Thursday, November 20, 2008

The dignity of the human person as truth and ground of freedom must be at the absolute center of every national culture that integrates the global “communio” that will become the “civilization of love.” If God is for us, who is against us? But we must fight. The struggle to implement that culture must be both positive and negative: Negative to stop evil; positive to create “a new culture, new legislation, new fashions, in keeping with the dignity of the human person and with its destiny to the glory of the children of God in Jesus Christ.”[1]

From the side of struggle, the American Life League offers the following information on a piece of legislation being championed by Planned Parenthood and supported by the incoming administration: the Prevention First Act. To wit:

"What is the Prevention First Act?

The Prevention First Act has several components, all of which would fund programs that are promoted by Planned Parenthood and would put millions more of our tax dollars into PP’s coffers. These components include

• Making Title X (family planning) a permanent program and funding it at $700 million or more. Since its inception in 1970, Title X of the Health and Human Services Act has always been a major funding source for PP. However, Title X is not a permanent program and must be reauthorized every year. Title X was funded at $300 million for fiscal year 2008. PP receives about 25 percent of the total or $75 million. Thus, the PFA would more than double the tax dollars given to PP ($175 million) by this one program. It would also make Title X a permanent program.

• Mandating that health insurance programs that cover prescriptions must cover abortifacient contraceptives. There are several reasons why some insurance companies do not include birth control coverage in their policies. Chief among them is that many of their customers belong to religions that are opposed to birth control and do not want to be forced to pay for this coverage. The PFA would take away the ability of consumers and insurance companies to seek the coverage they want and would force every insurance plan that covers prescription drugs to pay for birth control. This is an outrageous intrusion into the religious beliefs of millions of Americans. • Creating a government program to push abortifacient “emergency contraception.” Selling emergency contraception is one of PP’s most lucrative activities. PP routinely purchases Plan B for $4.25 a kit and then sells it for $30 a kit, thus making a $25 profit on each one of the 1.5 million it sells each year. But still, PP is not content. The PFA would create a government-funded five-year “educational” program to promote emergency contraception and drive even more Plan B business to PP.

• Taking all federal money away from any hospital that refuses to administer emergency contraception (an abortifacient), to rape victims. Many hospitals, doctors and pharmacists have problems dispensing emergency contraception because of its abortifacient nature. Indeed, in the above-listed educational program, PP wants the government to tell the public that emergency contraception works by “preventing ovulation, fertilization of an egg, or implantation of an egg in a uterus.” Yet, this section of the PFA demands that hospitals tell patients that “emergency contraception does not cause an abortion.” In addition, it would require that every hospital, even Catholic, Baptist and others opposed to abortion for religious reasons, MUST provide patients with emergency contraception or lose all of their federal funding.

• Creating additional massive government funding for PP-style sex education programs (abstinence-only programs are specifically excluded from funding). Under the subprogram named “At-Risk Communities Teen Pregnancy Prevention Act,” the PFA would create a program to conduct research and educational sessions for the purpose of reducing teen pregnancy. All kinds of organizations (e.g. Planned Parenthood) would receive taxpayer funds, and all kinds of theories and ways of preventing teen pregnancy could be researched and taught EXCEPT abstinence-only programs. The PFA specifically stipulates that “funds under this section are not intended for use by abstinence-only education programs. Abstinence-only education programs that receive federal funds through the Maternal and Child Health Block Grant, the Administration for Children and Families, the Adolescent Family Life Program, and any other program that uses the definition of ‘abstinence education’ found in section 510(b) of the Social Security Act are ineligible for funding.”

• Permanently including family planning services as part of the Medicaid program. The Medicaid program was never intended to pay for family planning services. Yet, beginning in the 1990s, states started applying for Medicaid waivers to allow them to add family planning for Medicaid-eligible recipients. The federal government has approved these waivers, and their approval must be renewed, on a state-by-state basis, every five years. Because of the waivers, Medicaid is now the largest single program providing taxpayer money for PP. The PFA would do away with the need for waivers and write family planning services permanently into Medicaid, thereby opening the floodgates of taxpayer funding for PP even wider.What is the status of the Prevention First Act?

It is important to note that the election ushers in a new Congress in January. The current Congress, the 110th Congress, will cease to exist at the end of this year. In January, the 111th Congress will begin, and all of the newly elected members of the House and Senate will be part of the 111th Congress. All existing bills must be re-introduced in the new Congress and assigned new numbers, and the legislative process for each of them will start "from scratch." The current House bill (H.R.819) was originally introduced on February 5, 2007, was immediately referred to the Committee on Energy and Commerce (in addition to the Committees on Ways and Means, and Education and Labor), and no further action was taken. It has 164 co-sponsors. The current Senate bill (S.21) was originally introduced on January 4, 2007 and referred to the Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, where it still sits. It has 34 co-sponsors, including Barack Obama.

Again, these current bills will disappear with the start of the new Congress, and the bills will have to be introduced once more. Under normal circumstances, it would take months for them to be voted on, but they could be fast-tracked.

What does Planned Parenthood say about the Prevention First Act?

Here is the statement by Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood, on February 5, 2007, when the Prevention First Act was introduced in the House:

"Today's introduction of the Prevention First Act signals a real step forward for health care in America. Currently, more than 17 million women in the U.S. need publicly funded family planning services, and there is not enough funding to meet the need. Nearly 750,000 teenagers in the U.S. will become pregnant this year. Prevention is the key to building strong, healthy families, and the Prevention First Act will help women and couples plan their families, plan their futures, and plan parenthood by expanding access to critically needed family planning education and reproductive health care services."

On February 13, Planned Parenthood Federation of America affiliates and their supporters will hold a nationwide Day of Action, calling on elected officials in all 50 states and the District of Columbia to pass the Prevention First Act and state legislation that are key to preventing unintended pregnancy and reducing the need for abortion by expanding access to birth control and real sex education.

Planned Parenthood also pushing PFA in statesIn the statement above, Planned Parenthood mentions its intent to push PFA not only at the federal level, but also at the state level. A typical state bill is one that is currently being considered in Ohio. It is known as House Bill 251 and also Senate Bill 179. Among other things, these bills seek to do the following:

• Force insurance companies to cover birth control if they cover other prescriptions;• Mandate that every hospital in the state provide emergency contraception to rape victims and tell the victims that emergency contraception does not cause an abortion;• Replace abstinence-only sex ed with programs that gives equal time to the use of birth control and don’t tell children to save sex for marriage;• Put taxpayer money into “teen pregnancy prevention” programs;• Do away with the right of pharmacies and/or pharmacists to refuse to sell products that conflict with their religious beliefs;• Rewrite the Ohio health funding bill to ensure that PP is directly eligible for taxpayer money for family planning services.

What can you do?

Despite the fact that Obama is actively supporting this horrible bill and the Democratic Party is firmly in control of the both chambers of the United States Congress, passage of this bill is not inevitable. We have spoken with a number of pro-life members of Congress and their staffs, and they believe that the Prevention First Act can be stopped.

But, in order to do so, it will take an active campaign of pro-lifers across the country. Here is what you can do:

1. Contact your members of Congress and let them know how you feel about the Prevention First Act.2. Watch for updates in future Wednesday STOPP Reports. We will let you know as soon as the bills are introduced in the next Congress and give you the correct bill numbers.3. Monitor the activity in your state and take action to prevent a state PFA from passing."

[1] From the Prelate of Opus Dei on November 29, 2002.

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