have every opportunity to know what the law is, and how it would affect them.

That never happened.  The law was put together behind closed doors.  Nancy Pelosi later arrogantly told us “we have to pass the law so you can know what’s in it.” Now we’re finding out.

National Right to Life was a lone early voice exposing how the law would cause rationing of life-saving care.  But Obamacare supporters have mocked the claim.  Their standard line has been “the ACA is designed to expand coverage, not reduce it.”

But that’s only one part of the law. Central to this overhaul of our healthcare system is a harsh regime of rationing – denial of care.  And it’s finally being admitted.

Americans don’t yet realize the law will prevent you from spending your own money to get treatments deemed “ineffective” in an Orwellian way by the unelected, largely unaccountable IPAB board.

Last summer, former Vermont governor, Democratic presidential candidate, physician and Obamacare supporter Howard Dean made headlines when he spilled the beans.  The Independent Payment Advisory Board set up by Obamacare, Dean said, was “essentially a health care rationing board.”

Further clarification about the role of this board, known as IPAB, came in a series of interviews and tweets last week by Time magazine Senior Political Analyst Mark Halperin.  Coming from an avowed supporter of universal coverage, as Halperin is, the interviews were very instructive, containing insights every American should know.

Halperin first discussed rationing on a November 25th Newsmax TV program.  “It’s built into the plan.  It’s not like a guess or like a judgment.  That’s going to be part of how costs are controlled.”

Later that day, Halperin clarified in a tweet that his comments were not about so-called “death panels,” as the show’s host had termed it, but about rationing.  This is an important distinction for pro-lifers to understand so we (unlike Obama) are completely clear and honest about what the Affordable Care Act does when we discuss it with others.

“Death Panels” vs. broad government-generated rationing in the ACA

The British National Health Service (NHS) has appeals committees to review “individual funding requests.”  They meet to determine whether treatments in a specific case will or won’t be paid for by the government health care system, NHS.  These have sometimes been termed “death panels” because if a patient needs a treatment to save or extend his life and can’t afford to pay for it himself, a verdict of “no” by the committee means the patient could die – hence, the term “death panel.”

Obamacare’s Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB) will not operate this way.  It won’t review individual cases; in fact, the law is written to preclude this type of direct rationing.  That’s why some Obamacare supporters protest that the law actually bars IPAB from rationing.

But Obamacare actually gives IPAB far more power to ration than if it was acting as judge and jury to individual patients. Broadly speaking, IPAB is given sweeping powers to recommend to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) whether and how whole categories of treatments are to be reimbursed — and is required to use these powers to prevent overall health care spending from being allowed even to keep up with medical inflation. Thus, they can (in fact, it is their job to) limit reimbursement and ration care from thousands or millions of people at a time.

For example, IPAB might decide that a new, promising treatment for breast cancer is not “cost-effective,” given the board’s calculation of the number of lives it might save versus the cost to offer the treatment.  HHS might then issue a “quality measure” binding on health care providers that does not authorize use of the treatment.

Effectively, HHS would have the power to drive most doctors out of business if they ignore its directives to ration.  Women who might have been saved by the new treatment would die if the older, cheaper treatments don’t cure them.

Halperin was open about the law’s intention to ration in a follow-up interview on CNBC last Tuesday.

“Those decisions that are made by that board are going to lead to what I think could be described perfectly reasonably as rationing, “ Halperin said.  “Again, as I said, that’s built into the system.”

“The Independent Payment Advisory Board, which is a big part of the Affordable Care Act that is central to cost control, is something that hasn’t been debated in a real way . . . we need to have that debate in this country.”

Currently, if an insurance company, doctor or hospital denies you a treatment or payment for a treatment, you have several options.  States have insurance commissions to which you have a right to appeal payment denials by insurance companies.  You can go to another doctor or hospital to get care.

Under Obamacare, these avenues will be largely closed off to you and your loved ones.  If the government says you can’t get a treatment, your current ability to appeal to a government body will be curtailed.  And Americans don’t yet realize the law will prevent you from spending your own money to get treatments deemed in an Orwellian way “ineffective” by the unelected, largely unaccountable IPAB board.

That makes it absolutely critical that National Right to Life inform Americans, warn Americans, empower Americans to overturn this law that will be so deadly to so many of their loved ones – and ultimately to many of us.  Please take the time to see one way we’re spreading the truth about Obamacare rationing at www.nrlc.org/medethics/healthcarerationing.

And please help National Right to Life fight this life-and-death battle with a generous donation today.  Perhaps you can afford a substantial gift of $1,000 or $500 – such a contribution will help us get the word out to the public and public officials alike about what this law does to innocent human lives and why it must be overturned.

Your gifts of $100, $50 or $35, combined with those of thousands of other concerned Americans, can have the same effect.  Let’s not let it be said that we didn’t fight back with everything we have to overturn those policies and save these lives!

tobiasThank you – you are literally a Lifesaver!”
Carol Tobias, National Right to Life President

Forward this message to a friend.

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Spina bifida corrected before birth on Samuel Armas, 1999F surgery

1999: Spina bifida surgically corrected on as-yet-unborn baby, Samuel Armas,whose hand grasps the surgeon’s finger. (Photo by Michael Clancy)

Infant pain capability is now so well established and studied that the specialty of pediatric anesthesiology has evolved to help tiny babies tolerate surgical interventions.

Consider how mainstream medicine acknowledges that newborns (including preemies) feel pain: circumcisions are now routinely performed after topical numbing and the World Health Organization recommends pain relief for the mandatory “heel sticks” drawing the child’s blood after delivery.

Medical researchers continue to test and analyze the kinds of pain-techniques that are most beneficial on tiny patients, leading to the increased surgical successes on children before and after birth. (Read about the photo here and here and developments in spina bifida here.)

In fact, science now knows that

between 20-30 weeks gestation, the highest density of pain receptors per square inch of skin develop in the unborn–five times the pain sensitivity that any child or adult will ever be capable of.

However, the developing unborn child has not developed the mechanisms needed to modulate and tone down pain, because that “pain-dampening” development occurs around 40 weeks gestation (term delivery) –and afterword!

Only the abortion industry wants to perpetuate the myth that unborn children are non-feeling and impervious to the experience of being dismembered. One wonders whether abortionists and their staff personally reject anesthesia for their own newborns and preemies that undergo medical procedures?

PAIN-CAPABLE LEGISLATION
The National Right to Life Committee (NRLC) led the charge to end partial-birth abortions –a gruesome method used on a child exiting the birth canal. In NRLCs overall plan to systematically dismantle the U.S. Supreme Court’s enduring support for abortion, they have crafted legislation presenting evidence that unborn children feel pain.

Kansas is one of the few states banning abortions at 22 weeks gestation (20 weeks post-fertilization) due to the recognized pain-capability of the unborn. While legal injunctions to the Idaho, Georgia and Arizona pain-capable laws have predictably been secured, we hope that state appeals of those decisions will be taken up for review by the U.S. Supreme Court.

HR 1797 is a federal bill, spearheaded by NRLC, that would ban elective abortions at 20 weeks fetal age, due to pain-capability. The measure is co-sponsored by all four members of the Kansas delegation to the U.S. House  and by both Kansas U.S Senators in a companion bill. The House Judiciary Committee could vote on the bill before mid-June, with action by the full House any time thereafter. For more details, go here.

The issue of whether aborted children could experience the pain of abortion had not been a specific consideration in the 1973 Roe v Wade ruling. In that era, surgery for preemies, infants and toddlers relied on taping the child to the surgical table to immobilize the body so that the needed procedure could be performed!

Can our country– where hospitals seek the best way to protect newborns from the pain of a needle prick –continue to allow the horrific dismemberment of pain-feeling children inside abortion clinics?

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fetal pain sign (2)Kermit Gosnell was convicted of murder, supported by photographic evidence of preterm babies with deep gashes to the neck, applied with sharp scissors.  Gosnell’s associate called the method of their demise “a beheading”.

Fox News reporter and seasoned litigator Megyn Kelly, 6 months pregnant, admitted how hard it was to force herself to look at the photos. Any decent person would get the shivers imagining how such a slashing might feel—particularly on the tender bodies of tiny children.

However, an even more chilling component exists, as revealed in scientific studies developed over the past three decades: that unborn children are “wired” to feel pain MORE intensely than any child or adult ever can!

This is due to the physiology of the pre-term child, reported Emory University professor/ pediatric intensive care physician, Dr. Jean Wright to Congress,“the fibers and structures needed to feel pain are present but the mechanisms needed to modulate and tone down the response are poorly developed.”

“The highest density of pain receptors per square inch of skin in human development occurs in utero from 20-30 weeks gestation,” testified Prof. Kanwaljeet Anand to Congress, based in part on his  seminal work, first published in1987. Anand explains,

“the process of…surgical incision into the fetal cranium / upper neck of the fetus will result in prolonged and intense pain… more intense than [that of] older infants, children or adults to a similar injury.”

Thus, the stabbing of those babies at the Gosnell clinic is more horrific than can be imagined.

Abortion was legalized without the scientific knowledge that pre-term children not only can feel pain, but feel it more excruciatingly; massive medical documentation can be found at  www.doctorsonfetalpain.org. National Right to Life developed a strategy to pass legislation that will reach the Supreme Court and confront the justices with this additional concept.  This allows states to show the High Court that civilized people want abortion banned at least at the stage when children can acutely feel the torture of abortion.
         
Kansas passed the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act in 2011, after we informed legislators that the issue of whether aborted children could experience the pain of abortion had not been a consideration of the 1973 Roe v Wade ruling.

At that time, surgery for preemies, infants and toddlers relied on taping the child to the surgical table to immobilize the body so that the needed procedure could be performed! Ill children were considered too frail to tolerate anesthesia, and there was insufficient data on how, and in what amounts, successful pain relief could be administered.

That medical era changed in the 1980s with increasing studies showing the hormonal and cardio-resuscitory responses of unborn children to painful stimuli. With this new knowledge, the specialties of pediatric surgery and pediatric anesthesiology developed, as well as NICU units with special protocols acknowledging the hypersensitivities of preemies.

Physicians now know how to detect and treat pain in the tiniest of patients. In fact, due to advances in pediatric anesthesia techniques, unborn children can be removed temporarily from the womb, endure surgical repair, and be returned to finish gestation.

With some limited coverage by the mainstream media of Gosnell’s vicious murder of pre-term children born alive, the general public has now been awakened. It would be a silver lining if the same public who feel pity for Gosnell’s tiny victims, allow themselves to actively reflect upon the acute pain-capability of the children destroyed during abortion.

The time is ripe for passage of a federal Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act. Read more in key articles here, here, and here.

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religious freedom (2)Good news! A second court ruling showed skepticism that the Obama administration intends to enact a meaningful “accommodation” of the conscience rights of non-profit groups battling the HHS insurance mandate.

A Washington, D.C. circuit Court of Appeals overturned lower courts and ruled Tuesday that the lawsuit of two plaintiffs– evangelical Wheaton College and Catholic Belmont Abbey College— will not be dismissed.

HHS has denied the colleges exemptions from the mandate that health insurance provide free abortion-causing drugs and sterilization. And although the Obama administration had previously announced plans to create a new rule, or accommodation, it has not yet taken the steps necessary to make that promise legally binding.

The Court of Appeals decided the colleges’ cases should stay alive while it scrutinizes whether the government will meet its promised deadlines. In fact, it ordered that HHS must appear in court every 60 days until its promised accommodation has become part of the official Obamacare “preventative services” regulatory regime!

Over 100 individuals, schools and businesses have sued the HHS mandate. Just last week, a New York district judge resisted the Obama attorneys’ claim that the grounds for these religious liberty lawsuits will soon disappear once the accommodation is made. District Judge Brian Cogan didn’t buy that logic; he allowed the Catholic Archdiocese of New York lawsuit to go forward, saying,

“There is no, ‘Trust us, changes are coming’ clause in the Constitution.”

Of course no serious person believes that any promised tweaking of the mandate can eliminate its essential undermining of religious freedom. The mandate flies in the face of the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which requires that only a ‘compelling’ governmental interest has any potential to infringe on religious exercise, and then only if carried out in the least intrusive way.

The Obama administration attorneys have only a liberalizing-abortion agenda, and no true compelling interest, for forcing free coverage of morally offensive “preventive” services.  They have offered ridiculous justifications for not granting exemptions, including:

  1. a person loses religious liberty rights once they run a business;
  2. religion is limited to worship inside a building and serving only those who believe as you do.

KANSAS CONSCIENCE PROTECTIONS
Kansas lawmakers have secured important conscience protection for:

  • taxpayers;
  • private employers;
  • medical personnel and facilities.

In 2011, Kansas passed pro-active legislation forbidding the establishment of elective abortion coverage in any anticipated state health insurance “exchange’ (a kind of marketplace for policies). Eighteen other states have passed similar bans.

Also that year, Kansas lawmakers passed a measure to protect employers’ right to refuse to cover any abortions (other than those to save the mother’s life) in their company health plans. Under this law, employees can buy a special, separate “rider” policy for elective abortions. This law is similar to ones other states have had for decades which have been upheld in court. The Kansas law is in effect but the ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union) has sued, and the matter is headed for trial next year.

Under the 2012 Kansas Healthcare Rights of Conscience Act, health professionals cannot be fired, and medical facilities cannot be sued, for not performing abortions, or for not providing referrals for them. Conscience decisions on sterilizations and abortion-causing drugs are also protected.

Kansas has established significant laws to protect life and conscience, but the push to normalize abortion and restrict religious liberty continues.

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U.S. Reps Tim Huelskamp (Dist.1), Lynn Jenkins (Dist.2), Mike Pompeo (Dist.4), Kevin Yoder (Dist.3). Photo: CJOnline

The majority of the U.S. House–including all 4 members of the Kansas delegation– voted Thursday to ban sex-selection abortions, but the measure failed to reach the necessary 2/3 majority. The vote was 246-168 in favor of the bill.

The Prenatal Discrimination bill, (PRENDA) H.R. 3541, addresses a true “war” on women —the destruction of innocent little baby girls in the womb. Four states currently ban sex-selection abortions and Kansas offered such a ban as a provision in the Pro-Life Protection Act, which passed the House this session but was dropped for action in the Senate.

PRENDA would apply federal criminal penalties to any person who does any of the following four things:

  1. performs an abortion knowing that such abortion is sought based on the sex of the child;
  2. uses force or the threat of force to intentionally injure or intimidate any person for the purpose of coercing a sex-selection abortion;
  3. solicits or accepts funds for the performance of a sex-selection abortion; or
  4. transports a woman into the United States or across a State line for the purpose of obtaining a sex-selection abortion.

President Obama opposed the ban, (more…)

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