Marijuana-Related ER Visits Triple During Legalization in Colorado

A toxicology specialist has found a connection between legalized marijuana and a threefold increase in related visits to emergency rooms in Colorado for heart and other issues, confirming that cannabis poses health risks.

Marijuana may be a recreational activity for many, but marijuana-infused “edibles” in particular have been subject to scrutiny because of their ties to a jump in patients seeking medical treatment.

The new study from researchers with the University of Colorado School of Medicine found that marijuana-related ER visits tripled between 2012 and 2016.

The study also found that people consuming marijuana edibles suffer from toxic reactions at higher rates than those who simply smoke the drug. These edibles typically include brownies and other baked goods.

Dr. Andrew Monte, an associate professor at the medical school’s Anschutz campus, was lead author of the research paper published Tuesday in the Annals of Internal Medicine, touted as the first study to show an increased rate of adverse health events linked to marijuana edibles.

“Some patients will have psychosis, hallucinations, or they will hear things,” Monte, also an emergency medicine and toxicology specialist at UCHealth University of Colorado Hospital, told the website UCHealth. “The more common thing is acute anxiety, panic attacks, and very high heart rates.”

“There’s a much higher risk with taking edible agents,” he added. “It’s so unpredictable in terms of the effects.”

Colorado legalized medical marijuana shops in 2009, then legalized recreational marijuana use in 2014. Since the legalization of marijuana in some jurisdictions across the U.S., public health experts have called for better quality control of marijuana.

ER visits by those consuming marijuana edibles have risen since Colorado legalized marijuana use, for both cardiac and psychiatric problems, the study found.

From 2012 to 2016, the study found, a total of 10,000 ER visits were tied to patients who previously smoked marijuana or used edibles.

More than 25 percent of the ER visits involved symptoms related to marijuana use. Visits related to toxic reactions from marijuana edibles were 33 times higher than expected, the study found.

Another finding: Marijuana users often suffered from nausea and vomiting, a condition known as cannabinoid hyperemesis.

Although sales of edibles make up a small share of Colorado’s marijuana market, the number of patients suffering from toxic side effects was found to be 11 percent.

Edible marijuana products also were tied to unpleasant psychiatric symptoms and, though rarely, death, according to the study. It also found that marijuana users who sought treatment generally were younger and male.

“When people take something to get high, they generally don’t want to get high three hours later and be high for 12 hours,” Monte told UCHealth, referring to the potency of some edibles.

Edibles containing greater concentrations may produce cyclic vomiting syndrome, he warned.

Enjoying pot-infused edibles “isn’t completely safe,” Monte said, but it’s hard to pinpoint all the side effects because of a lack of clinical trials.

COLUMN BY

Joshua Nelson

Joshua Nelson is a member of the Young Leaders Program at The Heritage Foundation.


Dear Readers:

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The Trump administration has embraced over 60 percent of The Heritage Foundation’s policy recommendations since his inauguration. But with the House now firmly within the grips of the progressive left, the victories may come to a screeching halt.

Why? Because they are determined more than ever to give the government more control over your lives. Restoring your liberty and embracing freedom is the best thing for you and the country.

President Donald Trump needs all of the allies he can find to push through the stone wall he now faces within this divided government. And the best way you can partner with him is by becoming a member of his greatest ally in Washington: The Heritage Foundation.

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EDITORS NOTE: This Daily Signal column is republished with permission.

How Border Security Failures Make US Sick: The Hypocrisy in our Immigration Debate.

Several weeks ago I wrote about how Open Borders Are Dangerous To Our (Public) Health and noted that Ellis Island was a quarantine station.

In the weeks that followed, attention has greatly increased over the growing measles epidemic that is infecting increasing numbers of children particularly in New York State.

On March 26, 2019 the headline of a Newsday report blared: “State of emergency declared in Rockland County because of measles outbreak”.  The subtitle of that article stated, At least 153 people, mostly children, have been affected in the county. And nearly 200 cases have been counted in recent months in Brooklyn and Queens.”

News coverage of the worrying outbreak have focused on the orthodox Jewish community blaming their supposed religious beliefs and practices for not permitting their children to be vaccinated.

This raises the disquieting question if health concerns are being used as a way of demonizing members of the religious Jewish community by blaming them for the measles outbreak.

However the Newsday report provided this important quote:

“I am an Orthodox rabbi, and there is absolutely no religious authority that forbids one from getting vaccinated,” said Dr. Aaron Glatt, chairman of medicine at South Nassau Communities Hospital in Oceanside, and a specialist in infectious diseases.

“Unfortunately, there is a segment of the population that has fallen under the influence of the anti-vaxxers,” Glatt said of people who espouse anti-vaccine beliefs. “You see this among Jewish and non-Jewish parents. There is a strong contingent of anti-vaxxers who have ulterior motives, but most are decent parents who are just misinformed.”

The Newsday article went on to report:

Earlier this month a federal judge barred 50 students from attending a Rockland school because they were unvaccinated. Health officials believe the outbreak was ignited in September by an international traveler who arrived in the area with measles. The situation worsened when six additional international travelers with measles arrived in Rockland, further spreading measles to vulnerable children.

The issue has a clear nexus to international travel yet most news outlets refuse to focus on this significant aspect of the health crisis.

Having used the term crisis we cannot ignore the headline of a March 26, 2019 report published by WAMC Northeastern Public Radio, Rockland County Exec Declares State Of Emergency For Measles Outbreak.

Under the terms of the declaration of the State of Emergency children under the age of 18 years of age who have not been vaccinated against measles must not enter any public place until April 27 or until they are vaccinated to protect against measles, mumps and rubella.  The penalty for violation of this order is a maximum fine of $500 dollars and/or six months in prison for committing a Class “B” Misdemeanor.

Before we go any further, we must consider what this really means.

Out of a concern for the health of the general population of the residents of Rockland County, a country that lies north of New York City, the fact that several hundred children have contracted the measles prompted swift and decisive action to safeguard the lives of children and others who might be vulnerable to a dangerous disease.

However, under the premise of “Sanctuary Policies” illegal aliens who enter the United States without inspection are shielded from detection by Immigration and Customs Enforcement leaving them free to wander about those communities with impunity.

Aliens who enter the United States are illegally present and, as I have noted in ever so many of my articles and Congressional testimony, pose a threat to public safety and national security.  They also may well pose a threat to public health.  Under a provision of the Immigration and Nationality Act, 8 U.S. Code § 1182 (Inadmissible Aliens), aliens may not be granted visas or admitted into the United States if they have a communicable disease or cannot provide proof that they have been vaccinated against at least the following: mumps, measles, rubella, polio, tetanus and diphtheria toxoids, pertussis, influenza type B and hepatitis B, and any other vaccinations against vaccine-preventable diseases recommended by the Advisory Committee for Immunization Practices.

Aliens without inspection are not vetted and their very presence in the United States is not known by our government.

Now let’s consider how frequently advocates for sanctuary policies justify their outrageous policies by claiming that many businesses depend on what they refer to as “undocumented immigrants” (Orwellian Newspeak for aliens who are illegally present in the United States and may have entered the United States illegally and without inspection).

Among the businesses that eagerly hire these aliens who evaded the vetting process at ports of entry are restaurants and food processing plants.

So, while unvaccinated children are to be kept away from public events under the threat of having their parents or legal guardians arrested and imprisoned for up to six months, potentially separating the American parents from their American children, illegal aliens whose medical backgrounds are unknown along with the potential public health risks that they pose are free to go where they wish in those “Sanctuary” jurisdictions and may even help to prepare your next meal.

Bon appetite!

To further support my concerns about health issues that relate to aliens who seek entry into the United States consider on January 15, 2019 Newsweek published a report, “Anti-Vax Movement Listed By World Health Organization As One Of The Top 10 Health Threats For 2019.”

Here a few excerpts from the Newsweek report to help keep you awake at night:

Fragile and vulnerable settings

Crises—such as drought, famine, conflict and population displacement—and poor health services have left more than 1.6 billion people around the world, or 22 percent of the planet’s population, without access to basic care.

Ebola and other high-threat pathogens

Two outbreaks of Ebola in the Democratic Republic of Congo occurred last year, causing the deaths of nearly 400 people. This highlights the danger of known high-threat pathogens with the potential to cause epidemics—like Ebola, Zika, Middle East respiratory syndrome corona virus (MERS-CoV) and severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS)—as well as those that have yet to be discovered.

Weak primary health care

People in many countries around the world lack access to adequate primary health care services. This is a significant problem because they are the first point of contact that an individual has with a health care system. Often, service is of poor quality or is simply unaffordable

Dengue

Every year, about 390 million people around the world are infected with dengue fever and about 40 percent of the global population lives in regions where it risks contracting the disease. Transmitted by mosquitoes, the flu-like fever has a mortality rate of below 1 percent when it is detected early and the patient receives medical care. However, this figure can rise significantly if the disease is left untreated.

Finally, on March 11, 2019 CNN reported, More than 2,000 people in ICE custody quarantined for contagious diseases.

It is more than a bit ironic and hypocritical that while Congress collectively voted against President Trump’s declaration of an emergency at our porous and dangerous southern border that the local government of Rockland County in New York State have declared a “State of Emergency” over health concerns that may well have a nexus to border security, or lack thereof.

EDITORS NOTE: This FrontPage Magazine column is republished with permission.

Wetwork: A Review of “Unplanned”

Brad Miner on a remarkable, if uneven, pro-life movie that makes clear why abortion is “wetwork,” a loan word from the Russian mokroye delo: meaning murder.


My anti-abortion views solidified in 1976 when I bought a copy of Esquire magazine. There was something in it by or about George Plimpton that I wanted to read, but thumbing through the pages I came to an article titled “What I Saw at the Abortion” by Richard Selzer, M.D.

I’d been a Catholic for about three years and knew what I was supposed to believe about abortion. I’d recently read Humane vitae for the first time and been deeply impressed by its clarity: “all direct abortion, even for therapeutic reasons, [is] to be absolutely excluded.” But it was when I read Dr. Selzer’s article that my view was forever set.

What knocked me for a loop was Selzer’s reference to a “flick,” a resistance, the fetus defending itself against its murder. Read it for yourself (The Human Life Review has reprinted it here), but here’s the good doctor’s conclusion:

I am not trying to argue. I am only saying I’ve seen. The flick. Whatever else may be said in abortion’s defense, the vision of that other defense will not vanish from my eyes. What I saw I saw as that: a defense, a motion from, an effort away. And it has happened that you cannot reason with me now. For what can language do against the truth of what I saw?

So, it seemed to me before I watched the new movie, Unplanned, that the defining scene would have to be just such a moment, one in which Abby Johnson (played by Ashley Bratcher) witnessed the abortion that changed her life. (The film is based on her book of the same title.)

That moment is set up nicely in an earlier scene in which Abby, the youngest clinic director at Planned Parenthood, banally counsels a young woman not to worry: “The one thing that all experts agree on is that, at this stage, the fetus can’t feel anything.”

But then she witnesses a “procedure” during which she sees (via ultrasound) the child “twisting and fighting for its life” against the abortionist’s cannula, which causes her to look anew at her participation in the 22,000 abortions that happened during her tenure. This begs the question of how one could ever not have known what the hell was going on, but that’s life, I guess. We must suppress what we believe we must not accept.

As the Psalmist says (34: 14-15), “Keep your tongue from evil, your lips from speaking lies. Turn from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.” And that’s what Abby Johnson did, a change of heart and mind, however, made more difficult for her because she’d had two abortions herself.

The scenes in which Ashley Bratcher acts through Abby Johnson’s descent into abject misery and ascent into pro-life glory are very fine indeed.

Yet Unplanned is sometimes sluggish, partly because of flashbacks and narration, and occasionally it’s preachy. It also goes further than it probably should have in showing, specifically, a bloody abortion gone wrong, and, generally, the blood associated with a Planned Parenthood clinic.

It’s shocking to watch, and that’s clearly what directors Chuck Konzelman and Cary Solomon intended these scenes to be. But it’s also why their film received an MPAA rating of R and not PG-13. The implications of this at the box office could be grave, although I hope not. And some churches may decide not to screen it, especially to teenagers, and that would be a shame, especially since a drop of blood can be effective. And anyway the point is the potential crises in abortion: perforated uterus, falling blood pressure, and the pallor that comes from blood loss. You don’t have to dwell on the effusion of blood and fetal tissue.

It reminded me of Signal 30, the driver’s ed video we were shown in high school that depicted, in gruesome detail, the consequences of recklessness behind the wheel. It was repulsive without, I’m afraid, actually being an effective deterrent.

I’m sorry to dwell on this, but the ultrasound image in Unplanned of the vacuum aspiration of a fetus – graphic but not bloody – was sufficient; its impact far greater than the billows of crimson.

Still, abortion is what, in intelligence-military jargon, is called “wetwork,” a loan word from the Russian mokroye delo, meaning murder or assassination.

But I must say that Unplanned makes its arguments cogently. And arguments are still necessary, since the idea that the “products of conception” are not a human being still clearly rules in Federal law and dominates thinking and policy in one of America’s political parties, the party of Herod.

And this is another reason why the gore in Unplanned is unnecessary. Many medical procedures spill blood and some go sideways. Audiences are used to that, and I suppose if a pro-abortion advocate saw this movie, she might say, “The fact that sometimes things get messy isn’t an argument for restricting a woman’s reproductive rights. It’s her body!”

In the end, Unplanned, though far from a failure, is shallow. The motif in the film is the fence around the Texas Planned Parenthood facility where most of the action takes place. On one side are the abortionists, who are portrayed either complacent or evil; on the other side are the pro-life demonstrators from 40 Days for Life, are of whom all virtuous.

It’s not a propaganda film, although a final scene, in which the My Pillow founder, Mike Lindell, operates a bulldozer to knock down the Planned Parenthood sign at Abby’s former clinic, threatens to make what went before seem like an infomercial. I’m sure the producers were grateful for the million dollars Mr. Lindell put into the film. “I don’t get into things for the money,” Lindell told the Hollywood Reporter, “I get into them if the message is right.” Okay, Mike, but do you have to actually get into the movie itself?

Meanwhile, Ms. Bratcher gave a remarkable interview on the Fox News Channel that you’ll want to watch before you see Unplanned. And, please, see it.

COLUMN BY

Brad Miner

Brad Miner is senior editor of The Catholic Thing, senior fellow of the Faith & Reason Institute, and Board Secretary of Aid to the Church In Need USA. He is a former Literary Editor of National Review. His new book, Sons of St. Patrick, written with George J. Marlin, is now on sale. The Compleat Gentleman, is available on audio.

RELATED ARTICLES:

President Trump Issues New Pro-Life Rules Protecting Doctors and Nurses From Having to Do Abortions

Yes, Babies Are a Better Solution to Climate Change Than the Green New Deal

EDITORS NOTE: This Catholic Thing column is republished with permission. Video by Fox News Channel Fox & Friends. © 2019 The Catholic Thing. All rights reserved. For reprint rights, write to: info@frinstitute.org. The Catholic Thing is a forum for intelligent Catholic commentary. Opinions expressed by writers are solely their own.

VIDEO: Film “Unplanned” Is All About the Big Lie[s]

I had the opportunity in 2018 to actually meet Abby Johnson, who wrote the book Unplanned. I went to see the film “Unplanned” based upon her book on it’s opening day, March 29, 2019.  The key lesson that audiences should take away from this compelling movie is that it all about a big lie. A big lie that Abby (played by Ashley Bratcher) and tens of millions of women fall far. Watch the trailer:

This is a film that exposes the big lies preached over and over again by Planned Parenthood.

An important scene that exposes the big lie is when Abby, the newly promoted Director of a Planned Parenthood in Houston, TX, meets with a protester named Shawn (played by Jared Lotz) filming outside of the clinic. Abby wants Shawn to stop filming. When Shawn refused Abby says that Planned Parenthood’s work is akin to ending slavery, stopping the Holocaust and the women’s rights movement. Shawn points out that in reality everything Abby said is the opposite of the truth. He points out that slavery took away the rights of blacks like abortion takes away the rights of the unborn, killing the unborn is the new Holocaust and once inside the PP clinic a woman is convinced to give up the right of her baby to live. Powerful indeed.

Here is a fact check video done by Live Action titled “Planned Parenthood: Lies, no matter what”:

Many of these same lies, told from 2001 to 2009 by Abby Johnson, are exposed in Unplanned. It is clear from the film that Planned Parenthood exists primarily from the money made by performing abortions, not from providing healthcare services to mothers and their unborn child. Unplanned also mentions big downers to Planned Parenthood Bill Gates and George Soros.

As the Reich Minister of Propaganda of Nazi Germany Joseph Goebbels wrote,

“If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State.”

It is estimated that there have been over 60 million abortions in America since Roe v. Wade. This is 60 million people who would today be taxpaying, working Americans adding to our economy. This doesn’t include the adult children of those who were aborted.

The big lie is now out in full view. This is a must watch film. Take your children and grandchildren. They must see this film. Don’t worry about the R-rating.

RELATED ARTICLES:

President Trump Issues New Pro-Life Rules Protecting Doctors and Nurses From Having to Do Abortions

Wetwork: A Review of Unplanned

EXCLUSIVE: HHS Makes $5.1 Million Grant to Pro-Life Community Clinics

The Numbers That Show Planned Parenthood About Abortion Not Women’s Health

Disentangling the Data on Planned Parenthood Affiliates’ Abortion Services and Receipt of Taxpayer Funding

‘Unplanned’ Actress Fires Back At Alyssa Milano’s Attack On Georgia’s Pro-Life Bill

Twitter Suspends, Then Quickly Unsuspends Account of Pro-Life Movie ‘Unplanned’ During Release Week

PODCAST: ‘I Was Almost a Victim of Abortion’ — Star of ‘Unplanned’ Wants Movie to Change Hearts, Minds

Ashley Bratcher, star of the new movie “Unplanned,” recently sat down with The Daily Signal to talk about the film, which opens Friday. It tells the true story of Abby Johnson, a Planned Parenthood clinic director who left the nation’s largest abortion provider in 2009 after a conversion experience. You can listen to the interview with Bratcher on the podcast or read a lightly edited transcript below.

Rachel del Guidice: We’re joined on The Daily Signal Podcast today by Ashley Bratcher. She’s the lead actress in the movie “Unplanned.” The movie tells the story of Abby Johnson, the youngest Planned Parenthood clinic director who in 2009 left Planned Parenthood due to a change of heart. Ashley, thank you so much for being with us today.

Ashley Bratcher: Yes, thank you for having me.

del Guidice: First off, I want to start off to ask you what it was like to be a lead role in a film that tells such an incredible story about not only the horrors of the abortion industry, but also the beauty of the pro-life movement?

Bratcher: Yeah, playing a real person, especially someone like Abby Johnson, is a huge responsibility. She’s just so charismatic and fun and witty. To be able to be the storyteller of her transformation was such an honor.

What’s so powerful about her story is that she made the complete 180. She was an insider at Planned Parenthood and she was able to say, “I was wrong.” To come out and tell her story, which it was very courageous and brave because she faced a lot of backlash from Planned Parenthood. Being able to really share what she went through, and the grace that she found along the way and forgiveness has been just incredible.

del Guidice: You’ve recently spoken about how this film became very personal for you, when you found out in the early stages of filming “Unplanned” that you were almost aborted. Could you tell us a little bit about how that revolution happened?

Bratcher: When I first got cast for “Unplanned,” it all happened really quickly. I’m talking four hours was the notice I got. They said, “Can you be on the plane?” And I said, “Yes.” Without hesitation. I landed in Oklahoma, hit the ground running. I didn’t have a lot of time to tell people where I was or explain.

When my mom called me on the fourth day of filming, I was a little hesitant to share with her the story because she had shared with me when she was younger that she’d had an abortion. I didn’t want her to think that I judged her or that I thought any less of her or that this was even a movie about condemnation, because it certainly isn’t. It doesn’t point fingers at anyone.

I was really proud to tell her Abby’s story. As I did, she became undone more so than I expected. She was weeping through the phone. She said, “Ashley, I need to tell you something that I never told you before.” I could just tell that this was breaking her heart. She said, “Actually, what you don’t know is that when I was 19, I was at the clinic for the second time and I had my name called back, I was being examined by a very pregnant nurse. I was on the table and I got very sick to my stomach. I told her I couldn’t go through with it. I got up, I walked out, and I chose to have you.”

It was such a profound moment because I never knew that. It was incredibly shocking and overwhelming, and so many other words I can’t even create right now in my mind, because I was here telling Abby Johnson’s story, one of the greatest pro-life voices of our time, never realizing that I was almost a victim of abortion. I was almost never here on this earth to share this story. It was definitely something that put life into perspective for me.

del Guidice: Well, that’s beautiful. Thank you so much for sharing that. This movie is coming at a particularly intense time for the pro-life movement. We’ve seen New York recently legalizing abortion up to the time of birth and similar legislation being pursued in states like Virginia and Rhode Island. How do you hope this movie might play a role in the current debate we’re seeing?

Bratcher: Well, I think the timing of the movie is absolutely divine. I would love to say that we’re marketing geniuses, but that is just not the case. This just all happened to come out at a time that I think our country desperately needs it. I think that there is a lot of misinformation out there, and people are just wrapped up in the lie that it’s just a clump of cells, or it’s just tissue, it’s just fetal matter. But that is just not the case.

Science backs the pro-life movement in the sense that a unique individual human life is created at the point of fertilization. We need a face to the victim. This is a movie that actually gives the victim a face. Because for so long, there has been a silent Holocaust happening, if you will. This is something that’s done in secret behind closed doors. For the most part, women don’t even see their ultrasounds. For the first time, we are taking people behind those closed doors to reveal what is really happening in the abortion industry.

del Guidice: What is your take on “Unplanned” receiving an “R” rating? I think I saw a report saying that “R” rating was going to stay unless all the abortion scenes were removed. What’s your take on this whole rating that its been given?

Bratcher: I think it’s completely accurate. We didn’t receive the “R” rating for nudity because there’s no nudity. There’s no sex, there’s no language. The only reason we received the “R” was for violence and disturbing images.

Well, unfortunately, that is exactly what abortion is. It’s a disturbing and violent act. The NPAA actually agrees with us, which is ironic. I think that the “R” rating is warranted because we don’t hold back. We don’t do it for the blood and gore, but we do it to reveal the truth.

I think that parents who do take their children need to have a very serious conversation about what abortion really is, this is going to definitely wake them up.

I do think that there is a serious issue in our country with the law. Because a girl as young as 13 can be pregnant and go in many states across the nation and have an abortion, but she can’t go see the movie without parental consent. She can have an abortion without parental consent, but she can’t see the movie. That to me says more about protecting women in our society than we are. Just to be able to see a movie is a lot different than going and being able to take a life.

del Guidice: Exactly. No, you’re so right. It’s no secret that pro-life movies, we rarely see them over at the box office. How has your involvement in this movie been received by those in the film industry and the media?

Bratcher: I think other people have been way more concerned than I have about where my career is headed after this. I already have offers on the table. I am a part of some projects that are in the works. It’s not really hurting my career, so to speak.

I think that anyone who is wise enough and honest enough in the film industry, any critic, any artist can look at this role and see the artistic value. Because no matter where you stand on the subject, Abby is an incredibly dynamic character. The role is challenging physically, mentally, emotionally, but it’s an incredible stretch for any actor to be able to have a role like this.

It’s just a really great story. The film industry has to acknowledge that, and if they don’t, that says more about where they stand on their political agenda than I do.

del Guidice: Speaking of the political agenda, and just the attacks we’ve seen on people who do get involved in films like this that are antithetical to what Hollywood produces, what would you say to other people who might have an opportunity like this, but they may be too caught up in their own career or the future? You’re in this movement, and you’re making a profound difference, what would you say to people who are straddling that choice?

Bratcher: I’d say that you being true to yourself is the most important thing you can do in this industry. Because this is an industry that will eat you up and spit you out if you don’t know who you are. Knowing who you are, and what the mark is that you want to leave in this industry and on the world is incredibly important. Because if you know that, and you can root yourself in your purpose, no matter what you do, you can always stand on that.

I know that in 40 years, I’m not going to look back on this project and regret it. I’m going to be very proud of my work. That’s something that I’ve always taken pride in is knowing that I only do projects that I feel moved to do. If I’m a part of that, I’m going to be able to stand behind it and back it and say, “Yeah, I did it, and here’s why.”

I think that people really need to be able to say that. They need to know why they’re doing what they’re doing regardless of what someone else thinks. You’re going to live without regret if you do what is true to you, and people are going to respect you more for being honest and authentic about it.

del Guidice: What was the hardest part about making this film as well as the best part about making it?

Bratcher: The hardest part, I would say, was the 24/7, nonstop commitment to the film. It’s definitely the hardest I’ve ever worked because it didn’t stop when the cameras turned off. It was so labor intensive, as far as research is concerned that it was go, go, go.

I would be eating dinner listening to Abby’s audio book, looking at YouTube videos. I wasn’t even taking a shower without having something playing in the background. It was intense because I was so committed to a truthful performance that I wanted to know the ins and outs of everything that she experienced.

My favorite part about making the film is that these people have truly become my family. I know that people say that all the time, but this is just different than anything I’ve ever been a part of.

I know that these are people that will be in my life for the long haul. They’re friends that call me up regularly and check on me and say, “How are you doing?” And we can have conversations outside of just the movie industry. We really developed a close sense of family because we were all gathered together for a unified purpose, and we knew that.

del Guidice: How do you hope that this film will impact society and specifically the pro-life and pro-abortion movements in particular?

Bratcher: I think this film is going to start a conversation. This is something we desperately need to talk about. I heard one of the Georgia House representatives say last week that abortion is so outside the scope of polite conversation that we can’t even bear to look at it. We can’t even come face to face with the ripping apart of a human being.

He’s right. We have to face this as a society, we have to talk about it. We have to acknowledge it. Because if we don’t, we’re turning a blind eye and nothing is happening to move this forward and progress.

This is a movie that, like I said, is going to put a face to the victim. For the first time, America is going to have to recognize that. They’re going to have to look at what’s being done and say, “Am I OK with this?” You can’t walk out and be ambivalent anymore. You’re going to have to make a choice.

del Guidice: Ashley, thank you so much for being with us today. We really appreciate it.

Bratcher: Yes, thank you for having me.

COLUMN BY

Rachel del Guidice

Rachel del Guidice is a reporter for The Daily Signal. She is a graduate of Franciscan University of Steubenville, Forge Leadership Network, and The Heritage Foundation’s Young Leaders Program. Send an email to Rachel. Twitter: @LRacheldG.


Dear Readers:

Just two short years after the end of the Obama administration’s disastrous policies, America is once again thriving due to conservative solutions that have produced a historic surge in economic growth.

The Trump administration has embraced over 60 percent of The Heritage Foundation’s policy recommendations since his inauguration. But with the House now firmly within the grips of the progressive left, the victories may come to a screeching halt.

Why? Because they are determined more than ever to give the government more control over your lives. Restoring your liberty and embracing freedom is the best thing for you and the country.

President Donald Trump needs all of the allies he can find to push through the stone wall he now faces within this divided government. And the best way you can partner with him is by becoming a member of his greatest ally in Washington: The Heritage Foundation.

Will you activate your membership with a tax-deductible gift today?

ACTIVATE YOUR MEMBERSHIP TODAY


EDITORS NOTE: This Daily Signal column with podcast is republished with permission.

VIDEO: Finally, Justice For Dads

Finally, the fathers can stop the abortion!

The “Equality Act” Is a SOGI Accommodation Mandate at the Federal Level

Legislation recently (re)introduced in Congress could be the LGBT-left’s most ambitious agenda goal, and it has the support of many major corporations.

The Equality Act is essentially a sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) accommodation mandate at the federal level. If implemented, sexual orientation and gender identity would be given special protection status under federal civil rights law. However, the impact would be disastrous for the First Amendment and Religious Liberty.

The Heritage Foundation has outlined seven ways the Equality Act would affect Americans:

  1. It would penalize Americans who don’t affirm new sexual norms or gender ideology.
  2. It would compel speech.
  3. It could shut down charities.
  4. It would allow more biological males to defeat girls in sports.
  5. It could be used to coerce medical professionals.
  6. It could lead to more parents losing custody of their children.
  7. It would enable sexual assault. 

SOGI accommodation mandates at the state and local level have often been labeled “bathroom bills” because they would compel business to allow individuals to use private facilities like bathrooms and changing rooms based on how they identify, not biological sex. While this would present considerable safety concerns as biological men would have unfettered access to women-only spaces, the “bathroom” aspect is just the tip of the iceberg regarding SOGI measures.

Business owners, like Colorado’s Jack Phillips, have suffered persecution for refusing to affirm same-sex marriage with his artistic talents. Ruling in his favor, the Supreme Court found the Colorado Civil Rights Commission used the state’s accommodation law to act with hostility towards Phillips’s religious beliefs.

But, it is not just business owners who would be devastated by Equality Act’s passage. Faith-based adoption agencies would lose their ability to determine where children should be placed, schools would have to allow biological boys to compete on girls’ athletic teams, surgeons would be forced to perform sex-change operations, and parents could be sued by their children for not supporting gender transition.

Yet, big business, at the behest of the liberal activists at the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), has openly endorsed the Equality Act. The Business Coalition for the Equality Act is a collection of major corporations that support this legislation’s attempt to promote the LGBT agenda while undermining protections for religious liberty and the freedom of conscience.

Members of the Business Coalition for the Equality Act

Abercrombie & Fitch
Accenture
Adobe
Advanced Micro Devices
Airbnb
Alcoa
Amazon
American Airlines
American Eagle
American Express
Apple
Arconic
Automatic Data Processing
Bank of America
Best Buy
Biogen
Boehringer Ingelheim
Booz Allen Hamilton
Broadridge Financial Solutions
Brown-Forman
CA Technologies
Caesars Entertainment
Capital One
Cardinal Health
Cargill
Chevron
Choice Hotels
Cisco Systems
Coca-Cola
Corning
CVS
Darden
Delhaize
Diageo
Dow Chemical
Dropbox
EMC
Facebook
Gap
GE
General Mills
Google Inc.
Hershey
Hewlett-Packard
Hilton Worldwide
HSN Inc.
Hyatt Hotels Corp.
IBM Corp.
Intel Corp.
InterContinental Hotels Group
Johnson & Johnson
JPMorgan Chase
Kaiser Permanente
Kellogg Co.
Kenneth Cole Productions
Levi Strauss & Co.
Marriott International Inc.
MasterCard Inc.
McGraw Hill Financial
Microsoft Corp.
Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams
Monsanto Co.
Moody’s Corp.
Nike Inc.
Northrop Grumman Corp.
Office Depot Inc.
Oracle Corp.
Orbitz Worldwide Inc.
PepsiCo Inc.
Procter & Gamble Co.
Pure Storage Inc.
Qualcomm Inc.
Replacements Ltd.
Salesforce
SAP America Inc.
Sodexo Inc.
Symantec Corp.
T-Mobile USA Inc.
Target Corp.
Tech Data Corp.
TIAA
Twitter Inc.
Uber Technologies Inc.
Unilever
WeddingWire Inc.
The WhiteWave Foods Co.
Williams-Sonoma
Xerox Corp.


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EDITORS NOTE: This 2ndVote column is republished with permission.

Planned Parenthood’s Political Juggernaut Is Meeting Its Match

By Peter B. Gemma

Planned Parenthood is the nation’s largest abortion provider and a powerful multi-million-dollar political machine. Hundreds of millions of dollars in taxpayer funding go for its non-profit “family planning services.” In truth, however, that facilitates Planned Parenthood’s political activities, underwritten by private donations, in support of politicians who keep the federal funding flowing.

Fortunately for the pro-life side, the Susan B. Anthony List has reached parity in political fundraising and organizational operations on the ground. Of course, it gets no tax dollars. And the Trump administration has been a great restrictor of the abortion giant with executive guidelines.

Recently, the Trump administration enacted a rule that would require family planning clinics to be housed in separate buildings from abortion clinics, a move that would cut off Planned Parenthood from some federal funding. The new guidelines apply to a $286 million-a-year grant, known as Title X, that pays for birth control and testing of sexually transmitted diseases for four million of its low-income clients. It requires the “physical and financial” separation of family planning services and abortion referrals. Planned Parenthood clinics will be able to talk to mothers about abortion, but not where they can go to get one. The organization receives between $50 million and $60 million from Title X.

Of course, the new federal rule is being challenged in court. Several state officials, including Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, and presidential candidate/Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, have announced an intent to sue over the new policy.

Legal battles may not be good news because right to life advocates have not fared well in the courts lately.

In June 2017, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the Medicaid Act “authorizes a private right of action,” allowing Medicaid recipients to challenge the disqualification of a health care provider. Louisiana and Kansas, which had stripped Planned Parenthood of state Medicaid funds after evidence that the abortion provider was harvesting and selling fetal body parts, proceeded to appeal the ruling to the U. S. Supreme Court. On Dec. 10 2018, by a vote of six to three, the High Court declined to hear the appeal, letting the lower court ruling stand. Justices Thomas, Alito, and Gorsuch dissented. Instead of supplying the fourth vote needed just to allow for a hearing, Chief Justice Roberts and, in a surprise to many (not all) pro-lifers, Justice Kavanaugh, sided with the four liberals on the Court.

Meanwhile for Planned Parenthood, it’s business-as-usual and business is good as it is cashing in on the Trump era. In 2018, taxpayers were charged for a $20 million increase in federal funding according to the organization’s annual report – a total of $564.8 million in government subsidies. Planned Parenthood also received $100 million more from private contributions and bequests in 2018 than it did in 2017, with Warren Buffett, the investment guru, leading the way. He has donated $63.5 million to Planned Parenthood since 2014 through his family’s foundation. Planned Parenthood’s total net assets have increased from $1.6 billion last year to nearly $1.9 billion in 2018.

And Planned Parenthood has now ramped-up its abortion services. They are providing travel expenses and financial assistance for clients in states where abortion is restricted and regulated, to states where controls are loose to non-existent.

Curiously, despite receiving regular increases via taxpayer dollars and boosts in their private fund-raising efforts, Planned Parenthood’s services have declined. The organization’s 2015-2016 report revealed that Planned Parenthood served 100,000 fewer women in 2015-2016 as compared to 2014-2015. But their abortion machine is in high gear: 323,999 abortions performed two years ago, 328,348 last year, and 332,757 in 2018. Planned Parenthood has cornered 35 percent of the abortion market.

In 2015-2016, Planned Parenthood performed 83 abortions for every one adoption referral. The abortion giant referred about 3,000 women to adoption services during 2018, one thousand less than the year before.

Planned Parenthood’s new president, Dr. Leana Wen, has acknowledged that abortion isn’t just a service the organization provides, but the bottom line of their business: “First, our core mission is providing, protecting, and expanding access to abortion and reproductive health care. We will never back down from that fight.”

What is the secret of Planned Parenthood’s success? The organization’s previous CEO, Cecile Richards, put it simply: “We have the potential to swing the vote and that’s a lot of power. The question is, what are we going to do with it? We’re going to be the largest kickass advocacy organization in the country!

Planned Parenthood and its political arms are separate on paper (because taxpayers are forced to give the abortion chain over $500 million a year for health services). However, private and corporate donors direct their money into Planned Parenthood’s political agenda – and abortion business – rather than to fund the other services the organization provides. In 2018, donors invested $532.7 million dollars in Planned Parenthood, including $21 million from left-wing billionaire George Soros.

Planned Parenthood has some 40 corporate backers, including:

  • American Express
  • Levi Strauss
  • AT & T
  • Macy’s
  • Avon
  • Microsoft
  • Bank of America
  • Nike
  • Bath & Body Works
  • Pepsi-Co
  • Clorox
  • Starbucks
  • Johnson & Johnson
  • Verizon

Federal law prohibits government funding “to pay for any abortion or to cover any part of the costs of any health plan that includes coverage of abortion” (except in cases of rape, incest, or an amorphous ‘danger to the life of the mother’). That’s where Planned Parenthood’s private donors step in. Last year they bankrolled the organization’s $160 million expenditure on “public policy” (lobbying) and “movement building to engage communities” (grassroots organizing; there are more than 50,000 student members on 350 campuses.)

In addition, Planned Parenthood poured over $20 million directly into the 2018 midterm election. And there’s more. Because of its partnership with the Win Justice Coalition (which includes the Service Employees International Union, the Center for Community Change Action, and the Color of Change PAC), Planned Parenthood’s 2018 war chest actually topped $28 million.

In 2016, according to the Federal Election Commission, Planned Parenthood invested $12.6 million into independent expenditures – nearly all of it to support Democrats or oppose Republicans. That figure includes $2.8 million to attack Donald Trump and $2.4 million to back Hillary Clinton’s presidential bid.

George Soros and his family are major donors to Planned Parenthood Votes, giving a combined $4.75 million in two election cycles. Last year, Michael Bloomberg, the billionaire and former mayor of New York City, contributed $1 million to one of Planned Parenthood’s political operations.

On the positive side, the largest pro-life political action committee that is a muscular match for Planned Parenthood, the Susan B. Anthony List, has matched the abortion giant’s financial clout politically along with its organizational skills. The group raised and spent some $28 million in 2018, which matches Planned Parenthood and its partnership organizations combined. The Susan B. Anthony List also marshaled enough troops to knock on the doors of some 2.7 million pro-life households as part of its grassroots efforts to get out the vote.

The Susan B. Anthony List has become a force to be reckoned with and one that, while largely ignored by a medial that is slavish in producing pro-abortion puff pieces, is making its presence known in political elections.

Of course, the newest and biggest asset of the right to life movement is the Trump administration.

Scores of federal judges who, by-in-large, have pro-life records have been nominated and appointed and the impact is now being felt. This month, the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed Ohio’s right to defund Planned Parenthood, asserting that there is no “Fourteenth Amendment right to perform abortions.” It reversed a lower court’s decision by an 11–6 vote, with all four Trump appointees ruling against Planned Parenthood.

Many federal government agencies and departments are creating pro-life policies.

For example, President Trump has expanded policies to ensure American tax dollars are not used to fund the abortion industry in all global health programs. The new Trump policy protects over $8.8 billion overseas aid from funding abortion. Recently, the Department of Health and Human Services  established the Conscience and Religious Freedom Division within the Office for Civil Rights that will work to protect health care professionals who do not want to participate in abortion.

And the Trump administration has hired pro-life personnel.

Bethany Kozma, senior adviser for the Office of Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment at the U.S. Agency for International Development, told the annual U.N. Commission on the Status of Women meeting that the “U.S. is a pro-life nation.” An overstatement for certain, especially considering the strengthening political clout of Planned Parenthood, but it rings truer than it has in a long, long time.

ABOUT PETER B. GEMMA

Peter B. Gemma is a freelance writer whose articles and commentaries have appeared in USA Today, AmericanThinker.com, and the DailyCaller.com.

EDITORS NOTE: This Revolutionary Act column is republished with permission.

Florida: First Generation Pakistani Heart Doctor Defrauded Medicare to the Tune of $2.2 Million

And, the same newspaper that reported the news from Davenport, Florida had praised him to the heavens just a couple years before in a glowing article about how much the first generation Pakistani doctor was giving back to the community.

Editor: I haven’t written a Medicare fraud story for two weeks, not since this story about the Colorado fugitive Pharmacist! But, I’m glad to focus on one this morning.  Maybe I like these stories because I’m a senior and see around me friends and acquaintances getting all sorts of tests and procedures that strike me as unnecessary and possibly harmful.

I’m also writing it because I like the fact that a 75-year-old patient tipped-off the feds and will be getting a big reward for turning him in!

You don’t often see a photo of the doctor in stories like this, but because The Ledger featured him in a glowing “giving to the community” story in 2016, they had a picture.

So here is the story titled,

Davenport doctor settles health care fraud lawsuit for $2.2M

From The Ledger,

DAVENPORT — A Davenport doctor and his vascular surgery practice paid more than $2.2 million to settle allegations of health care fraud for filing false claims to federal health programs.

According to U.S. Attorney Maria Chapa Lopez in a media release issued by the United States Attorney’s Office Middle District of Florida, Dr. Irfan Siddiqui and the Heart & Vascular Institute of Florida in Davenport violated the False Claims Act by submitting claims from Jan. 2, 2011 to June 30, 2018 for medically unnecessary and non-Medicare reimbursable vein ablations that were up-coded to reflect they were medically necessary so the doctor and the practice would profit.

[….]

In federal case documents filed with the U.S. District Court Middle District of Tampa, the lawsuit said the claims filed by Siddiqui and the medical practice also contained false diagnoses and symptoms, and notes the vein ablation procedures were performed by unqualified personnel, such as ultrasound technologists and therapists, and not the doctor himself.

According to court documents, Lois Hawks, 75, a former patient from Winter Haven, was the plaintiff in the case, represented by Nicholson & Eastin, LLP in Fort Lauderdale. Attorney Robert N. Nicholson said Hawks “is very grateful that the United States Attorney’s Office aggressively pursued her allegations, and that a significant recovery resulted from their efforts.”

Siddiqui’s attorney, Saqib Ishaq, did not respond to emails from The Ledger.

[….]

Civil court documents filed say that Hawks went to Siddiqui with pain and redness in her left ankle. She first visited Siddiqui on Oct. 14, 2014, on a referral from her podiatrist for evaluation and treatment.

Go to The Ledger for an account of what she experienced over the next several months.

The Ledger then wraps with this line,

Hawks received $446,000 as a statutory relator’s share in the recovery.

press release from the US Justice Department explains that Ms. Hawks received the reward under the qui tam provisions of the False Claims Act.

I wrote about qui tam here.

As a loving friend and family member, keep an eye on those doctors. And, if you suspect fraud involving medicare or medicaid help them report it!  

EDITORS NOTE: This Frauds, Crooks and Criminals column is republished with permission.

The “Angel of Death” for Unions is Socialism

“I favor the public ownership of utilities, banks and major industries.” – Bernie Sanders, Burlington Free Press, October 1976.


On August 19, 2013 I wrote a column titled “The decline and fall of America’s unions” stating,

The “angel of death” for unions is progressivism, its primary weapon is big government bureaucrats, the anti-union soldiers.

I felt the need to update this column to help working class trade union members understand that the end is nearer than even I expected.

The “angel of death” is at your front door and her name is “socialism.”

The big government bureaucrats have unionized and have become the anti-union soldiers bent on destroying all other trade unions.

As political power becomes more centralized there is an irreversible decline in the power of unions. It is a cause and effect that cannot be denied or stopped.

Green New Deal

The Green New Deal takes away two key powers that make trade unions important to middle class workers, their power to negotiate wages and benefits.

In a column titled “The True Meaning of That Green New Deal” Lee Edwards writes:

Sponsors of the Green New Deal—including Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., and Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass.—list these goals: Phase out conventional fuels (that is, oil, natural gas, and coal) by 2030, only a decade from now; implement a federal jobs guarantee; retrofit all U.S. buildings; overhaul transportation with high-speed rail; and provide universal health care. [Emphasis added]

If you have a federal jobs guarantee and universal healthcare then why have any trade union? If everyone works for the government then the only union that matters is the union representing the bureaucrats, the Service Employees International Union (SEIU).

The U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) in its 2019 Union Members Summary report notes:

The union membership rate of public-sector workers (33.9 percent) continued to be more than five times higher than that of private-sector workers (6.4 percent).

If the Green New Deal becomes law then blacks will be harmed most as they are “more likely to be union members than White, Asian, or Hispanic workers” according to BLS.

As some point even public-sector workers like teachers and SEIU members will also lose their ability to negotiate salary and benefits. These public sector unions will slowly fade away.

Angels of Death

Oleg Atbashian, a citizen of the former Soviet Union, in his book Shakedown Socialism writes, “Union perks mean nothing when there is nothing left to redistribute. The Soviets learned it the hard way. The American unions don’t seem to be able to learn from the mistakes of others.”

The example of Poland’s Solidarnosc, an independent union that spearheaded the overthrow of the oppressive Communist regime in 1989.  Why? Because, “…Current [union] perks can only exist in a free and competitive economy that ensures growth and generates wealth – known as ‘capitalist exploitation’ in the lingo of the champions of ‘redistributive justice’.”

Unions are only relevant if they retain their control to collectively bargain for wages and benefits in a free and competitive economy. If the government takes over this role, as it did workplace safety with OSHA, then unions are doomed.

The angels of death for trade unions are: Medicare for All, The Minimum Wage and Green New Deal. Socialist programs pushed by the Socialist Democrats.

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Kitten Act Scratches at the Surface of Hypocrisy

What do cats have that newborn babies don’t? Democrats’ support. In one of the sickest ironies no one is talking about, Senate liberals picked this moment — 17 days after they voted to kill America’s perfectly healthy infants — to fight for the humane treatment of kittens. Maybe the DNC’s strategists are out to lunch, or maybe the Left really is this shameless, but I can’t wait to see some of these politicians standing on debate platforms next year telling the American people that when it comes to protecting living things: We chose cats over kids.

For sponsors like Senator Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), the optics are nauseating. Here he is, arguing that America “must stop killing kittens,” when, three weeks ago, he stood in the U.S. Capitol and agreed with 43 Democrats that human beings should be put down. “The USDA’s decision to slaughter kittens after they are used in research is an archaic practice and horrific treatment, and we need to end it,” Merkley said with a passion that he and his colleagues couldn’t muster for a generation of perfectly healthy newborns. His Kittens in Traumatic Testing Ends Now — or KITTEN – Act wouldn’t stop the research, but it would keep the animals from being destroyed.

“The KITTEN Act will protect these innocent animals from being needlessly euthanized in government testing,” Merkley told reporters, “and make sure that they can be adopted by loving families instead.” Does he even hear himself? They should be treated and adopted? That’s exactly what Americans have requested for living, breathing babies. Democrats said no. Killing a child is a “personal decision,” they said, and Congress shouldn’t get in the way. What a comfort for abortion survivors like Melissa Ohden to know that, given the choice, Democrats would save a stray cat over her.

“The fact that we need a piece of legislation to tell the federal government to stop killing kittens is ridiculous on its face,” Congressman Brian Mast (R-Fla.) argued. But “ridiculous” doesn’t begin to describe a party that tells America to back away from the tables of crying newborns while it rushes to the rescue of kittens instead. I suppose we should also tell firefighters when they run into burning houses to look for the pets first? After all, on the Democrats’ sliding scale of “wantedness,” shouldn’t we find out how loved someone is before we decide if they’re worth saving?

Meanwhile, as if legal infanticide isn’t revolting enough, House Democrats have decided Americans should pay for it. In what’s turning out to be a test for the most unpopular majority in history, Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-Calif.) chamber is pushing a bill that would force a country who overwhelmingly opposes late-term abortion to bankroll it – along with abortions in any trimester. Rep. Diane DeGette (D-Colo.), another liberal who can’t seem to take taxpayers’ “No!” for an answer, is trying to overturn the Hyde amendment. “It’s just important as we move forward that we pass legislation that honors women’s reproductive health and their decisions,” she said.

But what about honoring taxpayers — two-thirds of whom fiercely oppose the idea of financing the Left’s killing machine? And that includes “pro-choicers.” Although the bill doesn’t stand a chance in the Senate, it could still make history. If Pelosi keeps up with the Left’s tone-deafness and brings DeGette’s bill up for the vote, it would be the first time the House has voted to overturn Hyde in history.

While House and Senate Democrats seem obsessed with taking lives, at least one court is helping states protect them. In what may turn out to be the ruling that turned the Supreme Court tide, the Sixth Circuit Court sided with Ohio in defunding Planned Parenthood. For three years, the Buckeyes have been fighting to redirect the $1.5 million for abortion providers to real health clinics. Buckeye leaders, including former Governor John Kasich, were sick of “using abortion providers as the face of state health care programs.” A lower court said too bad. But 11 judges on the Sixth Circuit disagreed, insisting that Ohio’s law doesn’t violate the Constitution “because the affiliates do not have a due process right to perform abortions.”

And while President Trump didn’t have anything to do with the ruling, he had plenty to do with the people who made it. Four of the 11 judges who defended Ohio’s law were appointed by this White House. If you’re wondering how much this administration’s commitment to nominations matters, this is proof. There are men and women on benches across America today who are literally saving lives because this president made the courts a priority. Thanks to Donald Trump, pro-lifers know better than anyone: you don’t need Congress to win on life.

However, we are pushing Congress to pass the Born Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act. In the U.S. House, congressional leaders may not yet see the light, but they will see thousands of newborn baby hats – thanks to all of you who’ve supported our End Birth Day Abortion campaign. If you haven’t had a chance to add your voice, click over to our website and join us!


Tony Perkins’ Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.


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EDITORS NOTE: This FRC column is republished with permission.

VIDEO: Sex Matters

Are the differences between men and women biological or socially constructed? What do women want from a relationship? What do men want? Are they the same? Or are they much different? Sean McDowell, Associate Professor of Theology and Philosophy at Biola University sorts it all out in this eye-opening video.

To view the script, sources, quiz, and study guides,  for “Sex Matters” CLICK HERE.

EDITORS NOTE: This PragerU video is republished with permission. Please donate today to PragerU!

Thought Police (Oops, Medicare) For All

Preview:  

  • The new Medicare for All bill (H.R. 1384) has come and hopefully will go the way of the pet rock.
  • But as usual, bills contain hidden gems
  • The focus on palliative care and lowering costs by reducing “aggressive” end-of-life treatment is one more incremental under-the-radar step along the road to government control over life and death. A culture of hastening death has gradually evolved, disguised as “death with dignity.”
  • Subtly devaluing life primes the pump for rationing of medical care at all stages by a government-run program that is the exclusive purveyor of medical “benefits.”
  • This year, legislators were not so subtle. It is bad enough that our elderly are pushed into hospice, but now the compassionate legislators have set their sights on newborns. New York passed, and Virginia floated laws that permit the killing of babies after birth.
  • Starting in the 1970s, the federal government clearly saw a need to protect medical personnel from the tyranny of the government mandates that could violate religious or moral convictions.
  • We must not let the government bury our conscience and beliefs under layers of bureaucracy. Medicare for All may mean independent thought for none.

The new Medicare for All bill (H.R. 1384) has come and hopefully will go the way of the pet rock. Everybody now knows the basics: the government will take care of all medical, dental, vision, pharmacy, and long-term care services with no out-of-pocket expenses. The bill prohibits parallel private insurance, and has the glaring absence of a financing mechanism.

But as usual, bills contain hidden gems. Section 104 of the bill tracks the Affordable Care Act’s “anti-discrimination” rule, making it clear that no person can be denied benefits, specifically including abortion and treatment of gender identity issues “by any participating provider.” The bill does not correspondingly reaffirm the federal laws protecting conscience and First Amendment religious freedom rights of medical personnel. Such protections relate to participation in abortion, sterilization, assisted suicide, and other ethical dilemmas.

Most sane individuals agree that we do not want our government to control any aspect of our individual lives—particularly not our religious beliefs and moral codes. When the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) sought to clarify such conscience protections, thousands of commenters offered evidence of discrimination and coercion to violate the tenets of the Oath of Hippocrates and their own ethics. Some left their jobs or left the medical profession entirely when their conscientious objections were not honored.

Conscience protections are vital in this time of unabashed devaluing of life. Last year, the Palliative Care and Hospice Education Training Act (PCHETA), passed the House but died in the Senate. This bill would have dedicated $100 million in additional taxpayer dollars to persuade patients to forgo treatment that might prolong life in exchange for a steady stream of increasing doses of narcotics. Already some families feel they are not merely offered hospice as a choice but are steered toward it when their older relatives fall ill, even when the medical prognosis is uncertain.

The focus on palliative care and lowering costs by reducing “aggressive” end-of-life treatment is one more incremental under-the-radar step along the road to government control over life and death. A culture of hastening death has gradually evolved, disguised as “death with dignity.” California, Colorado, Oregon, Washington, Montana, Vermont have legalized physician-assisted suicide with 20 other states considering implementing such laws.

Subtly devaluing life primes the pump for rationing of medical care at all stages by a government-run program that is the exclusive purveyor of medical “benefits.” Our western counterparts with single payer have discovered that offering fewer benefits is the simplest way to control costs. The “Complete Lives System”—the brainchild of ObamaCare physician architect Ezekiel Emanuel—includes worrisome determinants of who should receive care. The system prioritizes adolescents and persons with “instrumental value,” i.e., individuals with “future usefulness.”

This year, legislators were not so subtle. It is bad enough that our elderly are pushed into hospice, but now the compassionate legislators have set their sights on newborns. New York passed, and Virginia floated laws that permit the killing of babies after birth. The U.S. Senate garnered only 53 of the 60 votes needed to pass the Born Alive Survivors Protection Act which would mandate medical care and legal protections to infants born alive after an attempted abortion.

Starting in the 1970s, the federal government clearly saw a need to protect medical personnel from the tyranny of the government mandates that could violate religious or moral convictions. Personal liberty is an integral part of our democratic republic. While a physician’s calling is to render treatment to all patients, this is balanced with an individual physician’s moral beliefs. This is no more apparent than in legislation permitting physician assisted suicide and post-delivery “abortions.” Sadly, under threat of discrimination lawsuits, some physicians have acquiesced to patients’ requests for medications and surgical procedures that conflict with their moral code.

As anthropologist, Margaret Mead so brilliantly wrote, “One profession, the followers of [Hippocrates], were to be dedicated completely to life under all circumstances…This is a priceless possession which we cannot afford to tarnish, but society always is attempting to make the physician into a killer—to kill the defective child at birth, to leave the sleeping pills beside the bed of the cancer patient. … It is the duty of society to protect the physician from such requests.”

We must not let the government bury our conscience and beliefs under layers of bureaucracy. Medicare for All may mean independent thought for none.

Open Borders Are Dangerous To Our (Public) Health — Ellis Island was a quarantine station.

In recent years there have been outbreaks of dangerous communicable diseases that had either been eradicated in the United States or were uncommon in the United States altogether such as diseases commonly found in the tropics or in other parts of the world.

Within the past few months the mainstream media has reported on how a number of dangerous communicable diseases. such as the measles, have infected many people, particularly children in the United States.  The focus of the reports has been on children who because of religious beliefs or fears about the perceived nexus between vaccinations and autism have not been vaccinated to protect them against measles and other such communicable diseases.

For example, on March 7, 2019 the New York Times reported, “Measles Outbreak: 1 Student Got 21 Others Sick.”

These reports blithely ignore the nexus between illegal immigration and outbreaks of these debilitating and deadly diseases.

In the Orwellian world all too many journalists and politicians inhabit today, aliens who evade the vital inspections process at ports of entry and enter the United States without inspections are simply referred to as “Undocumented Immigrants.”  I have addressed this linguistic “sleight of tongue” in many of my articles so I won’t delve into the dishonesty this represents.  It suffices to say that aliens who enter the United States without inspection evade a serious vetting process to make certain that criminals and terrorists not gain access to the United States to protect national security and public safety.

The vetting process is also supposed to make certain that aliens with dangerous communicable diseases are prevented from entering the United States to protect public health.

This is yet another vetting process that aliens who enter without inspection are not subjected to.

The United States Public Health Service (USPH) explains its mission at U.S. Ports of Entry on its website under the heading, Protecting America’s Health At U.S. Ports of Entry

Here is how USPH explains its mission:

Detect, respond, and protect 24/7 Strategically placed at 20 U.S. ports of entry, CDC protects America from public health threats, both foreign and domestic. Highly skilled CDC staff work 24/7 to detect, respond to, and prevent the spread of contagious diseases.

With our partners, CDC responds to sick travelers who arrive in the United States at major airports, seaports, or land border crossings. We alert travelers about disease outbreaks and steps they can take to protect themselves.

We restrict the importation of animals and products that may carry disease. We are always on call—during the workday, on weekends, and in the middle of the night. We’re on the frontlines, protecting you and your community.

Disease is just a flight away

When sick passengers are on a flight, the airline lets CDC know. We evaluate whether they might be contagious to others on the plane. Some diseases can spread quickly through a community, so CDC works with state and local health departments to evaluate and respond. When necessary, CDC can prevent a sick person from traveling and exposing others to disease. It’s all about making sure 1 sick traveler doesn’t become 100 sick people in your community.

At the beginning of my career with the former INS I served as an Immigration Inspector at John F. Kennedy International Airport and worked closely with USPH.

This calls to mind an article I wrote in July of last year, The Left’s Immigration Con Game in which I debunked the lies about Ellis Island which when it was completed more than one hundred years ago included the largest hospital complex in the United States at that time.

Here is an excerpt from the my earlier article:

An extraordinary film, Forgotten Ellis Island, is a must-see documentary that tells the true story about Ellis Island, and the story is not particularly pretty or romantic.

To begin with, Ellis Island was not a natural island but was constructed on rocks and debris removed during the construction of the massive New York City subway system.

By situating this federal facility on this artificial island, no aliens could come ashore and abscond the way that today aliens exploit the lunacy known as “catch & release” — a policy that incidentally does not only occur along the borders of the United States but, similarly plagues the integrity of the immigration system from within the interior of the United States.

The only way for aliens to get from Ellis Island to New York City, and hence the U.S. mainland, was by a government-operated ferry.

According to the documentary, Ellis Island included a massive hospital complex that consisted of 22 buildings.

One hundred years ago, Public Health officials worked with immigration inspectors to process the arriving immigrants.  Back then, the most significant concerns with admission decisions centered on health-related issues.

In my piece I noted that there were two concerns about the health of arriving immigrants.  Obviously the greatest concern was that relatively minor infections could lead to the deadly epidemics because there were no antibiotics back then.

The second concern was to make certain that arriving immigration were of sound mind and body so that they would be able to be gainfully employed and support themselves.

Those concerns can be found in a section of the current Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).

8 U.S. Code § 1182 (Inadmissible Aliens).

This extremely important section of law that was enacted to protect America and Americans begins with the following:

(a) Classes of aliens ineligible for visas or admission Except as otherwise provided in this chapter, aliens who are inadmissible under the following paragraphs are ineligible to receive visas and ineligible to be admitted to the United States:

(1) Health-related grounds

(A) In general Any alien

(i) who is determined (in accordance with regulations prescribed by the Secretary of Health and Human Services) to have a communicable disease of public health significance; [1]

(ii) except as provided in subparagraph (C), who seeks admission as an immigrant, or who seeks adjustment of status to the status of an alien lawfully admitted for permanent residence, and who has failed to present documentation of having received vaccination against vaccine-preventable diseases, which shall include at least the following diseases: mumps, measles, rubella, polio, tetanus and diphtheria toxoids, pertussis, influenza type B and hepatitis B, and any other vaccinations against vaccine-preventable diseases recommended by the Advisory Committee for Immunization Practices,

(iii) who is determined (in accordance with regulations prescribed by the Secretary of Health and Human Services in consultation with the Attorney General)—

(I) to have a physical or mental disorder and behavior associated with the disorder that may pose, or has posed, a threat to the property, safety, or welfare of the alien or others, or

(II) to have had a physical or mental disorder and a history of behavior associated with the disorder, which behavior has posed a threat to the property, safety, or welfare of the alien or others and which behavior is likely to recur or to lead to other harmful behavior, or

(iv) who is determined (in accordance with regulations prescribed by the Secretary of Health and Human Services) to be a drug abuser or addict, is inadmissible.

Nevertheless, for the members of Congress who refuse to fund the construction of an effective barrier on the U.S./Mexican border and now seek to block President Trump’s declaration of an emergency, none of this matters.

For them, dead bodies are mere speed bumps along the road to their political objectives.

EDITORS NOTE: This FrontPage Magazine column is republished with permission.

Sacrificing Freedom to Vaccination

Preview:  

  • But aren’t the risks worth it? What if large numbers of parents start to refuse vaccination? Maybe there would be a huge outbreak, spreading like wildfire, causing thousands or millions of deaths? Shall we not pit the worst imaginable hypothetical scenario against an unknown number of vaccine adverse reactions? Is it not worth it to eradicate the scourge of measles?
  • Trading freedom—and free speech—for supposed security ultimately leads to a loss of both. And if government can dictate what you must inject into your own children, what limits can be placed on its power?

According to the Oath of Hippocrates, physicians have the duty to advise their patients according to the best of their ability and judgment. In In most cases, most physicians recommend vaccination, believing that for a particular patient, the benefit exceeds the risk. Patients or their parents, however, have the right to decline to follow their doctor’s advice.

But with vaccination, government restricts this right. Every time there is a measles outbreak somewhere there is an outcry to restrict vaccine exemptions, to protect the public—and, just coincidentally, vaccine manufacturers.

Measles is extremely contagious, and with today’s air travel, a patient incubating measles but not yet sick can arrive any time and cough virus particles all over Disneyland. Most patients recover fully, with robust lifelong immunity. But some get serious complications or die. Measles is two to four times worse than in pre-vaccination days because it affects more adults and infants. Mothers with only waning vaccine-induced immunity cannot give their babies the antibodies that once protected infants of naturally immunized mothers during their most vulnerable period.

The public health or guilt-trip rationale is this: “My baby is immunosuppressed and can’t get vaccinated. So, you must vaccinate your baby because if there’s an outbreak, your unvaccinated baby might catch measles and give it to my baby, who might die.” Of course, parents fear for their children, although the last measles death in the U.S. occurred in 2015.

This argument assumes that the risk of vaccine to healthy children doesn’t exist—or doesn’t matter. Worries are attributed to “antivax quacks,” and the omniscient Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook is reportedly going to protect the public by suppressing information he judges to be “not credible.” Public health people prevented the screening of the 2016 movie Vaxxed: from Coverup to Catastrophe in Phoenix. The film shows children with devastating neurologic damage, and parents telling how their once normal child changed dramatically just after getting a vaccine. But these are mere anecdotes; there is “overwhelming evidence” of safety, the experts assure us.

Most children tolerate their vaccines well, but package inserts list an intimidating number of rare but serious events—that might or might not have been caused by the vaccine. Moreover, according to the Cochrane Collaboration, “The design and reporting of safety outcomes in MMR vaccine studies, both pre- and post-marketing, are largely inadequate.”

Safety studies are always limited. Terrible but rare complications might not show up in the limited number of study subjects, or might be delayed until after the study concludes. Chloramphenicol was a widely used antibiotic, until one in 50,000 patients got lethal aplastic anemia. And let us not forget thalidomide and the babies without limbs. One incentive to be cautious and avoid attempts to cover up adverse effects is the prospect of being sued. But vaccine manufacturers are immune from product liability. The only recourse for vaccine-injured patients is Vaccine Court, which has paid out $4 billion in damages. Two out of three claims are denied.

But aren’t the risks worth it? What if large numbers of parents start to refuse vaccination? Maybe there would be a huge outbreak, spreading like wildfire, causing thousands or millions of deaths? Shall we not pit the worst imaginable hypothetical scenario against an unknown number of vaccine adverse reactions? Is it not worth it to eradicate the scourge of measles?

The fact is that measles probably can’t be eradicated, not with an imperfect vaccine. In Saudi Arabia, where vaccination rates were between 95 percent and 98 percent, there were 4,648 cases of measles in 2007 compared with 373 in 2005. The best we can do is probably to aim for disease control. A freedom-based approach—for example, seeking better vaccines, excellent diagnostic and contact-tracing tools, and open communication—is more likely to lead to an optimal result than forcing the currently available vaccine on unwilling recipients.

Deciding what is best for individual patients is difficult, fraught with danger and full of uncertainties. Doctors may advise, or patients may choose a course that is harmful. But if governmental authorities, imbued with a sense of infallibility, impose their will on everyone, the consequences of a bad choice affect millions.

Trading freedom—and free speech—for supposed security ultimately leads to a loss of both. And if government can dictate what you must inject into your own children, what limits can be placed on its power?