Thursday, March 31, 2005

Another starving woman for Jesse, Tom & Brother Jeb to save

"a consistent moral and ethical position would extend a feeding tube to all who are confronted with starvation -- to demand public, government policy to feed the hungry." [Jesse Jackson, 29Mar05]

I'm sure the 3 stooges could find a way to help this severely distressed, San Clemente mother (of starving children).

Courtesy Suburban Guerilla via Pandagon.

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Los patriotas verdaderos prometen en inglés

Really. At least according Noelle Tepper of Maryland. When Tepper's daughter, a student at Windsor Knolls Middle School, came home complaining that the school had started broadcasting the pledge in Spanish, she had to take action to stop the defiling of that "sacred oath". Don't get her wrong, she's not some ignorant wingnut or anything. As a matter of fact, she's all for diversity, but she was so offended to hear it (or, more accurately, learn her daughter had heard it) in a language other than English that she felt compelled to call the school Principal. She also fired off emails to the Board of Education, the district's interim superintendent and the VP of the Board of County Commissioners to complain that translation of the pledge to a language other than English is "offensive and disrespectful to our country." She's not the only parent in the district who complained and the practice was halted.

Shortly thereafter, the fine folks at Old Mill High School made the drastic mistake of celebrating National Foreign Languages Week by. . .you guessed it - reciting the pledge in *gasp* a foreign language! A student sat it out in protest and madness ensued.

Why is it that when students sit out the pledge when recited in the official, and only acceptable language of this country (eso es Americano, para usted extranjeros ignorantes), the protest is ignored? Oh yeah, that's because anyone who won't recite the pledge as originally re-written in 1954 is unpatriotic.

¡Wingnuts une!

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Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Terri Schiavo's latest opportunity opportunistic infection

As we all heard the other day, Jesse Jackson has jumped into the main ring of the circus that used to be Terri Schiavo's life. Jackson was apparently so very concerned about such a gross "injustice" that he went to Florida to be with her family. . . yesterday. He showed up to voice his opposition to the removal of her feeding tube at the specific request and invitation of her family.

This battle has been going on in public for how long, and the good Reverend is just now speaking out on what he calls "one of the profound moral, ethical issues of our time"? One would that someone who viewed this as such an urgent civil rights issue, would have gotten involved quite some time ago. One would think that a man of clergy would be involved speaking from his pulpit and offering pastoral counseling & moral support to her family instead of having a primary focus in front of the cameras to show his moral outrage and confusion as to why he was not granted an appointment with Terri Schiavo. One would be wrong. I guess Al Sharpton was right, the only thing Jesse runs is his mouth.

None of the premises in the arguments regarding keeping her alive (yet not alive) are based on any credible evidence of that being in the best interest of Terri Schiavo herself - of course that's because Terri as her husband, parents, siblings and friends knew no longer inhabits that body. Despite cries Terri has been denied freedom of religion, the testimony of Father Gerard Murphy proves that her religion was indeed considered. As my favorite Presbyterian Pastor, Tim Simpson, pointed out on Public Theologian today the lives of those who believe in G-d are not completely their own. The lives of those who believe in G-d are on loan to us by Him; he sends a soul to a body and when life is over, the soul is reclaimed.

Christians believe in an afterlife that includes Heaven for those who are good and Hell as a place for retribution. Good Christians should embrace their place in Heaven with G-d and Jesus. They are not to go out of their way to die (ie., commit suicide) just to get there sooner as this is a mortal sin, they must earn their place after fulfilling their earthly obligations. Only then should the body die to release the soul to its rightful place. As Terri is incapable of fulfilling any more earthly obligations of her own volition, her soul is in limbo - held hostage to the body kept functioning at the most basic of levels.

The 11th District Court of Appeals has refused another rehearing in the Schiavo matter; only 2 judges dissented. The courts have made it clear that the case is not about anyone except Terri Schiavo. As the days tick on, it is time for the Schindlers to finally acknowledge their tragic loss and begin a healthy grieving process.

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Monday, March 28, 2005

The Newest Definition of Medical Futility: Sexual Orientation

Michigan now proudly announces the newest bill to protect the freedom of religion: HOUSE BILL NO. 5006 the Conscientious Objector Policy Act. We've been hearing about CO acts all over to allow healthcare providers and pharmacists to refuse to participate in abortions or provide/fill prescriptions for contraceptive they find morally objectionable, but Michigan's bill is a little different.

HB 5006 would allow a health care provider to object, as a matter of conscience, to providing or participating in a health care service on professional, ethical, religious, or moral grounds. A “health care provider” would include members of professions regulated under Article 15 of the Public Health Code except for veterinarians and sanitarians. “Health care service” would be defined as the provision or withdrawal of, or research or experimentation involving, a medical diagnosis, treatment, procedure, diagnostic test, device, medication, drug, or other substance intended to affect the physical or mental condition of an individual, but would not include provision of a contraceptive medication or device.

The protections do not apply to emergent situations in which another qualified healthcare provider is not available or during a public health emergency. So, why am I all aghast at this bill? Take look at Section 11(c):

A health care provider shall not assert an objection to providing or participating in a health care service based on the classification of a patient or group of patients protected under the Elliot-Larsen civil rights act, 1976 PA 453, MCL 37.2101 to 37.2804, or based on a disease or other medical condition.

In case you hadn't noticed, Elliot-Larsen civil rights act is from 1976. Discrimination under the act is only illegal if it is because of religion, race, color, national origin, age, sex, height, weight, familial status, or marital status. In other words, a healthcare provider can refuse to provide the services listed above to someone based on their religious/moral objection to the patient's sexual orientation. Three other bills (exempting insurance providers and health care facilities) were passed last Wednesday that could also negatively impact the ability of GLBT folks to access medical care.

VP of Public Policy for the Michigan Catholic Conference, Paul Long, defended the bill as promoting religious freedom by allowing providers and facilities to "maintain their mission and their services without compromising faith-based teaching." Apparently "good Christians" believe on invasive means to keep some folks alive but have no problem ensuring those of whom they disapprove can be denied healthcare services and medications until those immoral fornicaters are at death's door.

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On the hunt for sexual predators . . sorta

Following the footsteps of Kansas, Indiana state Attorney General Steve Carter is on the hunt for sexual predators who target underaged girls. Sort of.

Carter's is investigating Planned Parenthood clinics who he believes is treating or counseling female Medicaid recipients under the age of 14 without reporting that these young girls have been sexually abused. According to Carter this has nothing to do with abortion as some of the victims did not necessarily terminate a pregnancy, some have used PP services for treatment of STDs, internals, or counseling. Carter also states the investigation is part of routine medicaid fraud investigation and is not limited to PP clinics. He is, however, concerned that PP considers requests for these records as a violation of patient's privacy - something he considers protecting child abusers (and, I gather, PP from prosecution for not reporting alleged abuse). You see, in the state of Indiana, anyone under the age of 14 who has sex is a victim of sexual abuse and anyone who treats a child under the age who has had sex (or may have sex, if they've only received counseling/contraception) must report that a suspected child sexual abuse.

According to Allen County Right to Life Executive Director Cathie Humbarger, Planned Parenthood’s priorities are misplaced.

“Defense of our children should be our foremost concern,” she said. “This is not about abortion; this is about child abuse. What’s more important – privacy or kids? And if we don’t defend them, who will?”
What I'd like to know is if this really isn't about abortion, why is the investigation limited to Medicaid patients and why haven't we heard about investigations of private pediatrician/gynecologist offices who treat girls under the age of 14 for the same reasons as PP or hospitals where these little girls deliver babies? Come to think of it, why don't they start doing background checks on Operation Rescue members when they come to protest at the local PP?

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Sunday, March 27, 2005

Being arrested last week was the least of this 10 year old's worries

According to
WFMY News, abortion protests aren't the activities for which Scott Heldreth has been arrested. It seems as though the good, Christian (capital C, that means he's more moral than the rest of us) father of a 10 year old boy arrested last week trying to sneak water to Terri Schiavo is a registered sex offender. What was Heldreth's crime you ask? Apparently he's been convicted on 2 counts of raping a minor.

Sex Offender

Offender Image Number: 116624
Date of Photo:08-22-2002

Howard Scott Heldreth

Status: Absconded from Registration
Department of Corrections #: D05316
Date of Birth: 03-23-1973
Race: White
Sex: Male
Height: 5' 09"
Hair: Brown
Eyes: Green
Weight: 180 lbs.
Last Reported Address: Kannapolis, NC
County: Cabarrus
Date Address Entered: 04-30-2004
Qualifying Offense(s):
Sex Offense-Other (Rape 2 Counts (State Of Ohio))
Victim(s): Gender: Unknown ; Minor? Yes

If further information is needed, please contact the Florida Department of Law Enforcement's Sexual Offender/Predator Unit at (1-888-357-7332) between the hours of 8am and 6.30pm, Monday through Friday


Yet another physician diagnosis without benefit of exam:

“As Terri Schiavo starves to death, it is time to alert more lawmakers to the truth: the wrong person is being ‘punished’ for Terri Schiavo’s current state,” says Carole Lieberman, M.D. a Board Certified Psychiatrist on the Clinical Faculty of UCLA. Having interviewed Terri’s father on her radio show (“Dr. Carole’s Couch” on, Dr. Lieberman uncovered the fact that Terri’s husband, Michael Schiavo, fits the profile of a wife-abuser – the same profile that fit O.J. Simpson and Scott Peterson. At Terri’s father’s request, Dr. Lieberman put her opinion in writing (see below) so that the family could provide it to their attorneys, Governor Jeb Bush and Florida DCFS – who subsequently have begun investigating the possibility (supported by medical records and witnesses) that Michael Schiavo may well be the one responsible for the collapse that Terri suffered 15 years ago."

She didn't examine or interview Michael Schiavo, his family, co-workers or neighbors, no she interviewed someone who could only provide a biased description because he has apersonal axe to grind. Way to make a diagnosis Dr. Carole, how is it that you've not been nominated for the Nobel Prize in Medicine?! May Schiavo sue your sorry ass off so he can use the money to adequately protect himself, his family and his 2 small children from all the threats they've been getting. I'm sure they'll be nice and comfy in your posh Beverly Hills digs.

Carole Leiberman (aka "Dr. Carole") should be censured by the APA, AMA, the Medical Board of California & UCLA (where she's listed as "Asst Clin Prof (vol)")

OC's diagnosis of Dr. Carole:
cranio-anal inversion
Dr. Carole's prognosis:

(amazing how I could do that without ever meeting or speaking with her, no?)

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I need G-d, not a political church

While Dylan Thomas admonished not to go gentle into that good night, it appears as though on this Easter Sunday, Terri Schiavo has begun her merciful journey there. There are those who've claimed that Terri's right to the freedom of religion has been trampled on since she is Catholic and would have abided the the Pope's pronouncement that food and water should be provided as he does not consider them medical intervention. The basis of the belief she would abide by the Pope's statement, according to her family, is that she was a practicing Catholic and graduate of Catholic school. Ironically, during testimony in from of Judge Greer, Father Gerard Murphy was asked for a definition/description of what the church considers a practicing Catholic. Murphy responded as follows:

We have what we call Easter duty, which means sometime from Lent to Trinity Sunday, in that three or four month window, a Catholic is required to receive holy communion. If necessary, confession. Catholics are mortally bound to assist at mass. Attend mass every Sunday. Every holy day of obligation. Certainly those are all criteria for a practicing Catholic.

The follow up question implies that Terri did not quite practice her religion in accordance with church guidelines:

[Felos] If Theresa Schiavo had not taken communion over a two year period before her medical incident and not participated in confession, would she be considered by the church to be a practicing Catholic?

[Murphy] Not according to the criteria. No. Practicing, no.
Now I consider myself a practicing Jew, but I do not practice completely in accordance with the Orthodox understanding of Halacha, so I am not going to question whether Terri Schiavo considered herself a practicing Catholic. I will, however, question whether she would have accepted the Pontiff's statement as a required obligation.

In 1953, Pope Pius IV addressed the issue of artificial life support directly with physicians and officially pronounced that while Catholics are mortally bound to respect & care for life, they are not required to do so at all costs. He, essentially, stated that a risk:benefit ratio must be considered, introducing the idea of ordinary means vs extraordinary means of life support as well as proportionality. The current Pope's statement (and I'm not sure if it was an official pronouncement of Catholic obligation) sent Catholic Hospitals running as they did (based on Pius' decree) withdraw life support & honor advanced directives (living will); they also allow patients to refuse treatment in accordance with the law. As such, even were Schiavo a practicing Catholic, it is reasonable to believe that refusal or withdrawal of a PEG tube for the purposes of feeding was something she would have agreed to purely on the basis of the current Pope's statement.

According to Father Gerard, a Catholic is not required to utilize any/all medical treatment available even for a condition less significant that PSV. Case in point, the death of Robert Schindler's mother (Terri's grandmother). According to
a 2003 article in the Guardian, Robert Schinder decided to withdraw life support from his 79 year old mother who, after 1 week of treatment for pneumonia, began to show signs of renal failure. People, even at that age, do survive pneumonia with a co-morbidity of acute renal failure (heck, people can actually survive full blown ARDS and multi-organ failure) with a decent quality of life. Why then, under those circumstances, was Schindler's mother life considered less worthy of treatment? Terri's own sister has stated, in her deposition, that withdrawal of life support is murder. Is it that, years later, everyone in the family has completely changed their minds about the sanctity of life (except, possibly, Terri who is unaware of what's going on)?

It seems as though all of the anger and vitriol started with the financial settlement from a malpractice suit that was awarded to Terri; the settlement that Michael Schiavo, as her husband, was awarded control of. Things spiraled out of control when the Schindlers decided to take their domestic battle public, courting Randall Terry and the "prolife" movement to make this a political issue instead of a personal one. The Schindlers have not only turned Terri into the equivalent of a circus animal but have used their battle with their daughter's husband to endanger the civil liberties of all American citizens. Why have they done this? There are many who believe it's out of love and the [irrational] belief that Terri will have some miraculous improvement. I, personally, have not only come to the opinion that this is a pathological case of grief (mis)management but also a matter of sheer selfishness.

In their depositions regarding care for Terri and their views of what treatment is appropriate and necessary, they have consistently stated that Terri's life under these circumstances brings
them joy. They have also admitted they would have disregarded Terri's wishes if they were inconsistent with their own as the type of intervention they would require for themselves is beyond extraordinary (even if it would put the rest of their family at risk for financial ruin). Apparently what matters to the Schindlers most is their own personal happiness and satisfaction, not Terri, her life, her happiness, or even the possibility of her suffering.

Question: Well, in your mind, does there come a point in time when the experience of discomfort or pain on the part of the patient become a factor in deciding whether to remove life support?

Mary Schindler: No.
[Mary Schindler's deposition 12Aug99; page 39, line 16]

There are those who claim removal of life support is the same as execution. Execution, directly causes a death, withdrawal of life support allows someone to complete the natural dying process which has invasively & artificially been put in a holding pattern. In theory, there is no difference between life support provided by mechanical ventilation and invasive methods of feeding; just as you can make the argument that invasive methods to deliver fluids/nutrition to her organs/cells keep her body functioning, you could make the same argument that mechanical ventilation is the oxygen delivering method when someone cannot breathe on their own.

Going back to the assertions that Schiavo's religious freedom has been compromised. I actually think the extensive court battles to "save" Terri are what has undermined her religious freedom more than anything. Catholics believe that human beings have a soul and that soul could go to Heaven, Purgatory or Hell; it's reasonable to assume that Terri had that same belief. The soul cannot move on until the worldy receptacle for it (the body) has died; as such, Terri's soul has been trapped in a body held hostage to this world via artificial means. Isn't it time to let her soul move on to it's rightful place?

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I Need Love ©Sam Phillips 1994

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Saturday, March 26, 2005

Throwing the baby out with the bath water

Sometimes I wonder how many generations of inbreeding it takes to produce someone capable of developing and/or defending such inherently illogical positions. Case in point: The Hyde Amendment which lays out the rules for government funding of abortion procedures.

Under 10 U.S.C. § 1093(a) (2000), DOD funds (which includes insurance coverage of miltary personnel and their families) may not be used to perform an abortion except when the mother's life is endangered by the pregnancy going to term, rape & incest. In August of 2002, a 19 year old Navy wife petitioned the federal court to obtain an
abortion when, 18 weeks into her pregnancy, she found out the fetus she was carrying suffered from anencephaly. Knowing that anencephaly is incompatible with viability, she won her case and terminated the pregnancy. Two years later, the federal government is fighting the couple trying to get reimbursement of $3,000 it cost for the procedure and using the case to ensure a complete ban on government funded abortions in line with the Hyde amendment. Government attorneys have consistently used moral arguments against abortion in fighting the couple (as well as in a previous case with similar circumstances Britell vs the United States).

The govenment has consistently claimed that section 1093(a) is constitutional because the statute is rationally related to legitimate state interests and suggests several possible legitimate governmental objectives in justification of section 1093(a):
  1. the protection and promotion of potential human life;
  2. the creation of a bright-line rule that no birth defect justifies the use of federal funds for abortion; and
  3. the accommodation of taxpayers who are strongly and sincerely opposed to abortion by not expending taxpayer funds on abortion.

To address the first justification, it must be noted that anencephaly is a fatal condition; unless the government mandates a high level of intervention to prolong the life of an anencephalic baby >as long as possible after birth (even in cases of medical futility), the government is not promoting the potential of life of these children by preventing abortion, it is promoting a prolongation of the death process for them.

In response to item #2 above, this justification flies in direct contrast to the limits set forth by the Hyde amendment itself (as does item #1 above). The Hyde amendment allows for government funding of abortion in cases of rape (in which there's no reason to assume any birth defect) and incest (in which it is assumed there is a higher likelihood of genetic defect). The physical health of mothers carrying children under these circumstances is no more directly impacted than pregnancy under any other condition. If the government's true intent is to protect and promote the potential for human life, it would make significantly more sense for a ban on use of government funding of abortions in cases of rape & incest while funding those in which the embryo/fetus has a significant genetic/developmental defect, especially those that are fatal.

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Friday, March 25, 2005

it's not quite rain on your wedding day, but it is ironic

People are talking about the irony of the fight over Terri Schiavo's PEG (feeding) tube being withdrawn when the whole reason she was initially admitted to the hospital in 1990 was due to an electrolyte imbalance secondary to an eating disorder. There are other ironies in this case as well:
  • Bush and "Prolifers" say removing the feeding tube is cruel as she will now "starve to death" which they consider humane
    • In the United States, 13 million children live in households where people have to skip meals or eat less to make ends meet. That means one in ten households in the U.S. are living with hunger or are at risk of hunger. This is an increase since 2002 [USDA]
    • Every 3.6 seconds another person dies of starvation and the large majority are children under the age of 5. [Millenium Project]
  • Bush and "Pro-lifers" believe that all life is sacred, hence Terri Schiavo must be kept alive
    • The Texas medical futility bill was enacted under then Gov. George Bush (with the assistance of "prolife" organizations), this bill was applied this past week to the case of Sun Hudson - the child was extubated under the law and died shortly thereafter. [full disclosure: I do support withdrawal of life support in cases of medical futility]
  • Bush and "Pro-lifers" want to ban abortion in most, if not all cases (except in cases in which a mother is in imminent danger of death)
    • Sun Hudson had thanatophoric dysplasia and the case was medically futile. Bush and the "pro-life" movement would ban abortion to force a woman carrying such a child to take the pregnancy to birth and then either refuse treatment or force withdrawal of life support after the child was born
  • As a long-term sufferer of the debilitating disorder of cranio-anal inversion, House Majority Dictator Bill Frist, MD remains dedicated to save Schiavo's life (at least long enough to testify about her care) and is adamantly opposed to abortion because all life is sacred
    • Dr. Frist also authored a book in 1989 in which he suggested including anencephaly as in indicator of brain death to facilitate harvesting of organs for transplant


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Isn't this a job for the Horowitz helpline?

It's Spring in Belgium. Unfortunately, I can't say the same for Philly (I actually had to wear my coat coming home from the airport). So now I'm home to the land of healthcare hypocrisy (you know what I mean) lead by those who will co-opt anything to suit their agenda, but I digress. . .

Since I'm home with the day off (yippee!) I started it off perusing the news & blogs (because I am a geek). Yesterday, Brandon posted about Zach Kincaid being fired from his job at Oklahoma Baptist University for writing a letter to the editor to his local paper stating his concerns about some local church construction. I keep re-reading the editorial and comparing it to Oklahoma Baptist University's mission statement and I don't see anything in the letter that impugns the Baptist religion or Oklahoma Baptist University. What I read was a letter in which Zach criticized a particular church for it's planned relocation and churches in general who are not catering to their local community or reaching out to those who are unaffiliated and underserved. As it turns out, the particular church he reference happens to be the one to which his boss belongs and Zach was fired for it. Ironically, Zach was the Director of Public Relations at Oklahoma Baptist University and firing him should become one heck of a PR nightmare for them.

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Tuesday, March 22, 2005

"Compassionate" Cruelty

The cover story of the Spring 2005 (Vol 5, Issue 1) issue of ICU Management is ethics. N. Zamperetti makes some statements regarding end of life care "Managing a patient's refusal of vital supports: a personal position" that have broader applications outside the ICU, including the circus that has become Terri Schiavo's "life". One of the more obvious items Zamperetti points out is that dignity can have different meanings from complete autonomy to assisted care to just being alive. He notes the difference between supplying vital support when the situation is not clinically futile and support that is merely "agony prolonging" as well as the need to understand that therapy is a means to an end (clinical outcome), not a goal itself. Suggestions for a practical approach ensuring that, when a patient refuses effective therapy, it is based on an understanding and acceptance of the predictable outcome; if the predictable outcome is not in line the the patient's view of life, personal/religious beliefs, efforts should be made to encourage the patient's acceptance of known effective treatment.

In the Schiavo case, it's reasonable to believe that Terri could have said "I wouldn't want to live like that" to her husband (possibly after seeing a news story on a situation similar to her own) very seriously despite not having gone the extra step of obtaining a living will or discussing the situation with anyone else in her family. Most reasonably healthy young or middle-aged people wouldn't think a living will is something they'd even have to consider without some sort of prompting by a healthcare facility (e.g. pre-scheduled hospital admission for surgery) until much later in life (Schiavo was 26 when she suffered the initial injury).

Much has been made from "Dr." Sidney Blumenfeld's article in Worldnet Daily. The bias of his piece is clear from the first paragraph in which he accuses Michael Schiavo of murdering Terri by withdrawing support - according to Blumenfeld, Michael Schiavo is doing this in solely to marry his girlfriend and collect inheritance from Terri's estate. In the article he, incorrectly, states:
Terri Schiavo is no burden on her husband. She is being cared for by her parents who love her. The word "love" has not been used by the court in this case. As far as the judge is concerned, love is not an issue or even a consideration. Terri's parents accept her disabled state. She smiles at them. She hears them. But she cannot speak to them. And as long as they are able to maintain and support their daughter in her disabled state, why should the court deny them this expression of their love? Is not sacrifice an important manifestation of love?

As mentioned on Liberty Street, Terri is not being cared for by her parents, she is cared for by hospice workers. The Schindler's and Michael Schiavo did attempt to care for her themselves, but Terri was moved to a skilled nursing facility when the family realized they were not able to provide adequate care for her. Blumenfeld notes that as long as the Schindler's are able to accept and support her in her "disabled" state, they should not be denied the chance to do so. Does this mean this "life" that they are fighting to protect should remain as such on the basis of their whim and that, if they were to stop accepting this her life should then be terminated? I beg to differ with the statement that the Schindlers have accepted her current state, in actuality they really seem to be in complete denial of her current state. They are not making sacrifices as a proof of their love, they are requiring their daughter to make the sacrifice in order to fulfill their needs. The is the height of (well-intentioned) selfishness and an expression of more of ownership ("she is our daughter, not Michael Schiavo's wife"), than an expression of love.

According to Blumenfeld, "every time she looks into the eyes of her parents and smiles at them, she is saying, I want to continue to live, if for no other reason than to experience your love. " There is absolutely no substantiation for this statement. This is something I'm sure the Schindler's want to believe but they are treating her like a pet, not a daughter. In truth, the only appropriate response to show love would be to reply with "I love you too much to force you to continue to do this for my benefit."


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Sunday, March 20, 2005

Well, if Herr Professor Congressman Bill Frist, MD thinks she can testify . . .

The latest round of "strange but true" episodes of the life of Terri Schiavo came from House Majority Dictator Bill Frist (R-TN) in which Terri was, essentially, subpeona'd to testify. The Schindler's chimed in claiming Terri would not support removal of her PEG " because it violates her Catholic religious beliefs." This is, of course, based on the way they raised her and the fact she went to Cathloic school (she's a graduate of Archbishop Wood in Warminster, PA).

Having friends who went to Catholic schools for 12 years, I'm pretty sure that graduating from one does not necessarily mean you abide by the church's teachings. If Terri so much as engaged in sex prior to marrying Michael Schiavo or use birth control other than NFP, the entire premise of their argument is undermined. But then, haven't her parents stated that even if Terri had verbalized wishes not to be kept alive under these circumstances, they would not have honored those wishes?

This case is completely out of control. Amp posted a side by side shots of CT scans of Terri's brain and a healthy one today. The differences should not be lost on laymen. For those who doubt that the damage to Terri's brain is significant, check out the whole brain atlas and Brain Basics.

Attorney Barbara Weller was with Terri and told the media that, during her visit with Terri, she explained to her what was happening. According to Weller, Terri began to cry and could not be quieted. She tried to coach Terri to say "Let me live" but she simply was having too much difficulty.

Emotional response is also difficult to determine because a response must be directly related to specific stimulus. This can be difficult because patients in PVS can scream, cry, grunt or have other actions associated with emotional responses, which are not done in response to stimuli. Therefore significant testing must be done to determine that emotional responses are not being done randomly, but are performed as responses.[Persistent Vegetative State]

The timeline for this case says a lot, in and of itself. The Schindler's had not objection to Michael Schiavo being appointed guradian 5 months after the PEG tube was inserted (would anyone really allow this if they knew, as the "save Terri" blogs now claim, that Michael was an abusive husband?) Everything seemd just fine until, after years of taking care of Terri without positive change in condition and attempts at experimental treatment to bring her back, her husband gave up on a painful lesson in futility. The falling out between the Schindler's and Schiavo happenned in 1993 (3 years after the saga started; Schiavo & the Schindler's lived together for 2.5 years of that time). The accusations from the "prolife" movement against Schiavo stand on the claims he abused Terri and tried to murder her, he now has a girlfriend with whom he has children (the implication is that he's had an illicit affair) and he's wants Terri dead for $1M in insurance money. As amp has , those who've written affadavits on Terri's behalf are woefully unqualified to make such statements based on their background/lack of direct access to examin her or her medical records.

As Andrew Cohen has noted in Trial by Legislation, Congress has interjected itself into a state law dispute, at the end of that dispute, on the side of one litigant over another. Due to all this legal and legislative wrangling, Terri is being deprived of her right (and the right of her legal guardian) to refuse medical treatment, which includes the unlawful invasion of her body with a gastric tube - all of this without due process because Congress' legislative action automatically voids many year's worth of the legal efforts and trials that granted Michael Schiavo legal guardianship that grants him the right & responsibility to make this decision. This sort of legislation by design in order to affect a specific outcome does not bode well for any of us.

I'm off to Brussels tonight. If my connections are working, I'll check in (and, maybe, post some pics - if I have time to take any).


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Denying G-d

According to Rabbi Akiva, a creditor and a debtor or people making business negotiations don't make or accept loans or make transactions except with legal documents and witnesses, and thus if somebody lies/ denies [the transaction], he lies/denies the [validity of] the documents and the witnesses. If someone makes a pledge/transaction to another in secret with no written documentation or witnesses and then lies/denies the pledge/transaction, that person denies G-d as who omnipresent and, therefore, a witness.

Rabbi Neal Joseph Loevinger cites Akiva in his parsha The Spirituality of Business Ethics describing that, in Judaism, there's no real distinction between ethics and spirituality. He goes on to state that how we treat others is a direct measure of our faith and how our faith must be manifest in our dealings with the world. In his commentary,
Reuven Kimmelman, extends this to indicate that humans have the power to make G-d immanent or transcendent through the morality of their behavior.

Being a good, moral person is not about being able to cite scripture, and it's certainly not using scripture as an excuse to deny others their rights or vilify them because they have different beliefs or priorities. The moral person that honors G-d does so by being honest in business, treating others with respect, and aiding others in an effort to decrease their suffering & assisting them in becoming self-sufficient. Now if only those "moralists" in our government understood this and acted on it.

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Friday, March 18, 2005

Babies: The "Pro-Life" Plan To Fix Social Security

The Senate voted 53-47 on mostly party lines against "Pro-life" Minority Leader Harry Reid's (D-NV) Putting Prevention First Bill. Pro-choice groups supported the bill and NARAL issued an open letter to the "Pro-Life" community asking for the opportunity to work together to pass this bill and decrease the number of unintended pregnancies (the single-most significant variable that impacts the number of abortions performed each year). As expected, the call was largely ignored which begs the question "what is the real agenda of the 'pro-life' movement"?

Judd Gregg (R-NH), chairman of the budget committee, was against the amendment because is blocked funding to largely ineffective abstinence-only sex education programs. He also said the program "would increase the cost of insurance & create more uninsured individuals". I guess, in contrast, families and children on welfare and medical assistance would decrease the cost of insurance and healthcare or is he advocating abortion (even when abortion isn't something the parents would want to consider) as a cost effective measure to lower premium rates?

The"Prolifers" who post to the Bush vs Choice blog had quite a bit to say about how morally appropriate the defeat of the bill was on this thread. There were the standard most contraceptive agents are abortifacients arguments [emphasis added]:

"We keep forgetting that most forms of contraception (pills) and especially the morning after pill are in fact abortificients, by causing very early abortions. Thinking that increasing funding for early abortion drugs would cause less abortions is ridculous."

Posted by: RJ | March 18, 2005 11:44 AM

and the "I shouldn't pay for someone else to prevent pregnancy when they insist on having sex" (especially when Natural Family Planning and abstinence are free and condoms are pretty cheap) and arguments in agreement with Senator Gregg's concern about increase insurance premiums (from some people who say they'll willingly pay to subsidize pre/post-natal care and even child-care costs - so money can't really be the issue, can it?). By and large, exdem had the most insightful post on the issue [empahsis added]:

"I would much rather pay twice the taxes I pay and have them go to support little kids and their parents. Did you know that the European economy is about to crash because the folks there are not having enough babies? The only reason the States has population replacement numbers is because of immigration. Italy and Germany now are paying couples to have babies because their populations are aging to the extent that in 10 years much of these two countries is expected to be a geriatric ghetto - there will not be enough unretired tax payers to support those that are retired and to pay the countries' bills."

Posted by: Exdem | March 18, 2005 08:35 PM

This makes it sound very much like the goal is not just banning abortion because it's (in their opinion) murder, but to ensure more babies are born to ensure our country's economic growth. A ban on abortion with subsequent increase in pregnancies that cannot legally be terminated is part of the "Pro-Life" movement's plan to fix Social Security and save our country. This experiment was done by Nicolae Ceacescu in Romania between 1966 and 1984; it didn't work out well for the women of that country or the children born of the policies.

Apparently the more babies you have, the more patriotic you are.


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Wednesday, March 16, 2005

I think I found the "one"

Oh heavens, this preparation for next week's meeting just has me not wanting to actually think when I'm away from the office (yeah, that's my excuse for the Britney posts).

Anyway, thanks to Brandon, I think I may have find the guy to divert some attention from the frivolous postings of FP & PT to truly important matters.

I'm also starting understand the real reason Brandon's blog is called a badchristian blog: first he gets me thinking about Marie Osmonds boobs and now, he's gone and taught me a new word and told a story that definitely tops puking on my boss not long after starting a new job. The funniest part on the entry is the fact he has it filed under "fun."


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Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Britney farts some more

". . .Then, all of a sudden, you have this home, you have the kids [Federline's children Kaleb and Kori], you have to get the diapers, get the dog to the vet. It's this reality. Like omigod, I have to tell the maid to buy diapers and get the pool boy to walk the dog? Can't I just make out with Kevin all the time? Being married sucks."

If all Allure Magazine interviews are as compelling as this, I have to get a subscription!

Maybe if we sent Britney around to schools to tell kids how difficult parenthood really is, they'd put off sexual intimacy until their first marriage.

What a nice diversion from the Joe Isuzu Homeland News Corporation [a fully owned subsidiary of BushCo.], the persecution of Tom Delay in the face of his exemplary record for maintaining high standards of ethics & the sad, but merciful, end of yet another well-intentioned but tragic prolongation of the act of dying.

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Monday, March 14, 2005

Saint Cranky?

The Prioress
You scored 7% Cardinal, 61% Monk, 64% Lady, and 37% Knight!

You are a moral person and are also highly intellectual. You like your
solitude but are also kind and helpful to those around you. Guided by a
belief in the goodness of mankind you will likely be christened a saint
after your life is over.

You scored high as both the Lady and the Monk. You can try again to
get a more precise description of either the Monk or the lady, or you
can be happy that you're an individual.

Link: The Who Would You Be in 1400 AD Test written by KnightlyKnave on Ok Cupid
I came across the link to this on Anne Basso's Our Homeschool, she tested as Prioress but I would most certainly expect that the description that the test spat out for me would be more applicable to her than to me (since I'm pretty far from a Saint).

The importance of communicating with your family before you're unable to do so

Anyone who pays even occasional attention to the news should be familiar with the case of Terri Schiavo, who has been in a Persistent Vegetative State after a hypoxic brain injury in 1990. Terri's parents are at odds with her husband who, as her Legally Authorized Representative, has stated that his wife would not want to live in this condition and legal battles have been raging between the two camps for years. Part of the battle, which has been joined by "Pro-Life" activists, Jeb Bush and, more recently, some very conservative Congressmen who have proposed Federal Legislation aimed to "ensure that in very select cases - where there is a judicial dispute about the perceived wishes of the incapacitated individual and a court ordered cessation of nutrition, hydration and medical treatment - that proper legal representation is provided for individuals who have no voice for themselves and whose lives hang in the balance." I'm not sure it's correct to say that this case has not had an appropriate level of judicial review and I have to admit, I wonder if additional legislation will not require every dispute of this kind go to the Supreme Court any time a court rules on the side of withdrawing life support.

In any case, this is an opportune time to remind people how very important it is to discuss your own views regarding what degree of intervention and what circumstances you would/would not want continued intervention in the face of medical conditions that would impact your ability to make your own medical decisions. Since one rarely knows in advance when an emergent care situation like this will arise, it makes sense to obtain an advanced directive/living will now. Another subject you should also discuss with your family is organ and tissue donation; after all, why take your organs with you to heaven. . .heaven knows we need them here?

Now, thanks to Dignan, I need to listen to Vicar in a Tutu now.


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Sunday, March 13, 2005

Those who do not learn from history doom us to repeat it

Moses saved the original tablets with the commandments written by G-d - the one's he destroyed in anger. The broken tablets were place in the Ark, along with the ones Moses carved himself, at the dedication of Solomon's Temple. We need to remember the regrets from the bad as much as we need the fond memories of the good.

When we are rash or punitive (purely for the sake of retribution), we don't always consider the innocent bystanders; hell, let's be honest, we never consider the ripple effect. The current administration seems much the same, only they don't cause ripples with their action (or inaction) they cause tidal waves. The occupation of Iraq continues, the military personnel who get to come home often can't get benefits due them even when they (all to frequently) come home injured and are in most need of their benefits. The occupation has just increased radical fundamentalist terrorism and unleashed new violence against women in Iraq. Yes, W is pushing for Freedom & Democracy in the Middle East, provided he approves of the religious ideals of those he frees and is diametrically opposed to those he fights. ..well, *sorta* Bush, the evangelist, is (as many of us are) all bunched up about Islamic religious fundamentalism in the Middle East. At home, radical fundamentalism is just A-OK (provided is Christian Fundamentalism imposing its view of religion on everyone else, except the rich religious/government leaders who pull the "do as I say, not as I do" routine). Ironically many of the behaviors/actions of the Muslim Fundamentalists are eerily similar to the actions of Bush supported Christian Fundamentalists. Members of the NAE, who just last month complained about being misunderstood, have now decided the US should
have a bible-based manifesto and that it's the duty of all evangelical Christians to advocate for government policies that support their religious beliefs.

Sorry to step up the pressure, but the progressive Christians who don't want their religion sullied have no choice but to speak up loudly (now would be a really good time).
Until you do, those of us in real danger of having someone else's religion imposed on us are going to keep thinking "if it walks like a duck, it is a duck", were positions switched you would do and feel the same.

Business Ethics 101 (Moishe-style)

Ismar Schorsch explains what is meant by good business ethics in
Good Governance. Read it yourself, pass it along to the CEOs and elected officials you know.

She speaks out of her ass too:

Britney Spears addressing the charges against Michael Jackson in this month's Allure Magazine [emphasis added]:

"If he did do those things, I feel sorry for him. I feel like he probably feels alone, and he needs some help," she told the magazine. "He needs someone to be like, 'OK, let's buck you up, let's give you a moustache, let's rough you up, let's go to a bar, let's get drunk and be a man.' And if he didn't do those things, I feel sorry for him. Either way, he needs to get in a fight."
'nuff said


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Saturday, March 12, 2005

He is trusted in all My house; you, on the other hand, are not

In Keeping Accounts, Gilah Langner addresses the lack of trust in leadership by the average person and how a leader (in this case, Moses) can and should address the concerns of his people. The applicability to modern society is obvious as never in this country's history has there been a greater need for our leadership to be open, honest and earn the trust of our citizens.

The current President of this country, George W. Bush, sets aside his relationship with G-d in a way significantly different than previous Presidents. While Bush, many Republican politicians (Santorum, Frist, et. al.) and the leadership of "religious right" set themselves up a prophets of G-d, many of us (religious and not) see G-d being used as a tool by these leaders.

It's interesting that Supreme Court arguments over the Ten Commandments took place in the midst of the part of the Torah cycle we're reading Exodus. As Langner points out, the 10 commandments takes up mere verses where construction of the tabernacle takes up chapters. In today's society, we have leadership that chooses to focus on maintaining a public showing of religion with an argument that government that doesn't openly support religion is one that is hostile to it (there is no room for neutrality in their world) while ignoring the larger obligation to actually serve their constituents. Moses chose a very different approach. Aware of the scrutiny and concern (legitimate for leadership in general, if not for him in particular), he made a full and public accounting.

Anyone can claim to have the tacit approval and trust of G-d. Anyone can claim to speak for G-d. Moses was not all fluorish & show with empty, inconsistent action. Moses showed his humanity and proved his connection to G-d by his words, the consistency of his actions, and the visible, positive results of them. The same cannot be said for the current administration or leadership of the "religious right."


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Thursday, March 10, 2005


An open letter to Congress, the President and Main Stream Media

To whom it may concern:

HR 768 & S 368 are bills to ensure that Sex Education, when taught, is comprehensive & age-appropriate, as well as medically and factually accurate. Under these bills, programs will stress the value of abstinence and family communication without blatantly ignoring the many teens who are sexually active or the fact these children will need to utilize this information in their adult lives.

These bills would reform the abstinence-only provision in the 1996 welfare reform act to allow states to receive federal funds for both abstinence and comprehensive sexuality education, including contraception. Currently, these states can only receive federal funding if they agree to use abstinence-only-until-marriage sex "education" programs as limited by the 8 point definition of the law.

Next year, when Congress reauthorize's the welfare reform act, please show your support and ensure the flawed abstinence-only provision is removed and the requirements of REAL comprehensive sex education are enacted.

For more info:

Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice

Advocates for Youth



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Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Logic v Cosgrove (last night on Nightline)

Crap! I missed last night's blogger edition which featured Maura Keaney (Democracy For VA), but she was kind enough to email me the link so I could watch her in all her splendor. Eschanton has a link to some of the transcript (in which Maura's name is slaughtered).

For those of you unfamiliar with this
piece that increased traffic on the DFV website, it was also cross-posted on DailyKos and Chez Miscarriage. I was so incensed when I read Cosgrove's proposed amendment to HB1677, that I posted links to DFV and the proposed changes on few forums including the community section of the Foo Fighter's site (Dave Grohl's from Springfield, VA - so I figured what the heck). I also included information regarding the proposed amendment towards the end of a post in January here.

Reading through the transcript, I found myself stunned at John Cosgrove's insistance that Maura should have contacted him prior to reporting about the amendment he sponsored:

The big problem I have with what happened there -and it's that that person, again, never contacted me.


I don't think that any citizen should have to wait for a legislator's permission to share her concerns about legislation. I mean, it's - once you introduce a bill into the legislature, it's part of the public record.


I've dealt with newspapers and radio stations and television media. And I have yet to have one reporter just run a story without running it by me.


I'm not a broadcaster. I take far more license from an editorial position than I would expect any reporter to do because I'm an activist.
For Cosgrove to require approval or advance notice of any "reporting" about him or legislation he sponsors makes me wonder what country he thinks he lives in. He appears to be implying that there was some sort of malice on Maura's part that enabled and/or encouraged those who repeated the story in the "blogosphere" to report the story inaccurately. Maura has been credited for reporting the story completely and accurately. Just as it is not the responsibility of Main Stream Media to ensure nobody misunderstands/misquotes/embellishes a reported story, it is not Maura's responsibility to ensure that nobody altered the story intentionally or not. The story was credible and reported accurately.

I'm not sure why a concern was expressed in relation to the posting of accurate information by an activist trying to engage citizens to get involved in local politics, etc. Maura fulfilled all ethical obligations required for any other OP/ED piece, the information contained within her "story" was verified as correct and corroborated by a link to the actual legislation submitted by Cosgrove. She even emailed Cosgrove for information prior to posting.

There is no requirement to obtain permission to report on action taken by an elected official in the public domain (in this case, the information was part of the public record) and there was no infringement of Cosgrove's privacy in the post. Cosgrove seems to be implying that if she had waited to discuss her concerns with him, he could have easily placated her with his assertions that she misunderstood his actual intent and that changes in verbiage to further clarify would have been untaken as part of committee meeting/review on the bill.

Cosgrove still refuses to accept any responsibility for his poorly worded amendment being "misunderstood" to have intentions other than what he supposedly meant. How he can be surprised that anyone would think language such as the following would be perceived as a threat to women who have had (or may have) miscarriages when Virginia defines fetus as the "product(s) of conception" regardless of age (that is from the moment of conception)?

[emphasis added; revisions in italics]

D. When a fetal death occurs without medical attendance upon the mother woman at or after the delivery or abortion or when inquiry or investigation by a medical examiner is required, the medical examiner shall investigate the cause of fetal death and shall complete and sign the medical certification portion of the fetal death report within twenty-four 24 hours after being notified of a fetal death.

When a fetal death occurs without medical attendance, it shall be the woman's responsibility to report the death to the law-enforcement agency in the jurisdiction of which the delivery occurs within 12 hours after the delivery. A violation of this section shall be punishable as a Class 1 misdemeanor.


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Monday, March 07, 2005

an interesting take on revisionist history

From Neela Banerjee's article in the NY Times (Black Churches Struggle Over Their Role in Politics), comes the funniest quote about same-sex marriage ever uttered (courtesy of Bishop Harry R Jackson, Jr):

"Historically when societies have gone off kilter, there has been rampant same-sex marriage," Mr. Jackson said in an interview. "What tends to happen is that people tend to devalue the institution of marriage as a whole. People start rearing kids without two parents, and the black community already has this incredibly alarming and, if I may say, this shameful number of babies being born without fathers."

Lets review periods of time in which societies have gone "off-kilter":
  • the heyday of the Spanish Inquistion
  • the Crusades
  • the War of the Roses (English history, not the movie)
  • US history prior to emancipation of slaves/end of slavery
  • Salem Witch Trials
  • WWII
  • Viet Nam
Just think about it and you'll see same-sex marriage was absolutely rampant during all those periods of time. Had it not been for Bishop Jackson, I would have believed the rest of the religious right when they said that historically marriage has been between a man & a woman.


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