Saturday, March 21, 2015

AB 336, Doctor Prescribed Suicide Bill Is Direct Assault on Sanctity of Life, Some Tactics to Watch For

March 21, 2015

Early this week, SB336 a Doctor Prescribed Suicide bill was introduced in the Nevada State Senate.   The bill would grant a “right” to “A person who suffers from a terminal condition… to ingest a drug to end his or her life” through a drug prescribed by a doctor.  We cannot allow this to pass.

Doctor Prescribed Suicide, also known as physician assisted suicide or described under other euphemisms such as “aid in dying,” “right to die” etc., is a direct assault on the sanctity of human life.   We cannot tolerate in any way the notion that there is anything like a human life unworthy of life, human life that is not worth living or a human life that is not inherently and intrinsically valuable.   Human life is inherently and intrinsically valuable and it does not stop being inherently valuable just because our condition becomes “terminal.”  Granting some sort of “right” to kill oneself because he or she is in a “terminal” condition sends a loud and clear message to others living with “terminal” conditions that their lives are not as worth living.  That is an unconscionable putdown.  It is no wonder that disability advocacy groups oppose doctor prescribed suicide.

Now that the bill has been introduced, opponents should expect certain tactics to be employed by doctor prescribed suicide promoters.  Here are a few things they will attempt to claim.

1. Only Christians oppose this bill.  Supporters will try to paint opponents as being a religious issue and opposed only by Christians.  Doctor Prescribed Suicide advocates have been defeated recently in states like California and Massachusetts.  Those are hardly states anyone would call right wing fundamentalist states.  If Doctor Prescribed Suicide cannot win in those states, it’s obvious that opposition is much broader than those who hold to Christian faith. DREDF, the Disability Rights Education and Defense FundsaysMany key organizations oppose the legalization of assisted suicide, including the AMA and all 50 of its state affiliates; the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization; many prominent Democrats and liberals including Bill Clinton, Ralph Nader, and noted civil liberties journalist Nat Hentoff; many disability rights organizations; and the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC, national level).”

2. Polling shows doctor prescribed suicide is inevitable.  Doctor prescribed suicide often garners early heavy polling support for its position when it is first introduced.  These numbers are used to say that its passage is inevitable and that the state and perhaps the nation have come to adopt their position.  But time after time, when the arguments of doctor prescribed suicide are exposed and the details and impact of the legislation are explained, those numbers change and the legislation is defeated. Doctor prescribed suicide has been defeated many more times than ithas won  Polling is not inevitable.

3. Doctor Prescribed Suicide is not suicide.  Doctor prescribed suicide advocates are afraid of making it appear that they are promoting suicide.  Indeed, they say they are not committing suicide.  This defies language.  SB 336 would lie about the cause of death and attribute death from doctor prescribed suicide to a terminal illness, not the taking of the pills which is the direct cause of death.  “3. The person who signs the medical certificate of death of a patient who dies after self-administering a controlled substance that is designed to end the life of the patient in accordance with the provisions of sections 3 to 26, inclusive, of this act shall specify the terminal condition with which the patient was diagnosed as the cause of death of the patient.” (Section 1.3). 

In Oregon those choosing doctor prescribed suicide were and are suffering from depression, a sense of being a burden, and a fear of a loss of autonomy more than physical pain.  Saying that the cause of death is not suicide abandons the terminally ill.  Doctor prescribed suicide is suicide and those considering such suicide should not be abandoned.  They need and deserve the same compassion and care that other suicidal people receive.  To not treat them the same says that their lives are not worth living.

Last month, Wayne Cockfield, Vice President for Medical Ethics at National Right to Life, spoke to the NVRTL Friends for Life Dinner last month.  Cockfield, who is a disabled veteran noted that proponents of doctor prescribed suicide only want to give this “right” to “… to ingest a drug to end his or her life” with the help of a doctor to only 5 percent or less of the population-that is, those with terminal illnesses.  Why not give this to others who don’t want to live?  The answer is clear.  Doctor prescribed suicide advocates believe some lives are worth saving and fighting for, but not those with a terminal condition.  It’s no wonder why disability rights groups oppose doctor prescribed suicide.  It sounds a loud and clear message that people like them do not have lives worth living.  That is an outrageous bigotry.  Human life is inherently valuable and does not lose its inherent value just because it is approaching its end. 

Doctor prescribed suicide is a direct assault on the sanctity of human life.  These are just some of the tactics supporters will us.  No on SB 336.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Opinion-Credit Bush's Veto For Stem-Cell Find

Here's an op-ed that I wrote back in 2007 for Nevada LIFE in the Reno Gazette Journal.   I'm re-posting it tonight because a Wesley Smith is reporting that a paralyzed man is walking on his own and has sensation in his legs after a non-embryonic stem cell transplant.  Do you remember all the things Harry Reid said about President Bush for not going along with embryonic stem cell supporters like Harry Reid.  It's obvious who between the two is the bigger man.

Opinion-Credit Bush's Veto For Stem-Cell Find

Don Nelson
 Reno Gazette Journal
 December 4, 2007

The news that scientists were able to reprogram skin cells back into embryonic like-(pluripotent) cells and then turn them into each of the body's three cell layers without killing human embryos diminishes, if not ends, the argument for embryonic stem cell research that destroys embryos and the rationale for human cloning.

One secret of embryonic stem cell research is that even if scientists used the embryos available in fertility labs, they would not create the genetic diversity necessary for mass cures. Human cloning (somatic cell nuclear transfer) to create embryos for stem cells was thought to be necessary to overcome the problems of rejection and produce patient specific stem cell matches.

This new discovery can achieve matches without cloning and without destroying human life because it reprograms a person's own cells and bypasses the complicated, expensive and immoral process of cloning.

Now scientists should have stem cells with the properties they said for years that they needed for regenerative medicine. But after years of saying that embryonic stem cell research that destroys human embryos was the only or best option, who would have believed this discovery? President Bush.

When President Bush vetoed an embryonic stem cell bill that would have led to more killing of human embryos, Sen. Harry Reid accused the president of "putting politics ahead of safe, responsible science." He said the veto was a "most un-American thing by turning his back on science." Bush was "putting the politics of his narrow ideology ahead of saving lives," had decided that curing diseases "was not as important as catering to his right-wing base," vetoed the bill "with the health and hope of millions of Americans hanging in the balance," and said "our best scientists continue to work with one hand tied behind their back."

Congressman Edward Markey said the veto would "be remembered as a Luddite moment in American history." Local activists said Bush vetoed hope for sufferers.

But while Reid was trashing the president, the "Luddite-narrow ideology" president was talking about the possibility of this new technology and funding efforts like this by presidential directive when Congress would not.

The president was a visionary leader and believed in the resourcefulness of scientists. He deserves credit for insisting on ethical research. Had he not, more time and resources would have been spent on research that destroys human life, has not worked as scientists had hoped and appears to be ending.

With this discovery, it's time to pass the Brownback-Landrieu cloning ban and ban all human cloning.

This discovery, along with the incredible breakthroughs with non-embryonic stem cell research, is something we can all celebrate. Ethical science is good science.

Don Nelson is president of Nevada LIFE.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Why Pro-Lifers Care About Religious Liberty, Important Religious Liberty Conference Coming To Reno in September.

Religious liberty group LIBERTAS Nevada, in Collaboration with the Nevada Students for Life, the Alliance Defending Freedom and the Thomas More Society are presenting the first annual Nevada Religious Liberty Conference on September 19 at the University of Nevada in Reno. Religious liberty is important to pro-lifers. Our pro-life colleague and Alliance Defending Freedom attorney Jason Guinasso asked me to share a few reasons why. Here are a few reasons why we care about religious liberty.

Why Pro-Lifers Care About Religious Liberty
Important Religious Liberty Conference Coming To Reno in September. 

Why are pro-lifers concerned about religious liberty and conscience rights? Because conscience rights are a tremendous curb on abortion. Abortion advocates say that the right of conscience is so pervasive that access to abortion suffers. 86 percent of American hospitals do not perform abortions and almost all doctors do not provide abortions or refer.
Abortion advocates are facing a situation where abortion is still legal from conception to birth but believe they might be hard pressed to find anyone willing to do them. The number of abortion providers is down by 2/3rds since the 90s and many are past retirement. That's why we've seen attempts to force medical residents to take abortion training to become certified or to be part of a medical program, or to force graduate programs to provide or make provision for abortion training to receive accreditation.
Religious liberty and conscience provisions are effective at reducing access to abortion and thereby lowering the number of abortions.
Second, even though we have some laws to protect against attacks on religious liberty and conscience we feel a sense of urgency right now because there are many efforts to chip away at conscience protections and pro-life medical professionals have felt threatened. The conscience protecting laws that we have  are for the most part yearly amendments or riders to legislation and have to be approved every year.  We've been passing them year after year for many years, but they need to be passed into law and the need is urgent and real.
In 2008, the very pro-life Bush administration passed a rule on conscience protections that created regulations based on these conscience amendments to grant the most liberty possible because, the Bush administration was "concerned about the development of an environment in sectors of the health care field that is intolerant of individual objections to abortion or other individual religious beliefs or moral convictions." The Obama administration revoked the Bush rule in its first year.
What about that intolerant environment? The Christian Medical Association reports that more than 40% of its membership surveyed reported having experienced pressure to violate their convictions, with "physicians . . . losing positions and promotions because of their life-affirming views" and "[r]esidents . . . losing training privileges because they refused to do abortions."
The Bush administration noted that "'In May 2005, the Catholic Medical Association, an organization of Catholic physicians in the United States and Canada, reported 'receiv[ing] numerous reports of pressure and persuasion being exerted on medical students, clerkships, and residents in public and private hospitals to conform to institutional policies and 'accept their share' of duties requiring performance of participation in activities contrary to Catholic ideology.'"
The administration also said "Lawsuits, editorials, and media reports have appeared throughout the United States detailing efforts to require individuals and institutions to provide controversial medicine or services in violation of their conscience and describing instances of discrimination against those who act according to their conscience."
They concluded that "The foregoing examples appear to indicate an increasingly pervasive attitude toward the health care professions-namely, that health care personnel and institutions should be required to violate their consciences by providing or assisting in the provision of controversial medicine or procedures, or else face being blacklisted, excluded from practice, terminated from their jobs, or otherwise subjected to discrimination."
There have been numerous attacks on institutions that we don't have time for, but let us note that in 2008 the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (AKA ACOG) issued a new policy that made certification contingent upon compliance with ACOG ethical principles. In regard to abortion and conscience rights it proposed that its members must mention the possibility of abortion, must refer for it, and if they can't make a timely referral and won't do them they should practice in areas where abortion services can be provided. That policy was revoked under pressure. Don't count on them not trying again.
Third, pro-lifers are also concerned about religious liberty and conscience rights because pro-life doctors would be dehumanized if they are forced to participate against their consciences in an abortion. It would be obscene to force a Catholic doctor or other Christian doctor to perform an abortion after going to early morning mass or bible study to pray and worship before heading to their offices to perform their God given vocation that they believe they have called to and specially gifted for by God in which they exercise every ounce of skill and Christian compassion.
But abortion advocates would do that. When you force pro-life doctors and medical personnel to violate their consciences and participate in killing, you are violating and destroying the doctor. We support religious liberty because we don't want pro-life doctors violated and destroyed.
And the medical industry and public policy advocates should want that too. What good are doctors whose motivation for what they do and their consciences are destroyed? How is the public-especially the poor and elderly-served by this? Many doctors will simply leave medicine instead of doing abortions or prescribing contraception, and many pro-lifers will not go into medicine for the same reason, creating larger shortages.
There's a lot more to write about, but these are some of the reasons pro-lifers are concerned about religious liberty. Please be involved. Please consider attending the Nevada Religious Liberty Conference. Click here to register.  
Don Nelson
Nevada LIFE

Monday, April 7, 2014

Embryonic Stem Cell Research and Cloning are Unethical and Unnecessary

Many scientists and politicians have proposed for years that the United States taxpayer pay to create a supply of human embryos-tiny human beings in the earliest stages of life, for research. This research, called embryonic stem cell research, would require creating human beings only to kill them for their cells to be used in research.  Researchers believe that if they could take these embryonic stem cells they could turn them into any kind of cell in the body and use them to repair and regenerate tissue and cure diseases.

This Monday April 7 Nevada Right to Life speaks with Dr. David Prentice. Dr. Prentice has been a professor of life sciences at Indiana State University, professor at University of Indiana Medical School and was a key contributor to President George W. Bush’s Council on bio-ethics.  Dr. Prentice has been a leading opponent of embryonic stem cell research and cloning and a proponent of ethical (adult) stem cell research that does not require taking of human life.

One secret of embryonic stem cell research is that even if scientists used all the embryos available in fertility labs, this would not create the genetic diversity necessary for mass cures. These researchers believed that man cloning (somatic cell nuclear transfer) to create embryos for stem cells was necessary to overcome the problem of rejection and produce patient specific stem cell matches.  That is, a sufferer would be cloned and his clone would be killed to use the clone’s stem cells as therapy.  Others want to clone to birth a child.

Nevada Right to Life and the pro-life movement have opposed embryonic stem cell research and human cloning-for “therapy” or for “reproduction” (all cloning is reproductive) because it is unethical.  It requires the destruction of human lives and reduces human beings to raw materials and a commodity.  We oppose human strip mines, embryo farms and designer baby factories.

Proponents of embryonic research, with all the polish of faith healers, promised dramatic cures for spinal cord injuries, diabetes, Parkinson's, cancer, heart disease, multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer’s and more.  There hasn’t been a therapy or cure involving embryonic stem cell research despite over two decades of animal and human research and billions of dollars spent.

But nonembryonic (or adult) stem cell research using stem cells from umbilical cord blood, a person's own stem cells and other sources is flourishing and has produced over 70 successes and tens of thousands of people benefit from it every year.  There are well over 1,000 trials and it does not require embryo destruction nor share its tumor-forming tendencies.

Right now, treatments for spinal cord injuries, diabetes, Parkinson's, cancer, heart disease, multiple sclerosis, as well as bladder and windpipe replacement, have happened or are advancing with nonembryonic/adult stem cell research. Some of these are treatments for the very ailments promised by embryonic stem cell supporters.

Please join us for our conversation with Dr. David Prentice Monday April 7 on KXTO 1550 AM to discuss the ethics and dangers of embryonic stem cell research, the “political science,” Orwellian language, the impact that other ethical stem cell research is providing today as well as new attempts at human cloning announced last month in Oregon. 


National Right to Life (Wesley Smith) Cloning Doubletalk

Listen to the Nevada Right to Life Show 1550 AM KXTO Mondays at 1 PM and Saturdays at 2PM.  Click here to listen on line.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Hobby Lobby Case, Religious Freedom Have Pro-Life, Abortion Implications.

Just this week the Supreme Court of the United States heard arguments in the Hobby Lobby case as to whether or not the federal government can force a for profit company or corporation to provide certain drugs through their health care plans that can cause an early abortion (not abortion drug RU 486) even when it violates their religious beliefs. 

This question is extremely important to pro-lifers.  Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts commented during the hearing that if we can force for profit companies to provide pills that can cause early abortions, the state could force doctors, who work for profit, to likewise provide abortions even if doing so would violate their religious beliefs.  If abortion advocates had their way, Catholic doctors coming into the office after attending morning Mass would be required to do abortions.

Nevada Right to Life and the pro-life movement support conscience and religious liberty protections in part because they are tremendous curbs on abortion.  86 percent of American hospitals do not perform abortions and almost all doctors do not provide abortions or refer.  The number of doctors willing to do them is down substantially since the 1990s.  Abortion advocates are facing a situation where abortion could be legal out pregnancy but they may not be able to find many to do them.

This Monday, March 31, the Nevada Right to Life Show spoke with Nevada attorney Jason Guinasso about the Hobby Lobby religious liberty case before the court on KXTO 1550 AM in Reno.  Guinasso and his wife Kim are past recipients of the Nevada Pro-Life League Heroes of Life award for successfully and courageously representing the parents of a mentally handicapped woman who faced a court ordered abortion in Reno a little over a year ago.  Mr. Guinasso is also an attorney with the Alliance Defending Life and has been a driving force behind legislation to protect religious liberty in Nevada.

Abortion advocates have been working desperately to force doctors, facilities and insurers to provide and pay for abortions and they have opposed conscience protections for these people and entities.  Abortion advocates say the right of conscience is so pervasive that access to abortion suffers.  Forcing companies to provide drugs that can cause an abortion is just a first step to compelling others to participate in abortion. 

The Hobby Lobby case pending before the Supreme Court of the United States has wide implications for pro-lifers.  Join us for our conversation with attorney Jason Guinasso to talk about the issues in the Hobby Lobby case, the threat to religious liberty and how it could impact pro-lifers and the pro-life movement.  Please join us this Saturday for the replay of this timely show at 2 PM on KTXO 1550 AM in Reno.
Listen to the Nevada Right to Life Show 1550 AM KXTO Mondays at 1 PM and Saturdays at 2PM.  

Monday, March 24, 2014

Dramatic Reduction in Abortion Rates, Numbers, Ratios Shows Ongoing Massive Pro-life Cultural Shift On Abortion

A report earlier this year from the pro-abortion Alan Guttmacher Institute indicates an ongoing, massive cultural shift in America in regards to abortion as dramatically decreasing abortion numbers reflect polling data showing that pro-life is the “new normal” on abortion.  Guttmacher reports a 13 percent decrease in the abortion rate from 2008-2013.  The abortion rate, the number of women per 1000 aborting between the ages of 16-44, has dropped 42 percent to 16.9 per 1000 after peaking at 29.3 in 1981.  The abortion rate is now the lowest since 1973, the year Roe v. Wade struck down abortion laws in all 50 states and made abortion legal throughout pregnancy. 

That’s not all.  The number of abortions keeps falling.  Guttmacher reports 1.05 million abortions for 2011 or 550,000 abortions a year fewer than 1990 when abortions peaked at 1.6 million per year.  This represents a more than one-third drop in the yearly number of abortions since 1990 while the American population has increased by 25 percent.  Minorities account for more than 60 percent of all abortions.
Then there’s the abortion ratio, the ratio of pregnancies ending in abortion compared to live births.  The CDC reported in 2008 that “The ratio peaked at 364 per 1,000 (36.4 percent) in 1984 and since then has demonstrated a generally steady decline.”  It’s now 21.2 percent. This number is important because it tells us that fewer and fewer pregnant women are choosing abortion instead of birth.
This Monday March 24rd at 1 PM Nevada Right to Life will speak with Dr. Randall O’Bannon on 1550 AM KXTO in Reno on the Nevada Right to Life show about these numbers. Click here to listen.  Dr. O’Bannon is National Right to Life’s Director of Education & Research and a leading pro-life analyst.

The dramatic reduction of the number of abortions, the abortion rate and the abortion ratio fits with changing attitudes.  The most recent Gallup poll in May 2013 found that a plurality–48%–identified themselves as “pro-life.” 45% identified as “pro-choice.” But this question doesn’t tell the whole story as to what Americans think about abortion.
The same Gallup poll asked respondents: “Do you think abortion should be 1) illegal in all circumstances; 2) legal in only a few circumstances; 3) legal under most circumstances; or 4) legal under any circumstances.”  39% agree that abortion should be legal under any or most circumstances.  58% believe abortion should not be legal in any or just a few circumstances.
The dramatic abortion numbers and polling data indicate an ongoing massive cultural change on abortion that foreshadows the end of abortion on demand in the United States.  Join us this Monday on the Nevada Right to Life show for our conversation with Dr. Randall O’Bannon on these important numbers this Monday, March 24th at 1 PM on KXTO 1550 AM in Reno and Saturday at 2 PM.
National Right to Life: The State of Abortion in the United States (January 2014)
Listen to the Nevada Right to Life Show 1550 AM KXTO Mondays at 1 PM and Saturdays at 2PM.  Click here to listen on line.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Ending The Life Of Sufferers Not The Answer To Suffering

There's a sign and a phone box on the Foresthill Bridge which towers 730 feet over the North Fork of the American River just above Auburn.  The sign says “Crisis counseling.  There is hope.  Make the call. 1. Open the box. 2 Lift the handset. 3. Push the button.”  Why is that box there?  Because many people have jumped from the Foresthill bridge to their deaths.  It’s there because we believe that something immeasurably valuable would be lost to them and to us if they were to succeed in killing themselves.

Nevada Right to Life and the pro-life movement believe that every human life is worth living and that something precious and valuable is lost when people commit suicide.  That’s one reason Nevada Right to Life will be opposing a physician assisted suicide bill that NV Senator David Parks has announced he plans to introduce in the Nevada Legislature next year.  Parks says the bill “allows patients with a projected life expectancy of six months to request a prescription for self-ingested medication to end life.” Parks also says it is expected to be modeled after Oregon’s physician assisted suicide bill.

While there are massive efforts to prevent suicide and give suicidal people hope across America, there are many who believe the compassionate thing to do for people with certain conditions is to allow them to have the assistance of a physician to kill themselves.  Instead of trying to talk them out of killing themselves, when they hear people living with or suffering under certain conditions say they are considering suicide, they instead want to make sure that they are serious and know what they are doing.  But ending the life of the sufferer is not the answer to suffering.

This Monday March 17th at 1 PM Nevada Right to Life speaks with assisted suicide expert Brian Johnston on 1550 AM KXTO in Reno on the Nevada Right to Life show. Johnston is the Executive Director of the California Pro-Life Council and the author of “Death as a Salesman-What’s wrong with assisted suicide.”  Brian and the CA Pro-life Council have been coalition leaders to prevent assisted suicide from becoming law in CA three times.  We’ll talk with Johnston about what is wrong with assisted suicide and the dangers of the Oregon law Parks would model his legislation after.

At a recent public meeting, Nevada Right to Life President Melissa Clement and I noted that the disability community opposes assisted suicide.  That’s because it makes targets out of them.  When society agrees that certain conditions should allow certain people to kill themselves, it is not a long step to thinking that people with those conditions would be better off dead or extending their lives is not worthwhile.  Join us for our conversation with Brian Johnston Monday March 17th 2 1PM on KXTO 1150 AM in Reno and on Saturday at 2 PM.

National Right to Life: Why So-Called Safeguards Don’t Work: Physician Assisted Suicide
National Right to Life: What We Have Learned from Oregon

Listen to the Nevada Right to Life Show 1550 AM KXTO Mondays at 1 PM and Saturdays at 2PM.  Click here to listen on line.