2012 Social Justice Award Honoree Announced

JSPAN Newsletter - July 13, 2012
Jewish Social Policy Action Network

In this Issue:
Newsletter: July 13, 2012
JSPAN Announces Its 2012 Social Justice Award Honoree
JSPAN is pleased and proud to announce that Dr. Ernest Kahn will be the recipient of its 2012 Social Justice Award. The Social Justice Award is presented each year to recognize the honoree's contribution to the cause of social justice and Tikkun Olam.

Ernest Kahn, Ph.D., currently serves on the boards and executive committees of several local social service agencies and a day school. Nationally, he is a member of the Committee on Human Services and Social Policy of the Committee on Public Policy and Advocacy. Dr. Kahn has served as associate professor and assistant dean of the School of Social Work and Community Planning of the University of Maryland. He has also served as director of community planning, associate executive vice president and acting executive vice president of the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia. He played a critical role for the JCC's and has been active with JEVS Human Services

Look for a "hold the date" announcement later this summer.


JSPAN Urges Changes to Draft 2012-2016 PA State Plan on Aging
Every four years, the Pennsylvania Department of Aging is required by both state and federal law to develop and submit a "State Plan on Aging" to the U.S. Administration on Aging. The Plan is intended to help structure the Department of Aging's priorities for the next four years. It also is required for Pennsylvania to receive federal funds under the Older Americans Act. Before finalizing the draft plan, the Department provides members of the community throughout the state with the opportunity to provide testimony and submit written comments about the proposed plan. The draft 2012-2016 Pennsylvania State Plan on Aging is available on the Department's website.

On behalf of JSPAN, Richard Malkin, M.D., Chair of JSPAN's Healthcare and Bioethics Policy Center and Deborah Weinstein, Esquire, Chair of JSPAN's Policy Center on Aging, recently submitted written comments to the Pennsylvania Department of Aging concerning its draft 2012-2016 State Plan on Aging. In their comments, they urged the Department to add two key issues impacting older Pennsylvanians to its vision for the future: (1) a comprehensive program to address end-of life planning and decision making and (2) planning for the emergency preparedness needs of older Pennsylvanians.

To review these comments, click here.


JSPAN Issues Statement in Response to Supreme Court Decision Upholding Constitutionality of Affordable Care Act
In response to the Supreme Court's June 27, 2012 decision upholding the constitutionality of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, JSPAN issued the following statement:

"JSPAN is thrilled that the Supreme Court has upheld the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act, most specifically the mandate for individuals to buy health insurance. The reasoning used in Chief Justice Roberts' decision is totally consistent with the argument we presented in our amicus brief- specifically that the mandate and penalty are essentially a tax, which Congress has the constitutional right to impose. This is an important step in providing high quality, affordable health care for all Americans. The ACA, whose implementation depended on the mandate in exchange for the health insurance industry's agreement to stop using pre- existing conditions to deny coverage or make it unaffordable, will now progress to create manifold other changes in the health insurance and health delivery systems. JSPAN will remain vigilant in assuring the implementation of the Act, including the national and state levels.

We will keep our members informed about the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania's acceptance of the ACA's expansion of Medicaid to families earning up to 133% of the poverty level, almost entirely with federal funding, potentially insuring 500,000 more Pennsylvanians, and will monitor the state's establishment of its Health Care Exchange starting in 2014."


Concerns Grow after Abington Health's Partnership with Holy Redeemer Would End Abortions
By Marie McCullough, Inquirer Staff Writer
Philly.com (July 07, 2012)

To allay community concerns that religious rules would trump patients' rights, Abington Health on Friday issued a statement promising that it would continue all reproductive health services except abortion after partnering with Holy Redeemer Health System.

Abington chief executive Laurence M. Merlis has been barraged by vitriolic e-mails, letters, and Facebook posts from clergy, women's groups, professional organizations, and residents since last week, when he announced that in deference to Catholic moral teachings, abortions would no longer be provided at Abington. The promise to continue other reproductive health care will not mollify critics if Rita Poley of Elkins Park - creator of the Stop the Abington Hospital Merger page on Facebook - is any barometer.

"It doesn't address the end-of-life issues," she said, referring to concern that Catholic convictions will alter such choices at Abington. "And as long as they continue to refuse to perform abortions, it's totally unacceptable."

In last week's announcement of the proposed venture with Holy Redeemer Health System, Merlis said the secular hospital had agreed to stop performing abortions but said nothing about other religious restrictions.

In addition to objecting to the abortion ban, critics have demanded to know what other services Abington might have to discontinue as part of the merger - and threatened to stop using the system if it did.

"Jewish tradition mandates an abortion in the event that carrying a fetus to term would endanger the life of the mother," wrote eight rabbis who lead congregations in eastern Montgomery County, in a letter hand-delivered to Merlis. By discontinuing abortion services, Abington "will lose its place as a true community-based institution."

[read more]

JSPAN issued the following statement concerning the merger:

PHILADELPHIA, PA: The Jewish Social Policy Action Network (JSPAN) today announced its "profound dismay " with the decision by Abington Memorial Hospital to cease performing abortions at that facility.

"We understand that Roman Catholic affiliated hospitals may choose not to perform medical procedures that violate their religious beliefs, but Abington Hospital has long been an outstanding community-based hospital that serves patients of many faiths" said Lynn Zeitlin, JSPAN's president. "While a merger with Holy Redeemer Hospital is apparently a financially driven decision, we strongly urge the leadership of AMH to recognize that hospitals have a responsibility to the entire community they serve as well as a fiduciary responsibility," she noted.

Zeitlin said that her organization's support for a woman's right to choose is informed by Jewish theology in which an abortion is not only allowed but at times even mandated if the continuation of a pregnancy threatens the life of the pregnant woman. "One of the tragedies of this development is the number of patients and health professionals who feel so strongly about this short-sighted policy that they are giving serious thought to going elsewhere," said Zeitlin. " It would be ironic if an attempt to make the hospital more financially secure leads to financial hardships for such a highly regarded medical center."

Zeitlin was also struck by the irony of the timing given the numerous attacks on access to abortion that continue to leave women and families with fewer and fewer places to turn. "This decision to cease providing abortion services will, no doubt, have a very negative impact on women and families in the Southeastern Pennsylvania region," said Zeitlin.

She pointed out the hospital's previous commitment to providing abortion services and its perseverance despite mounting pressure throughout the years from anti-choice activists and routine protesters onsite. "It is disheartening that Abington Hospital has now decided to put other priorities over women's health especially at a time like this, when anti-choice activists are hard at work to add restrictions to a woman's right to choose."

In addition, JSPAN is concerned that other patient issues, including end of life care and fertilization procedures, could be affected by this merger. JSPAN strongly urges Abington Hospital to clarify its position before a merger is considered. .

The following is a link to a petition calling on the leadership of Abington Hospital to call off the merger with Holy Redeemer. Ed.. http://www.change.org/petitions/the-leadership-of-abington-memorial-hospital-stop-the-merger-with-holy-redeemer-health-system.


A Court Of, By and For the 1%
By Katrina vanden Heuvel, Washington Post (July 3, 2012)

The highest court in the land has spoken. That's how President Obama characterized the Supreme Court's surprising - and welcome - decision to uphold the Affordable Care Act, the signature domestic achievement of Obama's first term. With its divided and bitterly contested 5 to 4 ruling, the arch-conservative Roberts Court spared a major piece of progressive legislation and, in the process, rescued the 35 million uninsured Americans who would have suffered, had the law been struck down. Even with the court's limitations on expanding Medicaid to the states and Chief Justice John Roberts's shameless gutting of commerce clause jurisprudence, the decision was a relief to all who have fought so long for progress.

Right after the highest court in the land spoke, however, one of the lowest forces in the land spoke, too.

Americans for Prosperity, the shadowy conservative group, announced that it would run $8.2 million worth of attack ads to slam health-care reform in nearly a dozen key swing states. No doubt many more of the GOP's secretive sugar daddies will soon follow suit.

[read more]


Did John Roberts Accidentally Save Planned Parenthood?
Huffington Post (July 7, 2012)

WASHINGTON - By rewriting the rules that govern which strings the federal government can attach to its spending on the state level, Chief Justice John Roberts may have inadvertently prevented a future Tea Party-dominated Congress from executing one of its top priorities, defunding Planned Parenthood.

At the same time, it raises the question of whether the federal government can withhold Medicaid money if a state decides on its own to defund Planned Parenthood. Before Roberts' ruling, no legal scholar would have questioned whether the federal government had the authority to spend its own money or tie any strings it deemed appropriate to it. But after the ruling, it's an open question that will likely be decided in court, legal experts told The Huffington Post.

"I perceive NFIB v. Sebelius as throwing the courthouse doors open to coercion claims," said Nicole Huberfeld, a University of Kentucky law professor. "Because the holding is so dependent on the somewhat unusual facts of Medicaid, and because the court set forth no theory of coercion, I think we will see a lot of challenges in an effort to discover the contours of the coercion doctrine."

The issue raised by Roberts' opinion is whether the federal government can coerce a state into using its federal grant money in a particular way by threatening to withhold that money. For instance, if Congress voted to defund Planned Parenthood through the Title X federal family planning program, but New York wanted to continue sending its federal Title X dollars to Planned Parenthood clinics in the state, could the government withhold all Title X money from New York?

[read more]


Groups Appeal for Delay on Voter ID; Corbett Refuses
By Bob Warner, Philly.com (July. 6, 2012)

Spurred by the disclosure that 758,000 registered voters do not have Pennsylvania drivers' licenses, six civic groups called on Gov. Corbett Friday to delay implementation of a new voter ID requirement for at least a year.

The Corbett administration immediately rejected the request.

"Our goal since the law was signed is to reach out to all voters to make them aware of the law so all eligible voters are able to get ID if needed, and cast ballots in November," said Ron Ruman, a spokesman for the Pennsylvania Department of State, in charge of the state election machinery.

Ruman said Corbett did not have authority on his own to delay the photo ID requirement, and would not ask the Republican-controlled legislature to change the law, passed and signed by the governor last March.

[read more]

The Pennsylvania Voter I.D. law has received national attention, including an editorial in the Washington Post. The Justice Department is also challenging a Texas Voter I.D. law under the 1965 federal Voting Rights Act, a case in which Texas is challenging the constitutionality of that law.

[read more]

JSPAN intends to join an amicus brief in litigation challenging the constitutionality of the Pennsylvania voter I.D. law under the Pennsylvania State Constitution. Ed.


BOOK REVIEW - Magic Words: The Tale of a Jewish Boy- Interpreter...
Magic Words The Tale of a Jewish Boy- Interpreter, the World's Most Estimable Magician, a Murderous Harlot, and America's Greatest Indian Chief
By Gerald Kolpan Pegasus. 403 pp. $25.95
Reviewed by Bill Kent, Philly.com (July 1, 2012)

In 1909, Julius Meyer, a Prussian-born retailer of American Indian crafts, a former spokesman for several tribes, and an important member of the Jewish community in Omaha, Neb., was found dead in the city's Hanscom Park, with one bullet in his skull and another in his chest.

Though a gun was never found and Meyer, who never married, left no note, the coroner called the death a suicide. That an observant Jew, to whom suicide is a sin, could shoot himself twice is mysterious enough, but the question at the heart of Philadelphia writer Gerald Kolpan's new Wild West novel is even more intriguing, and has to do with one of the most famous court cases in American history.

That case occurred in 1879, when Chief Standing Bear of the Ponca tribe sued the U.S. government for unlawful imprisonment. The government's position was that the chief was not a "person," and therefore, the Constitution's requirement of a writ of habeas corpus did not apply.

In one of many superb scenes in his novel, Kolpan quotes the chief's speech to the jury, told through an intepreter: "This hand is not the color of yours, but if I pierce it, I shall feel pain. If you pierce your hand, you, too, feel pain. The blood that flows from mine will be the same color as yours. I am a man. God made us both."

The court found for the chief and Indians were deemed "persons" thereafter, able to use the U.S. legal system to seek redress of grievances. If the chief's statement reminds you just a little bit of Shylock's "if you prick us, do we not bleed" speech in Shakespeare's Merchant of Venice, you might wonder if somebody Jewish had something to do with this. For Kolpan, that had to be Julius Meyer.

[read more]

Although at first skeptical, I found this novel to be a well written and entertaining beach or pool side read. Ed.


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JSPAN Officers
Lynn Zeitlin

Judah Labovitz
Vice President

Mark Newman
Vice President

Burt Siegel
Vice President

Kenneth Myers

Stewart Weintraub
Secretary & General Counsel

Jeffrey Pasek
Chair of the Board of Directors

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Susan Bolno
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Marshall Dayan
William Epstein
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Rabbi Elliot Holin
Margot Horwitz
Rhoda Indictor
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Joanna Klein
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Marlena Kleit
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Ruth Laibson
Richard I. Malkin
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Jay Meadway
Susan Myers
Adena Potok
Audrey Ann Ross
J. Sanford Schwartz
Daniel Segal
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Ilene Wasserman
Rabbi Joshua Waxman
Deborah Weinstein
Alex Urevick Ackelsberg
Jill Katz Zipin
Gail Zukerman

Judah Labovitz
Ken Myers
Mark Newman
Deborah Weinstein

Ira Goldberg


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