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Texas Alliance for Life

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Death Politics

Someone named Rich DeOtte has written a Facebook piece attacking friends of mine. Rich mocks Dr. Joe Pojman as “a rocket scientist” and “knucklehead” (needless to say, that’s not popular in the Nuckols household) and takes a slap at Kyleen Wright, of Texans for Life Coalition and the Texas Medical Association.

Dr. Joe Pojman, Ph.D., is indeed a “rocket scientist,” who gave up his original career path of aerospace engineering to sacrifice as founder and Executive Director of Texas Alliance for Life, an organization I’m proud to support and serve as a Board member.

Joe wrote the op-ed that Rich attacks in direct response to the “misrepresentations” in another, political op-ed piece by Emily Kebedeaux Cook on the Texas Right to Life Website. Joe only wrote about issues, and did not engage in name calling or derision. The only reason Emily and TRTL are mentioned is because she’s the author of the political opinion piece about the “decline in the Texas Legislature’s efforts to protect human Life.”

As Joe points out, the very document to which Emily refers refutes her position: Texas was named one of three “Life List All-Stars” for 2016 by the Americans United for Life.

Joe laid out the case that our Texas Legislature’s pro-life laws are most definitely not at a standstill: we are ahead of the Nation. Joe’s position that Texas leaders gave us many successes in the 2015 84th Legislature is supported by the similar list of “Wins” reported by the Texas Catholic Conference, representing the Bishops of Texas. In an earlier letter, TCC notes that many of the criticisms Emily makes in her February 8th blog post were not previously scored “equitably” by TRTL. For instance, Senator Bob Deuell received no credit for authoring much of what became HB2.

In fact, Texas’ Legislative leadership in passing pro-life laws is why many of us are going to Washington, DC on March 2nd to bear witness when the Supreme Court hears testimony on the abortion facility regulations in HB2.

Emily and Rich focus most of their criticism on the efforts of pro-life groups, including doctors like me, to reform end of life care and the Texas Advance Directive Act (TADA). Session after session since it was passed, we in the pro-life community have had our efforts repeatedly blocked by the “death panel” accusations Rich makes and the demands in Emily’s op-ed.

I was one of the doctors appointed to the Texas Medical Association ad hoc committee that evaluated last sessions’ end of life Bills for TMA approval. Our group of doctors agreed to and helped fine tune HB 3074, what Emily called a “modest protection”: prohibiting the removal of Artificially Administered Nutrition and Hydration, including food and water by invasive medical methods like IV’s and “Total Parenteral Nutrition.” We were called anti-life and pro-“death panel” (Rich’s words) for including medical exceptions for the rare circumstances when the patient can’t process the AANH and/or when it actually caused harm.

Those “three strongest Pro-Life bills” that Emily mentioned were included in the “Wins” listed by the TCC. The Bills not only would have forced doctors to continue to indefinitely perform acts that we believe are not medically appropriate as long as a patient or his family demands it. They would have forced all disputes between the doctors practicing medicine and patients or their families into court and add “liability”(civil and criminal penalties) for the doctor.

Forget if you can, that if all disputes go to court judges would be required to determine medical care – to practice medicine – probably based on the testimony of dueling, paid medical expert doctors. Malpractice rates will go up for doctors taking on the most vulnerable patients – the elderly, the trauma victims and the victims of cancer. Those doctors will spend more time in courts, rather than in the ICU. And so will more grieving families.

We found out what happens when malpractice goes up in Texas, before tort reform was passed. Because of the malpractice crisis, there were no neurosurgeons west and south of San Antonio and Houston – none at all in El Paso or all of South Texas. We were losing obstetricians and family doctors willing to deliver babies and offer prenatal care, all over the State.

I don’t know how to translate past physician shortages directly into the possible shortage of doctors providing end of life care. However, I will predict that fewer family doctors, internists, pulmonologists and the ICU intensivists will be able to afford to practice in the ICU. Just as a patient had to be flown to Dallas, San Antonio or Houston from most of Texas for a head injury, only the tertiary medical centers in those cities will be able to staff their ICU’s properly.

Physicians, not hospitals – and certainly not courts – practice medicine in Texas. Doctors must be allowed to practice medicine according to our medical judgment, which is a combination of education and experience, under the watchful eye of the community; not “death panels,” but fellow physicians, nurses, ethicists, lawyers (who may be any of the former) and lay people. In the end, if you force the hands and minds of doctors against their judgment, you will end up with doctors practicing without judgment, and humans with inalienable rights forced to act against our will and in violation of our conscience.

And, now, back to Rich’s Facebook post. Think twice when you read political posts full of  personal attacks and name calling. We should be able to discuss politics without, as Emily said in her blog post, “unnecessary, vicious, and vindictive fights inside the Republican Party.”

Edited to fix a name glitch – BBN

Texas Supreme Court Rules on Judicial Bypass for Minors’ Abortions

I am glad that the rules are explicit about the duty to report sexual or physical abuse.

Here’s a statement from Texas Alliance for Life, with links to the ruling:

Austin, TX — Today the Texas Supreme Court released rules for how courts handle judicial bypass proceedings regarding secret abortions on minors girls without parental notification or consent. The rules were created in response to HB 3994, authored by Rep. Geanie Morrison (R-Victoria) and sponsored by Sen. Charles Perry (R-Lubbock) and strongly supported by Texas Alliance for Life.

The following statement is attributed to Joe Pojman, Ph.D., executive director of Texas Alliance for Life:

We are pleased with the Supreme Court’s strong rules regarding the judicial bypass process for abortions on minor girls. These bring to fruition a 10-year effort by Texas Alliance for Life and a coalition of pro-life organizations to protect minor girls in Texas from abortion. In 2005, the Texas Legislature passed a bill requiring doctors to obtain the consent of a parent before performing abortions on minor girls. In 2015, the Legislature passed, and Gov. Abbott signed into law, HB 3994 to reform the judicial bypass process by which a judge can allow abortions on minors without parental consent. The reforms closed loopholes and increased protections for the minors from abuse. The Texas Supreme Court has faithfully implemented House Bill 3994 in a way that will best protect the well being of minor girls.

Here is a link to the Texas Supreme Court’s order issuing the rules: http://www.txcourts.gov/media/1225647/159246.pdf.

HB 3994 was one of five major pro-life bills and numerous other pro-life provisions passed in 2015. Here is a summary.

 

PolitiFact Texas on Barry Smitherman, “guarantee” to escape poverty

“. . . graduate from high school, keep your first job for over 1 year, get married and stay married.”

Common sense, right? Okay, it’s not as easy as 1-2-3, and association doesn’t equal causation, but who would argue, right?

“Politifact Texas” would. The Politifact.com website claims to fact check political news and news makers’ comments, and has a Texas Edition. In my opinion, they tend to hit such comments from the Left of center. In this case, they seem to go out of their way to prove Texas Rail Road Commissioner Barry Smitherman wrong, but – even by stressing the importance of the economy in the equation – they prove him right.

Take a few steps, Barry Smitherman said, and you won’t live in poverty. Smitherman, seeking the 2014 Republican nomination for Texas attorney general, put his point this way in prepared remarks for an Aug. 26, 2013, appearance before the Texas Alliance for Life: “Several years ago, the Economist magazine published a piece which said that you only have to do three things to guarantee that you will live above the poverty line—graduate from high school, keep your first job for over 1 year, get married and stay married.”

via PolitiFact Texas | Smitherman partly captures virtual guarantee to escape poverty, but theory also relies on economy being strong.

 

The rest of the article traces the history of the publications that make the claims to which Commissioner Smitherman refers.

Texas Womens Health Program update

Texas Alliance for Life has sent out a notice of a hearing Monday, August 8th, on the TWHP. (Sorry for the formatting, I’m traveling, so limited access to the Internet.)

* * * URGENT LEGISLATIVE ALERT 8/3/12 * * *

Please Contact the Texas Department of State Health Services to Register Your Opposition to Tax Funding for Planned Parenthood!

Deadline on MONDAY

Please immediately contact the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) and register your opposition to tax funding for Planned Parenthood in a new state health program.

DSHS is creating a new state-funded program, called the Texas Women’s Health Program (TWHP), to provide preventative health care for low-income women. The services will including some STD screening and treatments, screening for breast and cervical cancer, and contraceptives. The new state program will replace the Medicaid Women’s Health Program, which is expected to come to an end in October. The new TWHP will provide the same or more services as the Medicaid program it replaces.
See a sample message and contact information below. Comments must be received by Monday, August 6.

The Obama Administration is killing the Medicaid Women’s Health Program in Texas because Governor Perry and the Legislature refuse to fund Planned Parenthood. Senate Bill 7, passed by the Legislature and signed by Governor Perry last year with Texas Alliance for Life’s strong endorsement, explicitly excludes organizations that provide or promote elective abortion, like Planned Parenthood. Without Senate Bill 7, there would be no statutory basis for excluding Planned Parenthood from the Medicaid Women’s Health Program and from the Texas Women’s Health Program.

SAMPLE MESSAGE: Please call, email, or mail a message in your own words by Monday, August 6.Phone — 800.322.1305 (during business hours):

Email — click here to email to CHSS@dshs.state.tx.us.
“Dear Ms. Garcia,
“This is a comment regarding the proposed rules for the Texas Women’s Health Program published in the Texas Register on July 6, 2012.
“Please assure that Planned Parenthood and other organizations that provide or promote elective abortion are not eligible for public funding under the Texas Women’s Health Program. Planned Parenthood runs 14 abortion facilities in Texas, and they promote elective abortion at every one of its sites in Texas even where they do not perform abortion. I do not want my tax dollars to go to organizations that perform or promote abortions as a method of family planning”
“—–Your name and address

Mail: Imelda M. Garcia, Department of State Health Services, Division of Family and Community Health Services, Community Health Services Section, Mail Code 1923, P.O. Box 149347, Austin, Texas 78714-9347,

Deadline: Monday, August 6, 2012.
Please let us know you’ve made your contact. Simply send comments to info@texasallianceforlife.org.

BACKGROUND

For more information, visit Governor Rick Perry’s website, Fighting for Women’s Health: http://governor.state.tx.us/initiatives/womens_health/.

Here’s a (YouTube) video of Texas Alliance for Life’s executive director, Joe Pojman, Ph.D.: Joe Pojman, Ph.D., Executive Director. This video interviews Texas Alliance for Life’s board member, Dr. Beverly Nuckols: Beverly Nuckols MD, FAAFP, Family Physician 

Texas Alliance for Life (TAL) is a non-sectarian, non-partisan, pro-life organization of people committed to protecting innocent human lives from conception through natural death through peaceful, legal means. TAL is a statewide organization based in the Texas capital.

www.TexasAllianceforLife.org    512.477.1244

twitter.com @TXAlliance4Life     facebook.com/TexasAllianceforLife

My Choose Life license Plate arrived!


Picked up my new Choose Life license plates, today. Will mount with my “Everybody deserves a Family Doctor” frame.

Working within the 5 letters for the personalized plates was tough. “DR 4 LF,” “MD 4 LF,” etc. were not available.

Then: Standing at the counter at the Comal County tax office, today, it occurred to me that I could have used my initials.

The frame and the plate are worth a lot of bumper stickers, aren’t they?  Just think, the regular plates cost $30 a year, with $22 of that going to support adoption services in Texas. This is an easy way to donate and much less messy than bumper stickers!

Order yours at the Choose Life link at Texas Alliance for Life.

TEXAS ALLIANCE FOR LIFE FILES BRIEF IN 5TH CIRCUIT COURT OF APPEALS TO DEFEND TEXAS SONOGRAM LAW

November 9, 2011
AUSTIN, TX — Texas Alliance for Life has filed a scholarly amicus curiae (friend-of-the-court) brief in the federal 5th Circuit Court of Appeals to defend the constitutionality of the Texas sonogram law, House Bill 15, that was partially enjoined by a federal court in Austin last August. In Texas Medical Providers v. Lakey, Reproductive Services of San Antonio, an abortion facility, and Alan Braid, M.D., an abortion doctor, are suing certain administrative agencies in Texas to strike down the sonogram law passed last spring by the Texas Legislature.
The Texas Alliance for Life brief may be viewed here.
 
“Under U.S. Supreme Court precedent, states may require a physician to provide a pregnant woman considering abortion with truthful, non misleading information that might be relevant to her decision to undergo the procedure,” said Joe Pojman, Ph.D., executive director of Texas Alliance for LIfe. “That is all the State of Texas requires in House Bill 15.”
House Bill 15, authored by State Representative Sid Miller (R-Stephenville), sponsored by State Senator Dan Patrick (R-Houston), and signed by Governor Rick Perry in May, raises the standard of care regarding informed consent for abortion to the level that a patient would expect for any other medical or surgical procedure. House Bill 15 requires the physician or a licensed sonographer to perform a sonogram on a woman considering abortion. The law also requires the physician to explain the images of the unborn child. The woman has a right to see the images of the unborn child and to hear the child’s heartbeat if she wishes, though House Bill 15 does not require her to do so.
The federal district court preliminarily enjoined enforcement of those provisions (except the requirement that the sonogram be performed) on the basis that these requirements unconstitutionally mandate speech by a physician.
The Texas Alliance for Life brief demonstrates that Supreme Court precedent in Planned Parenthood v. Casey (1992), upholding Pennsylvania’s informed consent law, and in Gonzalez v. Carhart (2007), upholding the federal ban on partial-birth abortion, allows states to require physicians to provide informed consent information to women considering abortion that is relevant to her own health and to the consequences to the unborn child. Furthermore, the State of Texas already requires professionals — including physicians and attorneys — to provide informed consent information to their patients and clients. “The Texas Medical Disclosure Panel has identified specific risks and hazards that must be disclosed to a patient by his or her physicians for scores of medical treatments and surgical procedures,” explains the brief (p. 8). The Texas Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct require an attorney to disclose to a client important regarding fees and possible conflicts of interest.
The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, which considers appeals from federal courts in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas, has tentatively set the scheduled oral arguments in the first week of January.

Pro-life Pregnancy Centers sue Austin, Texas

In April, 2010, the Austin City Council passed an ordinance targeting Pregnancy Resource Centers (AKA “Crisis Pregnancy Centers”). The Liberty Institute the Law of Life Project, the Texas Center for the Defense of Life and the Alliance Defense fund have filed a lawsuit on behalf of Austin Life Care and three other centers in Federal Court, citing free speech violations.

Disclaimer: These organizations are joined and supported by Texas Alliance for Life, whose Executive Director, Dr. Joe Pojman is shown in this photo. I’m on the Board of Directors of TAL.

(Seriously? The City of Austin doesn’t believe that it’s obvious to anyone that “Austin Life Care” is not an abortion provider??)

According to an article by “We Are Austin. com” published at the time, the ordinance was aimed at “limited services pregnancy centers,” and could result in fines:

The ordinance says two signs in black and white must read in English and Spanish, that states: “This center does not provide abortions or refer to abortion providers. This center does not provide or refer to providers of U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved birth control drugs and medical devices.”

Each sign must be at least eight and a half by 11 inches and the text must be in a minimum font size of 48 point.

Before the vote, council members questioned how the ordinance will be enforced. The city’s legal team said Austin police will not enforce it, no one will be arrested for not posting the sign, and that enforcement will be complaint-based only. Pregnancy centers that do violate the ordinance, however, can face a fine of $250 for the first offense, $350 for a second offense, and at least $450 for a third offense.

Joining Austin Life Care are the Austin Pregnancy Resource Center, the South Austin Pregnancy Resource Center and the Catholic Charities of Central TexasGabriel Project Life Center.  ALC has posted the signs, but the other three haven’t done so.

From local TV station KXAN:

The ordinance, which is the first of its kind in Texas, requires each PRC to post a sign at its entrance stating it does not provide or refer for abortions or birth control services. Two of the pregnancy centers refer married clients to primary physicians for birth control, and the third center provides information to women about natural family planning and abstinence, two recognized forms of birth control.

There is no requirement forcing abortion facilities to post signs or provide disclaimers stating what services they do not provide for women.

via Free speech lawsuit filed against city | KXAN.com.

Rick Perry Becomes Latest Pro-Life Republican 2012 Hopeful | LifeNews.com

Pro-life groups around Texas all confirm the strong pro-life record of Governor Perry. Read the article for the examples of his actions in the name of protecting innocent life at all stages and ages.

The long record of pro-life accomplishments will serve the Texas governor well should he decide to seek the Republican nomination. He would face off against other candidates who are equally committed to pro-life values, but his pro-life track record will give him a chance to gain positive support from voters in places like Iowa and South Carolina. Should he ultimately become the nominee, Perry, like other Republicans seeking the nomination, would present a clear pro-life versus pro-abortion contrast with Obama that would rally the majority of Americans who are pro-life to his side.

via Rick Perry Becomes Latest Pro-Life Republican 2012 Hopeful | LifeNews.com.

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