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All articles found in the archive are more than three years old.


The purpose of this blog is to stimulate thought and discussion about important issues in healthcare. Opinions expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily express the views of CMDA. We encourage you to join the conversation on our website and share your experience, insight and expertise. CMDA has a rigorous and representative process in formulating official positions, which are largely limited to bioethical areas.

CMA Submits Congressional Testimony on Health Care Law

January 22, 2014

by David Stevens, MD, MA (Ethics)

Excerpted from written testimony by the Christian Medical Association submitted to the United States House of Representatives, House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, Subcommittee on Health Care, District of Columbia, Census and the National Archives. The Subcommittee held a hearing July 10, 2012, “The Affordable Care Act (ACA): Impact on Doctors and Patients.”

The ACA’s weakening of conscience rights threatens to accelerate looming physician shortages and result in loss of access for millions of patients:

  • Currently, 65 million people lack adequate access to primary care physicians.i
  • Fifty medical studies have projected critical shortages of physicians.ii
  • The American Association of Medical Colleges concludes, “If physician supply and use patterns stay the same, the United States will experience a shortage of 124,000 full-time physicians by 2025.” iii
  • Millions of patients, notably the poor and those in medically underserved regions, depend for care on religious health care institutions and professionals whose faith and conscience compel their service. Faith-based health care depends on protections against discrimination for upholding life-affirming ethical standards. Absent conscience protection, nine of ten faith-based physicians say they would be forced to leave medicine.iv Yet the Obama administration eviscerated the only federal regulation that protected the exercise of conscience in health care, and partisans in the last Congress shot down amendments to protect conscience in the ACA.
  • The HHS contraceptive mandate illustrates how an administration can use the ACA to weaken conscience rights and ignore First Amendment freedoms. Besides mandating a massive expenditure without a cost analysis, the mandate also tramples the conscience rights of virtually every patient, physician, employer and insurer who ethically objects to any of the contraceptives included in the mandate, including those which the FDA notes can end the life of a human embryo.
  • Funding for abortion training is not excluded from the Teaching Health Graduate Medical Education (THCGME) program. Without strong conscience protections, such training can become essentially mandatory in practice and can effectively exclude life-affirming OB/Gyn residents from medicine.


CMDA CEO David Stevens, MD, MA (Ethics): “This past week I did a Christian Doctor’s Digest STAT interview with Stewart Harris, who teaches constitutional law at a nearby law school. The interview will be released next month. He is Princeton-trained, articulate and media savvy, since he does a regular regional NPR program on constitutional law. Since the contraceptive mandate has generated more than 20 lawsuits that will likely end up at the Supreme Court, I asked him how he thought the Court might rule.

“He thought since the contraceptive mandate is “generally applicable” in that it applies to everyone except churches that this will likely be the argument made by the government, and it could succeed.

“I commented that the religious exemption clause in the contraceptive mandate is the narrowest one ever written into federal law. If it is not overturned, this could have a profound effect on religious freedom, essentially narrowing our right of freedom of religion to simply a freedom of worship. In other words, we could worship whatever and however we desired but would no longer have the right to exercise our religious beliefs in the public square.

“I then stated as an example, ‘So if the government required all doctors in OB/Gyn or family practice to have abortion training or to provide abortions in their practice and thus the law was generally applicable to all physicians in those specialties, that would be constitutional?’ He responded, ‘I hadn’t thought of it in that way, but the answer could be, ‘Yes.’

I’m not a constitutional lawyer, but I know there are other factors to consider. CMDA partners with a number of legal organizations that are involved in these suits. These attorneys will also argue that the government does not have a compelling interest to force religious groups to effectively subsidize, against their convictions, all contraceptives. They will also argue that the mandate is not the least religiously restrictive way to pursue its goals. There are also laws on the books prohibiting requiring abortion training or other participation in abortion.

“Stewart went on to comment that the interpretation of the Constitution is unfortunately often based on the ‘rule of five’ – whatever you can get five Justices of the court to agree on is considered constitutional. He then commented that this is why it is so important to elect people to office who represent your views on important issues. Not only will they pass laws that don’t abuse religious liberty; they are also some of the ones who will decide who the next Supreme Court Justices will be–and whether those justices will follow the original intent of the Constitution or bend it to suit their own preferences. He expects three Justices to be replaced in the next four years.

“It may seem obvious to us that the First Amendment free exercise of religion clause makes the contraceptive mandate unconstitutional, but others see it in a totally different light. We dare not let ourselves think we are too busy to be involved in this crucial time in the history of our country. This fall we must vote and urge as many others as possible to register to do the same.”

David Stevens, MD, MA (Ethics)

David Stevens, MD, MA (Ethics)

Dr. David Stevens, MD (Ethics), author of Jesus, MD, Beyond Medicine and co-author of Leadership Proverbs and Servant Leadership and serves as CEO Emeritus of the Christian Medical & Dental Associations (CMDA), a national organization of Christian healthcare professionals that seeks to change hearts in healthcare. As untold thousands of people who have heard him preach could attest, Dave Stevens is a gifted storyteller and a powerful Christian communicator with a passion for evangelism and a deep understanding and respect for the integrity of God’s Word.

As the son of an itinerant Methodist evangelist who, like John Wesley himself, truly saw the world as his parish, Dave comes by his speaking skills honestly. He’s honed his talent over the years in an incredible variety of settings. Whether he’s recruiting tribal leaders to provide volunteer support for a community health initiative in rural Kenya, preaching at American mega-church missions conferences, testifying before a panel of Washington politicians on Capitol Hill or challenging an auditorium full of healthcare professionals to better integrate their personal faith with their professional practice, Dave knows how to hook and hold an audience. While always unashamedly Christian in terms of his convictions and values, Dave can hold his own in non-Christian and even decidedly anti-Christian settings. His ability to clearly communicate difficult spiritual truths, foundational biblical values, scientific facts and thorny bioethical issues gives him an authoritative voice to speak out frequently on behalf of the American Christian healthcare community. It’s also enabled him to initiate and lead a program that has trained thousands of Christian healthcare professionals how to use, but not abuse, their authority to be and offer spiritual light and salt in a world where so many patients need more than physical healing.

As a leading, trusted spokesman for Christian healthcare professionals, Dr. Stevens has conducted thousands of media interviews, including JAMA, USA Today, Newsweek, NBC's Today Show, NBC Nightly News, BBC-World Television, CNN and National Public Radio. He has also appeared on FOX Family Channel, PAX-Television, Tech TV, The Odyssey Channel, America's Health Network and many other national outlets. He has written numerous book chapters and magazine articles. Prior to authoring his first book, he wrote a regular health column for the Promise Keepers' New Man magazine and served on the editorial board of Christian Single magazine.

Dr. Stevens is also heard as host of the CMDA Healthwise Public Service Announcements, which address general health and bioethical issues. CMDA members hear him as the host of the popular Christian Doctor’s Digest audio magazine, which has featured national leaders such as Kay Arthur, John Stonestreet, Jim Cymbala, Newt Gingrich and Luis Lugo.

Dr. Stevens holds degrees from Asbury College and the University of Louisville School of Medicine and is board certified in family medicine. He earned a master’s degree in bioethics from Trinity International University in 2002 and has served on the boards of Asbury University and World Gospel Mission. He is a fellow of the Biotechnology Policy Council of the Wilberforce Forum and helped found the National Embryo Donation Center. Dr. Stevens and his wife Jody have a son, Jason, and two daughters, Jessica and Stacy, and 10 grandchildren, all of who are involved in domestic or international healthcare ministry.