Rep. Andy Harris on Pro-Life Legislation

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I received the following email from Andy Harris today in response to a message I sent to him about HR 36. It’s a good reminder of he pro-life legislation he has co-sponsored while in Congress.

The letter:

February 5, 2015

Dear Mr. Quinton,

Thank you for contacting me regarding your support for H.R. 36, Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act. I am happy to let you know that I am a cosponsor of this bill, and as such will fight for its passage in any way I can.

As you may know, this bill would prohibit late-term abortions past 20 weeks after conception. Recent medical research has shown that unborn children at this stage in development have pain receptors throughout the body linked to the thalamus and subcortical plate, react to painful stimuli by recoiling, and exhibit the stress response through sharp increases in stress hormones. An abortion at this point, therefore, would cause extreme pain to the child.

While the House had expected to pass H.R. 36 in mid-January 2015, there was last-minute controversy over the rape reporting requirements contained in the bill that have momentarily stalled its progress through the House. I am confident that these issues can be resolved, and I remain committed passing H.R. 36 and enacting the 20 week ban on abortions. The U.S. is one of only seven countries including North Korea and China that allow elective abortions after 20 weeks. H.R. 36 would change this unsettling fact and help restore dignity to all human beings—including the unborn.

You may also be interested to know that, since being elected to the U.S. House of Representatives, I have cosponsored a number of other pro-life bills, including;

H.R. 374, the Life at Conception Act – declares that the right to life guaranteed by the Constitution is vested in each human being at the moment of conception.

H.R. 217, the Title X Abortion Provider Prohibition – ensures tax dollars are not used to fund abortion providers like Planned Parenthood Federation of America.

H.R. 358, the Protect Life Act – ensures money from the President’s health care law doesn’t fund abortions or health insurance covering abortions.

H.R. 361, the Abortion Non-Discrimination Act – ensures no health care facility could be denied funding based on their refusal to participate in abortion-related activities.

H.R. 1179, the Respect for Rights of Conscience Act – amends the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, seeking to permit a health plan to decline coverage of specific items and services that are contrary to the religious beliefs of the sponsor, issues, or other entity offering the plan or the purchaser or beneficiary without penalty.

As the 114th Congress addresses the many challenges facing our nation, I hope you will continue to share your suggestions. For the fastest and most cost-effective response, please contact me via email. To keep up with my work in Congress, visit my website at harris.house.gov and sign up to receive updates at harris.house.gov/contact-me/newsletter.

Sincerely,

Andy Harris M.D.
Member of Congress

It’s a shame that, unlike Harris and other pro-life members who never wavered, others in the Republican party lacked the spine to do what they promised – especially in light of polling that shows 84% of Americans (and 69% of people who identify themselves as “pro-choice”) support significant restrictions on abortion past the first 3 months (i.e. banning abortion with exceptions that are the norm in most legislation restricting abortion it seems.)

Catholics and the MMR Vaccine

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The measles outbreak in the Southwest and on the West Coast has been getting a lot of attention from bloggers and others lately. I had not planned on writing about it until this weekend. I’m pro-vaccines generally and pro-science. A National Catholic Register piece from early this past week confirmed my thinking about the MMR vaccine, even in light of an issue some pro-lifers have with it.

Jill Stanek wrote about what Judie Brown and American Life League said about it:

Forget illegals, anti-vaxxers or Jenny McCarthy: A Washington, D.C.-based right-to-life group is blaming abortion for the spread of measles across the country by people who were at the Disney Resort in Anaheim in mid-December.

Specifically, it’s the decision by pharmaceutical company Merck to make available an “ethical” vaccine for the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) virus. Since 2008, Merck’s MMR II live virus vaccine has been in use–and since that time families opposed to abortion have declined MMR II vaccinations because it was “created from aborted fetal cell lines,” explains the American Life League.

The American Life League, which bills itself as the “oldest national Catholic pro-life education and advocacy organization in the United States,” has been calling on Merck to bring back the “ethical single-dose vaccine” for families who eschew MMR II on moral grounds.

“Merck is denying parents the choice of obtaining an ethical measles vaccine,” stated Judie Brown, the president and co-founder of American Life League. “According to Children of God for Life, outbreaks of measles, such as at the California Disney parks, have been on the increase ever since Merck discontinued the ethical single-dose vaccine in 2008.”

Brown’s comments caused Stanek to say this:

I confess I’m kind of glad I vaccinated my kids when I was naive. I now have two problems with vaccines, the aborted fetal cell component, and the chance that fetal cells in vaccines may cause autism. I’m relieved I don’t have to make the decision about this.

Stanek asked her readers what they thought. My response would be to discuss what other Catholic groups had to say about it.

A member of the Catholic Medical Association weighed in with the Register:

Dr. Paul Cieslak is a Catholic parent of six who has overseen the Acute and Communicable Disease Prevention section in the Public Health Division of the Oregon Department of Human Services (DHS) since 1995. He is also a member of the Catholic Medical Association, an organization committed to upholding the teachings of the Catholic Church while advancing the profession of medicine.

According to Cieslak, opposition to vaccines largely comes from misinformation regarding side effects.

“It is true that, occasionally, you can get a nasty side effect from a vaccine, as from any medicine,” he told CNA. “That said, the vaccines are very safe: Tens or hundreds of millions of doses of this thing have been given with very little problem.”

More information from the Pontifical Academy for Life and the National Catholic Bioethics Center (emphasis added):

The NCBC, along with the Pontifical Academy for Life, have studied the moral issues surrounding vaccines and have determined that it is morally licit, and even morally responsible, for Catholics to use even those vaccines developed from aborted fetus cells.

“There’s a whole formula for examining these dilemmas in terms of what we call cooperation in evil, and there are certain things that are always wrong, and there are certain things that are tolerable,” Hilliard told CNA.

The Pontifical Academy for Life determined that the good of public health outweighs the distanced cooperation in the evil of the abortions performed in the 1960s from which the cell lines were developed. No new abortions have been performed to maintain these vaccines, and no cells from the victims of the abortions are contained in the vaccines.

Currently, the vaccine lines for rubella, chicken pox and hepatitis A are the remaining vaccines that have been developed from aborted fetal cells and for which there is no alternative available.

“One is morally free to use the vaccine regardless of its historical association with abortion,” reads a document from the NCBC based on the findings from the Pontifical Academy for Life. “The reason is that the risk to public health, if one chooses not to vaccinate, outweighs the legitimate concern about the origins of the vaccine. This is especially important for parents, who have a moral obligation to protect the life and health of their children and those around them.

Also from the article:

The document goes on to say that Catholics should express their opposition to vaccines developed from aborted cells and that there is an obligation to use alternative vaccines, should they exist.

There is no alternative vaccine now. Our daughter received all of the appropriate MMR vaccines so far and every other one as well. Parents have the choice on vaccinating their children, but the rest of us have the right to disagree and criticize those who do not.

Think tank endorses Quinton Report proposal for Hogan admin

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On November 6, 2014, I wrote that “Larry Hogan should do this on Day 1“:

When Larry Hogan becomes governor these O’Malley signs should come down and not be replaced with Hogan ones. The production and installation of these signs might be a small number relative to the overall state budget, but the symbolism is important. It would be further proof of Hogan’s commitment to efficient stewardship of the taxes paid by the hard-working people of Maryland.

I wrote it when I did to make sure that it was seen by Hogan’s transition team in time to forestall any eager bureaucrat in the State Highway Administration from ordering the signs in advance if the incoming governor wanted to make this move.

Months later and just days from Hogan’s inauguration, Thomas Firey of the Maryland Public Policy Institute wrote this on January 15:

Many broad, difficult policy decisions will lie ahead of Larry Hogan when he is inaugurated next week as Maryland’s 62nd governor. But one small, simple action that he could take immediately would have large symbolic value: instruct the State Highway Administration and other agencies to remove and recycle the current “Martin O’Malley, Governor” placards from Maryland’s roadway “Welcome” signs and not replace them.

The placards are of no importance to travelers; I want to know when I cross a state line, but I can’t imagine ever needing to know who the state’s governor is. The cost savings from not changing the placards would be relatively small—perhaps a few hundred dollars per sign—but it’s senseless for Maryland to spend transportation funds on such irrelevant information.

The MPPI’s tag line on their site is “New Ideas to Better the Old Line State” and I appreciate them endorsing my new idea (and I would have appreciated a link or mention as well.)

As I mentioned in November, this idea has been germinating in my mind since O’Malley first took office in 2007 and the media reports mentioned that the signs were swapped out simultaneously with his oath of office, as I recall. It fits in squarely with what Hogan ran on, in my opinion, and it would help set the tone for his administration right from the beginning. Hopefully, it’s something that happens and I hope that bringing it up in November helped start the ball rolling if it does happen. The endorsement by Firey and MPPI would help give the idea further credibility as we head to next week’s inauguration.

Vatican: Pope’s remarks “distorted”

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Father Thomas Rosica, Vatican spokesman, issued this statement:

The Pope’s expression is in no way intended to be interpreted as a justification for the violence and terror that took place in Paris last week. The Pope’s words about Dr. Gasbarri were spoken colloquially and in a friendly, intimate matter among colleagues and friends on the journey. His words mean that there are limits to humor and satire particularly in the ways that we speak about matters of faith and belief. Pope Francis’ response might be similar to something each of us has felt when those dearest to us are insulted or harmed. The Pope’s free style of speech, especially in situations like the press conference must be taken at face value and not distorted or manipulated. The Pope has spoken out clearly against the terror and violence that occurred in Paris and in other parts of the world. Violence begets violence. Pope Francis has not advocated violence with his words on the flight.

Aleteia published the statement along with the context – that Dr. Gasbarri was a papal staffer who the Pope joked he would punch in the nose if Gasbarri said anything about his mother. Additionally, the Aleteia article publishes a statement by the Coptic pope and a bishop.

The article also notes that Charlie Hebdo staffers say they don’t want support from Catholics:

What made us laugh the most is that the bells of Notre Dame rang in our honor. We would like to send a message to Pope Francis…: We will only accept the bells of Notre Dame ringing in our honor when it is Femen who make them ring.

This wasn’t the first time nor will it be the last that the current Pope has his words distorted, taken out of context, or mis-translated by those in the media or other groups eager to cast him in light if their own views or biases.

Junipero Serra to be canonized during papal visit to US

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Catholic News Agency:

In a surprise addition to his fall 2015 trip to the U.S., Pope Francis is planning to canonize the founder of California’s first missions, Bl. Junipero Serra.

“In September, God willing, I will canonize Junipero Serra in the United States,” declared Pope Francis aboard Sri Lankan Air Flight UL4111 on the way to Manila.

Bl. Serra, a Franciscan priest, lived in what is now California in the 1700s. A Spanish-born missionary, he founded the first nine of 21 eventual missions in California. He worked tirelessly with the Native Americans, and is said to have baptized more than 6,000 people, and confirmed 5,000.

“He was the evangelizer of the west in the United States,” Pope Francis beamed.

Bl. Serra’s canonization will be the latest in a systematic action from Pope Francis to give a boost to evangelization efforts throughout the world.

Serra will be the latest “equipollent” canonization – meaning no miracle was verified and the normal process was waived so that the Pope could declare him to be a saint.

Pope Francis will be in Philadelphia for the World Meeting of Families in September and may also be visiting Washington and New York. It is not known where the canonization would take place, but Serra is entombed at Mission San Carlos Borroméo del río Carmelo in Carmel-by-the-Sea in California (Clint Eastwood was the town’s mayor at one point.)

During the American Revolution, Serra had a collection taken up in mission parishes and sent those funds to General George Washington.

Allegations by some that he mistreated native Americans were dismissed as unfounded during his beatification process. in fact, the truth was reported to be be very different:

Dr. Iris Engstrand, professor and chair of the Department of History at the University of San Diego, described him as “much nicer to the Indians, really, than even to the governors. He didn’t get along too well with some of the military people, you know. His attitude was, ‘Stay away from the Indians.’ I think you really come up with a benevolent, hard-working person who was strict in a lot of his doctrinal leanings and things like that, but not a person who was enslaving Indians, or beating them, ever….He was a very caring person and forgiving. Even after the burning of the mission in San Diego, he did not want those Indians punished. He wanted to be sure that they were treated fairly…”

Sabato: Ehrlich is a 7th Tier Candidate for 2016

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Larry Sabato published his ratings for 2016 Republican candidates before the latest round of Mitt Romney buzz. That latest bit of momentum for Romney wouldn’t change things at the bottom of the rankings, where we find former Maryland Governor Bob Ehrlich.

Ehrlich is at the bottom of the seventh tier, behind George Pataki and Peter King. Sabato’s description of that tier is, “Newt Gingrich Society — ‘Want to buy a book?'”

Here’s Sabato’s snarky listing for Ehrlich’s key primary advantages:

•**Crickets**
— e-mail us if you can think of one

Sabato also lists key primary disadvantages:

•Lost twice to…Martin O’Malley
•Time has passed him by: “Bob Who?”
•No grassroots support

In all, there are twenty candidates ranked higher than Ehrlich. I think Sabato is on to something re: Ehrlich with the book sales strategy. Ehrlich also may be desperately trying to cling to relevance now that he’s no longer the last Republican to win a statewide election in Maryland (especially after he predicted he would be the last Republican elected governor of Maryland.) of course, jetting away to New Hampshire and Iowa is a bit more glamorous than headlining fundraisers for Pat McDonough.

If both Ehrlich and Governor Martin O’Malley continue with plans for their 2016 bids, Maryland will have the dubious distinction of having a former governor flame out and sink to the bottom in both the Republican and Democratic primaries.

MD GOP responds to claims about Boehner, Bongino, NRCC funding

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Earlier this week, I noted a Breitbart Texas story on Louie Gohmert’s challenge to John Boehner that made the claim that congressional candidate Dan Bongino was denied funding from the National Republican Congressional Committee and other national Republicans because he was expected to not support John Boehner for speaker if elected. I made it clear that it was a report from another website and that “if true” it is damning.

I was contacted by MD GOP officials (and not the NRCC or RNC) who disagreed. Joe Cluster, Executive Director of the Maryland Republican Party, gave me the following statement:

First, the RNC gave money to the State Party that was spent on his campaign and second the State Party held a joint fundraiser with him to try and help raise him money. I wish the NRCC and the RNC would have invested more in this race, but they never had this race or the Governor’s race on their radar. They did not invest in Maryland until the last minute because the numbers were not there until late in the game at which time they had little resources to offer. Dan was a great candidate and ran a great campaign – unfortunately the MDGOP did not have the resources to invest heavily – but out of the $90k we got last minute from the RNC, $40k was spent in get out the vote efforts in the 6th congressional district. FYI: Alex Mooney openly talked about not supporting the speaker when he was running but that didn’t stop the NRCC, the RNC, and the speaker from investing in his campaign. Why? Because that was a seat they had on their list to invest in. Unfortunately the 6th district in MD was thought un-winnable by the DC crowd. Criticize them for that but not this.

I have left a message for Bongino in hopes of getting his comment on this matter. Earlier in the week he tweeted this linking to the original Breitbart piece by Sarah Rumpf:

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Then yesterday he retweeted a tweet by @anthropocon that linked to my story:
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