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Peter Matthiessen Dies at 86, Wrote of Travels in the Natural World

Because Of Red State Restrictions, Back Alley Abortions Are Back

Majority Report: Koch Brother Whines About The Oppressed Rich

Harry Reid Stands Up to the Koch Brothers and Chops Down the GOP Man-Gods

The Religious Right Needs to Get Over Noah

Wi-Fi speeds are about to triple

Why every world map you're looking at is WRONG: Africa, China and India are distorted despite access to accurate satellite data

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Rape Insurance? You Gotta Be Kidding Me

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michigan abortion law

If you're planning on getting raped in Michigan, you better have rape coverage first or it could bankrupt you.

Talking Points Memo DC:

Just after the Michigan state legislature passed a law banning private insurance companies to bundle abortion care coverage along with state-subsidized plans, the Democrat jockeying for the open seat vacated by Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI) was quick to slam the law as bad for women while the Republican candidate has yet to make a statement.

Rep. Gary Peters (D-MI), the lead Democratic candidate in the race, was quick to slam Republicans in the state legislature for passing a new "rape insurance bill" into law.

So the male Democratic candidate immediately spoke out against this law. The Republican candidate -- former Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land (R), allegedly a woman, has stayed quiet on the issue.  How amazing, a male candidate sees all that's wrong with this bill and the Republican woman doesn't know yet. She hasn't been told by her party which way she should lean. Whichever way it is, she better keep her legs crossed. Talk about setting the women's equality movement back 50 years.

Let's boil it down. Recently, the latest way to get around the law regarding abortion is to try to exclude it from health insurance plans. These right wingers and religious zealots see an opening here. They want to deregulate the insurance industry pattern of providing coverage by making one part of normal covered procedures illegal to be covered. If that sounds convoluted, that's because it is.

Health insurance has always been bundled in order to give the consumer a lower cost. If you went with an ala carte menu of services, many of the things people are covered for would be avoided because they may cost too much or people don't think they'll ever need them. But of course, the one thing you leave off the coverage will come back to bite you and you won't be covered. So you'll go bankrupt or worse, the cost will be passed onto the taxpayers.

So here's the angle. If you make abortion coverage an elective, many people won't carry it. Perhaps they're single women who don't feel they'll need it. And most likely they won't.

According to the Department of Justice 1 in 6 US women will become victim's of a rape attack during their lifetime? Rape isn't planned by the victim. It's planned by the assailant.  But the Republicans in Michigan want women to be prescient and know ahead of time when they're going to be attacked so they can purchase insurance. I can just hear a woman's plea, "No, please don't attack me, attack her over there. She's got insurance. I don't have abortion coverage in case my system doesn't automatically shut down."

Is there total insanity in Michigan and the other six states planning this outrageous, cold and calloused law? What the hell are they thinking?

Putting rape aside, what if during a planned pregnancy a woman's health becomes an issue in seeing the pregnancy to term. She may die without an abortion. She didn't think she'd have any need for a D & C but it became necessary to save her life. Where's she supposed to get the money for that procedure? It would have been covered by her health policy if the state house boys didn't screw around with it.

This law in these states is bad on so many levels. But you don't have to drink all the poison in the glass to die. It might only take a sip. Michigan is drinking from that vessel right now. If there's a woman in Michigan who votes Republican after this, she deserves the results of the full glass of this potion.

You can follow  me on twitter: @linzack

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Pastor Rick Warren's Not So Kosher Healthcare Plan

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Kosher

Here's the thinking of Pastor Rick Warren, the evangelical Christian leader and shallow religious zealot, according to TPM:

Requiring employers to provide insurance covering contraception is no different than forcing a Jewish deli to sell pork, evangelical Christian pastor and bestselling author Rick Warren said Wednesday.

It's catchy. On the surface it almost seems to make a point that could be an eye-opener -- unless you happen to take the time to analyze this analogy.

"In other words, if all of a sudden they made a law that said every Jewish deli in Manhattan has to start selling pork, I would be out there with the rabbis protesting that. Why? I don't have a problem with pork, but I believe in your right to not have to sell pork if it's not in your faith."

He doesn't seem to get his own point, but being gentile, I don't expect him to get the nuances of kashrut (Jewish dietary law). Hell, I'm a Jew and don't know half the rules. But the issue here that Rick W is missing is that nobody is making you eat the pork, or stopping you from eating it. It's personal choice.

With healthcare, nobody's forcing you to use every provision in your policy. Abortion and contraception are provided to those who, to borrow from your own analogy, don't "keep Kosher/sell pork products."

If you're a large employer and must, by law offer health insurance. That's not a choice you get to make. Also, you have to let your employees make their own "religious" choice. Refusing would be considered imposing religious beliefs on another, an apparent violation of the first amendment to the bill of rights.

Of course that's what the Supreme Court will determine in June. Picking and choosing is when it becomes imposing company beliefs on it's employees. It should not be a company mandate unless that company specifically caters only to those of a particular religious affiliation. Public companies are not religious by definition. They cater to all.

Rick Warren's problem is really this: Health insurance is not really an ala carte business. Generally you can't say I just want to buy insurance to be covered for broken bones and Meningitis. Nothing else. No other diseases or injuries. No gall bladder, kidney, liver, cancer stuff. Just the broker bone and Meningitis coverage. How much will that be?

It's not done that way. Generally in a health policy all medical issues are now covered except for death. (That's what life insurance is for.) The options are the deductibles and percentage of coverage.

But what the Republicans and more specifically the Christian evangelicals are fighting for is to turn health insurance into a strictly ala carte business. And according to them, if you're an employer who must provide healthcare insurance for your workers, you should be able to pick and chose what's covered and what's not.

They don't mind paying for your appendicitis or your treatment for migraines. They just don't want to contribute to total health care if it involves something they don't approve of -- in this case, contraception and abortion. They prefer to treat these matters after the fact, after there's an unwanted newborn, or perhaps the mother dies during the pregnancy or delivery. Caring for unwanted children or funerals for mothers with foreseeable complications is the acceptable way to go.

To create a pick-and-chose healthcare menu would make certain coverages too costly and other services not at all within a consumer's reach. So all medical issues get bundled together to bring down the price for the total coverage. Splitting out certain care issues would destroy the pricing model. And that seems to be the goal of the Republican obstructionists. They can't beat the law, so they'll work any angle to make sure it doesn't function.

Back to the the Kosher Deli analogy: In his equation, the Deli are employers. Pork is abortion/contraceptives. He says you shouldn't make the Deli provide insurance it finds contrary to  their religion or doctrines. And I agree. But insurance isn't pork. It's not against anyone's religion -- except perhaps Christian Science who don't subscribe to using doctors at all.

What may be contrary to one's religious beliefs is but one part of the picture of healthcare insurance. And nobody's making you "eat the pork."  Insurance policies serve a larger population than just one religious belief. So if you don't want pork (abortion) don't order it at the Pink Pig Baconarium for lunch. But don't stop others who love their bacon cheeseburger or their link sausages from eating there. That's taking away their choice.

When you make that decision, Pastor Warren, you're not letting others make theirs. You're taking away my rights. So don't eat or sell pork if you don't want to, but don't stop those from getting access to it if they have such a desire.

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The FDA Is Afraid Of Home DNA Tests

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pregnancy test

One of the largest selling over the counter items to come along in the past ten years is the home pregnancy test. It's simple, safe and for the most part, accurate. Without doubt, there are false negatives and certainly false positives. Regardless of that fact, women who want the test can drop on down to the drug store and pick up a kit. And for many, when they discover that they are with child, they seek immediate medical attention. They leap right into healthy pre-natal care or address the pregnancy in other ways. But the simple point is that the home test started them on a path toward better care and attention.

USA today reports a startling story about another kind of home testing -- done with a simple swab. It's the home DNA test.

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Food and Drug Administration is ordering genetic test maker 23andMe to halt sales of its personalized DNA test kits, saying the company has failed to show that the technology is backed by science.

In a warning letter posted online, FDA regulators say the Silicon Valley company is violating federal law because its products claim to identify health risks for more than 250 diseases and health conditions.

23andme test kit

I can't say that I have ever found need for a DNA test. But I'm sure there are many who do -- it's almost a staple test on Jerry Springer, Dr. Drew, Dr. Phil, and Maury Povich. Yet seemingly there's a large number of people who are using these home tests.

 The proliferation of consumer-marketed genetic tests has troubled many public health officials and doctors who worry that the products are built on flimsy science.

So the FDA is claiming that DNA is flimsy science. Tell that to the people in jail or freed from it because of that flimsy science.

Here's where the wheels of doubt and suspicion start working like the cogs at an old steampunk factory. Who's really against this and why?

The FDA warning takes issue with a number of claims the company makes for its saliva-based test kit, particularly calling it a "first step in prevention" against diseases like diabetes, heart disease and breast cancer. Regulators worry that false results from the test could cause patients to receive inadequate or inappropriate medical care.

Let's look at that for a second. You test positive for a possible disease and you're not going to follow up on it? I would think not knowing you had an illness would contribute more to complications and lack of care than knowing. And now with Obamacare and more  people having health coverage, it's as important as ever to have an idea you may be carrying something that can be cured so you'll seek out medical attention.

23andMe says its test can identify women who carry the BRCA gene mutation that significantly increases the risk of breast and ovarian cancer. But a false result could lead women to undergo unnecessary screening, chemotherapy and surgery.

Isn't no result (not being tested) worse than a false result? Early detection is key in curing. This FDA argument is a bogus one at best. What doctor is going to accept a home test result and operate on someone or give them radiation treatments without doing their own followups? If they do, they don't deserve to have a license.

The FDA's concern with 23andMe appears to center on its commercial approach, which sidesteps doctors and health professionals.

The test also claims to predict how patients will respond to popular drugs, including the ubiquitous blood thinner warfarin, which is used to prevent blood clots. The FDA warns that an inaccurate reading there could "have significant unreasonable risk of illness, injury, or death to the patient," if they don't receive the appropriate drug dose.

Once again, it's time to apply some common sense here. Sometimes one doctor prescribes something and another doctor prescribes something else which in combination could cause a conflict. Don't we as patients want to know that so we can contact our physicians and ask.

Center For Disease Control:

In 2011, drug misuse and abuse caused about 2.5 million emergency department (ED) visits. Of these, more than 1.4 million ED visits were related to pharmaceuticals.

An educated and cautious patient is a good thing. Just accepting meds on face value is the real danger. Doctors should welcome this potential heads up. At the very worst, the patient can call the doctor and tell him/her what their home test revealed. Lives could be saved, not lost.

Why doesn't the FDG have the same problem with home pregnancy tests? It seems perhaps the FDA is showing signs of corruption. If they don't get their bribe, their payoff, they don't give their approval. It might be time for an investigation, a home test, on the FDA and see what kind of maladies they're suffering from.

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