Pastor's Page
By Fr. George Welzbacher
July 18, 2010

The Pro-Life movement is about to suffer two major "hits": one of them right here in the Twin Cities, and the other at the national level. The local disaster will be the continuing product of Planned Parenthood's huge new "House of Murder", soon to be constructed in the Midway zone. The calamity at the national level stems from the U. S. Senate's likely confirmation of Elena Kagan as the next sitting Justice on the federal Supreme Court. Last week I included in our parish bulletin as a separate insert Mr. Leo LaLonde's report on the impact that the new Murder House will have on the entire Upper Midwest. And now from National Review Online comes a startling indication of what the Kagan confirmation would almost certainly mean. Under the George W. Bush administration the deputy assistant attorney general charged with defending before the High Court the Partial-Birth Abortion Act-the law that prohibited this particularly vicious and cruel form of abortion-was Shannen Coffin. She wrote the following report.
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Kagan's Abortion Distortion
   By Shannen W. Coffin
   From: National Review Online for June 29, 2010

When President Obama promised in his inaugural address to "restore science to its rightful place," he never explained what that rightful place would be. Documents recently released in connection with the Supreme Court nomination of Solicitor General Elena Kagan suggest an answer. wherever it can best be used to skew political debate and judicial outcomes.

The documents involved date from the Clinton White House. They show Miss Kagan's willingness to manipulate medical science to fit a political agenda on the hot-button issue of abortion. As such, they reflect poorly on both the author and the president who nominated her to the Supreme Court.

There is no better example of this distortion of science than the LANGUAGE the United States Supreme Court CITED IN STRIKING DOWN NEBRASKA'S BAN ON PARTLIAL-BIRTH ABORTION IN 2000. This language purported to come from a "select panel" of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), a supposedly nonpartisan physicians' group. ACOG DECLARED that the partial-birth-abortion procedure "may be the best or most APPROPRIATE procedure in a particular circumstance to save the life or to preserve the health of a woman."  The Court relied on the ACOG statement as a KEY example of MEDICAL opinion SUPPORTING this abortion method.

Years later, when President Bush signed  a FEDERAL partial-birth-abortion BAN (something President Clinton had vetoed), the ACOG official policy statement was front and center in the attack on the legislation. U. S. Judge Richard Kopf, one of the three District Courtfederal judges that issued orders enjoining [prohibiting or restraining] the federal ban, ([an injunction] later overturned by the Supreme Court), devoted more than 15 pages of his lengthy opinion to ACOG's policy statement and the integrity of the process that led to it.

Like the Supreme Court majority in the prior dispute over the Nebraska ban, Judge Kopf asserted that the ACOG policy statement was entitled to judicial deference because it was the result of an inscrutable collaborative process among expert MEDICAL professionals.   "Before and during the task force meeting," he concluded, "neither ACOG nor the task force members CONVERSED WITH OTHER INDIVIDUALS  or organizations,  including congressmen and doctors who provided congressional testimony concerning the topics addressed" in the ACOG statement.

In other words, what medical science has pronounced, let no court dare question. The problem is that the critical language of the ACOG statement was NOT drafted by scientists and doctors. Rather, it was INSERTED INTO ACOG's POLICY STATEMENT at the suggestion of then-Clinton White House policy adviser ELENA KAGAN.

The task force's INITIAL draft statement did NOT include the statement that the controversial abortion procedure "might be" the best method "in a particular circumstance." Instead, it said that the select ACOG panel "could identify NO circumstances under which this procedure .. would be the ONLY option to save the life or to preserve the health of the woman."

Notwithstanding its allegedly apolitical nature, ACOG SHARED this draft statement with the Clinton While House. Miss Kagan, then a deputy assistant to the President for domestic policy, already knew ACOG's stance as a result of a July 1996 meeting at the White House, at which ACOG representatives told Administration officials according to Kagan memorandum [PDF]-that "IN THE VAST MAJORITY OF CASES, selection of the partial birth procedure is NOT NECESSARY to avert serious adverse consequences to a woman's health."

Upon receiving the task force's DRAFT statement, KAGAN noted in another internal memorandum [PDF] that the DRAFT ACOG FORMULATION "would be a DISASTER-not the less so (in fact, the more so) because ACOG continues to oppose the legislation." Any expression of DOUBT by a leading MEDICAL body about the efficacy of the procedure would severely UNDERMINE THE CASE AGAINST THE BAN.

So Kagan set about SOLVING the problem.  Her notes, produced by the White House to the Senate Judiciary Committee, show that SHE HERSELF DRAFTED THE CRITICAL LANGUAGE hedging ACOG's position. On a document [PDF] captioned "Suggested Options"--which she apparently faxed to the legislative director at ACOG-Kagan proposed that ACOG INCLUDE THE FOLLOWING LANGUAGE. "An intact D&X [the medical term for the procedure], however, M4Y be the BEST OR MOST APPROPRIATE procedure in a particular circumstance to save the life or to preserve the health of a woman. "

Kagan's language was COPIED VERBATIM by the ACOG executive board into its FINAL statement, where it then became one of the greatest evidentiary hurdles faced by Justice Department lawyers (of whom I was one) in defending the federal ban. (KAGAN'S ROLE WAS NEVER DISCLOSED TO THE COURTS). The judicial battles that followed led to two Supreme Court opinions, several trials, and countless felled trees. Now we learn that language purporting to be the judgment of an INDEPENDENT body of MEDICAL experts devoted to the care and treatment of pregnant women and their children was, in the end, nothing more than the political scrawling of a White House appointee.

Miss Kagan's decision to OVERRIDE a scientific finding with her own CALCULATED DISTORTION [a tactful description, that!] in order to protect access to the most DESPICABLE of abortion procedures seriously twisted the judicial process. One must question whether her nomination to the Court would have the same effect.

[Emphasis added].
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Rule 3.3 of the American Bar Association's Model Rules of Professional Conduct stipulates that if  "a lawyer comes to know of [the] falsity [of evidence or testimony], the lawyer shall take reasonable remedial measures, including, if necessary, DISCLOSURE TO THE TRIBUNAL."
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And now, just before we go to press, comes news of a third blow to the defenders of the sacred status of human life. On July the sixth, with most U. S. Senators out of town, President Obama, circumventing a confirmation hearing by the Senate, appointed Dr. Donald Berwick to the leadership- of the $800 BILLION Medicare and Medicaid agency known as the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, or, more briefly, as CMS. Here are some of Dr. Berwick's recent comments offered at various times and places.

"Well, at this point, to have access to a particular additional benefit [i.e., to a new drug or a new treatment]   is so EXPENSIVE that our taxpayers have BETTER USE for those funds. The decision is not WHETHER or not we will ration care-the question is WILL WE RATION WITH OUR EYES OPEN?" [And may we ask: will keeping "our eyes open" include perhaps taking a second look at euthanasia, as an efficient cost-cutting measure?]

"There's a myth that American health care is the best in the world. It's not. It's not even close". [Then why do wealthy people who can afford to make the trip come from all over the world in droves to the U.S.A., e.g. to Rochester's Mayo Clinic, for medical treatment?].

In contrast with, as he put it, "the DARKNESS OF PRIVATE enterprise," the BRITISH National Health Care Service evokes from his soul feelings that can best be described as--the word is his-"ROMANTIC"!

And in a Harvard position paper issued in 2009 under the title: "What 'Patient-centered' Should Mean: Confessions of an Extremist" Dr. Berwick had this to say by way of summary: "In this paper I argue for a RADICAL TRANSFER OF POWER and a BOLDER meaning of 'patient-centered' care." This radical transfer of power goes more explicitly by the name of a single-payer system, ie., a total governmental monopoly of healthcare.

"Oh, brave new world that hath such creatures in it!"
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Most of these citations are taken from World Net Daily, for July 7, 201 0.
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In Praise of  "Leaders with Plans" vs. "Individual Choice"One Size Fits All
Berwick: Bigger Than Kagan
By: Daniel Henninger
Wall Street Journal. July 1st, 2010

Barack Obama's incredible "recess appointment" of Dr. Donald Berwick to head the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) is probably the most significant domestic-policy personnel decision in a generation. It is more important to the direction of the country than Elena Kagan's nomination to the Supreme Court.

 The court's decisions are subject to the tempering influence of nine competing minds. Dr. Berwick would direct an agency that has a budget bigger than that of the Pentagon. Decisions by the CMS shape American medicine.

Dr. Berwick's ideas on the design and purpose of the U. S. system of medicine aren't merely about "change. " They would be REVOLUTIONARY.

One may agree with these views or not, but for the president to TELL the American people they have to simply ACCEPT this through anything so flaccid as a recess appointment is beyond outrageous....

The DEMOCRATIC CHAIRMAN of the Senate Finance Committee, Max Baucus, was taken aback at the end-around:  "Senate confirmation of presidential appointees is an ESSENTIAL process prescribed by the CONSTITUTION that serves as a CHECK on executive power."

Let's look, then, at what President Obama won't let the American electorate hear Dr. Berwick say in front of a committee of Congress. These excerpts are from past speeches and articles by Dr. Berwick.

"I cannot believe that the INDIVIDUAL health care CONSUMER can enforce through CHOICE the PROPER configurations of a system as massive and complex as health care. That is for LEADERS to do. "

"You cap your health care budget, and you make the political and economic choices[ i. e. rationing] you need to make to keep affordability within reach."

"Please don't put your faith in market forces. It's a popular idea: that Adam Smith's invisible hand would do a better job of designing care than LEADERS WITH PLANS can."

Indeed, the Holy Grail of universal coverage in the United States may remain out of reach, unless through rational COLLECTIVE action OVERRIDING SOME INDIVIDUAL SELF-INTEREST, we can reduce per capita costs." [Where have we heard that before?]

"It may therefore be necessary to set a legislative target for the growth of spending at 1.5 percentage points below currently projected increases and to grant the federal government the authority to reduce updates in Medicare fees if the target is exceeded."

"About 8% of GDP is plenty for 'best known' care."

"A progressive policy regime will control and rationalize financing-[will] control supply. "

"The unaided human mind and the ACTS OF THE INDIVIDUAL CANNOT ASSURE EXCELLENCE. Health care is a SYSTEM, and its performance is a SYSTEMIC property." [Shades of T.S.Eliot's line: "Dreaming of systems so perfect that no one will need to be good!"].

"Health care is a common good-[with] a single payer, speaking and buying for the COMMON good."

"And it's important also to make health a human right because the main health determinants are NOT health care but sanitation, nutrition, housing, social justice, employment, and the like." [So why do we need medical specialists?].

"Hence, those working in health care delivery may be faced with situations in which it seems that the best course is to manipulate the flawed system for the benefit of a specific patient or segment of the population, rather than to work to improve the delivery of care for all. Such manipulation produces more FLAWS and the downward spiral continues."

"For-profit, entrepreneurial providers of medical imaging, renal dialysis, and outpatient surgery, for example, may find their business opportunities CONSTRAINED."

"One over-demanded service is prevention: annual physicals, screening tests, and other measures that supposedly help catch diseases early."

"I would place a commitment to excellence-standardization to the best-known method-ABOVE clinician autonomy [ i.e. letting the individual physician or surgeon decide what is best for this particular patient] as a RULE for care...."

"Young doctors and nurses should emerge from training understanding the values of STANDARDIZATION and the RISKS of too great an emphasis on INDIVIDUAL AUTONOMY....

"The U.K. has people in charge of its health care-people with the clear duty and much of the authority to take on the challenge of changing the system as a whole. The U.S. does not....
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If the American people want the world Dr. Berwick wishes to give them, that's their choice.   But they must be GIVEN          that choice with full, televised CONFIRMATION hearings.

Barack Obama, Donald.Berwick and the rest may fancy themselves philosopher kings who KNOW what WE need without the need to inform or persuade US FIRST. That's not how it works here. That is Sen.Baucus's point....

[Emphasis added].
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