health care

Weekly Pulse: #DearJohn, Does Banning Abortion Trump Job Growth?

by: The Media Consortium

Wed Feb 02, 2011 at 17:30

by Lindsay Beyerstein, Media Consortium blogger

With millions of Americans out of work, House Republicans are focusing in on real priorities: decimating private abortion coverage and crippling public funding for abortion, as Jessica Arons reports in RH Reality Check.

In AlterNet, Amanda Marcotte notes that the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act,  or H.R. 3, also  redefines rape as "forcible rape" in order to determine whether a patient is eligible for a  Medicaid-funded abortion. Under the Hyde Amendment, government-funded  insurance programs can only cover abortions in cases of rape and incest,  or to save the life of the mother. Note that the term "forcible rape" is  legally meaningless. Supporters of the bill just want to go on the  record as saying that a poor 13-year-old girl pregnant by a 30-year-old  should be forced to give birth.

Feminist blogger Sady Doyle has launched a twitter campaign against the bill under the hashtag #dearjohn, a reference to Speaker John Boehner (R-OH). Tweet to let him know how you feel about a bill that discriminates against 70% of rape victims because their rapes weren't violent enough for @johnboehner, append the hashtag #dearjohn.

Everybody chill out

A federal judge in Florida ruled the entire Affordable Care Act unconstitutional on Monday. However, as political scientist and court watcher Scott Lemieux explains at TAPPED, the ruling is not necessarily a death blow to health care reform:

[T]his ruling is less important than the controversy it will generate might suggest.   Many cornerstone programs of  the New Deal were held unconstitutional by lower courts before being  upheld by the Supreme Court.        This ruling tells us nothing we didn't  already know: There is a faction of conservative judges who believe the  individual mandate is unconstitutional.        Unless this view has the  support of five members of the Supreme Court -- which I still consider  very unlikely -- it won't matter; Vinson's reasoning would have a much  greater impact if adopted by the Court, but for this reason it is even  less likely to be adopted by higher courts.

In a follow-up post, Lemieux explains the shaky legal reasoning behind Judge Robert Vinson's decision. The judge asserts bizarrely that being uninsured has no effect on interstate commerce. That premise is objectively false. Health insurers operate across state lines and the size and composition of their risk pools directly affects their business.

Given the glaring factual inaccuracies, Judge Vinson's decision may be overturned by a higher court before it gets to the Supreme Court.

Scamming Medicare

Terry J. Allen of In These Times win's the headline of the week award for an article entitled "Urology's Golden Revenue Stream."  She reports that increasing numbers of urologists are investing  millions on machines to irradiate prostate cancer in the office. The  doctors can bill Medicare up to $40,000 per treatment, but they have to  use the machines a lot to recoup the initial investment. So what does this mean for patients? Allen  explains:

Rather than accessing centralized equipment and  sharing costs,  physicians are concentrating their own profits by buying  expensive  in-practice technologies that pay off only if regularly  used. One result  is overtreatment, which is driving up health care  costs, exposing  patients to unnecessary radiation and surgeries, and is  frequently no  better than cheaper approaches.

One third of Medicare patients with prostate cancer undergo the expensive IMRT therapy, as the procedure is known. In 2008, Medicare shelled out over a billion dollars on a treatment that has not shown to be any better for patients than less expensive therapies.

Obstetric fistula in the developing world

Reproductive Health Reality Check is running a special series on the human rights implications of obstetric fistula. Fistula is a devastating complication of unrelieved obstructed labor in which the baby's head gets stuck in the birth canal and presses against the soft tissues of the pelvis. If labor goes on long enough, the pressure will starve the pelvic tissues of blood, and they will die, creating a hole between the vagina and the bladder, and/or between the vagina and the rectum. Fistula patients face lifelong incontinence, chronic pain, and social ostracism.

The condition is virtually unknown in the developed world, where women with obstructed labor have access to cesarean delivery. However, an estimated 2 million women, primarily in sub-Saharan Africa   and Asia, have untreated fistulas with an estimated 50,000 to 100,000 new cases occurring each year. Without reconstructive surgery, these women will be incontinent for life.

Sarah Omega, a fistula survivor from Kenya, tells her story. Omega sustained a fistula when she delivered her first child at the age of 19. She suffered for 12 years before she finally obtained the surgery she needed. As Agnes Odhiambo explains in another installment in the series, fistula is a symptom of a dysfunctional health care system. Women suffer needlessly because they can't get access to quality health care.

The most likely victims of fistula are the most vulnerable members of their respective communities. Early childbearing increases a woman's risk of fistula. Pregnant rape victims may face even greater barriers to a safe delivery, thanks to the social stigma that accrues to victims of sexual violence in many societies. (Not to mention any names, House Republicans...)

Preventing and repairing obstetric fistula is a major human rights issue. The U.S. should make this effort a high priority for foreign aid.

This post features links to the best independent, progressive   reporting about health care by members of The Media Consortium.  It  is free to reprint. Visit the Pulse for  a complete list of articles on health care reform, or follow us on  Twitter. And for the best   progressive reporting on critical economy, environment, health care  and  immigration issues, check out The Audit,  The Mulch,   and The Diaspora. This is a project of The Media Consortium, a network of  leading independent media outlets.

Discuss :: (0 Comments)

And it begins again... this time in the Senate

by: btchakir

Tue Feb 01, 2011 at 18:19

   "Suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a member of Congress. But I repeat myself."

   - Mark Twain

As I settled in this afternoon awaiting a coming ice storm (the first of these just missed us last night) and curious about what's going on in Egypt where around 2 million people were demonstrating today for Hosni Mubarak's resignation (in a speech this afternoon he said he would not run for reelection and would be out of office by the Fall... as you might guess, this does not seem good enough for the demonstrators who want him out now) I wondered what was happening on C-Span 2.

I thought I'd watch the Senate debate the FAA Funding Bill and what do you think happened? Senate Republicans have attempted to repeal last year's sweeping health care law via an amendment to a FAA funding, proposed by the beloved Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) Not since the Earth's creation some 6000+ years ago, when men and dinosaurs peaceably shared the world, have I heard such idiocy.

There's More... :: (0 Comments, 159 words in story)

Weekly Pulse: White House Takes Offensive Against Health Care Repeal

by: The Media Consortium

Wed Jan 19, 2011 at 18:19

By Lindsay Beyerstein, Media Consortium blogger

This week, House Republicans will hold a vote to repeal the Affordable Care Act. The bill is expected to pass the House, where the GOP holds a majority, but stall in the Democratic-controlled Senate. In the meantime, the symbolic vote is giving both Republicans and Democrats a pretext to publicly rehash their views on the legislation.

At AlterNet, Faiz Shakir and colleagues point out that repealing health care reform would cost the federal government an additional $320 billion over the next decade, according to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office. The authors also note that despite Republican campaign promises to "repeal and replace" the law, their bill contains no replacement plan. Health care reform protects Americans with preexisting conditions from some forms discrimination by insurers. At least half of all Americans under the age of 65 could be construed as having a preexisting condition. No wonder only 1 in 4 Americans support repeal, according to an Associated Press-GfK poll released on Monday.

Perhaps that explains, as Paul Waldman reports at TAPPED, why the White House is vigorously defending health care reform. The Obama administration is making full use of the aforementioned statistics from The Department Health and Human Services on the percentage of Americans who have preexisting conditions:

As the House prepares to vote on the "Repeal the Puppy-Strangling  Job-Vivisecting O-Commie-Care Act," or whatever they're now calling it,  the White House and its allies actually seem to have their act together  when it comes to fighting this war for public opinion. The latest is an analysis from the Department of Health and Human Services on just how many  people have pre-existing conditions, and thus will be protected from  denials of health insurance when the Affordable Care Act goes fully into  effect in 2014

Republicans are fuming that Democrats are "politicizing" a policy debate by bringing up the uncomfortable fact that, if the GOP's repeal plan became law, millions of people could lose their health insurance. As Waldman points out, the high incidence of preexisting conditions is an argument for a universal mandate. It's impossible to insure people with known health problems at an affordable cost unless they share the risk with healthier policy-holders. Hence the need for a mandate.

Anti-choice at the end of life

In The Nation, Ann Neumann explains how anti-choice leaders fought to re-eliminate free end-of-life counseling for seniors under Medicare. The provision was taken out of the health care reform bill but briefly reinstated by Department of Health and Social Services before being rescinded again by HHS amid false allegations by anti-choice groups, including The Family Research Council, that the government was promulgating euthanasia for the elderly.

As seen on TV

The Kansas-based anti-choice group Operation Rescue is lashing out at the Iowa Board of Medicine for dismissing their complaint against Dr. Linda Haskell, Lynda Waddington reports in The Iowa Independent. Dr. Haskell attracted the ire of anti-choicers for using telemedicine to help doctors provide abortion care. The board investigated Operation Rescue's allegations, which it cannot discuss or even acknowledge, but found no basis for sanctions against Haskell. Iowa medical authorities said they were still deliberating about the rules for telemedicine in general.

Salon retracts RFK vaccine story

Online news magazine Salon.com has retracted a 2005 article by Robert Kennedy, Jr. alleging a link between childhood vaccines and autism, Kristina Chew reports at Care2. The article leaned heavily on now discredited research by Dr. Andrew Wakefield. His research had been discredited for some time, but only recently did an investigative journalist reveal that Wakefield skewed his data as part of an elaborate scam to profit from a lawsuit against vaccine makers.

This post features links to the best independent, progressive   reporting about health care by members of The Media Consortium.  It  is free to reprint. Visit the Pulse for  a complete list of articles on health care reform, or follow us on  Twitter. And for the best   progressive reporting on critical economy, environment, health care  and  immigration issues, check out The Audit,  The Mulch,   and The Diaspora. This is a project of The Media Consortium, a network of  leading independent media outlets.

Discuss :: (0 Comments)

Shooting Safeguards. A Society Armed

by: Betsy L. Angert

Sat Jan 15, 2011 at 22:21

GnSctyArmd

copyright © 2011 Betsy L. Angert.  Empathy And Education; BeThink or  BeThink.org

Once again, Americans are up in arms or perchance, better armed and dangerous.  Only little more than a week into 2011, citizens have had to confront their fears, feelings, all at gunpoint.  It began on a calm, clear Saturday.  In a Safeway Store Tucson parking lot Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords held one of her customary Congress on the Corner events.  It was January 8, 2011.  Friends and admirers from each political Party turned out.  Suddenly, cordial chatter turned icy cold. gunshots shattered the calm.  People were slaughtered.  Some survived.   However, as a nation, we were all wounded.

Retorts followed.  Seemingly, a culture was changed, or was it?  Just as has occurred, many times in the recent past, people quickly took sides.  Blame was ballied about.  Solutions were also presented.  Some argued for stricter gun control laws.  Others used the occasion to validate a need for less restrictive restraints on gun ownership.  Persons who held a position similar to the most prominent victim proposed a need to protect themselves.

There's More... :: (2 Comments, 3195 words in story)

Weekly Pulse: Giffords Shooting Reveals Flaws in U.S. Mental Health Services

by: The Media Consortium

Wed Jan 12, 2011 at 17:30

( - promoted by Paul Rosenberg)

By Lindsay Beyerstein, Media Consortium blogger

Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ) was shot in the head at a constituent outreach event in a supermarket parking lot in Tucson on Saturday. In all, the gunman shot 18 people, killing 6, including a federal judge and a 9-year-old girl.

Jamelle Bouie of TAPPED urges President Obama to take up the issue of mental health care in his upcoming speech on the mass shooting. Several people who knew the alleged shooter came forward with stories of bizarre behavior and run-ins with campus police at his community college. College administrators ordered him to seek treatment before he returned to school, but he does not appear to have done so.

H. Clarke Romans of the National Alliance on Mental Illness of Southern Arizona explained to Amy Goodman of Democracy Now! that mental health services in Arizona have been devastated by budget cuts.

In 2008 the state eliminated support services for all non-Medicaid behavioral health patients and stopped covering most brand-name psychiatric drugs. At least 28,000 Arizonans were affected. Arizonans with mental illnesses can expect even more cuts in the future as the state slashes spending in an attempt to address its budget shortfall.

In AlterNet, Adele Stan, argues that, while we don't yet know the gunman's motives, the right wing's intensifying campaign of anti-government hysteria and violent rhetoric may have emboldened an already disturbed person:

Had the vitriolic rhetoric that today shapes Arizona's political landscape (and, indeed, our national landscape) never come to call, Loughner may have found a different reason to go on a killing spree. But that vitriol does exist as a powerful prompt to the paranoid, and those who publicly deem war on the federal government a patriot's duty should today be doing some soul-searching.

 
There's More... :: (4 Comments, 591 words in story)

Weekly Pulse: End-of-Life Counseling Returns, But Death Panels Still Nonsense

by: The Media Consortium

Wed Dec 29, 2010 at 12:43

by Lindsay Beyerstein, Media Consortium blogger

A proposed program to cover counseling sessions for seniors on end-of-life care has risen from the ashes of health care reform and found a new life in Medicare regulations, Jason Hancock of the American Independent reports.

In August, former Alaska governor Sarah Palin started a rumor via her Facebook page that the the Obama administration was backing "death panels" that would vote on whether the elderly and infirm had a right to live. In reality, the goal was to have Medicare reimburse doctors for teaching patients how to set up their own advance directives that reflect their wishes on end-of-life care.

Patients can use their advance directives to stipulate their wishes for treatment in the event that they are too sick to make decisions for themselves. They can also use those directives to demand the most aggressive lifesaving interventions.

Waste not, want not

Though end-of-life counseling was ultimately gutted from the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the legislation will eventually ensure health coverage for 32 million more Americans. However, Joanne Kenen in The American Prospect argues it will do comparatively less to curb the high costs of health care. The architects of the ACA had an opportunity to include serious cost-containment measures like a robust public health insurance option to compete with private insurers, but they declined to do so.

Kenen argues that the government should more aggressively target waste within the health care delivery system, especially Medicare and Medicaid. Unchecked and rising health care costs through Medicare and Medicaid are a significantly greater driver of the deficit than Social Security or discretionary spending:

"The waste is enormous," says Harvard health care economist David  Cutler. "You can easily convince yourself that there is 40 to 50 percent  to be saved." Squeezing out every single bit of that inefficient or  unnecessary care may not be realistic. But it also isn't necessary;  eliminating even a small fraction of the current waste each year over  the next decade would make a huge difference, he added. Health care  would finally start acting like "a normal industry." Productivity would  grow, in the one area of the economy where it has not, and  with  productivity gains, prices could be expected to fall.

The new end-of-life counseling program will help reduce waste in the system, not by pressuring people to forgo treatments they want, but by giving them the tools to refuse treatments they don't want.

Teen births down, but why?

The teen birth rate has dropped again, according to the latest CDC statistics. Births to women under the age of 20 declined by 6% in 2009 compared to 2008. One hypothesis is that the reduction is an unexpected consequence of the recession, an argument we pointed to in last week's edition of the Pulse. John Tomasic of the Colorado Independent is skeptical of the recession hypothesis. He writes:

Emily Bridges, director of public information services at Advocates for Youth,  agrees with other observers in pointing out that teens aren't likely to  include national economics as a significant factor in pondering whether  or not to have unprotected sex. Peer pressure, badly mixed booze,  general awkwardness, for example, are much more likely than the jobless  recovery to play on the minds of horny high schoolers.

Some states with weak economies actually saw a rise in teen birth rates, Tomasic notes. However, this year's sharp downturn in teen births parallels a drop in fertility for U.S. women of all ages, which seems best explained by economic uncertainty.

It's true that prospective teen moms are less likely to have jobs in the first place, and so a bad job market might be less likely to sway their decisions. However, young women who aren't working are unlikely to have significant resources of their own to draw on, which means that they are heavily dependent upon others for support. If their families and partners are already struggling to make ends meet, then the prospect of another mouth to feed may seem even less appealing than usual.

Abortion is the elephant in the room in this discussion. The CDC numbers  only count live births. Logically, fewer live births must be the result of fewer conceptions and/or more terminations. Some skeptics doubt that economic factors have much to do with teens' decisions about contraception. However, it seems plausible that decisions about abortion would be heavily influenced by the economic health of the whole extended family.

Last year's decrease was notably sharp, but teen birth rates have been declining steadily for the last 20 years. The Guttmacher Institute, a New York-based non-profit that specializes in research on reproductive choice and health, suggests that successive generations of teens are simply getting savvier about contraception. Births to mothers between the ages of 15 and 17 are down 48% from 1991 levels, and births to mothers ages 18 to 19 are down 30%.

Stupid drug dealer tricks

Martha Rosenberg of AlterNet describes 15 classic dirty tricks deployed by Big Pharma to push drugs. These include phony grassroots patient groups organized by the drug companies to lobby for approval of dubious remedies. Another favorite money-making strategy is to overcharge Medicare and Medicaid. Pharmaceutical companies have paid nearly $15 billion in wrongdoing settlements related to Medicare and Medicaid chicanery over the last five years.

This post features links to the best independent, progressive   reporting about health care by members of The Media Consortium.  It  is free to reprint. Visit the Pulse for  a complete list of articles on health care reform, or follow us on  Twitter. And for the best   progressive reporting on critical economy, environment, health care  and  immigration issues, check out The Audit,  The Mulch,   and The Diaspora. This is a project of The Media Consortium, a network of  leading independent media outlets.

Discuss :: (0 Comments)

Weekly Pulse: Judge Rules Against Health Reform, Takes Cash from Opponents

by: The Media Consortium

Wed Dec 15, 2010 at 14:42

by Lindsay Beyerstein, Media Consortium blogger

The Virginia federal judge who ruled against a key component of health care reform on Monday has ties to a Republican consulting firm. Judge Henry Hudson is a co-owner of Campaign Solutions, as Amy Goodman of Democracy Now! reports.

Hudson, a President George W. Bush appointee, has earned as much as $108,000 in royalties from Campaign Solutions since 2003. A cached version of the firm's client roster lists such vocal opponents of health reform as Sens. Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Jim DeMint (R-SC), and Olympia Snowe (R-ME), Rep. Todd Tiahrt (R-KS), the Republican National Committee and the American Medical Association.

In November, Collins and Snowe joined McConnell in signing an amicus brief to challenge the constitutionality of health care reform in a separate suit in Florida. Campaign finance records show that Campaign Solutions has also worked for Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, who is spearheading the lawsuit. Tiahrt added an amicus brief to Cuccinelli's lawsuit.

Today, the mandate. Tomorrow, the regulatory state?

Hudson ruled that the individual mandate of health care reform is unconstitutional. The mandate stipulates that, after 2014, everyone who doesn't already have health insurance will have to buy some or pay a small fine. The judge argues that this requirement exceeds the federal government's power to regulate interstate commerce.

The Commerce Clause gives the federal government the power to regulate commerce between the states and international trade. Suzy Khimm of Mother Jones explains that this clause underpins the power of the federal government to regulate the economy in any way:

But the issues at stake in Cuccinelli v. Sebelius (Ken Cuccinelli is the conservative attorney general of Virginia;  Katherine Sebelius is President Barack Obama's Secretary of Health and  Human Services, or HHS) are actually far broader. Hudson's ruling  doesn't just show how the Supreme Court could gut the health law-it  shows how the court could neuter the entire federal government.

Is it constitutional?

Chris Hayes of The Nation interviews Prof. Gillian Metzger, a constitutional law scholar at Columbia University, about the merits of challenges to the constitutionality of health care reform. According to Metzger, "the argument that [the mandate] is outside the commerce power is also pretty specious given the existing precedent."

Steve Benen of the Washington Monthly accuses Judge Hudson of committing an "inexplicable error" in legal reasoning. There is a longstanding precedent that the federal government can regulate economic activity under the Commerce Clause. Hudson acknowledges this, but he maintains that this power doesn't cover regulations of "economic inactivity" (i.e. not buying health insurance). As Benen notes, people who don't buy insurance aren't opting out of the market, they're opting to let society absorb their future medical costs. Everyone who does buy insurance pays more because freeloaders coast without insurance and hope for the best.

Luckily for the Obama administration, the judge did not bar the implementation of health reform while the case works its way through the courts. The Supreme Court will ultimately hear this case. In the meantime, the federal government can continue building the infrastructure that will eventually support health care reform.

This is the third time a federal judge has ruled on the constitutionality of health care reforms and the first victory for the anti-reform contingent.

Mandatory mandate

Paul Waldman reminds TAPPED readers why the mandate is critical to any health care reform based on private insurance. With a single-payer system, you don't need a mandate because everyone is automatically covered. A mandate only comes into play when you have to force people to buy insurance.

Without a mandate, healthy risk-takers who don't buy insurance will starve the system of premiums while they are well and bleed the system for benefits when they get sick. Meanwhile, people who already know they're sick will sign up in droves, and the Affordable Care Act will force insurers to accept them.  Without a mandate, the private health insurance industry would collapse and take health care reform down with it.

Is expanding Medicare the answer?

Matthew Rothschild of the Progressive argues that the legal headaches over the individual mandate illustrate why it would have been legally and procedurally easier to achieve universal health care by simply expanding Medicare to cover everyone.

At Truthout, Thom Hartmann argues universal health insurance in the form of "Medicare Part E" would spur economic growth and innovation because entrepreneurs could start businesses without worrying about how to provide health insurance for their employees.

Meanwhile, Brie Cadman reports at Change.Org, Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) is trying to defund health care reform by cutting funds for preventive health care. Coburn is urging his fellow Republicans to vote against a House-passed measure that would allocate $750 million for the 2011 Prevention and Public Health Fund. Cadman notes the irony of a medical doctor like Coburn, who also claims to be a fiscal conservative,  trying to scuttle funds to control preventable diseases which would otherwise cost society billions of dollars a year.

This post features links to the best independent, progressive   reporting about health care by members of The Media Consortium.  It  is free to reprint. Visit the Pulse for  a complete list of articles on health care reform, or follow us on  Twitter. And for the best   progressive reporting on critical economy, environment, health care  and  immigration issues, check out The Audit,  The Mulch,   and The Diaspora. This is a project of The Media Consortium, a network of  leading independent media outlets.

Discuss :: (0 Comments)

Oligopoly 101

by: Paul Rosenberg

Mon Dec 13, 2010 at 18:30

In comments to Jeff's diary this weekend, "Left Ed: The "Angry, Ideal-Less Progressives" in the Education Debate", commentator Jjc2008 wrote (and Jeff highlighted):

The real kick is this.  The right and the left who buy into their meme of "we are falling behind in competing with other countries in education" and get hysterical about it, seem totally OK with how countries beat us in health issues.  Hypocrisy 101.

Yes, it's Hypocrisy 101.  But it's also Oligopoly 101.

The US falling behind other countries in health care is not a problem, even though it blows a Grand Canyon-sized hole in our long-term budget, because the oligopolies control our health care, and make more money than God off of it as a result.

OTOH, the US falling behind other countries in educational tests is a problem, even if most of the problem is due to factors outside the classroom, because the oligopolies don't yet control our k-12 education systems, and don't make more money than Godd of it as a result.

That's really just how simple it all is.

Discuss :: (3 Comments)

What's Missing From the Health Care Bill

by: Inoljt

Tue Dec 07, 2010 at 14:12

By: Inoljt, http://mypolitikal.com/

In the spring of 2010, President Barack Obama passed a momentous health care bill. Said bill dominated most of the political discourse during his first year; to date it constitutes one of the president's most substantial achievements.

In dealing with the issue of health care, Democrats faced a choice of whether to concentrate on cutting costs or extending coverage to the uninsured. For better or worse they chose to focus on the latter. Due to this choice, the health care bill is estimated to extend health care insurance to 32 million out of a total 55 million uninsured people.

This leaves, however, some 23 million people who will not benefit from health care reform. Some of these individuals will opt-out of buying health insurance voluntarily; for instance, young people may decide to pay a fine rather than buy government-mandated health insurance.

There is, however, a substantial population - numbering something like six to eight million people - who were unilaterally denied the right to health care. These people are some of the most despised in the United States, living in constant fear and harassment. They are almost all poor, disadvantaged, and denied the opportunity to advance in American society. Even a straight-A college graduate belonging to this population is confined to menial labor.

The Obama administration has also been antagonistic with this group of people. Indeed, Mr. Obama's health care bill explicitly prohibits undocumented immigrants from participating in the government programs it sets out.

More below.

There's More... :: (0 Comments, 282 words in story)

Weekly Pulse: What Do GOP Gains Mean for Health Care? Abortion Rights?

by: The Media Consortium

Wed Nov 03, 2010 at 12:53

by Lindsay Beyerstein, Media Consortium blogger

The Republicans gained ground in last night's midterm elections, recapturing the House and gaining seats in the Senate. The future House Majority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) wasted no time in affirming that the GOP will try to repeal health care reform.

A full-scale repeal is unlikely in the next two years because the Democrats have retained control of the White House and the Senate. However, Republicans are already making noises about shutting down the government to force the issue. The House controls the nation's purse strings, which confers significant leverage if the majority is willing to bring the government to a screeching halt to make a point.

Don't assume they'll blink. The GOP shut down government in 1995, albeit to its own political detriment. Rep. Steve King (R-IA) and his allies have sworn a "blood oath" to shut down the government, regardless of the consequences. The Republicans may actually succeed in modifying minor aspects of the Affordable Care Act, such as the controversial 1099 reporting requirement for small business.

The most significant threat to the implementation of health care reform may be at the state level.  Republicans picked up several governorships, and the Affordable Care Act requires the cooperation of states to set up their own insurance exchanges. Hostile governors could seriously impede things.

Mixed results for radical, anti-choice senate candidates

As a group, the eight ultra-radical, anti-choice Republican Senate candidates had mixed results last night. Three wins, two sure losses, and three likely losses that haven't been definitively called. Voters didn't seem thrilled about electing senators who oppose a woman's right to abortion, even in cases of rape and incest.

Two cruised to victory: Rand Paul easily defeated Democrat Jack Conway in Kentucky.  Paul is one of the most extreme the of a radical cohort. As Amie Newman reported in RH Reality Check, Paul doesn't even believe in a woman's right to abort to save her own life. In Florida, anti-choice standard bearer Marco Rubio defeated Independent Charlie Christ.

Another radical anti-choicer, Pat Toomey, who favors jailing abortion providers, narrowly edged out Joe Sestak in Pennsylvania.

Two were soundly defeated. Evangelical code-talker Sharron Angle lost to Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV), and anti-masturbation crusader Christine O'Donnell lost to Chris Coons in Delaware.

The last three radical anti-choice senate candidates were down, but not, out as of this morning. Democrat Sen. Michael Bennett leads Republican Ken Buck by just 15,000 votes out of over 1.5 million ballots cast, according to TPMDC. Planned Parenthood launched an 11th hour offensive against Buck because of his retrograde stances on abortion, sexual assault, and other women's issues, as Joseph Boven reports for the Colorado Independent.

This morning, Tea Party Republican Joe Miller was trailing behind incumbent Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), who challenged him as an Independent, but no winner had been declared. In Washington State, Democrat Sen. Patti Murray maintains a 1% lead over radical anti-choicer Republican Dino Rossi.

Are fertilized eggs people in Colorado?

Coloradans won a decisive victory for reproductive rights last night. Fertilized eggs are still not people in Colorado, as Jodi Jacobson reports for RH Reality Check.

Amendment 62, which would have conferred full person status from the  moment of conception, thereby outlawing abortion and in vitro  fertilization. It also called into question the legality of many forms of  birth control, including an array of medical procedures for pregnant  women that might harm their fetuses. The proposed amendment was  resoundingly defeated: 72% against to 28% in favor. This is the second  time Colorado voters have rejected an egg-as-person amendment.

Blue Dogs and anti-choice Dems feel the pain

Last night was brutal for corporatist Democrats who fought the more progressive options for health care reform and Democrats who put their anti-choice ideology ahead passing health care. In AlterNet, Sarah Seltzer reports only 12 of the 34 Democrats who voted against health care reform hung on to their seats. The Blue Dog caucus was halved overnight from 56 to 24. Nick Baumann of Mother Jones speculated that the midterms would mark the end of the Stupak bloc, the coalition of anti-choice Democrats whose last-minute brinksmanship could have derailed health care reform.

Did foot-dragging on health care hurt Democrats?

Jamelle Bouie suggests at TAPPED that Democrats shot themselves in the foot by passing a health care reform bill that won't provide tangible benefits to most people for years. The exchanges that are supposed to provide affordable insurance for millions of Americans won't be up and running until 2014.

In Summer 2009, Former DNC chair Howard Dean predicted that the Democrats would be penalized at the polls if they failed to deliver tangible benefits from health care reform before the midterm elections. That's why Dean suggested expanding the public health insurance programs we already have, rather than creating insurance exchanges from scratch.

Sink, sunk by Scott

Andy Kroll of Mother Jones profiles Rick Scott, the billionaire health clinic mogul, corporate fraudster, and enemy of health care reform who spent over $50 million of his own money to eke out a very narrow victory over Democrat Alex Sink in the Florida governor's race.

Apparently, many Floridians were willing to overlook the fact that Scott had to pay a $1.7 billion fine for defrauding Medicare, the largest fine of its kind in history. Scott also spent $5 million of his own money to found Conservatives for Patients' Rights, one of the leading independent groups opposing health care reform.

Pot isn't legalized in California

California defeated Proposition 19, which would have legalized marijuana for personal use. David Borden of DRCnet, a pro-legalization group, writes in AlterNet that the fight over Prop 19 brought legalization into the political mainstream, even if the measure didn't prevail at the polls. The initiative won the backing of the California NAACP, SEIU California, the National Black Police Association, and the National Latino Officers Association and other established groups.

So, what's next for health care reform? The question everyone is asking is whether John Boehner will cave to the extremists in his own party and attempt a full-scale government shutdown, or whether the Republicans will content themselves with extracting piecemeal modifications of the health care law.

This post features links to the best independent, progressive   reporting about health care by members of The Media Consortium.  It  is free to reprint. Visit the Pulse for  a complete list of articles on health care reform, or follow us on  Twitter. And for the best   progressive reporting on critical economy, environment, health care  and  immigration issues, check out The Audit,  The Mulch,   and The Diaspora. This is a project of The Media Consortium, a network of  leading independent media outlets.

Discuss :: (0 Comments)

Weekly Pulse: Crisis Pregnancy Centers, Christine O'Donnell, Condoms, and Concussions

by: The Media Consortium

Wed Oct 20, 2010 at 11:17

by Lindsay Beyerstein, Media Consortium blogger

Crisis Pregnancy Centers (CPCs) in New York City may soon have to level with the public about their real agenda. At the Ms. Blog, Michelle Chen has an update on proposed legislation which would force CPCs in New York to disclose that they aren't reproductive health centers.

CPCs are anti-choice ministries that masquerade as full-service reproductive health clinics. They typically set up shop near real clinics to trick unwary clients. Real clinics dispense medical advice from doctors, nurses, and other licensed health care professionals. They are required to tell clients about the risks and benefits of all their treatment options. They don't push clients towards abortion or adoption. CPCs are typically staffed by volunteers. Instead of medical advice, they hand out over-the-counter pregnancy tests and medically inaccurate information about the risks of abortion. They use pseudoscience and high pressure sales tactics to derail as many women seeking abortions as they can.

Chen reports that if the bill becomes law, New York CPCs will have to post signs disclosing that "they do not provide abortion services or contraceptive devices, or make  referrals to organizations that do." If the facility lacks licensed on-site medical professionals, the center would have to inform prospective clients of this fact. This is an excellent piece of consumer protection legislation. If CPCs are honest about who they are and what they do, they should have no problem with the law.

Christine O'Donnell: not (just) a joke

In an essay for the Women's Media Center, organizer Shelby Knox explains why Delaware's Republican Senate candidate Christine O'Donnell represents more than an anti-masturbation punchline:

 

Not ironically, O'Donnell is a loyal disciple to the religious agenda  that equates sexuality, especially female sexuality, with evil and the  decline of humanity. [...] To most mainstream Americans, O'Donnell's concerted battle against solo  sexual pleasure in particular is so fringe, so bizarre, it's laughable.  Yet, those of us deeply familiar with the ideology of the extremist  right wing have long understood the condemnation of sex and sexual  pleasure for anything other than the purpose of conception within  marriage to be the underpinning of public policies that invite  (Christian) God and (big, big) government into our bedrooms.

Knox notes that the same underlying suspicion of human sexuality finds expression in more mainstream areas of American politics, like federally-funded abstinence-only education, which substitutes religious homilies and gender stereotypes for science-based sex ed. (I would add federal funding for some of the nation's aforementioned "crisis pregnancy centers" to Knox's list of examples of anti-sex religious ideology replacing science-based health services.)

This week, O'Donnell drew audible gasps from a crowd when she claimed that the separation of church and state isn't part of the U.S. Constitution, as Monica Potts reports for TAPPED.

O'Donnell may seem bizarre to the average voter, but Knox reminds us that she's pretty typical of a rising tide of anti-sex, anti-science conservatism that we ignore at our peril:

But more accurately she's the poster girl for more than 78 candidates  running this election season who share her anti-sex, anti-woman views.  These candidates believe abortion should be illegal in all cases,  without exception for rape and incest. Some have promised a GOP majority  would signal a return to funding failed abstinence-only policies. Ken  Buck, the GOP Senate candidate in Colorado, even went so far as to  refuse to prosecute a rape because the accuser had "buyer's remorse"  over an abortion he alleged she'd had a year before the assault.

Condoms and porn

A porn actor in California became the latest performer to test positive for HIV last week. His diagnosis sent shockwaves through the San Fernando Valley's porn industry because the actor was reportedly a star who worked with a lot of big names in an industry where condoms are the exception rather than the rule.

 

The case has reignited controversy over the fact that straight porn companies aggressively flout California law that mandates condoms on porn sets. The industry maintains that it doesn't need condoms because it has a rigorous testing program for talent. As I report in Working In These Times the industry is being allowed to investigate the HIV outbreak on its own, which is a little like asking BP to monitor oil spills. The same industry-allied non-profit that administers the tests, and does PR about how great the testing program is, also investigates cases of HIV in the industry. Does anyone else see a potential problem?

Concussions in the NFL

Football season is in full swing, but for Dave Zirin of The Nation and many other football fans, it's getting harder and harder to reconcile their love of the game with our growing awareness of the toll that it takes on players:

In August, to much fanfare, NFL owners finally acknowledged that  football-related concussions cause depression, dementia, memory loss and  the early onset of Alzheimer's disease. Now that they've opened the  door, this concussion discussion is starting to shape how we understand  what were previously seen as the NFL's typical helping of off-field  controversy and tragedy.

Zirin appends a list of over 30 players who have sustained concussions since the pre-season. Peter King of Sports Illustrated is calling for the NFL to start kicking excessively violent players out of the game, but Zirin says that's not enough to stem the tide of concussions. Devastating brain injuries can come from routine, legal hits. A lot of the cumulative brain trauma leaves players demented in their fifties is actually sustained during practice.

The carnage is built into the game. Concussions are unavoidable given anatomy of the human brain and the physics of huge guys crashing into each other. Helmets only help so much because they can't prevent the brain from smashing against the cranium. Zirin thinks football fans need to do a lot of soul searching. He argues that every fan should think hard about whether it's really that much fun to watch guys get their brains pulped in the name of sport. Zirin's not ready to give up football yet, but he thinks the gnawing guilt may eventually outweigh his love of the game.

Cephalon spokesdoc: "Maybe I am a pervert, I honestly don't know"

Mother Jones and Propublica have a blockbuster exposé of crooked doctors on pharmaceutical company payrolls. They found that a shocking number of "white coat sales reps" (doctors paid by pharmaceutical companies to sell drugs to other doctors) have checkered pasts and dodgy credentials.

For examples, in 2004, a court upheld a Georgia hospital's decision to fire Dr. Donald  Ray Taylor, an anesthesiologist who had a habit of giving vaginal and  anal exams to young female patients without documenting why. According  to court records, Dr. Taylor explained himself to a hospital official as  follows, "Maybe I am a pervert, I honestly don't know."

For reasons that are themselves murky, Dr. Taylor went on to become  the highest paid speaker for the pharmaceutical giant Cephalon, earning  $142,050 in 2009 and an an additional $52,400 through  June. It turns  out that Dr. Taylor is far from the only shady doc to  make big bucks as a shill for big pharma. The investigators found 250 pharma docs with serious blemishes on their records for such offenses as inappropriately prescribing drugs, providing poor care, or having sex  with patients. Some were just playing doctor on the pharma circuit, having lost their licenses.

This update brought to you by the Media Consortium, and the letter C.

This post features links to the best independent, progressive   reporting about health care by members  of The Media Consortium.  It  is free to reprint. Visit the Pulse  for  a complete list of articles on health care reform, or follow us on  Twitter. And for the best   progressive reporting on critical economy, environment, health care  and  immigration issues, check out The Audit,  The Mulch,   and The Diaspora. This is a project of The Media Consortium, a network of  leading independent media outlets.

Discuss :: (0 Comments)

Palin Revives Death Panels; Boobs Against Breast Cancer; and the Anti-Gay Bullying Crisis

by: The Media Consortium

Wed Oct 13, 2010 at 11:54

by Lindsay Beyerstein, Media Consortium blogger

Don't look now, but Sarah Palin is back on her death panel kick, just in time for Halloween. No, really, don't look. It just encourages the former governor of Alaska to recycle the exhaustively debunked allegation that health care reform will involve bringing the elderly and the disabled before "death panels" who will judge whether they are fit to live.

David Corn of Mother Jones caught Palin referencing the thoroughly debunked myth in her latest interview with the conservative website Newsmax. Oh, and she says she won't rule out a presidential run in 2012.

Boobs against breast cancer

October is Breast Cancer Awareness month. The National Cancer Institute estimates that over 207,000 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in 2010 and that nearly 40,000 will die of the disease this year. Breast cancer is the second-most common form of cancer in women.

Amie Newman of RH Reality Check notes that even Kentucky Fried Chicken is getting in on the awareness action with pink chicken buckets "for the cure."  This month, KFC is donating 50 cents from each rosy-hued tub of Original Recipe chicken to Susan G. Komen For The Cure, a leading breast cancer advocacy group. The promotion is expected to raise between  $1 million and $8 million for breast cancer research and activism. That's between 2 million and 16 million buckets of chicken. It's more of a barometer than a donation, really.

The fewer buckets they sell, the more awareness has been raised. Newman notes that KFC's french fries are an unusually rich source of acrylamide, a probable human carcinogen found in deep fried foods. In a recent study, women with the highest acrylamide intakes were at 43% greater risk for hormone-positive breast cancers.

Some marketers have decided that the root cause of our society's lack of breast cancer awareness is our lack of breast awareness in general. This doesn't seem quite right, especially because the breasts most likely to get cancer (those of women over 50) are seldom the breasts featured in the the various "save the gazongas" campaigns we're subjected to every October.

Martha Pitts of the Ms. Blog wonders whose bright idea it was to "raise awareness" about breast cancer by inviting women to list their bra color as a Facebook status update. Pitts wonders how learning about friends' underwear will motivate anyone to learn more about breast self-exams or mammograms. According to Ann Pietrangelo of Care2, the latest breast cancer "awareness" meme took a turn for the Dada-esque. This year, women were invited complete the sentence: "I like it on the..." referring, of course to where the Facebook user likes to keep her purse. Obviously, they need a meta-awareness campaign to explain what this has to do with breast cancer.

Monica Potts of TAPPED reminds us that while activists and policy makers are wrangling about access to mammograms, which may or may not improve women's odds of surviving breast cancer, about 4000 women a year still die of cervical cancer in the US, despite the fact that the disease is almost completely preventable with routine Pap smears.

Anti-gay bullying

In other public health news, anti-gay bullying is making headlines all over the country. A series of high-profile suicides by bullied gay youth have riveted national attention on the issue. The statistics are sobering. Suicide is the third leading cause of death among young people, and LGBTQ youth are at significantly higher risk of suicidal behavior than their straight peers.

Nine out of ten LGBTQ youths told researchers that they had been harassed at school and two out of three said they felt unsafe at school because of their orientation, Jessica Strong reports for Campus Progress.

In Minnesota, three gay students the Anoka-Hennepin school district have committed suicide this year and the district is facing increasing pressure to crack down on homophobic bullying. However, not everyone's on board.

Andy Birkey of the Minnesota Independent reports that the head of a Christian rock ministry called "You Can Run But You Can't Hide" is opposing the anti-bullying programs, which he considers to be a recruiting tactic for gays, and by extension, child molesters (?!). Birkey also reports that Minnesota's Republican gubernatorial hopeful, Tom Emmer, has said he won't sign an anti-bullying bill if he is elected. Emmer has a strongly anti-gay record as a state legislator. The department store chain Target drew the ire of national gay rights groups when it gave a major donation to a pro-Emmer PAC.

Coming out for...

Monday was National Coming Out Day. To mark the occasion, Richard Kim published a piece in The Nation arguing that tougher criminal penalties aren't necessarily the solution to anti-gay bullying. Bullies are, after all, mirroring the prejudices they see in adult society:

It's tougher, more uncertain work creating a world that loves queer kids, that wants them to live and thrive. But try-try as if someone's life depended on it. Imagine saying I really wish my son turns out to be gay. Imagine hoping that your 2-year-old daughter grows up to be transgendered. Imagine not assuming the gender of your child's future prom date or spouse; imagine keeping that space blank or occupied by boys and girls of all types. Imagine petitioning your local board of education to hire more gay elementary school teachers.

Kim argues that simply heaping more punishment onto bullies is an easy way out for a society that doesn't want to grapple with widespread homophobia.

This post features links to the best independent, progressive   reporting about health care by members of The Media Consortium.  It  is free to reprint. Visit the Pulse for  a complete list of articles on health care reform, or follow us on  Twitter. And for the best   progressive reporting on critical economy, environment, health care  and  immigration issues, check out The Audit,  The Mulch,   and The Diaspora. This is a project of The Media Consortium, a network of  leading independent media outlets.

Discuss :: (0 Comments)

Newest Ranking Hypocrite

by: Mike Lux

Fri Oct 08, 2010 at 16:30

The modern Republican Party has certainly had its share of flaming hypocrites over the years: Newt Gingrich calling for impeachment over an affair while having one himself; closeted gays like Mark Foley voting against gay rights while trying to seduce 16-year-old pages; holier-than-thou Christians like Tom DeLay happily taking Jack Abramoff's ill-gotten cash. The list is long and keeps growing. But in this year's election, I think you have to give the award for the paragon of Republican hypocrisy to one other Joe Miller, who apparently has never met a public welfare program he hasn't (a) been a recipient of; and (b) is now trying to get rid of.

Check out this great new story from Alaska:

Joe Miller says he received Medicaid

U.S. Senate candidate Joe Miller said today that in the past his family received assistance from federal Medicaid and Denali KidCare, the state low income health care program. His write-in opponent, Lisa Murkowski, called him a hypocrite for taking the assistance while now saying federal entitlement programs are unconstitutional.

The Miller campaign for the past week-and-a-half did not answer when asked what low income assistance he received. But Miller today answered the question when asked by reporters after a debate, saying he considers it a distraction but people are entitled to know.

"I have the same sort of struggles in my past that other people have had. There is a proper role for government. The question is, who controls the power, is at the federal level or the state level? It's our perspective that the state is the best arbiter, the state is the best point at which we make those decisions," Miller said.

Miller said he hasn't been on government assistance "for years." He didn't provide a timeline but campaign spokesman said he believes he stopped receiving the benefits in 2002.Miller, who has eight children, said his family received Denali Kid Care, the state program that includes federal Medicaid money.

Miller criticized Murkowski in June during the Republican primary for supporting Denali Kid Care, some money of which funds abortions.

"As you are aware, just last week the Anchorage Daily News reported that the Denali KidCare Program funded 662 abortions last year. Senator Murkowski has been a champion of this program, voting against the majority of her Republican colleagues for CHIPRA (HR 2) in January of 2009," Miller wrote in a fundraising letter.

Miller said today he was critical of expanding the program, not the program itself. "We've also got a federal government today which is in completely different conditions than it used to be. At the time, I don't know what the deficit was but it certainly was less than half I believe than what it was today," he said.

Miller, when asked what other federal or state low income assistance he received, noted that he received a low-income state hunting and fishing license in 1995.

"That was contingent on two things. That you have low income or that you have a program. That was before Denali KidCare, I think at the time we had three children and one on the way, and I believe it was probably some form of Medicaid program we were on at the time," Miller said.

Murkowski said there was nothing wrong with using government "safety nets."

"What I find so hypocritical about Miller is he has stated repeatedly his opposition to these programs, stating that they are unconstitutional. So if you believe they are unconstitutional then why would you avail yourself of these safety nets.you either walk the talk or you don't."

Miller said what he's talking about is state control of the programs. "That doesn't mean we cut off the programs, that is ultimately a state decision. And I think there is a use, in fact the most effective use is probably those programs that help transition the populations from more of a situation of dependency to one where you can be independently economic.

A friend in Alaska tells me he also may be late in paying his property taxes.
I love this guy. He reminds me of the folks at the Tea Party rallies who want to keep the government out of their Medicare, or the man who said that yeah, he was on Social Security and Medicare, but some people didn't deserve welfare, dammit.

Like his on-again, off-again buddy Sarah Palin, I think investigative bloggers in Alaska can probably have a field day with this guy. He will be the gift that keeps on giving.

Discuss :: (8 Comments)

Weekly Pulse: Sharron Angle Mocks Insurance for Autism; The Fight to Save Food Stamps

by: The Media Consortium

Wed Sep 29, 2010 at 11:05

by Lindsay Beyerstein, Media Consortium blogger

The woman gunning for Sen. Harry Reid's (D-NV) job doesn't believe that autism exists.

Yes, you  heard right. Sharron Angle believes that the neurodevelopmental  disorder know to medical science as "autism" is actually a  government-backed hoax to redistribute wealth from hardworking health  insurers to pesky kids and their greedy parents.

Angle was caught on  tape promising to abolish mandatory insurance coverage for autism.  "Everything that they want to throw at us is covered under 'autism',"  Angle told the American Association of Underwriters this summer, tracing  scare quotes with her fingers as she said "autism."

Care2's Kristina Chew, the mother of a 13-year-old boy with autism, responds to Angle's airy dismissal:


...By saying that you don't think there should be health care for  autism, I take it that you don't think that children, and individuals,  with disabilities are in need of such things-living with their  families and in their communities, healthy and safe, being loved and cared for? Being treated as we would all like to be?

The fact that Angle opposes mandated coverage for private insurers should concern voters, especially since she wants to privatize all government health care programs. In other words, Angle wants to turn health care over to the private sector and stamp out public competition. And yet, Angle's campaign admits that the candidate and her husband receive both government health care and a Civil Service pension, according to Eric Kleefeld of TPM. If Angle is so morally opposed to government health care, she should set an example by declining the coverage.

Andy Kroll of Mother Jones has more on Angle's record:  She once told impregnated rape victims to buck up and make "lemons out of  lemonade" by bearing their attacker's child. Angle also denounced people  on unemployment insurance as "spoiled."

Food vs. health care

It may soon get even harder for poor families to make ends meet. The Senate is poised to slash the extra food stamp benefits in the stimulus before they expire. The Senate already raided $6.7 billion from the the so-called "food stamp cookie jar" to bail out Medicaid and save teachers' jobs at the state level. Now they want to take even more money to fund the child nutrition bill.

The cuts would fund a marginal improvement in school lunches, notes Monica Potts of TAPPED. That's all well and good, but why provide slightly better weekday lunches if the poorest children get less at every other meal?

Annie Lowery of the Washington Independent interviews anti-hunger activist Joel Berg about the cuts. Berg says that if the cuts go through, families will have to make do with considerably less than the current $4.50 per person per day. He notes that Congress wants to cut food stamp benefits in the face of rising food prices.

When families make do with less, healthy foods like fruits and vegetables will be the first casualty. Berg argues that it is economically short-sighted to prematurely terminate one of the most efficient economic stimuli in the entire stimulus package:


And we know that we aren't only feeding people. We come at this from a  moral position, a nutritional position, and an economic recovery  position. This cut is so insane from an economic position as well - we  know food stamps are the most effect form of stimulus. The jury is still  out on parts of the stimulus - but the jury isn't out on food stamps.  It was a 1,000 percent, beyond home run grand slam success, if you'll  excuse me mixing metaphors. The money went to people who needed it, rapidly, and without a lot of  bureaucracy.

In the Progressive, Ruth Conniff has a personal take on the politics of improving school lunches. Her kids' school got a USDA Fresh Fruits and Vegetables grant to introduce more local produce into school meals.

"Bridalplasty"

The laws of Reality TV: 1) The most important thing in life is to be very beautiful so that a man will want to marry you; 2) You have until your wedding day to make yourself look like someone else.

The E! network is launching a new reality show in which brides-to-be receive free cosmetic surgery to make them look acceptable for their Special Day, as Stephanie Hallett reports at Ms. blog. Hallett notes that armchair psychiatrists are already diagnosing the contestants with Body Dysmorphic Disorder, a condition that causes sufferers to become obsessed with imagined physical imperfections.

Hallett also argues that competitive plastic surgery shows like Bridalplasty and The Swan are dramatic exaggerations. Labeling the contestants as "sick" or "crazy" implies that they are limited-edition freaks, not individuals on the extreme end of a continuum of self-loathing that affects most women.

Ectopic pregnancy

Anti-choicers have already attacked hormonal birth control as crypto-abortion.  Their next target may be lifesaving surgery for a deadly complication of  pregnancy. At RH Reality Check, Lon Newman writes about a young woman that survived a life threatening ectopic pregnancy.

An ectopic pregnancy occurs when a fertilized egg takes root outside the uterus, nearly always in a fallopian tube. Tubal pregnancies are among the deadliest gynecological emergencies because the woman can rapidly bleed to death if the tube ruptures. Obviously, once a fertilized egg takes root outside the uterus, there is no chance that it will survive. However, some anti-choice extremists still maintain that treating ectopic pregnancies is a kind of abortion.

One of the ectopic pregnancy survivor's friends actually told her that she should have respected "God's will" and refused lifesaving surgery. "I have had friends who said that I should have 'gone with God's will,' imposing their beliefs on my will to live," the woman said.

Some friend.

This post features links to the best independent, progressive   reporting about health care by members of The Media Consortium.  It  is free to reprint. Visit the Pulse for  a complete list of articles on health care reform, or follow us on  Twitter. And for the best   progressive reporting on critical economy, environment, health care  and  immigration issues, check out The Audit,  The Mulch,   and The   Diaspora. This is a project of The Media Consortium, a network of  leading independent media outlets.

Discuss :: (0 Comments)

Weekly Diaspora: Hitting Immigrant Kids Where It Hurts

by: The Media Consortium

Thu Sep 09, 2010 at 13:23

by Catherine A. Traywick, Media Consortium blogger

After a long summer of name-calling and absurd attempts to deny birthright citizenship to children of immigrants, immigration hawks are now bullying immigrant children on their own turf: Public schools.

California, New York, Iowa and Colorado are among the states that have cracked down on immigrant students by hiring ICE agents to investigate residency statuses or unlawfully barring students from enrolling. Such blatant discrimination flies in the face of the 14th amendment and Supreme Court precedent, both of which guarantee all children the right to a public education regardless of immigration status.

The latest assault on immigrant students comes not from over-zealous school districts, however, but from state lawmakers adamant about stripping immigrants of the few rights they possess.

Kicked out of school

As Matt Vasilogambros of the Iowa Independent reports, Iowa's lieutenant gubernatorial candidate Kim Reynolds recently came out in support of denying public education to undocumented children, a sentiment she shares with her running mate, former Gov. Terry Branstad. Branstad's position is even more extreme, however. He has argued that the Supreme Court decision in Plyer v. Doe-the 1982 case which guarantees immigrants the right to public education-should be overturned.

So far, only Colorado third party gubernatorial candidate Tom Tancredo has fully endorsed Branstad's extreme opinion. Tancredo has even gone so far as to say that, if elected, he would ignore the Supreme Court ruling altogether.

Branstad and Tancredo may be on their own for the moment. Bu, if this summer's birthright citizenship fiasco is any indication, anti-immigrant conservatives must be delighted to fall back on the age-old myth that immigrants are here to steal social services.

New York Stands Up

Last week, the New York Department of Education fired back at anti-immigrant activism in schools by issuing a memo directing schools not to investigate the immigration status of their students.

According to Braden Goyette of Campus Progress, the memo came in response to a New York Civil Liberties Union report charging that 139 New York school districts were collecting information about prospective students' immigration statuses-and barring or discouraging children from enrolling if they failed to provide proof of their citizenship.

Goyette notes that federal law only requires students to fulfill two simple requirements before enrolling: residency in the school district, and intent to remain in the school district. Immigration status is not a factor.

The memo is a victory for immigrant rights advocates, especially as it comes on the heels of reports that two California school districts are adopting even harsher anti-immigrant policies.

Negating Pylver v. Doe

As New America Media's Jacob Simas and Elena Shore translate from a La Opinión, a daily Spanish-language newspaper based in Los Angeles. Both the Unified School District of Calexico and the Mountain Empire School District near San Diego have hired staff exclusively to investigate the immigration statuses of their students. The school districts are attempting to get around Pyler v. Doe by arguing that their proximity to the border necessitates stricter enforcement of federal residency requirements.

In other words, they're worried that Mexican children are crossing the border to take advantage of our first-class, world-renowned public school offerings. The simple fact that student residency can be determined without revealing immigration status is obviously beside the point.

Cutting Social Services in New Jersey

Meanwhile, immigrants in New Jersey may be robbed of their own social services, as the state threatens to removes 12,000 non-citizens from the it's low-income family insurance plan.

As Change.org's Prerna Lal reports, several legal immigrants have joined a class action lawsuit against New Jersey's Department of Human Services, alleging that the state is violating "the equal protection guarantees of the United States and New Jersey Constitutions" by denying health care subsidies to legal permanent residents. Lal notes that legal permanent residents possess nearly all of the same rights as U.S. citizens, and pay taxes to both state and federal governments. They should, therefore, be safe from public policy discrimination.

But, while it's well documented that both legal and undocumented immigrants pay into our social services system through income taxes, that fact is persistently overlooked by the anti-immigrant zealots who want to keep immigrants off Medicaid and out of public schools.

Even former President George W. Bush's Council of Economic Advisors agreed that immigrants have a positive fiscal impact Social Security and Medicaid, contributing $80,000 more in taxes than they receive in public services. Other studies put that figure much higher.

Given their immense contribution to the social services net, guaranteeing immigrants' access to those public services is more than a matter of justice-it's a matter of fiscal responsibility.

This post features links to the best independent, progressive reporting about immigration by members of The Media Consortium. It is free to reprint. Visit the Diaspora for a complete list of articles on immigration issues, or follow us on Twitter. And for the best progressive reporting on critical economy, environment, and health care issues, check out The Audit, The Mulch, and The Pulse . This is a project of The Media Consortium, a network of leading independent media outlets.

Discuss :: (0 Comments)
Next >>
USER MENU

Open Left Campaigns

SEARCH

   

Advanced Search

QUICK HITS
STATE BLOGS
Powered by: SoapBlox