Politics, Power, and Procreation
I hate all bungling as I do sin, but particularly bungling in politics, which leads to the misery and ruin of many thousands and millions of people.
Centuries ago the German philosopher Goethe remarked that because of its reach, government has the potential for great good or great harm. The legislative and executive branches of the current federal government increasingly have the potential to cause great harm. In February 2004, the Union of Concerned Scientists, which includes many Nobel laureates, stated that no federal government during our lifetimes has shown such little respect -- indeed, disdain -- for science and public health:
Example 1 - The Global Gag Rule
If I'm the President, we're going to have emergency-room care, we're going to have gag orders.
George W. Bush
Example 2 - Disappearing Web Sites
In the span of 5 months during this administration, the public was advised of no association between abortion and breast cancer risk, a positive association, and no association... all in the absence of any new data. The inescapable conclusion is that federal censorship led to bowdlerizing Web sites that contained any information inconsistent with the prevailing right-wing orthodoxy about sex and sexuality.
Example 3 - Emergency Contraception
Given the FDA's alleged concern about the safety of over-the-counter levonorgestrel [the progestin in the EC pill], their approval of over-the-counter sales of defibrillators last fall seems peculiar. Any 13-year-old with a credit card and the inclination can buy an automatic defibrillator that delivers hundreds of joules of electricity.
Example 4 - Promotion of Abstinence-Based Sex Education
[S]ome political leaders hold the view that, like that notorious gay icon SpongeBob Squarepants, our species should reproduce asexually like sponges. Or, as a teenager in a David Sipress cartoon asks, "Dad, can I go to Bobby's house to abstain from having sex?"
Example 5 - Partial Truth Abortion
A recent Jeff Stahler cartoon shows a group of physicians preparing for a surgical procedure. Before the surgery begins, one says to another, "Should I call Congress first?"
Example 6 - Fetal Pain and Protecting the Vulnerable
Another red herring is the notion of fetal pain during abortion. ... This bogus claim dates back at least 2 decades, when Ronald Reagan observed that fetuses suffer long and agonizing pain during abortion. Unlike Hollywood actors who venture into politics, those of us who have ventured into embryology and neuroanatomy know that pain fibers do not penetrate the base of the cortex until 26 weeks. The first EEG potentials in the brain in response to stimulation in the periphery appear at 29 weeks.
In the concluding remarks of the article, there's a quote from Paul Krugman: What we need -- and aren't seeing -- is a firm stand by moderates against religious extremism....But an even better question is, Where are the doctors fiercely defending their professional integrity?
Doctors are 1) busy taking care of patients, and 2) woefully unskilled at making their case to the public. [Congress does not have jurisdiction over us, unless one views medicine as a form of interstate commerce, like trucking. I have a loftier view of our profession. Ah, condescension: an essential part of any PR campaign aimed at insuring our patients can get proper medical care! As is cluelessness about what Congress (or the Supreme Court) considers "interstate commerce". (Growing herbs in your garden for personal consumption, anyone?) And talk about red herrings. The number of Iraqi civilians reportedly killed by US troops, and our government's torture policies add no value to a discussion of fetal pain.]
I think the better question is: Are patients even aware of the concerned efforts underway to degrade their medical care?