ethics, healthcare, law, modern problems, poor judgment

Medical freedom… or medical freedumb?

Today I reposted a 2017 era article from my original Blogspot version of The Overeducated Housewife blog. That post was written in a time of blissful ignorance of what awaited the world just three years later. In 2017, I was inspired by reading about young people who were critically ill and forced to accept medical care decisions thrust upon them by older people. Most of the cases of the youngsters in that post suffered from cancers of some kind, but a couple of them had other medical problems.

In several cases, the young patients’ parents were religious or wanted to try a more “natural” approach to healthcare. The parents were taken to task by medical professionals who wanted to override their decisions. In one case, the patient was a 17 year old young man who was deemed mature. He didn’t like the chemotherapy that was prescribed to treat his Hodgkin’s Disease, so he tried to refuse it. Doctors sought to force submission by legal means. In the end, the young man’s case was the inspiration for “Abraham’s Law” in Virginia, which allows older teenagers and their parents to refuse medical care or choose alternative therapies.

It amazes me now to read about these controversial cases involving young people, especially given that COVID-19 wasn’t on the radar at the time. Nowadays, the term “medical freedom” is a hot topic, as people fight over whether or not vaccinations against the coronavirus should be mandatory for all who can safely take it. On one hand, there’s a group of people who want to be able to make all medical and healthcare choices for themselves, although a lot of the people in the anti-vaccine group curiously draw the line at abortions for other people. On the other hand, there’s a large group of people who fear the rapidly spreading COVID virus that has, so far, killed over 650,000 Americans and well over four million people worldwide. That group believes that people should be required to get vaccinated.

Although I am all for vaccination and I do believe that the vaccines are saving lives, there is a part of me that empathizes with those who don’t want to be forced to take it. I don’t think it’s smart to skip the vaccines. Many of the arguments I’ve heard against the vaccines seem to be mostly based on misinformation and conspiracy theories. A lot of people worry that there will be terrible side effects to the vaccines. Or they know a guy, who knows a guy, who knows a guy whose balls shriveled up and fell off after the first shot. Personally, I think those arguments are pretty lame. But I also genuinely don’t like the idea of forcing people to do things. I wish those kinds of rules weren’t necessary, and more people would cooperate simply because it’s the right thing to do.

I’ve read many stories of people who took a “wait and see” approach to COVID-19 and are now dead. Some of the saddest stories involve people who had young children or newborn babies. I’ve read at least three tragic stories about parents who have left large broods orphaned because of COVID. I’ve also read a lot of sad stories about people who are sorry they didn’t get vaccinated.

And I’ve also read about many conservative radio talk show hosts who have either gotten very sick from COVID or have actually died. There was a news story just this morning about a conservative talk show host named Bob Enyart, who had spread false information about COVID-19. He got sick and died. Enyart was vehemently against vaccine and mask mandates, and last year, he successfully sued the state of Colorado over mask mandates and capacity limits in churches. Enyart was all about making choices for his own health, but as a very vocal opponent of abortion, he apparently didn’t mind making healthcare choices for other people.

Curiously enough, Enyart was a Christian pastor, and he once gleefully read the names and obituaries of people who had died of AIDS while he played “Another One Bites the Dust” by Queen. What a charming man… huh? As Mr. Enyart was the 5th conservative radio talk show host to die of COVID in the past six weeks, perhaps the Queen song is appropriate theme for him and his ilk.

This morning, I ran across an interesting thread in the Duggar Family News Group. Someone, yet again, compared the COVID vaccine and mask mandates to seatbelt laws.

I disagree with this comparison. I also am old enough to remember when the seatbelt laws went into effect. At the time, I was pissed off about them. Don’t be too hard on me, though. I was a teenager.

I have mentioned before that I don’t think the COVID-19 mask and vaccine mandates are the same as seatbelt laws. I mean, yes, I can see how people would make the comparison, but I don’t think it’s a very accurate one. When I was a child, I hated seatbelts and would only wear them if I was forced to… and generally that only happened when my dad was feeling controlling. In those days, a lot of people didn’t wear seatbelts. They weren’t as comfortable as they are today. Thankfully, as time has passed, the technology behind them has improved. I doubt we will ever be rid of the damned things. In any case, seatbelts are kind of different from masks and vaccines, as they don’t involve being injected into someone’s body, nor do they impact normal living and communicating as much as face masks do. You only wear them in the car. They don’t interfere with speaking, hearing, seeing, eating, or breathing.

And before anyone tries to tell me that masks don’t impede breathing, let me just stop you right there. I know they don’t. But some people do find wearing them oppressive, and the anxiety that comes from that might impede breathing. There are some people who can’t wear them for whatever reason… not too many, I will admit, but there are some. Likewise, some people can’t wear seatbelts for whatever reason. A lot of times, the reason has to do with being very obese, but sometimes it’s because of an injury or an occupation.

The point is, I don’t think seatbelts will ever go away. However, many of us hope the masks will go away, if and when the pandemic ends. Personally, I don’t see the pandemic ending happening unless a lot more people get vaccinated. But even though I think vaccines are an excellent idea and I would strongly encourage people to get the shot(s), I also feel uncomfortable with government mandates on things like medical care. Because, there are people who can’t or shouldn’t get vaccinations, for whatever reason. I also understand that some people are genuinely concerned about government overreach. Their concern isn’t entirely unfounded, although some of the arguments I’ve read are pretty ridiculous.

One thing I don’t think is helpful, though, is being rude and insulting to those who disagree. I don’t like the dogpile approach to trying to change minds, either. The above photo was shared in the Duggar Family News group, and it did invite contention. One woman posted this:

I remember when this page was about snarking on fundamentalist Christian families on television rather than promoting the divide of human kind based on personal choices they make for what they put in their own bodies.

That comment led to this response…

Even though I understand the frustration behind this response, I don’t think it was helpful.

The original poster was offended by the image. She expressed her dismay that a total stranger would wish death on her. Then, a big, long thread of comments ensued, with the vast majority of people name-calling, hurling insults, being sarcastic, and typing “all knowing” responses at the original poster. Her response, rather than being convinced, was to dig in her heels and respond in kind. Then, she either got booted from the group, or left on her own accord.

The last comment ends with the person telling the OP not to go to the hospital because she doesn’t believe in science. I disagree with that attitude, too. If someone gets sick with COVID, I don’t want them out on the street, infecting others. I’d rather see them getting treatment.

So… what exactly was accomplished by this contentious exchange? Not much, that I can see. I think a more respectful and friendly dialogue might have done more to foster group harmony. Maybe no one’s mind would have changed, but at least there would be listening and constructive communication going on, rather than flaming and hair flip rage exits. No matter what, I don’t think it’s appropriate to wish death on people simply because they disagree with you. On the other hand, I do understand the sentiment and the frustration behind such responses. I will also admit to occasionally being a hypocrite when I get pushed too far. I’m human, after all. I do try not to start out with abuse and insults, though.

I have never liked “nannyism”, especially in laws. However, I understand why “nanny” laws are often necessary. Many people, when left to their own devices, will not do things that are in their own or the public’s best interests. I have always hated wearing seatbelts myself, but I do understand why they’re necessary. I also have a husband who will turn into Pat Boone if I don’t wear one. So I do comply with that rule.

Even though I fucking hate face masks, I comply with that rule, too. However, I hope someday it will no longer be necessary. And I had no issues whatsoever with getting vaccinated against COVID, because as a student of public health, I know the theories behind vaccines and have seen concrete evidence that most of them work. That doesn’t mean I’m not open to learning new information, nor does it mean I’m not aware of potential risks from certain vaccines.

Below is advice given to people during the Spanish Flu pandemic. I agree with most of it, although I don’t think it matters whether or not someone “obeys cheerfully”, as long as they are compliant.

From 2018, when the Spanish Flu was killing people. They used masks then, and the masks eventually went away. I hope the same for COVID-19.

My late beagle, Zane, was a prime example of a dog who didn’t do well with vaccines. He had mast cell cancer (immune system cancer) that eventually progressed to lymphoma. He was allergic to at least one vaccination, and would get tumors when he had others. I actually think some people over-vaccinate their pets, and some of the encouragement to vaccinate is due to the revenue vaccines generate. Dogs with mast cell tumors should not get any unnecessary vaccines. I’m a little concerned about Arran, because he is due for a rabies shot next month, and the rabies shots can stimulate mast cell tumors. Arran has also had mast cell tumors, though not to the same severity Zane had. Because of Zane, I have some sympathy for people who are against vaccines, even though I think their reasoning is wrong in most instances. We don’t vaccinate people like we do pets, anyway. We certainly don’t get as many shots as they do.

Although I do believe in vaccine efficacy, I am not one to run out and demand the latest and greatest shots, nor do I get every vaccine available. For instance, I’ve never in my life had a flu shot. I would get them if I spent more time around other people, though. COVID-19 is different, at least right now. There’s hope that the virus will eventually weaken and become less dangerous, as flu mostly did. But at this point, it’s not getting better. Many people are getting sick and dying, and from what I’ve read, COVID-19 is a pretty nasty way to go.

I do think sometimes we need laws to protect ourselves and each other from those who lack insight, perspective, and wisdom. On the other hand, I agree that people should be free to make choices, whenever possible. Either way, medical freedom doesn’t do a damned bit of good to anyone who is dead. So I do hope that those who are against vaccines will wise up and get with the program. I understand wanting to wait and see how other people do with the shots, but time is running out… I have read too many sad stories about people who waited too long and got sick. There are too many stories about orphaned children, and bereaved spouses, siblings, and parents. And too many people are becoming downright mean and NASTY toward total strangers. I wish we’d all remember that when it comes down to it, we’re in a community. And being in a healthy community requires compassion, responsibility, and solidarity.

That being said… sometimes people DO need protection from crazy beliefs. Case in point, an old Mr. Atheist video I came across yesterday. Religion and politics make people do stupid things, even to their children. So while I am mindful of the so-called slippery slope when it comes to government overreach, I also think some people need to be saved from “freedumb” ideas.

JWs are just one group that have beliefs that can harm others… especially their own followers.
Standard
ethics, healthcare, law, religion

Repost: What’s best for the children?

I am reposting this article I wrote for the original blog in June 2017, because it’s pertinent to today’s fresh content. It appears here mostly “as/is”.

Last year, I first read the disheartening story of Mariah Walton, a young woman from a Mormon family in Idaho.  Ms. Walton had the misfortune of being born with a hole in her heart that could have been easily treated when she was a baby.  Unfortunately, her parents were religious wingnuts and refused to seek appropriate medical care for her.  Rather than having the hole corrected surgically, they chose to pray over Mariah and treat her with essential oils. 

Now, at 21 years of age, Mariah should be enjoying robust health and good times.  Instead, she fights for every breath and needs oxygen.  She’s permanently disabled and may need a heart and lung transplant. 

I have read accounts written by people who have had organ transplants.  Although they can be lifesaving and miraculous in many cases, having an organ transplant is very risky and, in fact, doesn’t guarantee good health.  Some years ago, I read Amy Silverstein’s book, Sick Girl.  Although the book may seem to have a bitter tone and some readers might think Silverstein is shamefully ungrateful, she does explain why an organ transplant basically amounts to trading one major health problem for another.  Yes, you get a heart or kidney or lung that works better than what you had.  But you have to take drugs that lower your resistance to every germ out there so your body doesn’t reject the foreign part.  There is a greater risk of developing cancer, too.

Now, in fairness to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I am not aware of any church teaching that stipulates seeking healing from the Lord instead of medical interventions.  In fact, from what I read, Mariah’s parents’ beliefs seem to be on the fringe of what regular Mormons believe.  Still, Mariah and her family live in Idaho, where apparently, it’s okay for a parent to forego appropriate medical care for their children in favor of “faith healing”.  The same is apparently not true in heavily Mormon Utah, where young Parker Jensen, who suffered from Ewing’s sarcoma, was forced into medical treatment even after his parents tried to prevent it.

I’m actually kind of on the fence about this, though.  Over the years, I’ve followed cases of parents who have tried to make other choices for their children who have health problems.  I remember the case of Starchild Abraham Wolf Cherrix, a fellow Virginian, who had Hodgkin’s disease when he was a teenager and was fighting Virginia medical officials who wanted to force chemotherapy on him.  “Wolf” is still evidently battling cancer, though he is now a young adult.  His case inspired Virginia’s “Abraham’s Law”, which allows parents of teenagers to refuse medical treatment or choose alternative treatment for their children.  The catch is, the teen has to “seem” mature, both parents and the child have to agree, and all must agree that the choice is in the child’s best interest.

I also remember the Minnesota case of Daniel Hauser, who in May 2009, was 13 years old and also had Hodgkin’s disease.  His mother, who belonged to the Nemenhah Band of natural healers, fled Minnesota with him when doctors tried to force Hauser into treatment.  He did eventually come back and accept treatment, which evidently cured his cancer.

In these two cases, the minors were not young children.  Cherrix was 17 years old and could form cogent opinions about his situation.  Hauser was 13, and apparently not as knowledgable about the disease as Cherrix was.  In Mariah Walton’s case, she was just a baby when the issue was discovered. It could have been fixed then and there.  Instead, her parents were allowed to medically neglect her and she is now paying the price as an adult.  Had the Waltons been living in neighboring Oregon, the parents could have been in legal trouble for not seeking appropriate medical care for their daughter.

It’s interesting how the laws in the United States differ depending on what state you live in.  Justina Pelletier was forced to stay in a hospital and spent 16 months in state custody because medical officials disagreed with her parents’ decision to seek treatment for her mitochondrial disease.  Her case was especially interesting, since Pelletier is from Connecticut, but had been taken to Boston Children’s Hospital for emergency treatment in 2013.  Boston Children’s Hospital is in Massachusetts, so Pelletier wasn’t even being detained in her own state. 

Officials at the hospital determined that Pelletier’s problems were caused by psychiatric issues and her parents were trying to force her into “unnecessary” medical treatments.  Pelletier’s parents had previously taken her to Tufts Medical Center, also in Massachusetts, where doctors had diagnosed her with mitochondrial disease, a rare genetic disorder that affects how cells produce energy.  Evidently, the people at Boston Children’s Hospital disagreed and felt that was grounds for the state to pursue custody of the young woman.  Pelletier spent months in a locked psychiatric ward.  Now her parents are suing.

I do think that there should be some way to make sure that parents aren’t allowed to impose wacky religious beliefs on their innocent and helpless sick children.  On the other hand, I also think that there’s a fine line in ensuring what is best for the children and the government overstepping its boundaries.  It really is a shame that Mariah Walton is suffering because her parents neglected her.  She should be strong and healthy, enjoying her life instead of struggling to breathe.  It seems our lawmakers need to come up with a happy medium that considers the rights and interests of everyone involved.

Standard
ethics, healthcare, law, politicians, politics

Greg Abbott says he’s gonna “eliminate all rapists”…

Sigh… those of you who regularly read my blog may be curious to know why I’ve been reposting so many book reviews over the past couple of days. Well, it’s mainly because I suspect there are people who would like to read something besides more kvetching about politicians. Or… maybe I am just tired of writing about power hungry white men who are bound and determined to oppress women. And I am TIRED of writing about abortion, but right now, it’s just too fertile a field.

Greg Abbott, the current governor of Texas, has been in the news a lot lately, mainly because he’s championed an oppressive and creepy anti-abortion law. But yesterday, he was in the news for something else he said that is very controversial. A reporter asked Mr. Abbott, “Why force a rape or incest victim to carry a pregnancy to term?”

And Abbott, whom I assume has never been pregnant himself, responded. “It doesn’t require that at all,” Abbott said of the law, “because, obviously, it provides at least six weeks for a person to be able to get an abortion.”

Greg Abbott then said, “Rape is a crime, and Texas will work tirelessly to make sure that we eliminate all rapists from the streets of Texas by aggressively going out and arresting them and prosecuting them and getting them off the streets.”

Well… I’m glad to hear that. However, I have some problems with Mr. Abbott’s comments. First of all, his comment suggests that rapists are “out on the street” and need to be picked up by the police. The fact is, a lot of people are raped by folks who live in their own homes or neighborhoods, not strangers hiding in the bushes.

Secondly, Mr. Abbott doesn’t seem to realize that a lot of people don’t know they’re pregnant until after that six week mark. The number of weeks in a pregnancy are determined from the date of a woman’s last menstrual period. So, in many cases, a person won’t realize pregnancy has occurred until at least four weeks have passed. And those four weeks can be easily missed, if a person isn’t watching carefully. This is especially true for women who don’t have regular menstrual periods.

Until the last few years, my periods were like clockwork, and I could easily predict them. Lately, however, my periods have become more erratic. I am not in menopause yet, so there is a small chance I could get pregnant myself. But it would be difficult to determine when the pregnancy started, since my periods are now less predictable than they once were. And I have known many women whose periods have never been predictable.

Now… I’m sure a lot of people are thinking that a rape victim should just go get a “morning after” pill. But that assumes the victim is physically and emotionally able to seek help. It also assumes that the pharmacist doesn’t have any personal convictions against chemical abortions and is willing to dispense the medication.

While I agree that rape victims should be willing to report that they were raped, the reality is that the process of collecting evidence against rapists is, in and of itself, traumatic and humiliating. And some victims simply can’t bring themselves to submit to a forensic exam that takes hours and involves being photographed, poked, prodded, and examined in the most private parts of their bodies.

So… I have concluded that Mr. Abbott’s assertions that a person has plenty of time to get an abortion after rape, or that his new law is reasonable is, quite frankly, utter bullshit. It really disgusts me that this man has so very little regard for women, or their rights to control what happens to their own bodies, particularly after a sexual assault. I am so very tired of hearing men try to speak for women on this issue, too. Just yesterday, I read the following quote from a male pro-life advocate in Texas:

John Pisciotta, the director of the antiabortion group Pro-Life Waco, says he thinks rape victims could benefit from an abortion ban. When you perform an abortion on a rape victim, he said, “you’re just redoubling the woman’s trauma.” He has met women who are happy they kept children conceived in rape, he said.

“The mom is not crushed,” he said. “That’s not a rapist’s child. That’s her child.”

Excuse me? Even if it’s true that some women are “happy” they kept children conceived as a result of rape, he can’t say that about all women. Not all women want to be pregnant, raped or not. It’s not safe for all women to be pregnant, because some women’s bodies can’t handle pregnancy. And no person should have the right to force another to give birth, especially if the pregnancy is the result of coercion or violence. Despite what a lot of men seem to believe, pregnancy can and does happen under violent circumstances.

Greg Abbott insists that abortions are always wrong. And, like so many other politicians before him, he doesn’t seem to believe that true rape related pregnancies can happen. I mean, there have been so many braindead comments made by politicians, most of whom are white males like Greg Abbott, that indicate that a lot of men don’t believe that people can get pregnant due to rape. Sadly, some Republican women also don’t seem to get that rape can lead to an unintended pregnancy. Below are some infamous quotes by clueless conservatives on the subject of rape.

It really upsets me that people who make these kinds of insensitive, ignorant, and downright offensive remarks about rape are making laws. These people don’t have the intelligence, wisdom, or humanity to create laws that are helpful to victims. Greg Abbott is clearly an ignorant person, at best, regarding the abortion issue. And, based on his cruel comments over the past few days, he clearly does not care about women who have already been born and need to be able to attend to these very private matters without his, or any other person’s interference.

I realize that abortion is a contentious issue. Some people will never have empathy for people who have already been born. Some people will always place the value of a fetus over that of someone who has a concept of life and death and is fully conscious and sentient. Sadly, even people I really love and respect have these views, which, if I’m honest, make me think less of them somehow. The other day, I shared this with my friends on Facebook.

Most of my friends thought this was pretty cool. A couple of people also shared it.

I woke up this morning to two comments by a friend of mine. He’s very pro-life and religious, although he’s not a conservative voter.

He took issue with the above photo and wrote, “Belittling, perhaps “rightly, the characters of some of the people that advocate for the unborn does not change the fact that the unborn need to be advocated for because they are alive and they have a right to be born and that’s never taken into the equation when the absolute right of a woman to her body is posited.”

My response was, “No, I disagree. I will always advocate for people who have already been born over developing fetuses. There are situations in which abortions are medically necessary. None of those situations are anyone else’s business. As long as those situations exist, I will never agree that the unborn’s rights should ever supersede the rights of pregnant people.” I actually had to calm down a bit before I posted that. I do value this person as a good friend, but I absolutely disagree with his stance on abortion.

Then he posted this, which REALLY pissed me off, “And let’s not forget that the father should have a strong say about whether or not his baby is going to die.”

Uh… NOPE! NO.

My response was, “no… it’s not the father’s health or life on the line. While I empathize with men who want to be fathers, I will never agree that men have the right to force women to be pregnant.” Then I added, “And let’s NOT forget that sometimes children wind up pregnant…. Girls who have been raped. As long as twelve year olds anywhere in the world are getting pregnant by their fathers, brothers, or uncles (or anyone else), I will ALWAYS be pro choice.”

That’s right. Sometimes CHILDREN end up pregnant. This friend of mine has three daughters. I know he loves them very much and has done all he can to protect them. Fortunately, they are all grown women now. But what if, when those girls were growing up, they were victimized? What if one of his girls got pregnant due to a rape? Would he be advocating for the father’s rights then? Would he want one of his daughters, barely in puberty, to be FORCED to have a baby? Because there are places where children get pregnant and they are obliged to give birth. I won’t say it’s the norm, but it does happen even in these modern times. Two cases involving ten year olds are in the Wikipedia article I linked… and they both happened since 2015. Neither of those girls should have been forced to give birth, especially since they were both pregnant due to rape.

Now, if a person wants to argue that abortion is wrong on religious or moral grounds, and they want to grant “personhood” to a developing fetus, then in that case, I guess it’s always wrong, just as murder is wrong. If a person sees abortion as “murder”, then it shouldn’t matter how the person got pregnant or if the pregnancy is going to jeopardize the person’s health. A fetus conceived in violence or one that threatens the life or health of the mother is just as innocent as a fetus conceived intentionally. From that perspective, a developing fetus is a separate “person” who is just temporarily taking up residence in another person.

However, my guess is that most people can see situations in which abortion is permissible, and is clearly the kinder choice. Murder is never permissible, because murder involves malice and intent. Most abortions, while usually intentional, aren’t done maliciously.

My view is that no one should ever have to justify to another person why they want to have an abortion because, quite frankly, it’s no one else’s business. Moreover, the fact is, a fetus is NOT a separate person as long as it relies on its mother. And the longer people spend arguing about abortion, and whether or not the mother has a right to get one, the longer the fetus has to develop, and the crueler and more dangerous the procedure will ultimately be. Because, make no mistake about it. Abortions will still happen. But they will be more dangerous, and people will permanently injure or even kill themselves in the process of having them done clandestinely. That being said, though, abortion done correctly by people who know what they are doing is still much less dangerous than carrying a pregnancy to term.

I am glad Greg Abbott is committed to finding and prosecuting rapists. I’m not sure what secret he knows that will accomplish this great feat, but I look forward to seeing how he manages to fulfill this promise to his constituents. I expect to see the rape statistics go way down in Texas, now.

Yeah, right… I just don’t see it happening. It’s more controlling lip service from a man who obviously doesn’t understand women, or women’s health. And he just wants to keep oppressing them. It’s just sick.

I say, if people want the abortion rates to keep decreasing, then let’s make contraception easier to get and more affordable. Let’s create programs for pregnant people that take care of their healthcare expenses. Let’s make raising children less expensive, more parent friendly, and easier, with expanded options for child care that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg, and is always safe and available. Let’s promote sex education that recognizes that people are going to have sex and they need to know how to prevent unintended pregnancies. And let’s make laws that make men responsible during pregnancy, forcing them to contribute to the costs of pregnancy care. I’ll bet if we start doing that, a lot of men will change their opinions on abortion.

And you know, when Ireland and Mexico, two VERY Catholic nations, change their laws on abortion to be less draconian, you know that lawmakers who insist on compelling people to give birth are taking our country back to the Dark Ages. The abortion issue isn’t about saving lives. It’s about controlling women. So, if men want to dictate to women that they must give birth, let ’em pay their admission price.

Edited to add… 9/15/2021… an excellent video.

Standard
ethics, healthcare, law, TV

Some men just don’t get it, do they? Women aren’t incubators!

Darn it… I’m writing yet another post about abortion. I’m writing this post, even though Roe v. Wade was settled in the early 1970s. People are still trying to deprive American women of their right to bodily autonomy. And men… even men who claim to be “pro choice”, are still trying to force women to incubate developing fetuses for them.

I just so happened to download the first season of the hit 70s era sitcom, Maude, yesterday. Maude was a spin off of the great Norman Lear show, All in the Family. The show starred the wonderful actress, Beatrice Arthur, as a caricature of an extremely liberal woman of the 70s. The character, Maude Findlay, was the cousin of Edith Bunker, from All in the Family. Edith, as many people know, was the dimwitted wife of extremely conservative and racist Archie Bunker. If Archie was obnoxiously conservative, Maude was ridiculously liberal.

As a 70s era TV buff, I was sitting there in awe yesterday, as I realized just how many great sitcoms spun off of All in the Family or its spinoffs. There’s a total of seven shows– Maude, Gloria, The Jeffersons, Good Times, Checking In, 704 Hauser, and Archie Bunker’s Place. Granted, some of those shows weren’t very good and didn’t last long at all. But some of the spin off sitcoms were truly groundbreaking… and as I watched Maude yesterday, I realized just how timely and relevant that show still is, almost fifty years in the future. Maude premiered when I was about three months old. I’ll be 50 in 2022. And yet, we’re still fighting about racism and abortion. In fact, I think we’re even less reasonable about both of those subjects today than people were in the early 70s!

In any case, I happened to catch a double episode of Maude yesterday, called “Maude’s Dilemma”. It originally aired in November 1972 and was on the subject of abortion. Roe v. Wade would be a landmark Supreme Court decision the following year.

In “Maude’s Dilemma”, the character, Maude, had just turned up pregnant at age 47! Over the two part episode, Maude agonizes over whether or not she should try to have the baby, even though she was ancient for a pregnant person. Her grown daughter, Carol, who has a son of her own, encourages Maude to have an abortion. In the end, Maude decides to have an abortion, although that’s done off screen. Even still, CBS got many letters of protest. Some network affiliates never aired those episodes again after the initial airing. A couple of affiliates never aired them at all.

I was sitting there with my mouth agape as the characters on the show tried to talk Maude into having an abortion, since it wasn’t “wrong” anymore. And her fourth husband, Walter, even said he would have a vasectomy, although in the end, he chickens out.

Interesting discussion with Norman Lear… Rue McClanahan was on that episode. Years later, on The Golden Girls, Rue’s character, Blanche, would think she was pregnant, but it would turn out to be menopause.

Who would have thought, back in 1972, that people would still be arguing about abortion in 2021? Who would have thought that so many people– men, in particular– think that it’s right to force a woman to be pregnant when she doesn’t want to be?

Yesterday, my first cousin once removed, Liz, shared the below image.

I thought this was pretty awesome.

Liz is one of the few liberals in my family. Her dad is my cousin, and he is very conservative. Her mom is very liberal. They had three kids, two of whom are more like their liberal mom than their conservative dad. I’m sure it must be rough for Liz, especially, since most of the rest of her dad’s family is dyed in the wool Republican. I used to think my dad was conservative, but actually, he was probably one of the more liberal of my grandparents’ brood of nine children.

Anyway, I liked the image Liz shared, so I shared it myself. I noticed a lot of my liberal friends liked it. I decided to go to the original post, just to see what people had to say. I was quite amused to run across this thread…

Eileen said, “…there are many reasons for abortions. Maybe men should take responsibility for a change.”

Mike responded, “…men do take responsibility just as much as women do lol; it takes two people to make that pregnancy happen. I’m all for pro -choice, but the one thing that I think sucks sometimes is that, let’s say my fiancé gets pregnant and wants an abortion and I don’t want one, it’s ultimately her decision on whether to get one or not regardless of what I want.”

Um… I have to interject here. He’s all for “pro-choice”, but only if it involves some other woman besides the woman with whom he’s in a relationship. He thinks he should be able to force her to stay pregnant if he gets her pregnant. I wonder if he’s willing to pay her medical bills. I wonder if he’s going to get up with her in the middle of the night when she can’t sleep because she’s uncomfortable. I wonder if he’s going to go through all of the physical inconveniences and outright dangers pregnant people go through. My guess is that he hasn’t thought about it that much.

A woman tries to educate Mike, writing, “…because she’s the one who has to carry the useless parasite. Not you.”

Mike says, “…and that’s where the pro-choice reasoning gets absurd, that it’s ultimately the woman’s decision whether to terminate a pregnancy regardless about what the father would want. Again, I’m all for abortions and such, but if one person wants the potential baby and the other does not then have the baby for that one person and sign over your rights. Just because biology says a woman has to carry the baby does not mean the man is utterly useless and has no say about the potential baby.”

DUDE! Mike just doesn’t get it, does he? He’s “all for abortions and such”, but he doesn’t see that the burden of pregnancy and childbirth is unequal. He’s involved in the fun part of having a baby. His role is pretty much done until she gives birth. No one should be forced to have a baby. No one should be forced to be pregnant, for ANY reason. I get that some men think it’s unfair that biological women can bear children and men can’t, but that’s just life. I’m sure a lot of women would love it if men could have babies. But that’s not how we’re made.

Yet another woman peevishly writes, “…we aren’t incubators, waiting for men to plant their seed, find a person who wants children with you instead of trying to force someone to carry the child for you.”

Seems to me this point is pretty obvious. But Captain Clueless then says, “…the fuck are you talking about?

How is it that Mike still doesn’t get that men aren’t impacted by pregnancy in the same way women are? Where did he get the idea that it’s okay for him to force a woman to bear his child? Sounds to me like he needs a simple business fable to get the point across. I wonder if Mike has ever heard the story of the chicken and the pig.

A Pig and a Chicken are walking down the road.

The Chicken says: “Hey Pig, I was thinking we should open a restaurant!”

Pig replies: “Hmm, maybe, what would we call it?”

The Chicken responds: “How about ‘ham-n-eggs’?”

The Pig thinks for a moment and says: “No thanks. I’d be committed, but you’d only be involved.”

In other words, men are “involved” in making babies. Women are “committed”. A man deposits his sperm during a few moments of passion, then waits nine months for the fun to begin. His body won’t change, and for the most part, he won’t be experiencing any health repercussions. A woman experiences those nine months completely differently and, at the end, will be going through significant pain and potential risks to bring that particular project to fruition.

Even on Maude, though, the pregnant character was talking about having the baby at age 47, not because she wanted to have a baby, but because she wanted her husband to have a say. I do think that is an admirable attitude, as long as Maude can love a baby she didn’t actually want to have. On the other hand, trust me. As someone who was born in 1972 (the year before Roe v. Wade) and heard many times how unwelcome the news was of my impending arrival, it’s probably kinder to terminate unwanted pregnancies. My parents did love me, I guess… but if my mom had had an abortion, I would not have been any the wiser. Maybe my mom would have been happier. I doubt she would have considered having an abortion, though, even though it was clear she wasn’t actually up for having me. Fortunately, I managed to grow up okay, anyway. Or, at least some people think so.

As someone who is 49, I have a feeling that pregnancy would probably be very difficult, even if I can technically still get pregnant. The risks of having a baby with extreme special needs would also be high. But even if I had a healthy baby, I can’t even imagine being a woman in my 60s as my kid started high school. I’m sure there are kids out there who face that reality, since medical science has advanced since the 70s. Maybe I’m old fashioned, but I don’t think that’s an ideal situation. Life is tough enough.

I don’t think anyone should be forced to be pregnant, particularly since few people want to help when the baby comes. I don’t think adoption should be presented as the best alternative option, either. Realistically speaking, carrying a baby for another couple (or person) to raise is still a lot to ask, and it remains potentially dangerous. Fewer people die from abortions than full term pregnancies. It’s also not right to expect people who are unexpectedly pregnant to solve other people’s fertility issues.

I am still really sickened by the new anti-abortion law in Texas, which deputizes private citizens, encourages them to use the legal system to police women’s bodies, and inspires people to act like it’s East Germany in the 1970s. I ran across another argument yesterday in which a man all-knowingly wrote that the law in Texas includes a proviso for women whose lives are endangered by pregnancy. All I could think of was a case in Texas that came up during the year Bill and I were living there. See the video below:

This poor woman was forced to stay on life support at John Peter Smith Hospital for many weeks, simply because she was pregnant. But she was already pretty much already dead, and her family was forced to watch her rot, against her will and theirs.

In the end, Marlise Munoz was taken off life support. Her developing fetus would not have survived, in spite of the over eight weeks Marlise Munoz spent on a ventilator. The fetus had catastrophic birth defects. And the family, no doubt, were presented with huge medical bills after this debacle. They also had to watch their beloved family member’s body degrade to the point at which she was just a living corpse. Imagine how traumatic that was!

What a horrifying ordeal this woman and her family endured!

Given what happened to Marlise Munoz, I have no confidence that doctors in Texas will respect a mother’s life over that of a developing fetus’s. And quite frankly, it’s just not right to force people to give birth, or be living incubators. It’s a violation of privacy and civil rights.

So count me among those who pray this law is overturned quickly. And really, we as a country need to settle this issue, once and for all. I’m sorry for the men who are truly devastated that they have no say in a woman’s decision to have an abortion… but my guess is that the vast majority of them just want to control people.

When the shit comes down, as it always does when there’s a baby around, I highly doubt most of the men will be interested in doing the heavy lifting of parenting, just as they physically can’t do the heavy lifting of gestation. The reality of parenthood is probably more than a lot of them can bear, anyway… certainly people who are as immature and unreasonable as “Mike” is, anyway. I mean, if Mike really thinks that making babies is a 50/50 proposition, he’s probably not someone who ought to be breeding. Maybe Mike should watch Maude for some perspective.

Standard
ethics, healthcare, politics

A most unproductive attitude…

Last night, a Facebook friend shared the following meme.

Hmmm… I’m not sure this works.

I understand people not wanting to see medical care being “wasted” on the non-compliant. It’s heartbreaking to read stories about people with cancer being turned away from hospitals because of unvaccinated people taking up beds as they die of COVID-19. I get that, in spite of overwhelming evidence that the vaccines help prevent severe illness and hospitalization, some people just aren’t on the bandwagon yet. They have this idea that there’s a conspiracy going on and that Democrats are trying to grab power and quash individual liberties.

I’m also not so naive that I don’t understand the concerns of people who are against mask and vaccine mandates. Personally, I don’t like the idea of being forced to wear a mask or be vaccinated against my will. But I also don’t like the idea of being hospitalized, helplessly gasping for air while my husband wrings his hands in anguish. I may not mind exiting the world as soon as possible, but COVID-19 is not the way I would like to go. So I was all for getting vaccinated as soon as I could, which in my case, was in May and June. I will also willingly get a booster. And while I still hate masks and find them depressing to look at and wear, I do cooperate.

Every day, I read another story about someone who was preaching against the vaccines getting COVID-19 and dying. Last week, it was conservative radio talk show host, Phil Valentine. Like several others before him, Phil Valentine had the false idea that COVID-19 is a hoax. He wrote on his blog that if he caught it, he’d have “way less than one percent” chance of dying. Sure enough, on July 11, 2021, Mr. Valentine announced that he had COVID-19. But he was upbeat, and vowed to be back on his show within a day or two.

“Unfortunately for the haters out there, it looks like I’m going to make it,” [Valentine] wrote. “Interesting experience. I’ll have to fill you in when I come back on the air. I’m hoping that will be tomorrow, but I may take a day off just as a precaution.”

Within two weeks, Valentine was hospitalized and in serious condition. His radio station, Nashville based 99.7 WTN, announced that Valentine had changed his mind about the vaccine and was urging people to get the shot(s). Unfortunately, it was too late for the late radio talk show host. He died this past Saturday. Interestingly enough, I see that Valentine was born in Nashville, North Carolina, and died in Nashville, Tennessee. He had been ventilated since July 28th, all to no avail.

So anyway… after reading yet another tragic story about a dead vaccine skeptic, I had a look at the comments. A woman named Nicole wrote this:

Comments here just show how fine the line is between dems and reps…as in there in no line at all. Hateful people hate, no party affiliation necessary.

At this writing, Nicole’s comment has over 1100 reactions, some of which are “laughing”. I honestly don’t see what’s so funny about someone else dying of a virus. Many people also responded to Nicole in a rude and disparaging way. I noticed that she kindly and patiently answered some of the people who “laughed” and “raged” at her, preaching about how they no longer had any “sympathy” for people like Phil Valentine. My heart went out to her, so I wrote this:

I get it. I feel the same way. Whether or not people want to acknowledge it, he had loved ones who are grieving. I have a hard time accepting people on a moral high horse when they are literally laughing and cheering about a man’s death. I am vaccinated and believe in science over foolishness, and I get tired of the craziness spewed by the ignorant. But I also hate seeing how mean people have become, especially as they preach to others about compassion and forbearance.

Thanks for being brave enough to speak up. I am with you.

The truth is, Phil Valentine is not going to read or care about the hateful comments. But he’s got loved ones and friends who are seeing all of this stuff. I don’t think reading hateful, derisive, mean spirited comments are going to convince them to change their views. Moreover, I also don’t think the idea of denying medical care to people with communicable diseases is the best way to convince cooperation. All being “mean” does is shut down communication and make people feel angry… and hopeless.

Also… by denying medical care to people with COVID-19, we would simply be prolonging the pandemic. COVID-19 is contagious. Even if a person is totally recalcitrant and belligerent about COVID-19, they can still spread the disease to others if they get it. Not helping that person is only going to put other people at risk. Some of those at risk will include children, elderly people, those who can’t be vaccinated for medical reasons, and those who are vaccinated, but immunocompromised. So, I would never be onboard with denying medical care to people with COVID. I think that attitude only puts other people at risk. I do, however, understand the sentiment. It’s frustrating to see so many people not understanding the very serious risk COVID poses to everyone and not wanting to do their part to end the pandemic.

What I think could eventually happen if things don’t get better soon, is that non-compliant people will be arrested and either forced into isolation, or compelled to accept care and vaccination. I know that’s a chilling thought for people, but it has happened before with other pandemics and it still happens with certain communicable diseases. I have seen that it’s starting to happen in certain countries, like Singapore, where personal liberty is not as important as the welfare of the whole community.

For example, when I was getting my MPH/MSW at the University of South Carolina, I was classmates with a woman whose field placement was working with people who were being detained because they had tuberculosis and refused to get treatment. These folks were not being held by law enforcement, per se. They were “locked up” because they had a communicable disease and would not cooperate with public health authorities by either isolating, or getting treatment.

I remember my classmate talking about what it was like to deal with these folks who, for one reason or another, decided that they would not voluntarily take the very powerful antibiotics used to treat TB. I distinctly recall her telling our class that the people were “pissed off”. And yet, there they still were, locked up, not necessarily because they had committed a crime, but because they put other people at risk.

Here’s a more recent example. About seven years ago, Ebola was the communicable disease that was in the news. A nurse named Kaci Hickox had returned to the United States from Sierra Leone, where she had been caring for people with Ebola. She supposedly had a fever upon arrival to the United States, so she was forced to quarantine in New Jersey for three days. She then returned to her then home state of Maine, where she was requested to self-isolate at home, which she also refused to do, as she had tested negative for Ebola.

A year later, Hickox sued then New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, former state Health Commissioner Mary O’Dowd and other Health Department employees for false imprisonment, violation of due process and invasion of privacy. She claimed that there were no medical or epidemiological grounds to hold her. Interestingly enough, Chris Christie is a Republican. At the time she was in the news, Hickox was “loathed by Republicans.” The late Rush Limbaugh had harsh words for her after Hickox returned to Maine, where she very publicly flouted voluntary quarantine. Meanwhile, she got praise from more liberal outlets.

“Is this not a little bit sanctimonious?” Limbaugh said at the time. “I mean, here you volunteer and you let everybody know, by the way. … ‘I am a good person. I have volunteered to go to Africa, and I am helping Ebola patients. Look at me. See me? I am a good person.’ You come back, ‘I have just returned from Africa helping Ebola patients, and you are not going to quarantine me so that I can’t be noticed.’”

Hickox eventually settled the lawsuit, and new protections for quarantined travelers were introduced. I’m sitting here shaking my head, though. In 2014, Republicans were screaming for Ebola quarantines and Democrats were lamenting the potential loss of civil liberties. And now, in the COVID era, the opposite is happening. It really shouldn’t be controversial or political, though. It’s a matter of basic decency and consideration for other people, isn’t it? I guess some people are fine with denying other people their civil rights, as long as it doesn’t affect them personally. And some people are fine with flouting public health rules, if it’s they who are being asked to quarantine.

I wrote about Kaci Hickox on my old blog. At the time, I was of a mixed mind about her situation. I was definitely understanding her points about civil liberties. However, at the same time, my background in public health made me concerned about her risk of spreading a deadly disease to Americans. I looked up Kaci Hickox last night. I see that she, too, has a master’s degree in Public Health. I wonder how she feels about COVID-19. In this article from March 2, 2021, a reporter states that Ebola is deadlier than COVID-19 is. That was before the virus had mutated to what it is today. Moreover, according to the article, unlike like COVID-19, asymptomatic people don’t spread Ebola. But Ebola is still a very nasty disease, just as COVID has proven to be.

Anyway… I just think that we should all try to be as compassionate as possible. I don’t think it’s ethical to deny medical care to people, even if they behave in a foolish or offensive manner. I get being offended or annoyed by the willfully ignorant. God knows, I post all the time about my irritation with people who have unhelpful attitudes. But when it comes to getting people to cooperate, I don’t think it’s helpful to laugh at them as they die or express hatred for them. All that does is divide people. It’s in everyone’s best interests to be cooperative. At least for now, people still have the right to choose whether or not they will be vaccinated. It would be good if some of those who hesitate figure it out for themselves that not getting the shot could really mess up, or even end their lives.

As for Phil Valentine… it is a shame that he didn’t comply sooner. But at least at the end of his life, he tried to change hearts and minds. For that reason, I think people should be kinder regarding his memory. When it comes down to it, this issue is really NOT about politics. It’s about health, and potentially life and death.

Standard