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To Fund Or Not To Fund – A Sharing of My Mind With My Senators April 13, 2011

Posted by Bill in abortion, activism, Current Events, health, Uncategorized.
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I just sent an e mail to both of my Senators on the vote on whether to fund Planned Parenthood that is scheduled for tomorrow.  I know, rather late in the day but what can I say.  I am, for the second time in my life, a college student and all college students wait to the last minute to do anything – study for the major test, read the assignment, write the paper, send a letter to their representatives on important issues. 

Anyway, I rather liked the letter so thought I would share what I said.  I especially liked my argument against an anti choice argument that I have been hearing a lot of lately. 

Dear Senator

I am contacting you in regards to the scheduled vote on funding Planned Parenthood tomorrow.    For several reasons I would strongly urge you to vote to continue its funding.

First, none of the money that Planned Parenthood gets from the federal government goes for abortion. 

That money instead goes for greatly needed woman’s health services.  Women’s access to services such as breast and cervical cancer screenings, prenatal care, physicals, contraceptives, tubal ligations and vasectomies, testing for sexually transmitted disease, sex education, and menopause treatments would be greatly impacted were Planned Parenthood not funded.  And yes, I know that other clinics and hospitals can perform these services, but not at the same price.  Which means that the poorer women would be the ones feeling the greatest impact of this cut.  Without this care our health care costs as a nation would increase. 

I realize that many have argued that by providing Planned Parenthood money for its other health services for women it has freed up money for Planned Parenthood’s abortion services.  By this reasoning though we should also not be funding any social programs with ties to a religious group. 

Currently a religious group’s social programs can receive federal money as long as they ensure that the money goes for the social work and not for proselytizing or the support of their religion.  In this manner we manage to avoid the Constitution’s prohibition of government financial support for churches. 

However, using the same logic used above about Planned Parenthood funding, we should not be doing this since the funds provided by the government free up other moneys that the church can use to further its religion; a violation of the Constitution.

So, I would assume that if you decide to vote against continued funding of Planned Parenthood for the above reason then you will also at some point vote against federal funding of faith based charities for the same reason. 

I would also like to point out that Planned Parenthood’s promotion and distribution of effective contraception for women have quite likely prevented many more unwanted pregnancies that would have resulted in abortions than the number of abortions they have actually performed.  Any reduction of their ability to provide quality sex education and contraceptives would result in an increase in the number of unwanted pregnancies as well as an increase in number of abortions.  Especially of “back alley” abortions that resulted in the maiming and deaths of so many women before abortion was legalized. 

In summary then I will state that the federal funding of Planned Parenthood does not go for abortion.  It does however go to preventive care that is so necessary for the health and the healthcare costs of not only the women in America but of our country as a whole. 

Please vote to continue funding of Planned Parenthood. 

Now, some things I did not include in this letter because around 500 words is all I figure a politician’s aide has time for and I also did not want to take the focus off the fact that Planned Parenthood’s main services are health and prevention and not abortion include the facts that:

1)      Abortions are legal.  Funding them should not be an issue. 

2)      Abortions are often necessary to save the life or health of the mother.

3)      Do we really want to make rape and incest victims carry through with their unwanted pregnancy?

4)      Many of the fetus’s aborted were either not likely to live anyway or were going to be born are permanent cripples or vegetables.  Or were likely to live only a few pain filled days anyway. 

While I know that both my senators are likely to vote to defund Planned Parenthood I wanted to at know my stance on this issue and that they have made at least one of their constituents unhappy.


The Differences And The Abortion Debate October 17, 2009

Posted by Bill in abortion, Current Events, Family Values, health.
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 The Pro Life movement likes to claim that there is no difference between a fetus and a baby. They are fond of saying that life begins at conception.

That is true.

They say that the life of a fetus is as fully human as a new born baby, a teen, a middle aged person, or an old man, that there is no difference between a fetus and any of the other cases.

That is not true.

There are two basic differences that the Pro Life people either overlook or ignore. The first is that the woman and her fetus cannot live independently of the mother. The fetus is a physical part of mother, something very different from a newborn baby. While there may be and should be emotional attachments between mother and baby there is no longer the physical attachment. And that is a significant difference.

A sister, aunt, or stranger can take just as good if not better care of the baby. However they cannot do the same for a fetus. No matter how much outside help a pregnant woman may receive she is the one by far bearing the greatest impact in regards to health, both physical and emotional(as I can readily attest from the personal experience trying to support Dindy during her two pregnancies). That is why birth is such a clear demarcation point. The baby can be reared by someone else.

A mother who is unable to care for her baby – for health reasons, financial, emotional, or any other reason can give the baby up for adoption and have someone else take care of it. The fetus cannot be given up in such a manner, which means that any health risks, financial risks or any other issue must be born by the women until the fetus develops enough.

Which brings us to the second difference. Personhood. Is an eight seek old fetus a person in the same way that a baby is? Does it have conscious awareness of itself, of its environment? No it does not.

A fetus has the potential to grow develop into a human. But every child has the potential to become the President, but does that mean we treat each like the President? To equate a potential and elevate it over an actual person, the mother, is wrong.   I believe that this is why the great majority of people when faced with a choice between the life of the mother or the life of the fetus choose the mother.

However I do believe that we should recognize that as the fetus grows and develops it is starting to develop to that point of independent existence. Especially as it starts to develop an awareness of its surroundings and develop an ability to feel pain. That is why I support a sliding scale version of abortion rights.

During the first trimester it is totally at the discretion of the women. She should be able to have an abortion no questions asked. The second trimester would have more restrictions – emotional and physical well being – and the final trimester an abortion would be performed only if necessary to save the life of the mother. I am open to the exact cutoffs but strongly support this concept.

As for rights, they apply to individuals. Can a fetus be defined as a full individual given that it is totally a part of the woman’s body? Notice I say part of a woman’s body, not dependent on. That makes this issue different than that of the elderly or handicapped. Further the idea of a sliding scale (I seem to be stuck on that phrase for some reason) of rights is not new. Do 2 year olds have the same rights that an adult do? If so, then forget parenting because it would be impossible.

While I have sympathy for the Pro Life position they are greatly oversimplifying the reality. They, and we on the Pro-choice side, would be greatly better off promoting policies and practices that reduce unwanted pregnancies – mainly birth control.

Who Should Make the Decisions About Your Health Care October 16, 2009

Posted by Bill in health, health care reform, Politics, Uncategorized.
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One argument health care opponents often make is “I don’t want the government making decisions about my health care.”

Well, that’s certainly understandable. Nobody wants the government making personal decisions about what drugs should be prescribed for a particular patient or what type of treatment is best for a particular person.

Of course, to be consistent, then these opponents should also refuse to accept any kind of medical insurance AT ALL, because insurance companies are the ones who are making these decisions now. How do you think insurance companies come up with all that nonsense about first tier, second tier and third tier drugs? It certainly isn’t done out of any kind of consideration for the effectiveness of one drug over another. Those decisions are made based on which pharmaceutical company is crawling into bed with that particular insurance company.

And of course, the insurance companies are the ones deciding now what kind of treatment is best for the patients. They do so based not on any particular knowledge of the patient but on what actuarial studies tell them about the cost benefit analysis of one treatment over another.

Now call me radical, but I don’t want some insurance company executive deciding what kind of treatment my doctor should prescribe. I don’t want someone’s decision about my medical care to be based on how it affects the insurance company’s bottom line. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again– follow the money. The insurance companies are the ones who stand to lose a great deal from a single provider system, and THESE people are the ones the health care opponents wanting making decisions about their health care.

People Really Are Dying in the US October 12, 2009

Posted by Bill in Current Events, health, health care reform.
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There are a lot of people in this country who are opposed to health care reform. They don’t believe it is something the government should be paying for. There can certainly be honest disagreement about what government should and should not pay for.

Personally,  I think it is a crime that in this country, which is one of the richest countries on earth, there are people dying because they cannot afford health care. Our government has plenty of money to bomb the hell out of countries that pose no threat to us. It has plenty of money to provide bail outs to fat cat corporations so they can pay million dollar bonuses. It has plenty of money to pay no bid contracts to Dick Cheney’s ex-employer. But it is willing to let children die because their parents cannot afford to pay for their medical care. I have a problem with that.

Many health care opponents claim that people are not dying in this country due to an inability to pay for health care, however, this claim does not stand up to scrutiny. Here are links to some studies showing how people in the US are dying because they cannot afford health care.

Report by Families USA showing that 1 in 3 Americans is uninsured.

Report from Institute of Medicine

The main findings are that working-age Americans without health insurance have a 25% greater chance of dying and are more likely to:

  • Receive too little medical care and receive it too late;
  • Be sicker and die sooner;
  • Receive poorer care when they are in the hospital even for acute situations like a motor vehicle crash.

A 2009 report from the same organization shows:

For adults without health insurance, the evidence shows:

  • Men and women are much less likely to receive clinical preventive services that have the potential to reduce unnecessary morbidity and premature death.
  • Chronically ill adults delay or forgo visits with physicians and clinically effective therapies, including prescription medications.
  • Adults are more likely to be diagnosed with later-stage cancers that are detectable by screening or by contact with a clinician who can assess worrisome symptoms.
  • Adults are more likely to die from trauma or other serious acute conditions, such as heart attacks or strokes.
  • Adults with cancer, cardiovascular disease (including hypertension, coronary heart disease, and congestive heart failure), stroke, respiratory failure, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), or asthma exacerbation, hip fracture, seizures, and serious injury are more likely to suffer poorer health outcomes, greater limitations in quality of life, and premature death.
  • The evidence also demonstrates that when adults acquire health insurance, many of the negative health effects of uninsurance are mitigated.

Report from the Urban Institute estimating that 137,000 people died from 2000 through 2006 because they lacked health insurance, including 22,000 people in 2006.

A report from Families USA showing that uninsured children are more likely to die when seeking treatment compared to insured children receiving treatment for the same conditions.

Some people are not real comfortable with facts. They prefer anecdotes. So here are some anecdotes that illustrate the problem:

From Frontline

In 1994, Nikki White, a Bristol, Tenn., native with dreams of becoming a doctor, was diagnosed with lupus, a serious but treatable autoimmune disorder. Too ill to work, she lost her health insurance for several years, but then received coverage from the state’s Medicaid program. Soon, budget cuts made her ineligible for the state program. A few months later, White was rushed to the ER with severe lupus complications and racked up nearly $1 million in medical bills. She finally secured insurance under the government HIPPA law, but her condition was too advanced, and in 2006, at the age of 32, she died.

From USA Today:

Scott’s son [Devante Johnson] already had advanced cancer of the kidneys in April 2006 when his Medicaid coverage was cut off.

Scott, who has multiple sclerosis, had qualified for Social Security disability payments that boosted her income above the Medicaid level. She fought for four months before her son’s coverage was resumed.

During that time, Devante was switched from chemotherapy to free clinical trials, and his health deteriorated. By the time his insurance was restored, she says, it was too late to help him.

“I’m unsure if they could have done more for him,” she says. If he had not lost coverage for four months, she says, “he wouldn’t have suffered the way he did.”

and from the same story:

[Alyce] Driver’s son, who lived in Prince George’s County, Maryland, had Medicaid insurance. But she had trouble finding dentists who were willing to accept Medicaid’s reimbursement rate. An abscessed tooth led to a bacterial infection in his brain, and he died Feb. 25.

If you go to this site you’ll find all kinds of ANECDOTAL evidence:

Clearly, those who claim that nobody dies in this country for lack of health insurance are wrong. Those who oppose health insurance are comfortable with that fact. I am not. That is why I support health care reform.

The Remark Heard Round the World September 11, 2009

Posted by Bill in Obama, Politics.
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“You lie!”

Two words. Two small words. A challenge to be sure. An insult.

And in uttering them  Joe Wilson, a  lawmaker from South Carolina may have unwittingly ensured that health care reform will happen.

The last few months have seen a real break down in civility in the American political process. Not that it’s ever been particularly civil, but since Obama took office we have seen a huge deterioration of political civility  unlike any we’ve seen before. From town hall meetings that look more like a barroom brawl to the lies and claims about senior citizen death panels, it’s enough to make you wonder if everyone remembers that we are actually all living in the indivisible United States.

What is impossible not to see is the fact that an incredible amount of antipathy and hatred has been focused against one man, Barack Obama, the President of the United States, and I am truly at a loss to explain why. After all, his detractors keep claiming it’s not because he is black, so it surely MUST be something else.

Obama  faced uncivility and rudeness long before he took office. When Obama visited a North Carolina barbecue joint in late October, a woman at the back of the restaurant yelled, “Socialist, socialist, socialist — get out of here!” Another woman actually refused to shake hands with him. Just stop and picture this for a moment. Picture walking into your local Tony Roma’s or Spring Creek Barbecue and as you do, a voice from the back yells, loudly enough for all to hear, “Socialist! Socialist! Get out of here!” Despite this you continue to walk into the restaurant. You go from table to table and stop to speak to the folks sitting there. As you extend your hand to one woman, you politely ask, “How are you ma-am?” and she pulls her hand away and refuses to shake yours.

Can you imagine that? Can you imagine the guts it took to walk into that restaurant? Yet, Obama not only went into the restaurant, but he went around and spoke to each of the diners- at least the ones who WOULD talk to him. Blazing Saddles anyone?

Since Obama was elected, we’ve been treated to the harangues by the birthers, a group of nitwits who insist that Obama is not actually a US citizen and have actually tried to file lawsuits declaring his election invalid. Earlier this week we saw a protester greeting the presidential motorcade at a school where Obama had gone to speak. The protester held a sign saying, “Mr President, stay away from our kids.” And now we have a lawmaker who broke the decorum of an address to a joint session of Congress to directly challenge the President. “You lie!”

Can you imagine sitting in a meeting with your boss and the CEO with all of the stockholders of your company watching? Imagine your CEO talking, laying out proposals for the upcoming year and all of the sudden you just feel compelled to burst out with, “You lie!”

What on earth would ever make ANYONE think that this kind of behavior is permissible? Sadly, a lot of people not only seem to think it is okay, but they welcome it. GOP leaders have been quick to criticize Representative Joe Wilson, but Wilson’s SC constituency had some different opinions to offer:

“He’s the only one who has guts in that whole place. He’ll get re-elected in a landslide,” said John Roper, an insurance agent, as he sat among patrons at a diner near Columbia. ~ AP Yahoo News

However, the remark seems to have galvanized Democratic lawmakers who seem, finally, to have realized that enough is enough. Nobody likes a bully, and Wilson’s remark, combined with images of hysterical right-wingers demonizing the President for daring to tell kids to stay in school and study hard, makes it clear that Obama’s opponents are just, plain and simple, bullies.

Now the Dems have finally found their voice- and their spine. They’ve finally realized that they are in the same party with Obama and are vowing to pass health care reform with or without the GOP. The Dems are voicing their support for the president and speaking out against the rudeness. They are finally realizing that civil discourse does not mean that anything goes.

It’s about time.