CMDA's The Point

How CMDA Made an Impact in Washington in 2019

January 2, 2020
Photo: Pexels

by Jonathan Imbody

Since CMDA opened its Washington, D.C. federal public policy ministry office in 2000, God has opened doors for influence that have far exceeded all that we could ask or imagine. The following few highlights of last year (organized by months, with the most recent first) illustrate how God is using this ministry to advance kingdom values in our government.

 

December 2019: Planning legislative strategy

CMDA participated in a legislative strategy summit, which was led by U.S. House of Representatives Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and included Rep. Vicky Hartzler and other leading pro-life members of Congress. We prioritized legislation to pursue in 2020, debated the merits and dangers of bills and discussed effective messages to help advance pro-life, pro-religious freedom legislation and administration policies.

 

November 2019: Fighting in the courts

American Academy of Medical Ethics (a DBA of CMDA) agreed to participate in an amicus curiae (friend of the court) brief in an abortion clinic regulation case, June Medical Center v. Gee, represented by the American Center for Law and Justice. The case deals with a Louisiana law requiring physicians that perform abortions must have active admitting privileges at a local hospital.

 

In another federal court case, Becket, one of the nation’s premier religious freedom law firms, is representing CMDA OB/Gyn member Dr. Regina Frost as we intervene alongside the federal government to protect the new conscience protection rule by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). A federal judge ruled last month against the government and CMDA, but we aim to appeal this important case.

 

Meanwhile, Becket’s representation of CMDA in yet another federal court case, opposing the previous administration’s HHS transgender mandate, resulted in a victory. The court ruling comes after eight states, CMDA and a Catholic hospital system challenged a federal regulation that requires doctors to perform gender transition procedures on children, even if the doctor believes the treatment could harm the child or objects on ethical grounds. This victory now protects doctors, who follow the Hippocratic Oath to act in the best interest of their patient, from severe consequences, including losing their jobs. Read the news release here and learn more at www.freedom2care.org/laws-regs-cases. A listing and brief description of all CMDA court cases can be found on this webpage.  

 

October 2019: Advocating for biology over ideology

CMDA delivered remarks at the U.S. Supreme Court in support of an Alliance Defending Freedom court case that will likely determine whether the legal definition of “sex discrimination” includes ideological transgender issues rather than the traditional biological definition arguably adopted by Congress. A bomb scare postponed our remarks, and LGBT protestors confronted speakers with bullhorns and chants. As I noted in my remarks, “The genius of our nation’s constitutional protection of individual rights and freedom is not only that the minority is protected from the tyranny of the majority, but also that the majority is protected from the tyranny of the minority.” Read full remarks here.

 

September 2019: Taking our polling to the nation’s leaders

Along with a CMDA OB/Gyn member, who related her personal experiences regarding conscience issues, I made four presentations on our newly released national polling of faith-based health professionals’ opinions on conscience issues:

  • At the White House, to the President’s Domestic Policy Council and other presidential advisors;
  • At the U.S. Capitol, to Congressional staffers;
  • At the U.S. House of Representatives, to legislators and staffers;
  • At the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services (HHS), to agency officials.

 

August 2019: Releasing our nationwide conscience polling

CMDA provided the White House, HHS and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) with the first results of our new professional survey of faith-based healthcare professionals on issues of conscience, gender and the law. Our polling found that:

  1. Faith-based healthcare professionals need conscience protections to ensure their continued medical practice.
  2. Conscience-driven healthcare professionals care for all patients.
  3. Religious professionals overwhelmingly support a biological—not ideological—definition of sex.
  4. Religious healthcare professionals face rampant discrimination.
  5. Access for poor and medically under-served patient populations depends on conscience protections.

Read poll details at www.freedom2care.org/polling.

 

July 2019: Advancing international religious freedom

CMDA attended a first-ever Ministerial to Advance International Religious Freedom held at the U.S. Department of State. The ministerial gathered diplomats from around the world, victims of religious persecution and leaders of non-governmental agencies working to advance international religious freedom. I also attended a related Senate briefing, hosted by Sen. James Lankford, featuring victims of international religious persecution. I regularly attend the International Religious Freedom Roundtable meeting, chaired by Ambassador Sam Brownback, which develops strategies for advancing religious freedom and also helps prepare for the ministerial.

 

June 2019: Binding human tissue research to ethics

We issued a news release, “Christian Medical Association applauds administration move to bind human tissue research to ethical considerations,” to support a new HHS policy.

The news release noted, “This combination of adhering to life-honoring ethical standards while also aggressively pursuing and investing in scientific innovation is the best path to solid advances in medicine that every American can support and many patients can embrace for healing.”

 

May 2019: Supporting a new HHS conscience protection rule

HHS issued a new rule to protect conscience freedom in healthcare. HHS cited CMDA’s 2009 polling eight times in its rule explanation, using our survey of faith-based physicians as a key point to explain why the rule was needed. Mainstream medical groups like the American Medical Association and American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists opposed the rule. This rule will greatly benefit our members and other healthcare professionals of faith convictions.

 

April 2019: Advocating for the unborn

CMDA attended a press conference, luncheon and U.S. House of Representatives gallery event as a guest of Minority Whip Rep. Steve Scalise in support of the Born-Alive Infant Protection Act. The bill would ban infanticide and mandate care for infants who survive an abortion.

 

March 2019: Advancing civil rights in healthcare

CMDA met with top leaders of HHS, including Director of the Office of Civil Rights Roger Severino, the director of the new Conscience and Religious Freedom division, attorneys and communications officials. We discussed the conscience rule, campus groups’ freedom and other issues.

 

February 2019: Opening doors for international faith-based healthcare

CMDA met with USAID Administrator Mark Green and other USAID officials to discuss faith-based organizations’ participation in a new tuberculosis treatment grant program that will be used as a pilot program for new ways of USAID working with faith-based organizations. Officials were very receptive to the input of faith-based organizations and appear ready to level the playing field for faith-based groups to compete fairly to partner with USAID in grant programs.

 

January 2019: Pursuing the eradication of HIV-AIDS

CMDA participated in a two-day U.S. Department of State summit for faith leaders on the PEPFAR HIV-AIDS program. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo delivered remarks (video here) to our group of about 80, and USAID Administrator also spoke (video here) from a faith perspective. In her closing remarks, US AIDS Ambassador Deborah Birx held up and highlighted our medical missions survey to emphasize the work the U.S. government needs to do to reach out to the faith community.

 

Our health professional survey of respondents serving in more than 50 countries and representing over 100 organizations found that:

  1. FBO healthcare professionals perceive significant barriers to grants.
  2. FBO healthcare professionals eagerly seek grants training.
  3. USG reps overseas seldom communicate with FBOs.
  4. FBO healthcare professionals feel ambivalent about USG impact in their countries.
  5. FBOs want to build relationships with USG officials.
Jonathan Imbody

About Jonathan Imbody

Jonathan serves as Vice President for Government Relations with CMDA and directs the Christian Medical Association's Washington Office. As CMA's liaison with the federal government, he has participated in over 30 White House meetings and events and makes over 200 personal contacts with Congressional leaders and government officials each year. Jonathan testified on euthanasia and assisted suicide before a U.S. Senate committee. A veteran writer of more than 30 years, Jonathan authored Faith Steps, which encourages and equips Christians to engage in public policy issues. He has published more than 100 commentaries in The Washington Post, USA Today, New York Times, Los Angeles Times, San Francisco Chronicle, Chicago Sun-Times and many other national publications. World magazine featured his essay summarizing the major medical accomplishments and challenges of the past millennium. He has also written numerous magazine articles, marketing materials and educational curricula. Jonathan's writing focuses on public policy issues including freedom of faith, conscience and speech; human trafficking; abortion; assisted suicide; stem cell research; the role of faith in health; international health; healthcare policy; sexual risk avoidance and HIV/AIDS. His on-site research on euthanasia in the Netherlands formed the basis for the No Mercy video and a presentation at an international conference in The Hague. Jonathan received his bachelor's degree in journalism and speech communications from the Pennsylvania State University, a master's degree from Penn State in counseling and education and a certificate in biblical and theological studies from the Alliance Theological Seminary in New York. Jonathan's wife Amy is an author and leads the Redemptive Education movement. They have four children and four grandchildren.

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