Maine Gov. Paul LePage (R) appears set to oppose a bill increasing access to a lifesaving anti-overdose medication because of concerns rejected by public health experts that it could encourage more drug abuse, according to the bill's chief sponsor.
Fatal heroin overdoses in Maine quadrupled from 2011 to 2012. Naloxone is a drug that can reverse overdoses from heroin and other opioids like morphine. State Rep. Sara Gideon (D) is sponsoring legislation that would place the drug [naloxone], which is sold under the trade name Narcan, in the hands of police, firefighters, at-risk users and their families.
With statistics like those above, why wouldn't any caring public servant not want to provide all possible life-saving options to all first responders? Do they send firemen to fires without water? Do they send cops out on the street without guns? So why this stand by the governor, and why now?
Part of the problem is this man is insane. He's no stranger to controversy. For a quick refresher course on his antics, he's the man who had some words for Democratic State Senator Troy Jackson, whom he battled over the state's budget.
"Senator Jackson claims to be for the people but he's the first one to give it to the people without providing Vaseline," LePage told Portland station WMTW.
So now who's shoving something where it doesn't belong without lube? Here's LePage's twisted logic: he believes increasing the availability of Narcan will lead the drug user or drug abuser to have this feeling of invincibility. Therefore, why save their lives? Why should we keep alive someone who's a drug user?
Ask Janis Joplin, Philip Seymour Hoffman, River Phoenix, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Cory Haim, Lenny Bruce, Billie Holiday, Heath Ledger, Jimi Hendrix, Chris Farley, Curt Cobain, Whitney Houston, or tragically so many more. Maybe the cost of carrying the drug on first responders is a concern. But think of the value these drug overdosers' lives would have had for all of us if they had lived. You can't put a price on a life, but this GOP ultra-conservative believes he can. And he's not alone. Maybe they need to look at this:
In 2010, police and firefighters in Quincy, Mass., started carrying Naloxone as part of their standard equipment -- a scenario similar to that envisioned in Gideon's bill. Since then, Naloxone has been credited with reversing 188 overdoses in Quincy alone, and the head of the Boston suburb's police narcotics unit has become a Naloxone evangelist.
People of Maine, you deserve better. Whatever your reasons for putting your life into this wachadoo's hands, he has certainly not earned your trust. Make sure your state representative knows that the cost of saving lives is nothing compared to what a living person can contribute to you and the rest of society.