Dustin Siggins

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Catholic Congressional candidate in Virginia pushing for over-the-counter birth control

Dustin Siggins
Dustin Siggins

WASHINGTON, D.C., February 12, 2014 (LifeSiteNews.com) – A Catholic Republican woman who hopes to be elected to the U.S. House of Representatives has led a group of 13 state delegates in asking HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to make birth control available over the counter to women 18 and older.

Barbara Comstock is a three-term Republican delegate in Virginia. In January, she joined a crowded Republican field running for the seat of retiring U.S. Rep. Frank Wolf.

Comstock is a long-time GOP insider, with experience in the George W. Bush administration and both of Mitt Romney's presidential campaigns. Her campaign has the backing of the state party chairman, more than a dozen of Wolf's former staffers, and talk show host Mark Levin. She enjoys deep ties to influential national Republicans and has the support of numerous influential Catholics, including former presidential candidate Rick Santorum and a former U.S. ambassador to the Vatican. 

That support raises the question of why Comstock is asking the Obama administration to further promote the availability of birth control, which poses health dangers to women and potentially act as abortifacients.

On her delegate campaign website, Comstock states she “spearheaded a request and letter from House of Delegates members to" Sebelius in order “to make birth control pills available over the counter without a prescription for adult women.”

Comstock wrote that “allowing over the counter sales of oral contraceptives for adult women would enhance women’s access, put decisions in their hands, modernize the health care system, and lower birth control costs.” Such a change, she wrote, would be “a bipartisan solution that could bring people together and help in ending birth control politics.”

The letter urged Secretary Sebelius to institute the recommendations of the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists for birth control medication. The letter, signed by 12 fellow delegates, won plaudits from a columnist at a regional newspaper in Virginia last month.

Comstock campaigned on the position as well, something that earned her the praise of conservative columnist Mona Charen in National Review, who said, “it's hard to paint her as someone who wants to keep women barefoot and pregnant when she advocates making birth-control pills easier to obtain.”

“She is not a sell-out, a squish, or a RINO," Charen wrote. "She’s something all Republicans should aspire to be — a winner.”

But medical experts and pro-life observers say that making contraception more readily available endangers the lives of women and unborn babies.

Dr. Angela Lanfranchi, president of the Breast Cancer Prevention Institute, told LifeSiteNews that “making these drugs over-the-counter would only increase women's risk of cancer, heart attacks, stroke, and lethal infections."

“The pill is responsible for a significant percentage of pre-menopausal breast cancer, [and] women have the right to know that oral contraceptives are Group 1 carcinogens for breast, cervical, and liver cancer," Dr. Lanfranchi said. "Group 1 is the same group that lists cigarettes causing lung cancer, and asbestos, causing mesothelioma.”

"This is why doctors should be involved in any decision about contraception, and would eliminate doctors screening for things like clotting disorders or other medical problems that put women at very high risk for lethal outcomes from the pill," she said.

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The oral contraceptive pill may also induce an early abortion by preventing a newly conceived baby from implanting in a woman's uterus. American Life League Vice President Jim Sedlak told LifeSiteNews that “the birth control pill, the morning-after pill, and Plan B all have the same chemical make-up. They all work by preventing ovulation, preventing fertilization, and preventing implantation.”

“Not requiring prescriptions will result in more women taking the pill, and more women will die, and more human beings will die in the womb as a result,” he said.

The Comstock campaign repeatedly refused to answer LifeSiteNews' questions about the pill's potential health risks to women and its ability to induce abortion.

The campaign did answer questions raised by critics about why Comstock, who was described to LifeSiteNews by a GOP operative in Virginia as “a very hard-working establishment conservative,” opposed a pro-life amendment to Virginia's Affordable Care Act (ACA) exchange – a vote that gave her a 100 percent voting record from NARAL in 2013.

The amendment was proposed by then-Gov. Bob McDonnell to prevent taxpayer funding for abortion under ObamaCare. The amendment contained exceptions for the life of the mother and pregnancy after being raped. NARAL described it as an “extreme amendment” that “prohibits Virginians from purchasing a comprehensive health insurance plan that includes abortion coverage.”

The amendment passed the House 55-37, with Comstock's vote in opposition. Fellow pro-life advocate Bob Marshall voted “present,” making clear his opposition to the exceptions in the amendment.

Campaign manager Susan Falconer defended Comstock in an e-mail, telling LifeSiteNews that Comstock has earned ire from pro-abortion groups and support from pro-life organizations and individuals. Falconer specifically defended Comstock's vote from what she called “false attacks” on Comstock's pro-life credentials “being promoted by some fellow Republicans” over the ACA vote.

The vote was the only one NARAL ranked in 2013, which is why Comstock received a 100 percent ranking from the same organization that in 2009 called her “a zealous pro-life politician who won’t hesitate to enact laws restricting a woman’s right to choose if given the opportunity.” At the time, Comstock was in her first race for delegate.

Comstock received a total score of 20 percent from NARAL for the 2012/2013 legislative session, including a “0” in 2012 for several votes against NARAL's positions.

Comstock has been defended by the Family Foundation, which ranks votes in favor of, or opposed to, its pro-family positions.

The Foundation's 2012/2013 Scorecard ranked Comstock at 89 percent, with the opposition to the pro-life amendment and support for an openly homosexual judge the only marks against her out of 19 votes scored by the Foundation.

However, the Foundation has since qualified its score on Comstock's vote against the amendment. Last week, Chris Freund wrote on the organization's website that Comstock and another delegate “made it clear to us that they will not vote in favor of anything having to do with ObamaCare. It wasn’t about the amendment; it was about the overall policy.”

Not everyone agrees with Comstock's reasoning. Deal Hudson, senior editor of Catholic Online, told LifeSiteNews he believes the vote was “an imprudent choice.”

Comstock has been a figure in national politics for more than 20 years. NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia highlighted her background for criticism, noting in 2009 that she “served as a senior aide to Congressman Frank Wolf” in the 1990s. She was also “a minor figure” during the Whitewater investigation of President Bill Clinton.

During the George W. Bush administration, Comstock was the Director of the Office of Public Affairs for the U.S. Department of Justice, spent time with the Republican National Committee and a GOP-associated lobbying firm, and worked for the 2008 Romney presidential campaign. In 2005, a column at Slate tied her to the defense of Scooter Libby, the former Bush official who was indicted on several charges in 2007, including lying under oath and obstructing justice.

She briefly came to fame in conservative political media in 2012 after she mocked MSNBC host Andrea Mitchell in a discussion about GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney and equal pay for women. Comstock was a senior Romney advisor at the time. She also served as the co-chairman of the Republican National Convention in 2012.

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Newsbusters Staff

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Disney ABC embraces X-rated anti-Christian bigot Dan Savage in new prime time show

Newsbusters Staff
By

March 30, 2015 (NewsBusters.org) -- Media Research Center (MRC) and Family Research Council (FRC) are launching a joint national campaign to educate the public about a Disney ABC sitcom pilot based on the life of bigoted activist Dan Savage. MRC and FRC contacted Ben Sherwood, president of Disney/ABC Television Group, more than two weeks ago urging him to put a stop to this atrocity but received no response. [Read the full letter]

A perusal of Dan Savage’s work reveals a career built on advocating violence — even murder — and spewing hatred against people of faith. Savage has spared no one with whom he disagrees from his vitriolic hate speech. Despite his extremism, vulgarity, and unabashed encouragement of dangerous sexual practices, Disney ABC is moving forward with this show, disgustingly titled “Family of the Year.”

Media Research Center President Brent Bozell reacts:

“Disney ABC’s decision to effectively advance Dan Savage’s calls for violence against conservatives and his extremist attacks against people of faith, particularly evangelicals and Catholics, is appalling and outrageous. If hate speech were a crime, this man would be charged with a felony. Disney ABC giving Dan Savage a platform for his anti-religious bigotry is mind-boggling and their silence is deafening.

“By creating a pilot based on the life of this hatemonger and bringing him on as a producer, Disney ABC is sending a signal that they endorse Dan Savage’s wish that a man be murdered. He has stated, ‘Carl Romanelli should be dragged behind a pickup truck until there’s nothing left but the rope.’ ABC knows this. We told them explicitly.

“If the production of ‘Family of the Year’ is allowed to continue, not just Christians but all people of goodwill can only surmise that the company Walt Disney created is endorsing violence.”

Family Research Council President Tony Perkins reacts:

“Does ABC really want to produce a pilot show based on a vile bully like Dan Savage?  Do Dan Savage’s over-the top-obscenity, intimidation of teenagers and even violent rhetoric reflect the values of Disney?  Partnering with Dan Savage and endorsing his x-rated message will be abandoning the wholesome values that have attracted millions of families to Walt Disney.”

Dan Savage has made numerous comments about conservatives, evangelicals, and Catholics that offend basic standards of decency. They include:

  • Proclaiming that he sometimes thinks about “f****ing the shit out of” Senator Rick Santorum

  • Calling for Christians at a high school conference to “ignore the bull**** in the Bible”

  • Saying that “the only thing that stands between my d*** and Brad Pitt’s mouth is a piece of paper” when expressing his feelings on Pope Benedict’s opposition to gay marriage

  • Promoting marital infidelity

  • Saying “Carl Romanelli should be dragged behind a pickup truck until there’s nothing left but the rope.”

  • Telling Bill Maher that he wished Republicans “were all f***ing dead”

  • Telling Dr. Ben Carson to “suck my d***. Name the time and place and I’ll bring my d*** and a camera crew and you can s*** me off and win the argument.”

Reprinted with permission from Newsbusters

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Jacqueline Harvey

Ending the end-of-life impasse: Texas is poised to ban doctor-imposed death by starvation

Jacqueline Harvey
By Jacqueline Harvey

AUSTIN, Texas, March 30, 2015 (TexasInsider.org)  After five consecutive sessions of bitter battles over end-of-life bills, the Texas Legislature is finally poised to pass the first reform to the Texas Advance Directives Act (TADA) in 12 years. An issue that created uncanny adversaries out of natural allies, and equally odd bedfellows, has finally found common ground in H.B. 3074 by State Rep. Drew Springer.  

H.B. 3074 simply prohibits doctor-imposed euthanasia by starvation and dehydration.

Since H.B. 3074 includes only those provisions and language that all major organizations are on record as having deemed acceptable in previous legislative sessions, there is finally hope of ending the end-of-life impasse in the Texas Capitol.

Many would be surprised to learn that Texas law allows physicians to forcibly remove a feeding tube against the will of the patient and their family. In fact, there is a greater legal penalty for failing to feed or water an animal than for a hospital to deny a human being food and water through a tube.

This is because there is no penalty whatsoever for a healthcare provider who wishes to deny artificially-administered nutrition and hydration (AANH). According to Texas Health and Safety Code, “every living dumb creature” is legally entitled access to suitable food and water.

Denying an animal food and water, like in this January case in San Antonio, is punishable by civil fines up to $10,000 and criminal penalties up to two years in jail per offense. Yet Texas law allows health care providers to forcibly deny food and water from human beings – what they would not be able to legally do to their housecat. And healthcare providers are immune from civil and criminal penalties for denial of food and water to human beings as long as they follow the current statutory process which is sorely lacking in safeguards.

Therefore, while it is surprising that Texas has the only state law that explicitly mentions food and water delivered artificially for the purpose of completely permitting its forced denial (the other six states mention AANH explicitly for the opposite purpose, to limit or prohibit its refusal), it is not at all surprising that the issue of protecting a patient’s right to food and water is perhaps the one point of consensus across all major stakeholders.

H.B. 3074 is the first TADA reform bill to include only this provision that is agreed upon across all major players in previous legislative sessions.

There are irreconcilable ideological differences between two major right-to-life organizations that should supposedly be like-minded: Texas Alliance for Life and Texas Right to Life. Each faction (along with their respective allies) have previously sponsored broad and ambitious bills to either preserve but reform the current law (Texas Alliance for Life’s position) or overturn it altogether as Texas Right to Life aims to do.

Prior to H.B. 3074, bills filed by major advocacy organizations have often included AANH, but also a host of other provisions that were so contentious and unacceptable to other organizations that each bill ultimately died, and this mutually-agreed-upon and vital reform always died along with it.

2011 & 2013 Legislative Sessions present prime example

This 2011 media report shows the clear consensus on need for legislation to simply address the need to protect patients’ rights to food and water:

“Hughes [bill sponsor for Texas Right to Life] has widespread support for one of his bill’s goals: making food and water a necessary part of treatment and not something that can be discontinued, unless providing it would harm the patient.”

Nonetheless, in 2013, both organizations and their allies filed complicated, contentious opposing bills, both of which would have protected a patient’s right to food and water but each bill also included provisions the rival group saw as contrary to their goals. Both bills were ultimately defeated and neither group was able to achieve protections for patients at risk of forced starvation and dehydration – a mutual goal that could have been met through a third, narrow bill like H.B. 3074.

H.B. 3074 finally focuses on what unites the organizations involved rather than what divides them, since these differences have resulted in a 12 year standoff with no progress whatsoever.

H.B. 3074 is progress that is pre-negotiated and pre-approved.

It is not a fertile springboard for negotiations on an area of mutual agreement. Rather it is the culmination of years of previous negotiations on bills that all came too late, either due to the complexnature of rival bills, the controversy involved, or even both.

On the contrary, H.B. 3074 is not just simply an area of agreement; moreover, it is has already been negotiated. It should not be stymied by disagreements on language, since Texas Alliance for Life and Texas Right to Life (along with their allies) were able to agree on language in 2007 with C.S.S.B. 439. C.S.S.B. 439 reads that, unlike the status quo that places no legal conditions on when food and water may be withdrawn, it would be permitted for those in a terminal condition if,

“reasonable medical evidence indicates the provision of artificial nutrition and hydration may hasten the patient’s death or seriously exacerbate other major medical problems and the risk of serious medical pain or discomfort that cannot be alleviated based on reasonable medical judgment outweighs the benefit of continued artificial nutrition and hydration.”

This language is strikingly similar to H.B. 3074 which states, “except that artificially administered nutrition and hydration must be provided unless, based on reasonable medical judgment, providingartificially administered nutrition and hydration would:

  1. Hasten the patient’s death;
  2. Seriously exacerbate other major medical problems not outweighed by the benefit of the provision of the treatment;
  3. Result in substantial irremediable physical pain, suffering, or discomfort not outweighed by the benefit of the provision of the treatment;
  4. Be medically ineffective; or
  5. Be contrary to the patient’s clearly stated desire not to receive artificially administered nutrition or hydration.”

With minimal exceptions (the explicit mention of the word terminal, the issue of medical effectiveness and the patient’s right to refuse), the language is virtually identical, and in 2007 Texas Right to Life affirmed this language as clarifying that “ANH can only be withdrawn if the risk of providing ANH is greater than the benefit of continuing it.”

Texas Right to Life would support the language in H.B. 3074 that already has Texas Alliance for Life’s endorsement. Any reconciliation on the minor differences in language would therefore be minimal and could be made by either side, but ultimately, both sides and their allies would gain a huge victory – the first victory in 12 years on this vital issue.

It seems that the Texas Advance Directive Act, even among its sympathizers, has something for everyone to oppose.

The passage of H.B. 3074 and the legal restoration of rights to feeding tubes for Texas patients will not begin to satisfy critics of the Texas Advance Directives Act who desire much greater changes to the law and will assuredly continue to pursue them. H.B. 3074 in no way marks the end for healthcare reform, but perhaps a shift from the belief that anything short of sweeping changes is an endorsement of the status quo.

Rather, we can look at H.B. 3074 as breaking a barrier and indicating larger changes are possible.

And if nothing else, by passing H.B. 3074 introduced by State Rep. Drew Springer, we afford human beings in Texas the same legal access to food and water that we give to our horses. What is cruel to do to an animal remains legal to do to humans in Texas if organizations continue to insist on the whole of their agenda rather than agreeing to smaller bills like H.B. 3074.

The question is, can twelve years of bad blood and bickering be set aside for even this most noble of causes?

Reprinted from TexasInsider.org with the author's permission. 

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