The big news of the weekend is that COVID-19 hit the White House. Fortunately, the President has minimal symptoms and is recovering at Walter Reed. So far, Senate leadership says that Judge Barrett’s confirmation hearing will still begin on October 12 but mould be partially remote.  

The big question is, will the next presidential debate be on Zoom? Will the moderator exercise the mute button? 2020 is truly a year of firsts. 

Joking aside, we keep every person and every family who has suffered during this pandemic in our thoughts and prayers.  

In Congress, lawmakers in both parties are responding to whistleblower allegations that a doctor contracted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) performed hysterectomies on detainees against their will. The Intercept was first to report these claims last month, and we are glad that multiple independent government agencies are investigating.  

Catherine Glenn Foster, President & CEO of Americans United for Life, responded to the allegations, saying:  

“Troubling allegations such as these should powerfully focus our national attention toward the vital need for full informed consent for all patients. Informed consent serves as the backbone of a legitimate and humane healthcare system. Patients must be certain that they will be provided true, comprehensive, and straightforward information about medical interventions. No one should ever be subjected to a medical procedure to which they have not explicitly consented.” 

House Democrats introduced H.Res. 1153 — “Condemning unwanted, unnecessary medical procedures on individuals without their full, informed consent,” a non-binding resolution calling on the Department of Homeland Security to pause removal of the women involved and investigate the claims. 

Congressman Smith (NJ-04), longtime Pro-Life Caucus Chairman, introduced H.R. 8498 — a piece of legislation called the “Informed Consent Act” alongside co-leads Reps. Virginia Foxx (NC-05) and Jackie Walorski (IN-02).  

H.R. 8498 would prohibit the intentional forced abortion or sterilization of a woman without full informed consent. It imposes a penalty of up to 10 years in prison and/or a fine, and would apply against officers, employees, or contractors (like the ICE facility in Georgia) receiving federal funding. It does provide an exception in emergency situations where a woman is unable to consent and the surgery is necessary to save her life.  

One of the most egregious claims made in the whistleblower report is that women were being operated on without ever having the procedure or its risks explained in their native language. How can anyone give informed consent when they are given critical, life-altering information in a language they barely speak? This is the absolute starting point of what is necessary to ensure free, authentic informed consent.

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