Category Archives: Healthcare

Planned Parenthood is Not Evil and You Are Not Saving Anyone.

Mr. Matthew Derosia has issues. He’s been committed nine times since 2004, which amounts to more than twice a year. So, Red, why are we talking about some guy you’ve never heard of you ask? Because last Thursday, Matthew Derosia took his mother’s boyfriend’s SUV and rammed it into the Planned Parenthood clinic in St. Paul Minnesota.

Fortunately, no one was injured, because Matthew decided to destroy private property at 7:42am before business hours. Damage appears to be minimal, and the clinic was not closed down.

Matthew’s statement is particularly disturbing, stating that Jesus told him to “stop the murders.” One has to wonder…what would’ve happened had he actually committed his crime when there were people at the clinic? If he had run down a pedestrian or actually harmed someone inside the clinic? Why is it okay then? Why do living, breathing people take precedence over potential people?

Enough. Planned Parenthood is not evil. In fact, I’m fairly sure that most people don’t even know what Planned Parenthood does beyond abortions. How about a few facts from a nurse who actually worked for PP?

  1. Abortions account for precisely 3% of Planned Parenthood’s business. The vast majority of their business comes from office visits and contraceptives.
  2. They also provide assistance for low/no cost mammograms for low income women, pediatric services for the children of low income parents, pre-natal services for women who decide to have their babies, annual pap smears, sterilization services for men and women, counseling for teens, and, of course, contraceptives.
  3. They contribute more to their local communities than nearly any other medical non profit organization.
  4. They provide MUCH needed sex education to teens and schools. I was an educator for PP for a year…some of the things that are accepted by teens as fact are plain scary.

Planned Parenthood is not the enemy. The people who work there are, in my experience, some of the most empathetic, community spirited people I have ever met. They are dedicated to the cause of women’s health, and the truly believe in what they’re doing. It’s sad that the people who work so hard to put them out of business aren’t even aware of half of the services provided in those clinics, or that the people who are helped are usually low income with nowhere else to go.

Additionally, many anti-choice women make use of Planned Parenthood’s services. Not for education or contraceptives, sadly, but for the very thing they picket and protest against: abortion. In the spring of 2000, Joyce Arthur collected anecdotes from doctors, nurses and health workers at PP as well as pro-life women about women who obtain abortions even though they protest at clinics and identify as pro-life. It’s eye opening.

Abortion is an incredibly polarizing subject. What people forget when they argue that subject is that it’s also a very difficult, painful choice for the women who make it. It doesn’t need to be turned into a shameful, guilt ridden one as well because someone doesn’t approve. The people at PP are doing a difficult job providing services to men, women and children who need them. They don’t need “saving,” and their patients deserve dignity and understanding. They’re not a cause, they’re people. Actions like those of Matthew Derosia just further remove the realization of that fact.

Measles and Autism and Tb, Oh My.

So here I sat in front of my monitor reading through this month’s edition of Scientific American when I spied a link: “Measles is back, and it’s because your kids aren’t vaccinated.” I groaned. Measles was declared eliminated in the U.S. back in 2000. Then again…so was Tuberculosis, and Tb is now believed to be responsible for 25% of avoidable deaths for young adults world wide. While HIV related cases of Tb are at the forefront of the resurgence, the instances of the disease in children in the first world, just as with the resurgence of measles, comes down to one thing: parents are not immunizing their children. Of the 131 cases documented in children from January to July of 2008, 91% were not vaccinated. This presents a frightening trend, and it is this nurse’s opinion that the fear and anti-science and anti-vaccine rhetoric surrounding the increase in Autism cases is a key contributing factor.

It was believed (and still is by some knee jerk reactionaries) that Thimerosal was responsible for the rise in diagnosed cases of Autism, but Thimerosal has not been used in vaccines since 1999. Yet Autism is still rising; in my home state of California, it has jumped 700% since 1996. 3000 new cases were reported in 2006. Most of the younger siblings of autistic children have not been vaccinated because of the misinformation regarding childhood disease vaccines.

People, I don’t know how to be any clearer about this: GET YOUR KIDS THEIR SHOTS! No, they will NOT develop Autism. No, it is NOT a scam by the marketing departments of the AMA and the eeeevil drug companies. No, it will NOT make them stronger if they have to develop their own immunity to the disease. The vaccine IS their immunity to the disease. What it will do is make them vulnerable to a disease that may very well kill them. As a parent, your primary responsibility is to protect your child. Letting them get diseases like Tb and measles when they’re easily preventable is about as far from protecting them as it’s possible to get.

Artificial Virginity Hymens

Look at that! You can fake your orgasms AND your virginity. Every time I think I’m maybe going over the top in my cynicism with respect to the human race, said human race manages to surprise and disappoint still further.

“Kee-RIST, Left,” you mutter to yourself, “what are you on about now?” I’m glad you asked. It’s this Japanese product which describes itself thusly:

Insert this artificial hymen into your vagina carefully. It will expand a little and make you feel tight. When your lover penetrate, it will ooze out a liquid that look like blood not too much but just the right amount. Add in a few moans and groan, you will pass through undetectable.

Ummm….yeah. Really, isn’t it time we got rid of the whole virginity/purity perception? Women have more to offer the world than an unbroken flap of tissue and then a life as a baby incubator. Not to mention the dishonesty implicit in a product like this. Now…if your lover has a thing for virgins and you’re into it…more power to you, I guess…but if you’re having sex (like most functional adult women) and lying to the man you’re marrying so that he’ll still marry you? You’re lying to both of you. And if that’s all he really values about you, why the hell do you want to be with him anyway?

First: Do No Harm. Unless You Disagree With Their Morals.

On December 19th, the Bush administration very quietly approved provisions to put the final nail in the coffin of American healthcare. Effective Jan 19th (one day, you will note, before President-elect Obama takes office), all entities tied to healthcare…including insurance companies…will be able to deny care or coverage for any service they feel disagrees with their moral code.

As a woman, I am furious. How dare you, Mr. Bush, tell any insurance company or doctor that I may not obtain reproductive health without risking my life? As a bisexual woman, I am seething. How dare you open the door to anyone to question me on my sexuality and deny me care because they don’t approve? As a nurse, I am so livid I am nearly speechless. We do not question the morality of our patients. It is not for us to judge. If someone comes to me because they are injured, in pain, or just have questions, I am here to do my best to help them. Their personal life is not for ME to judge. How dare ANYONE decide such a thing?

So now I can deny care based on my moral outrage? Fine. How would it be, then, if I, as an atheist, were to refuse care to fundamentalist Christians because I morally disagree with their warped perceptions of reality? How would it be if I were to refuse care to some redneck idiot who had broken his neck on his motorcycle because I’m morally opposed to treating morons who refuse to wear a helmet? How would it be were I to refuse to assist in delivering a baby because I think the world is overpopulated enough and it’s against my ethics?

Mr. Bush, you do not know the damage you have done. You think you are merely putting down rights for gays and women. I assure you, sir, you have no idea the death blow you have dealt my profession. I am saddened. But more, I am enraged that anyone would dare do such a thing as risk the lives of the people of this country all so that a few backward, self righteous, judgmental overbearing jerks can look down their noses and deny care to people they consider inferior to themselves.

I am sickened by the very thought of what this will do to a profession of which I have always been proud to be a part. There are simply no words for how disgusted I am by this ruling.

Third infant dead, more than 6,000 sickened

In what has now become a familiar refrain, yet another product from China has caused the death of a third infant and thousands of others to become seriously ill, some to the point of kidney failure.

The grim news Wednesday was coupled with an announcement that China’s biggest dairy is one of three companies that have joined the massive recall of infant milk formula after the chemical melamine was found by health officials, the Associated Press reports.

This is the second major scandal in recent years involving Chinese-made baby formula, theAPreported. In 2004, phony formula that contained no nutrients was linked to more than 200 cases of malnutrition and at least 12 infant deaths.

We need look no further than this for the health of our “global economy.” In the US corporations’ mad rush to send jobs overseas to increase the bottom line and cut the hugest cost…American wages….something was overlooked. The quality and standards we as a nation have become accustomed to expect. How much longer should this failed experiment be allowed to continue before we accept that a trickle down economy does not work? How many of our children have to die before it’s recognized that the “best interests” corporations have in mind is their own bottom line? Not the health of their workers or the safety of the products, or the best interest of the consumer. Their bottom line. Thousands are laid off with no prospects while CEO’s and top execs are given golden parachutes from the retirement savings of their employees. Jobs are sent overseas with no new markets created to fill the void. And the middle class continues to shrink, with the nation’s poor expanding.

It is time to admit that Ayn Rand’s ideas were no more than that. Ideas. And idealistic, unworkable ones at that. It isn’t a case of finding the right people for the job, because the market will NOT correct itself. Rapacious greed will win out over better human nature every time.

I believe a global economy can work. But if it is going to work, there HAS to be oversight. There has to be restraint. And there has to be enforced regulation. People, infants, have already died. What more do we need to prove that?

Bristol’s Decision or: Republicans stumble over the word “Choice”

So naturally, as an avowed Commie Socialist atheist liberal pig dog, I watch the Daily Show as often as I can. Well. Ordinarily I tivo it and watch it at some point over the weekend when I’m not running the kids around or cleaning the house or plotting the downfall of civilization as we know it by daring to vote Democrat. Last night, though, since I was up talking to the television during the RNC, I stayed up the extra half hour to watch Jon Stewart.

Ordinarily, I am not a big Samantha Bee fan; she ends up annoying me. But her last few segments have had me rolling, and I’m hoping the writers can keep coming up with the biting satire they’ve been writing for her lately.  Last night in particular had me grinning from ear to ear. On the convention floor, Samantha was interviewing attendees, asking them what they thought about the whole Bristol issue. Many of them said that, while it was an unfortunate incident, it was “a decision made privately, by the family.” I began to smile as Samantha asked each one “Hmmm….decision….she made her own DECISION… y’know…there’s another word…for decision…option? No…that’s not it….what IS that word…?” And hemmed over it more as each conventioneer got obviously more and more uncomfortable about the big hypocritical elephant in the living room. Finally one said “Um…choice?” “YES!” Samantha yelled. “That’s it. Choice. It was her choice.” The young lady then said (and I swear I laughed harder at this line than any Jon Stewart delivered) “well…yeah, but… y’know…’freedom of choice’ isn’t exactly the same thing as ‘pro choice.’ ” And she was SERIOUS!

(Clip here)

I was absolutely floored. Here’s this entire delegation who understands and supports the idea that getting married and having that baby is not only a private, family matter, but Bristol’s choice, and hers alone. And THEN had the balls to say it isn’t the same thing as being pro-choice. There I sat, my ghast totally flabbered. The darling man (who was raised in Texas and understands these things far better than a simple California girl like me) smiled at me rather gently and said “honey…they really do think ‘pro choice’ is a euphemism for ‘pro abortion’.”

I goggled at him. I blustered. What twaddle! NO ONE is pro-abortion! I’ve worked at Planned Parenthood; that’s not the motto! When we say “pro choice,” we really do MEAN….it’s your choice! Totally up to you! Bristol wants to have her baby. That’s great! SHE made that choice. Had she decided to keep it quiet, not tell anyone and given it up for adoption? ALSO great, and also totally up to her. Had she not told anyone, had an abortion, and gone on with her life? Guess what. That’s her choice, too.

The fact that people at the RNC supported that, on camera and on the record, should be screamed from the rooftops. The fact that it was the Daily Show and not a “hard news” program just means people were relaxed enough to say what they actually meant.  Republicans DO support a woman’s right to choose. Giving women that choice does not automatically follow that the choice they make will be the one with which their values disagree.

Satisfy your lover! And other ridiculous internet myths Pt. II

I had done a bit of a screed about masturbation which I ended up removing because really….anyone who reads my blog pretty much already knows masturbation is a good and healthy thing, and those who are really in need of a good orgasm certainly aren’t people who’d be reading the blog of a heretical evil woman preaching sedition and sexual gratification for all. So let’s move right along, you vibrant, delicious masters of your own bodies, you.

I’m sure by now you’ve all heard some of the weirdness that passes for peer-produced sexual education among teens. The only thing scarier than some of those myths is the number of young people who believe them.  Let’s dispel a few of those, shall we? And yes, believe it or not, I hear these questions from teens a LOT. So please. If you’re a parent; educate your kids. You don’t want them relying on what they hear from their friends. If you read on, you’ll understand why.

  • Douching with Coca Cola/Pepsi/Mt. Dew after sex will stop you from getting pregnant.

No. No, no, no, no, no. Not only will it NOT stop you from getting pregnant, it may cause you to get a raging infection. Then you’ll be itchy AND still pregnant. Please do not do this. There are already plenty of ways for a woman’s  pH to be tossed off balance without any help from the Coca Cola corporation, thank you very much.

  • If a man masturbates prior to having sex, he can’t get a woman pregnant.

Wanna know what we call guys who use this method of birth control? Right. Fathers. I imagine their girlfriends call them other things as well after getting pregnant, but you get the idea. This is so far from scientifically sound, it may as well have been come up with by the Pope. Unless you have had a vasectomy, you are producing sperm. Each and every time. Masturbation prior to sex can lower your sperm count (by about 20%), but it doesn’t make you sterile. And considering that sperm samples obtained after intercourse show up to 120% more sperm than masturbation…odds are good you’re about 9 months from becoming the adult you want everyone to treat you as. Do yourself a favor; invest in some condoms.

  • You can’t get a disease from oral.

 I can’t believe those words just sprang from your keyboard. Really? REALLY?!? Of course you can get a disease from oral. Know what bacteria like? Warm damp places where they can multiply. Any place you happen to have mucous membranes will do, and….HELLLOOO!!!!….your mouth is on that list, along with eyes, vagina and anus.

  • If the girl’s on top, the sperm won’t reach the egg.

Yeahhhh…..not so much. On top, bottom, hands and knees, standing…doesn’t matter. Sperm are designed for one thing; fertilizing an ovum. They’re swimming with a lot more force than the gravity against them.  

Teens pass each other a lot of information. Quite a bit of it (at least when it comes to sex) is bad. Want a fool proof way to not get pregnant? I’m not going to tell you abstinence, because…clearly… you’re not listening. Barring abstinence, there is no 100% safe way. But you can get close, and be reasonably cautious.

Find a local family planning clinic. Don’t be embarrassed; trust me, they’ve heard it all. Including some things you’ve probably never even THOUGHT of, but that’s a post for another day. Discuss your options for safe effective birth control. Above all, be honest and ask questions. You won’t be laughed at or talked down to; the educators WANT you to be healthy and responsible and aware of your body and how it works.

The White House’s New Definition of (female) Contraceptives

I was all set for a Bush lame duck presidency. After all, I figured, it isn’t as if he’s done a whole lot in the past 8 years other than go to war and procrastinate. He’ll likely take a few more vacations in Crawford, do a world tour, attempt to cure the woes in the middle east….that kind of thing. But no. Once again, we are treated to the kind of stupid that usually requires years of chemically treating one’s brain to attain.

In a bitch slap to all women, the White House has defined (female) contraceptives as “abortion,” and stated that any and all community clinics who refuse to abide by this trogloditic rule will lose DHHS funding. Further, pharmacists who oppose contraception for religious reasons will be within legal rights to refuse to dispense birth control to women.

Cecile Richards, head of Planned Parenthood Federation of America and my boss stated:

“Women’s ability to manage their own health care is at risk of being compromised by politics and ideology,”

I adore Cecile’s understatement. Not only will this affect women’s ability to determine their reproductive rights, it will severely limit community clinics to provide other services. Whether anti-choice activists wish to acknowledge it or not, abortion is a mere 2% of Planned Parenthood’s business. They also provide much needed low cost healthcare to children, such as the federal VFC (vaccines for children) program and CHDP (children’s health and disability program). Because of the high cost of health care, most physicians do not accept these programs, and it is left to community clinics such as PP to make sure these low income families receive the care they need. So the bill will essentially make it more difficult for the poor to access quality care.

It is doubtful that a Democratic congress would consider passing such a shortsighted, brutal law, but I urge you all to contact your congress critter immediately to ask them to vote no. Make no mistake: this is a stab at our rights as women and thinking, self aware human beings. We will not go back to a time in which we passively allowed others to decide our lives and fates.

Teenage pregnancy pact

My daughter and I were watching the news this morning while I got ready for work, which we usually do. A story came up about a group of girls in Massachusetts who entered into a pact to all get pregnant and have their babies together so they could raise them together.

Consider my ghast flabbered. I can’t begin to imagine the reasoning behind this. It takes group think to a level that’s frightening. Most of these girls have absolutely no idea how to care for another human being, and now they’re committing to be responsible for one for the rest of their lives to people they probably won’t even be friends with in ten years.

We live in a society that is currently discouraging any kind of sexual education for young people beyond “don’t do it.” How anyone could expect such a position to work when it’s fairly well established that adolescent humans are basically hormones with feet is beyond me. They don’t need haranguing or threats or scare tactics. They need information and they need it now. Parenthood is not the cakewalk these young girls think it is. It is not easy, it is not glamorous, it is not a fun group activity. It is late nights, early mornings, doctors appointments, and never ending worry (that I would not trade for anything on this earth).

This is a hot button issue for me, so please forgive my soap box. However. We cannot expect our children to act responsibly if we don’t give them the information they need to do so. We must get over our fear of our teenagers having sex long enough to talk to them about it. Whether we want them to or not…at some point, they are going to have sex. Don’t you want them to be safe? To not catch a disease? To see some of their dreams fulfilled before they are irrevocably tied into parenthood? Whether you talk with them or not…they are going to have sex. Help them. Make them as prepared as you possibly can.

I work in reproductive health. I see teenagers with all manner of misconceptions about pregnancy and sex. They get those misconceptions from their peers…because their parents aren’t talking.

This issue goes beyond simple lack of education.

Cloned meat “bad,” says superstitious public.

Alright, I may be going a bit overboard in my reaction to the reaction against meat from cloned animals. But really, that reaction is knee jerk at best and stubbornly ignorant at worst.

“Cloned meat” (as it’s being called) is nothing more than the next step in how we, as a growing population, continue to manage to feed ourselves. Cloned animals have nothing genetically wrong with them. They are not missing anything, nor do they have anything “extra” that the animal from which they were cloned did or did not have. It is the exact. Same. Meat. And no. It isn’t like making a copy of a copy of a copy til everything is “all out of whack.” I’m sorry. It simply does not work that way, no matter what the last sci fi show you watched may have said.

Look, whether you like the idea or not, we have been eating genetically engineered food for as long as anyone can remember. Those breeding programs to make the biggest hens, or the best tomatoes or insect resistant crops? What do you think that is? That’s right. Genetic engineering. This is simply the next logical step. It will not turn your children into raging psychopaths or make everyone sick or mutate the human population into some sort of mad cow-man weirdos when the moon is full. It’s okay. Really.