Thursday, July 31, 2008

In the News

Amazing. The way that certain politicians seek to manipulate major issues in underhanded ways. For instance, today's story on the front page of The Washington Post. Titled, "Workers' Religious Freedom vs. Patient Rights" it actually has less to do with either of those issues than it does limiting options for women seeking solutions to unintended pregnancy.

The event of interest is the receipt of a Bush Administration proposed regulation by the Department of Health and Human Services which purports to deal with worker's religious objections to performance of procedures and/or administration of certain devices or medications. The workers being offered such protection are a very broad group extending to pharmacy personnel of all levels, any and all hospital staff, any entity involved in the pre- or post-clinical care of the patient receiving such goods and services.

My first reaction is any employee who objects on religious grounds to the business of their employer is free to find a more agreeable position elsewhere. Standards of clinical practice are determined in many ways which aren't exclusively scientific but the notion that individual employees might influence a health agency's ability to perform their legal, professionally sanctioned mission is a bit startling to me. And wrong, in my opinion.

But not far below the surface is where the real surprises lie. In framing the procedures or remedies which might be covered we have this gem...

"...it would -- apparently for the first time -- define abortion in a federal regulation as anything that affects a fertilized egg..."

Danger Will Rogers! Danger Will Rogers!
Given the erosion of support for Roe v. Wade among even "centrists", this is just one more indication that the Bush Administration will stop at virtually nothing to impose their right-wing moralistic ideals on women in need of remedy. And we don't even have to go that far; it will allow pharmacists to refuse to dispense hormonal contraceptives (birth control pills, yo!) and Plan B contraception. I have been reeling all day over this notion.

Its no small little regulation, either. If accepted (the process includes agency review and public commentary), the measure would require each and every entity providing relevant goods and services to certify that they guarantee such religious freedoms to their employees. Or else? Well, boys and girls...if not, they will not be eligible for any federal funding. Oh? Does that matter? uh...yeah. Every hospital and most secondary care institutions receive federal support of some kind. I'm not sure how this would impact federal payer health insurance---that is, whether Medicare/Medicaid would pay for patient services in those institutions, but it does open that can of worms.

How crazy are we?
I actually think there's very little probability this regulation will ever be adopted. Still, if you've never had a moment of thinking "how damn arrogant IS this Administration?" perhaps this is your opportunity.

Other interesting health news
Because this must certainly be Bizarro-world, here's another item that fell like concrete in my lap this morning : "House votes to Let FDA Regulate Tobacco Industry" Whoa! Where did this come from? I'd heard not a peep that any such notion was being entertained.

Wow. Now that's a serious move in favor of the public's health...we'll see how it fares if it survives the Senate and the White House. The article does indicate that the Senate is not believed to have adequate support to make any approval vet0-proof and that guy in the White House has already said it won't survive his desk...

The FDA is not really happy about the possibility of this new responsibility and I can understand that. I'm sure they won't receive any fiscal support for it and as an agency with what is primarily a mission of public health, that agency already takes a lot of heat (deservedly) for serving as both a licensing and regulating entity for the drug industry.

I'm a little tired of our government's double speak with respect to alcohol and tobacco, though. If its bad for us (and I believe tobacco is, and alcohol can be), then stop supporting those industries. I know for sure that the FDA does not want to face down the inevitable question about the legality of tobacco versus other green herbs that might be ignited and smoked. They're intoxicants, some of them have greater or lesser addictive properties ... the difference, please?

What's Playing?
Its been gloomy around these parts lately, right? Something uplifting today, then...


The Wailin' Jennys -- Heaven When We're Home

I have Special K to thank for this; not only for cluing me into the WJ's last fall but to a host of other alt-countryfolkies: Kris Delmhorst, The Be Good Tanyas...a bunch of folks that I have really grown to love. I'm telling you---a good mix from a clever friend can fuel a revolution...! By the way, if you have a minute or two to browse the WJ's YouTube offerings, I'll be very surprised if you're not knocked out by their live stuff. Powerful.
ps--don't you love that cover art?


16 comments:

Lyman said...

Silly Kathy, the liberals are the ones who are taking away personal freedoms, not the Bush Administration!

KHM said...

Doh! Forgot:

Libertarian Dictionary (red cover edition)
personal freedom: def. those dollars contributed as tax for programs you don't like.

Whew. Thanks for the reminder!

KSM said...

I know this isn't really relevent, but that's the song I listened to as I was reading this post. I guess great minds think alike.
Love and kisses.

KHM said...

That's an amazing coincidence! Yeah, great minds--indeed! Isn't it a lovely song?

Don said...

So where does that leave me. While I personally don't believe in abortion except to save the mothers life, I don't believe it is the role of the government to tell her what she can do. I also don't believe the hospital staff can refuse to care for a patient for any reason, unless they are willing to quit over it.

I am also tired of the governments position on tobacco. Either outlaw it, or stop subsidizing it. Personally I think if you want to smoke tobacco or the green herb it is your business and you should be able to.

KHM said...

Don, I suppose the regulation, if adopted, would leave you among the growing population that opposes a woman's right to choose.

Its a thorny issue and I have my own struggles with it: I can't imagine myself ever making that choice but I can imagine the very real circumstances of a girl in trouble with a pregnancy that could be her undoing...so I don't want any part of her choice. Safe options have to be available...

Don said...

Where in my post did you get that I oppose a woman's right to choose. I specifically said the opposite.

Not sure how I continue to say things on blogs that are twisted 180 from what I actually say.

KHM said...

Sorry: I read: "While I personally don't believe in abortion except to save the mothers life, I don't believe it is the role of the government to tell her what she can do." and assumed that your non-belief followed by the statement about the government staying out of her choice implied you were anti-choice.

Don said...

Did you assume that because I am conservative, that I couldn't possibly believe that it was not the governments job to decide for her. You did didn't you? :-)

I keep trying to make it clear that I am for personal choice. Not just with abortion but whether I wear my seat belt, whether I eat food loaded with trans-fat, have no health insurance, smoke... I can decide for myself. I don't need the government doing it for me.

KHM said...

No, I didn't assume that, really, but its OK to poke at me. Actually, I was reading in a hurry and saw only "I don't believe in abortion except to save the mother's life..."

Sorry to misunderstand but I did intend to make my position made clear gently... I hope you didn't feel too maligned...

Don said...

I am used to it. I seem to have positions that aren't very popular these days, at least not around these parts. I have developed thick skin.

No problem, just wanted to clarify my position.

Special K said...

Oh -that's a great Wailin' Jennys song - I didn't realize they had a new album.

It's long been a dirty secret that anti-choicers aren't just against abortion but BC as well. The whole thing makes my head about to pop off. But, you know, these hateful people never talk about offering any alternatives to abortion. Now that their agendas are becoming more apparent, I think people are (hopefully) finally starting to see what lunatics they are.

KHM said...

K, that Wailin' Jennys track comes from the same album as "Glory Bound" which you put on that mix for me last year...? Anywho, its among the cds I'm planning to send your way. Its fantastic.

Totally agree about the issue making a head pop off...I don't want to go much further into it but this whole debate gets under my skin---because anyone who can afford such services will always be able to find a safe option for terminating a pregnancy; these restrictions just further marginalize women who are disproportionately burdened... oh those damn affluent white men making policies that keep poor women under someones' thumb...

"Keep your laws out of my uterus" remains one of my favorite pro-choice slogans.

Anonymous said...

In 1938, my eighteen year old mother was a "... girl in trouble with a pregnancy that could be her undoing...". I am so grateful that abortion wasn't the readily available, quick and easy solution to the "problem" that it is today -- or I wouldn't be writing these words. Since then, many millions of me never had the chance to write something like this. What happened to their rights? Most of the mothers and most of the kids could be savoring life right now -- Not a sermon; just a thought. -OM-

KHM said...

OM---I just don't think anyone can make that decision for others.

And I'm not among those that believe an embryo has rights. If it does, then they might be exercised outside of my uterus and that's fine with me. But if they require my body to grow, well....its rather Darwinian, my perspective.

I think my sister Tracy might not be here if this solution were available to my Mom in 1959. Some days I'm not sure how grateful I am for that ;-) just sayin'....

so this actually brings up a much more interesting question for me: that is the conferring of souls and when that happens. I remember asking my Mom (when I was about 8) what would have become of MY soul had that egg not met that sperm at that moment... still don't have a good answer for that. You might be just the man to help....

And I'm glad your Mom made the choice she did.

KHM said...

Another thought, OM: what of the young mothers who died along with their fertilized eggs because they had no safe option for the choice they felt was the only for them?