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Transgender First Principles

This weekend, the debate concerning the ethics of medical and surgical intervention for transgendered men and women, more properly called “gender dysphoria,” heated up again. The New York Times published an essay by a man who wishes to become a woman so much that he is about to undergo a 6 hour surgical procedure to fashion an artificial vagina, although the author admits that the surgery may not produce happiness and, indeed, will most certainly cause lifelong pain and the necessity of further intermittent, painful procedures.

In answer to my assertion (in an online private group) that transgender ideation is a pathology, a pediatrician said that I might as well claim that being black is a pathology.
While I’ve never heard of a black person seeking medical or psychological treatment to make his body more or less in concert with his race or body image ( or maybe I have..), there has to be some perception of a problem on the part of the transgendered person who seeks intervention.
Back in the’90’s, when I was in medical school, the definition included a lack of pleasure from the “wrong” genitalia. While it appears that this requirement for intervention has gone by the wayside, at the least, gender dysphoria makes leading their lives difficult. This seems to be a fair, if simplified, definition for “disorder.”

In addition, one of the early leaders in the development of surgical procedures for trans persons, Dr. Phil McHugh, agrees that transgender ideation is a “Pathogenic meme.”

The fact is that the treatments sought or offered are based on biologic sex and are essentially bimorphic: MtF (Male to Female), FtM (Female to Male). The treatments themselves are described as “feminizing” or ” masculinizing” – one or the other.
The incidence of transgender ideation in the US is less than 1% (probably about 0.5%), with as many as 80% of those who claim to be transgendered in childhood “desisted,” changing their minds at a later date, usually around puberty.
The known association with autism
and schizophrenia, along with the “clusters” of peer-group rapid and late onset, as well as the rate of reversals, suggest caution when it comes to treatment that might later be considered disfiguring and permanent.
The author of the NYT piece states that the traditional “First Principle” of medical ethics, “First, do no harm,” is only a way for doctors to be “little kings” who deny what patients “want,”
“”Nonmaleficence is a principle violated in its very observation. Its true purpose is not to shield patients from injury but to install the medical professional as a little kings of someone else’s body.””

If doctors truly forget the First Principle, what’s to stop us from “First, doing harm?” Who decides the “harm” in that case? Better hope we don’t give up our consciences.

Certainly, in this case, I would be one of those “little king” doctors who would not carry through on surgery, based on what appears to be atypical reaction to the cross-sex hormones.
Just as it’s malpractice to affirm the anorexic girl’s body image as correct and help her avoid food, it’s unethical to pretend that transgender ideation is normal or even something we can “affirm.”

Please comment on my Facebook page, Beverly Nuckols.

Federal vs. State (FGM) Updated

Update from the Detroit News:
“[T]he judge left intact conspiracy and obstruction charges that could send Nagarwala and three others to federal prison for decades.”

This story has me thinking about the powers of the State vs. the Federal government.

I am a firm believer that the individual States should regulate and enforce both criminal law and the practice of medicine.

States may make what I might consider errors in their specific codes and punishments. However, the 50 States act as individual laboratories for laws and law enforcement. As long as the States rather than the Federal government regulate these areas, citizens have a better access to the Legislators who make the laws and the bureaucracy that implement and enforce them. The voters can speak directly to their legislators in person and at the ballot box and, if truly unhappy or unwilling to wait for often slow legal changes, they can move to a State with laws they like.

These cases involve two doctors and multiple accomplices who conspired to bring girls across State lines in order to carry out Female Genital Mutilation (FGM).

The procedure is described in words and pictures at the link above and at the World Health Organization report(in .pdf), but here’s the short, least-horrifying-I-could-come-up-with version:

Pre-pubertal girls (two of the girls in this case were 7 years old at the time) are subjected to some degree of cutting in their genital area. The procedure may be anywhere between a minor cutting sufficient to cause bleeding without permanent structural or functional change, to removal of the entire labia majora and minora, along with the entire clitoris, with the vaginal opening sewn almost completely closed, only to be opened (obviously, traumatically) at marriage to allow vaginal intercourse and at childbirth.

The clitoris is a sensitive organ and very much an important part of the sexual function of the female body. The cutting site, the scarring, and the consequences of obstructed urine and menstrual flow can be life long. The actual reported goal is to make the girl chaste and impair her ability to engage in illicit sex and blunt her sexual pleasure.

FGM is a criminal act and should most certainly be malpractice under State’s medical codes. These sorts of cases would normally best be brought before the State courts.

The reason that these particular cases should be prosecuted (also prosecuted?) in Federal Court is that the girls were transported across State lines. In addition, they were irreversibly mutilated solely because they are females. If this latter doesn’t come under the 14th Amendment Equal Protection clause, I need a lawyer to explain that protection. In slow, simple language, please.

Now, I know some people will ask how I can oppose what is most likely a religious act and one that seems to come under both parental rights protection and the penumbra of “right to privacy.” And what about male circumcision?

The right to freedom of religion. Parental rights, and privacy do not have precedence over the rights not to be permanently harmed. Unlike male circumcision, there’s no medical reason to perform FGM, FGM directly impairs multiple bodily functions, and carries a significant risk of life long pain, repetitive infections, and even death.

It’s the legitimate function of government under our US Constitution and supported by the Declaration of Independence to protect the rights of individuals from being placed in harm’s way. These cases of mutilation are nothing but harmful for life, were performed on minors who are too young to consent, and were accomplished by conspiracy, using federally regulated telecommunications to make appointments, taking the girls across State lines, and utilized State licensed personnel, equipment, and medications.

I hope the Federal appeals overturn this ruling. Quickly!

Time for your flu shot!

I admit to being an advocate for ethically produced vaccines. I’m also against involuntary vaccination and very much an advocate for parental rights. However, I believe in education and (strong) encouragement to take advantage of vaccines, which are a fantastic tool to prevent disease.

I’m often confronted with objections about the actual seriousness of flu, the lack of effectiveness of the vaccines and fears about the side effects of the shots. So, in my geeky way, I spent some time doing research.
Here’s the CDC data for influenza infection rates and effects in the US over the last year, including deaths. And here’s a review of actual historic vaccine effectiveness.

Even with the variation in effectiveness of vaccines, prevention is always better than any treatment, since treatment effectiveness will also vary according to the health and risks of individual patients. Vaccines are the best prevention we can offer.

Hospitals and medical facilities work to prevent – and to detect – iatrogenic infections: handwashing, gloves, masks, isolation, active infectious disease department surveillance, etc. The trouble with so many diseases, including influenza, is that they are contagious before the symptoms are obvious.
This week, friends are sharing an article about objections from nurses who are required to either be vaccinated or wear a mask during flu season. (I won’t share that article because it’s nearly a year old, points to out dated information from as far back as 1990, and is full of false accusations and inaccuracies.)

The most recent data that I found shows that a requirement for health care workers (HCW) to choose to either wear a mask or be vaccinated reduces infection in those workers by 74%-88%.

However, the studies on effectiveness for prevention of patient infection weren’t as conclusive. The problem is that the studies available were conducted in nursing homes (not in hospitals) where patients were exposed to many more people than simply HCW and only about 12% of the HCW actually got vaccinated.
One thing to remember about reports on side effects: all of them are present in the general population. The important data is whether there’s a higher incidence in the vaccinated population than in the controls.

Here is a study on flu vaccine safety last year, as reported by over 70,000 Australian patients. There were no serious events, and only about 1% sought “Medical Attendance” (saw a doctor) for events, usually fevers.

Thanksgiving is next week, with its travel and visiting – and spreading of germs. Expect cases to increase in time for Christmas and New Year, as usual. Please think about getting your vaccine, this week.

Happy Birth Parent Day

screenshot_20180616-075345_chrome5005037694364168408-e1529155414475.jpg
Google Images for “Baby Daddy” card

That lawsuit I wrote about yesterday would not only would put an end to Texas’ Medical and legal regulations on abortion – including informed consent, waiting periods, and sonograms – the plaintiffs go out of their way to redefine mother and father, too.

From Footnote 1, page 2:
“”1 Most people with the capacity to become pregnant identify as women. Historically, both jurisprudence and public health data have focused on women when addressing reproductive rights and health. But there is an emerging recognition in the law and society more generally that not all people who may become pregnant identify as women. See generally Glenn v. Brumby, 663 F.3d 1312, 1316-19 (11th Cir. 2011)
(holding, consistent with the weight of authority, that the Equal Protection Clause prohibits discrimination on the basis of “gender nonconformity”) (collecting cases); Robin Marantz Henig, How Science Is Helping Us Understand Gender, National Geographic (2017), https://www.nationalgeographic.com/
of all individuals to end an unwanted pregnancy, regardless of gender identity.”
 (I’m sorry, but can’t find a link to the lawsuit on line. It’s “Whole Woman’s Health Alliance et al v Paxton et al, U.S. District Court, Western District of Texas, No. 18-00500.)

From the UK, we see the inevitable results in a time of identity and personal choice :

Lawyers have told a judge that he had been biologically able to become pregnant but had legally become a man when the child was born.

“They say the transgender man wants to be identified as the child’s “father” or “parent” on a birth certificate.”

And, in Ohio:

“Explaining their unusual parenting arrangements, Amy said: “We went through a lot of fertility treatments, until we finally reached a point where we needed to make a decision as to whether we were going to do more medical intervention or if we were going to switch bodies. (emphasis mine)

“We were fortunate enough to have two uteruses. So, after a lot of thought and emotion and difficulties we switched to Chris.

“And while Chris lived as a man and didn’t feel female, he was willing to use his womb for the good of their family.”

Of course, neither Chris nor Amy could donate sperm. So, who is really — is there even — a father?

Or a parent, of either gender or any identity, who sees the child as his own person, human-enough to possess inalienable rights, rather than a political statement and a means to an end?

Response to criticism about Texas Advance Directive Act

I’ve been having a long Facebook discussion with representatives of organizations, people who claim that I support coercion and killing patients because I defend the Texas Advance Directives Act, 166.0046. (TADA).

I want to respond as fully as I can. ( I’m bandwidth deprived today and will gradually add more links when I reach better signals. See here, here, and here for more explanations from earlier WingRight posts. Links to the law, the press, and previous blog posts by others can be found in those articles.)

First, no one withdraws or withholds *care* of the patient. The patient still receives food and hydration, pain medicine, oxygen by tube or mask, if needed, and other medical treatment.
The 10 day period is the only recourse allowed under Texas law when a doctor refuses a treatment requested by the patient. All legislative attempts to increase the times have been blocked.
For hospitalized patients, the Act is the only way for a doctor to refuse a patient’s request for medically inappropriate treatment without risk of abandoning him. If the doctor doesn’t follow the law, he becomes liable. Although no reason is required by law, in every case I know of the doctor has made it clear that the requested treatment is causing suffering and/or actual harm and violates the First Principle: “Cure when possible, but first, do no harm.”
I have asked who/where are the doctors willing to accept transfer. There must be some doctor willing to accept the patient in order for there to be a transfer. “Facilities” or hospitals can’t accept a patient without an accepting physician. For the most part, doctors in Texas don’t work for a hospital and can’t be ordered to admit or treat by the facility. That no other doctor can be found is actually evidence that the first doctor’s medical judgment is based on good medicine.
Transfer has happened in a couple of examples (that I know of because they have made the press or gone to court), where a doctor disagrees with the original attending physician. I’m sure this has happened in many others that we never heard about because of the transfer.
I didn’t want to cover a specific case, preferring to stick with the issues of ethics. However, my accusers repeatedly brought up Mr. Chris Dunn. His case is very typical of both my experience with patients dying of end-stage hepato-renal failure and the course of other patients I’ve been able to follow through public documents.

It was easy to follow this case. There was a video published by Texas Right to Life (TRTL), a lot of press, statements to reporters by family, lawyers, and TRTL staffers, as well as a couple of lawsuits. I spent the better part of two days once again reviewing the public records.

Virtually all of the hospital medical reports were made public record in the latest appeal by Mrs. Kelly’s lawyers, Joe Nixon and Trey Trainor, BTW. (Another BTW: Senator Nixon, please follow the gown rules for isolation rules in the future. There’s a reason for them.)
There have been many misleading statements and errors about the case in news articles, blogs, and press releases, including both condemnation and praise for the doctors and the hospital by the family members, TRTL, and repesentatives of Empower Texans (ET), (making this review pertinent as the conversation began on Facebook in response to another ET article). The affidavits of the attending doctor, the chairman of the Methodist Biomedical Ethics Committee, the social worker, and legal documents from Mrs. Kelly’s and Methodist’s lawyers have been public records at the Harris County court website and elsewhere online.
Mr. Dunn was transferred from another hospital to Methodist hospital after having a gastrointestinal bleeding episode that resulted in his becoming unresponsive and being placed on a ventilator. He had severe liver failure, kidney failure, and the build up of fluid in his lungs which his mother told a reporter about. His clinical diagnosis was obvious, and supported by records from an earlier hospitalization when he was diagnosed as having a metastic pancreatic mass. He had checked himself out of that hospital against medical advice after refusing a biopsy of his pancreatic mass or further treatment.
On admission, Mr. Dunn wasn’t able to make decisions, as he was suffering from hepatic encephalopathy (which causes delirium) and sedated due to pain and the ventilator. (Note the restraints on his wrists, his jaundice and swollen belly, and his sleepiness and confusion are evident in that video we’ve all seen.)
He didn’t have an Advance Directive or a Durable Power of Attorney for Medical Care. (TRTL’s lawyer John Seago claimed the mother had one.) The doctors turned to his divorced parents to make decisions as co-equal surrogates under Texas law.
Unfortunately, as his sister told one reporter, his dad agreed with the doctor, but his mother disagreed. According to court documents, the elder Mr. Dunn said that he believed that Chris didn’t want to die in the hospital and insisted on removal of the ventilator and transition to comfort care (not the administration of a deadly “serum” as the lawyers claimed in the lawsuit and media). Mrs. Kelly kept asking for more time to talk to family members before making a decision. in their affidavits, a hospital social worker and the Ethics Committe chair, each described the parents’ interaction with one another as a “firestorm.”

It

was obvious that Mr. Dunn needed a legal guardian. That he was unable to make medical decisions is supported by the affidavits of the attending doctor and a later court examiner, as well as the fact that his parents were agreeable to making those decisions.
The Ethics Committee chair and other members documented meetings with the parents and family at least five times over the month after admission, and given copies of the hospital policy on disputes. When the doctor invoked TADA, the Ethics chair met with them again and they were given 3 day’s notice of the committee meeting. (Dispelling the lawsuit and blogging claim that the family wasn’t informed and was surprised by the sudden notice.)
Mrs. Kelly attended the meeting and spoke with the Committee. Both parents were given information about the hospital policy on the TADA and told that the doctor would be allowed to remove the ventilator 11 days later. While Mr Dunn’s father agreed, his mother did not and filed her first lawsuit.
The hospital social workers contacted over 60 different facilities in attempt to transfer. They were able to find a hospice (and presumably a hospice doctor) willing to care for Mr. Dunn on the ventilator at home, but Mrs. Kelly declined that transfer.
The MICU intensivist doctors and hospital voluntarily agreed, without a court order or hearing, to continue the ventilator until a single legal guardian could be named. There was never a restraining order after the initial Agreed TRO. There was never any move to deny the Total Parenteral Nutrition or any other treatment. The doctors, the hospital and the court where Mrs. Kelly filed suit against the hospital requested that the probate court determine a legal guardian to settle the dispute between the parents. The hospital specifically asked for a family member to be named guardian. There never was a move to remove Mrs. Kelly as guardian since she never was the guardian. The probate court hadn’t named a legal guardian at the time of death.
At autopsy, the pancreatic adenocarcinoma was found in the pancreas, liver, lungs, and lymph nodes. There were 20 liters (5 gallons) of ascites fluid in the abdomen due to the liver failure which prevented the production of protein and blood clotting factors. The lungs showed evidence of fluid congestion, aspiration of stomach fluids and pneumonia. The kidneys had failed and were infected. There was wasting of fat and muscle tissue.
The clinical diagnosis was confirmed. Mr. Dunn died of his disease with 40 pounds of fluid in his abdomen, congested lungs, pneumonia and kidney infections, and on a ventilator with total food and hydration by IV. This is not “natural death.”
The court has dismissed the lawsuit(s) in favor of the hospital. The only coercion in this case was against the doctors who evidently gave extraordinarily good care in order to keep him alive while waiting for the surrogates’ decision, then waiting for the probate court to act. And yet, Mrs. Kelly’s lawyers have amended her lawsuit, since dismissed, and filed an appeal which demands a “fair trial” whenever disputes like this occur.
The demands we’ve heard about TADA, to mandate that individual doctors “treat until transfer” or face new civil and criminal liability – even jail time – for doctors who use their consciences and refuse to act against their medical judgment would not only infringe against a doctor’s right not to be enslaved by positively forcing his hand against his will. It would be a moving target, with advances in intensive care technology and the ability to keep a patient’s body functioning with increasing technology.
As to the “Doctors aren’t God” refrain by others: I agree. And I’ve agreed each time someone shouts (or writes) it at me when I won’t refer for an abortion or write that opiate perscription that they are certain is their right.
Inalienable rights are negative rights: the right not to be killed, the right not to be enslaved.
Doctors are human beings with inalienable rights, including the right to conscience and to not have their hand forced to cause harm to a confused and delirious patient who cannot consent to suffer.
As shown by the first month of the Chris Dunn case, we recognize that some times we must stretch our limits. However, not indefinitely and not all our limits.

(Edited 03/11/18 for typos, to add a link, and to clarify points originally made on Facebook in a long debate. BBN)

Some words @ #MeToo

I know, there’s been lots of words already. However, a recent comment about the #MeToo crowd trading “sex for profit” points out a basic misunderstanding about sexual exploitation and abuse: the victims are victims.

Child actor Todd Bridges gives the most common reason for keeping quiet: “[T]hey say you’re lying.”

Oh, I do want to know where the “Women’s March” was before January 20, 2017! And I’d like to ask Ashley Judd and Madonna, two of the “nasty women” who claim victimhood while wearing pink “pussy hats,” reciting obscene poetry, and cussing from the podium on the National Mall why they blame Conservatives and the current US Administration – for the culture that exploits girls and women (and boys) sexually. In response, it’s easy to point to the fact that Harvey Weinstein and Kevin Spacey are anything but “Conservative.” Even if we skip right over the abusive history of Democrats Bill Clinton and Anthony Weiner, you would think that the Grammy Awards would have included some condemnation against politicians like Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama for accepting financial support from Weinstein, rather than show casing Hillary to take a shot at President Trump. (Or concern that Obama allowed one of his daughters to work for Weinstein’s company as an intern)

Yes, there’s a long list of women who are now making claims about past sexual abuse and harassment in Hollywood. It’s easy to simply say that they remained silent to protect their careers or in exchange for money after lawsuits. However, read a few histories and you’ll see that some of the victims were children, others reported crimes but prosecutors failed to press charges, and for many young men and women that it’s much more complicated than that.

First, sexual abuse is furtive and involves manipulation, lies and even force. Child victims are innocent and don’t understand the grooming and abuse until older unless they are hurt. More mature victims are trapped, tricked or physically forced into vulnerable situations. Loved ones may be threatened.

Second, there’s guilt. By the time the children realize that the abuse is wrong, they feel guilty and blame themselves. I’m sure that even more mature victims feel some guilt for their vulnerability.

Then, as Mr. Bridges said, “When you realise it’s wrong, they say you’re lying.” Ashley Judd also reports that no one believed her outcry when she was a child. And the comment that spurred me to write this essay is very common: the victim profited somehow, but now claims to be a victim.

Finally, there’s lots of reasons to cover up, drop charges or settle legal procedings and lots of people have something to lose if the perpetrator is prosecuted or even reported. Perhaps the environment is one of “everybody knew” what was going on, so everybody who knew was complicit. Family members and victims may not want to risk the humiliation and victim-blaming/shaming that always seems to accompany sexual abuse and the resultant accusations of “it’s just about sex,” and “he/she was complicit.” All of the above, as well as the police and prosecutors, might not want to risk counter suits.

Often, the victims are ignored and the abuser(s) suffer little or no consequences and successfully block the victim’s story from being told. See the story of Corey Feldman or the documentary, “An Open Secret.” Then, there are the threats,as Harvey Weinstein has shown.

I hope that we’re seeing a change in our response to sexual assault and harassment. I hope that the demand for transparency like “street artist,” Sabo’s billboards will be heeded.I hope I don’t blame the victim myself and never hear unsubstantiated claims that sexual assault are simply prostitutes, in the past and present.

Rough pro-life waters (#weshootourown)

Calling allies “cancer” and divisive is about as malignant and divisive as it gets!

Mark Crutcher and Troy Newman have co-authored a blog piece over at Life Dynamics that does exactly what they accuse others of doing. They manage to insult sidewalk counselors and Crisis Pregnancy Centers and groups like New Wave Feminists and And Then There Were None. Add in the dark graphics and the sanctimonious, unyielding tone to the accusations, and it’s no wonder our movement hits wall after wall.

What differentiates these two from their designation of “Grandstanders?” Talk about your purity test! 

My instinct as a proponent of “Can’t we all just get along?” was to remember my Mama’s advice: if you haven’t done the bad things they talk about, the scolders aren’t talking about or chastising you. 

And let’s face it, there’s a kernal of truth there: some people are all about power and fundraising and we’ve got to continually educate both new and old activists to focus on our goal of ending abortion.

However, Crutcher and Newman go too far to be too specific and don’t give any consideration – much less kudos – for the possibility that there are effective exceptions within the groups.  While I could point out examples of each of the people they describe, I can easily name more exceptions.

Instead of the negative analogy to cancerous growths, I prefer the picture drawn by my friend, Joe Pojman, PhD., of Texas Alliance for Life

Think of our pro-life efforts as attempts to rescue the unborn and their mothers from the sinking ship that is legalized elective abortion. We each have a boat which we use to make trips to bring as many to safety as we can. Every boat is different: Some boats are old and leaky, some are a bit nicer or newer,more or less efficient or are captained by people who wander around a lot and keep making detours, but none of the boats that we have today is big enough or fast enough to save everyone, so we make trip after trip as fast and efficiently as we can. If some of our sympathisers spend time on the shore shooting holes in everyone else’s boat – or anyone else’s boat – fewer lives will be saved. That’s real “mission drift.”

But we can bail water and plug those holes if they’ll just give us a chance.

Clichés are repeated because they prove true, time after time.  Remember this one: “The enemy of my enemy is my friend.” But do we really “educate” with wide condemnation of the efforts of others who approach our goal from a different angle or do we create more of the very harm we are warning about?

Keep building those coalitions, looking for common ground, and plugging along!

Taxes aren’t charity (SNAP and “government interference.)

Okay, old lady rant here, from someone who once qualified for WIC, but did what we had to* to refuse it. I’m seeing complaints about a proposal to change the SNAP (food stamp) program from money/cards/vouchers for dollars to a mix of money and commodities.

Most people complain that it would be a big government boondoggle. And I’m sure it would be bloated and subject to all sorts of agendas and unintended consequences. I’m not sold on a change.

However, I’m also seeing comments that SNAP should be “supplemental,” rather than basic. That rather than interfering and deciding to only provide nutritional foods, we should trust recipients to know and meet their own needs. And kids on SNAP should be allowed the “dignity” of having Cheetos and a birthday cake.

I started this post because I have a real problem with measuring a child’s dignity by whether their parents can use some one else’s money to buy Cheetos or other junk food. (And, come on! A birthday cake is flour, sugar, milk, and eggs and time.)

Taxes aren’t charity. And I know I’ve seen abuses at the grocery store and with Medicaid in my practice.

Charity is giving someone a ride to the store or offering to shop when you go. It’s giving whatever without government force and, sometimes, when it hurts in the long run. But tell me, who among us would be happy to see even a freely given gift abused by the recipient?

SNAP, WIC, etc., are helping hands, a bridge over hard times. it’s hard work – nearly a time-consuming job – to meet the requirements to access government assistance, I know. And I know there are gaps. I’m sorry, but they shouldn’t be something that is comfortable.

*(Came within minutes of getting utilities turned off several times, nursed those babies until they could reason, baked my own bread with wheat I bought by the big bag and ground myself, joined a cheese and vegetable coop, bought in quantity and learned to store it in smaller portions, made do with one car and shared rides with neighbors, and taught my kids to eat what they were given – when their cousins lived on French fries, Dairy Queen and cookies. Eventually, I was lucky enough to enroll in the local Junior College and then on to medical school and Larry worked harder and harder. I know we’ve been lucky, but…)

Disappointed by BVI Immigration 

A month ago, one week after Irma I came into Beef Island as volunteer doctor with a small medical relief group on a charter plane.   I was only given a visa for 30 days, even though I explained that I have a Non-Belonger Land Holder License (NBLHL), but didn’t have it with me when I canceled the rest of our vacation in Europe. 

Today I went to the government offices in Spanish Town with my NBLHL and was refused a visa extension until I could produce a return ticket. The officer informed me that the NBLHL only allowed me 6 months “per annum” and proceeded to examine my passport, as though to check how long I had been present in the Country this year. 

(I had to go up to Flow to get a good signal in order to buy the ticket online. I returned to find the officer leaving for lunch 15 minutes before noon.)

When I came in on September 14, there was no demand for a return ticket. At the timethere was a perceived shortage of doctors and we believed I would need to be self-sufficient for food and water as I wouldn’t have access to power or running water. The prisoners and looters were still at large. 

Thank goodness, nothing was quite as bad as we feared:  The British military had arrived by then; the wonderful people at Nanny Cay took great care of me and the rest of the group and we arrived the first day that Nanny Cay was able to turn on their desalination plant /water maker for a few hours.  


The medical need on Tortola was already improving enough that I was able to come to Virgin Gorda just 4 days later. Although they don’t need me either, I’ve been working at the clinic in Spanish Town at least two days a week ever since. I don’t want a job and don’t need the experience, but feel that I made a contract that I must keep. I also want the docs, nurses, and staff to know me if one of the feared medical crises does arise. 


BTW, That NBLHL I mentioned “authorizes”  immigration “to grant leave to land for a period not exceeding six months…” Not “per annum,” and there is no mention of a return ticket six months in advance. 


Larry and I have also applied for a “permit to reside”  which required the same documentation that we submitted –  and resubmitted after it was lost – for our NBLHL:  letters from law enforcement and character references, and financial statements. We were required to leave the Country while it was processed, but have been informed that it  languished in the Immigration department without action from 5 July to September 4 –  2 months before Hurricane Irma – and that it is most likely lost and will need to be resubmitted. 


If you saw my post last week, you’ll recall that when Larry was finally able to come to the BVI 3 weeks after I did, he was required to pay duty or produce receipts at Beef Island Customs on the 

(I had to go up to Flow to get a good signal in order to buy the ticket online. I returned to find Ms. Smith leaving for lunch 15 minutes before noon.)

When I came in on September 14, there was no demand for a return ticket. At the time, there was a perceived shortage of doctors and we believed I would need to be self-sufficient for food and water as I wouldn’t have access to power or running water. The prisoners and looters were still at large.

Thank goodness, nothing was quite as bad as we feared: The British military had arrived by then; the wonderful people at Nanny Cay took great care of me and the rest of the group and we arrived the first day that Nanny Cay was able to turn on their desalination plant /water maker for a few hours.

The medical need on Tortola was already improving enough that I was able to come to Virgin Gorda just 4 days later. Although they don’t need me either, I’ve been working at the clinic in Spanish Town at least two days a week ever since. I don’t want a job and don’t need the experience, but feel that I made a contract that I must keep. I also want the docs, nurses, and staff to know me if one of the feared medical crises does arise.

BTW, That NBLHL I mentioned “authorizes” immigration “to grant leave to land for a period not exceeding six months…” Not “per annum,” and there is no mention of a return ticket six months in advance.

Larry and I have also applied for a “permit to reside” which required the same documentation that we submitted – and resubmitted after it was lost – for our NBLHL: letters from law enforcement and character references, and financial statements. We were required to leave the Country while it was processed, but have been informed that it languished in the Immigration department without action from 5 July to September 4 – 2 months before Hurricane Irma – and that it is most likely lost and will need to be resubmitted.

If you saw my post last week, you’ll recall that when Larry was finally able to come to the BVI 3 weeks after I did, he was required to pay duty or produce receipts at Beef Island Customs on the items (water filters, etc.) he brought, in spite of the moratorium.

Beyond investing in our home at Nail Bay on Virgin Gorda, Larry and I have done what we could to assist physically and financially in the BVI recovery after Irma. I’m not as enthusiastic about residency as I was in June or even a month ago, and do not feel at all welcomed by the BVI.

Personhood “TBD” 

“To Be Determined,” or the Schrodingder’s cat* version of human rights.

Does the possession of inalienable human rights depend on unknown future facts? Can the moral worth of a human being be determined by the actions of another human being – or by fate, the available and utilized medical technology?

Sherif Girgis discusses the theory of Princeton philosopher, Elizabeth Harman, in today’s Public Discourse. The professor’s view that abortion is – or may be – a neutral act has been the subject of discussion since she appeared in the YouTube video, Philosophy Time, produced by actor James Franco and Eliot Michaelson.

Besides the obvious problems pointed out by Girgis of defining “consciousness” and the TBD “kind” of a human fetus, there are other problems.

First, any concept of “inalienable” human rights would need to be discarded. There goes the Declaration of Independence and the basis of the United States Constitution.

In addition, Professor Harman’s theory would presumably allow the use of bodies of the human species for the benefit of humans with “moral worth,” as long as those bodies are never allowed to become conscious. This is the current practice of researchers using embryos, including those created for the purpose of manipulation and destruction.

But there’s nothing in this philosophy to prevent the intentional manipulation of a human body for research or to benefit others, as long as the body is never allowed to develop consciousness. Continual sedation or mutilation of the brain from the beginning – before consciousness – would prevent the development or acquisition of moral worth and rights.

In the process, “human” rights would cease to exist. The actions of others, laws and location and the potential use of technology would finally determine who is human enough to possess the right not to be killed. (Forget the right not to be “enslaved.”

What happens if (as Girgis proposes) the abortion itself is aborted or fails? Or if the brain isn’t damaged sufficiently to prevent consciousness?

Forget about opening the box: don’t put humans in there in the first place.

*I saw this analogy on a Facebook thread, but thought the same thought before I stole it.

Edited to correct my misspelling of Dr. Harman’s name.

Science vs. Philosophy

R(obin) Alta Charo has once again been given a platform in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Poor Robin. She conflates ethics and philosophy with science. Although observing what “is” can lead to insight about which actions and manipulation lead to harm and which improve individual and group well-being, Science cannot prove or disprove philosophy, or determine what we “ought” to do.

Ms. Charo continues her career-long advocacy for elective, interventional abortion and against the inalienable human right not to be killed – all in spite of her assertion that she has no conflicts of interest in this essay. By declaring that Trump Administration appointees “embrace alternative science,” Robin makes her own gross scientific error. In addition to confusing “science” and philosophy, she bases much of her objection on an emphasis on “established pregnancies” and ignores the existence of the human embryo after fertilization but before implantation.

The very odd complaint about definitions of gestational age assumes that time varies according to when we start counting days.

Some state legislatures have tried to redefine pregnancy dating, shifting from the standard measure of time since last menses to time since probable fertilization. Such a definition falsely enhances the viability statistics for lower gestational ages and helps to bolster arguments for 20-week limits on abortion rights.

Again: Science is about what 《is,》 while ethics ought to be, not about true  《oughts.》

Modern opposition to germ theory???

Why is it that a CPA is trusted to tell the “truth” about vaccines, but doctors aren’t? Perhaps, because doctors understand the science behind the germ theory, learn to read and evaluate the medical literature, and aren’t willing to give credence to doctors who have their licenses restricted or stripped for fraud, much less herbalists who teach that the earth is flat.

In discussions about vaccines with people who oppose them, I’ve been told that vaccines haven’t been subjected to large, “properly,” controlled tests. Even when I pointed to large, controlled, blinded, and randomized studies the answer was that these weren’t the “properly” controlled tests.

This is what they’ve been taught by people like Ty Bollinger, a CPA who has made his living blaming sinister global government chemtrails and, of course, doctors and vaccines for cancer, autism, allergies, and all sorts of other health problems.

The latest Bollinger video series, “The Truth About Vaccines” was evidently promoted on Facebook in April, but I missed it.  I won’t link to the video, but if you want, you can Google it and find episode 1 for free on YouTube. Don’t pay for it!  I’ve watched all 1 hour, 57 minutes, and have been doing research on the “experts.”

In this episode, Bollinger interviews parents, doctors, lawyers, lawmakers, activists and some of the most notorious contemporary doctors: Andrew Wakefield, who had his license revoked for real, intentional fraud in the United Kingdom, and Rashid Buttar, DO, from North Carolina, who is no longer allowed to treat children or cancer patients. And then, there’s the blurb from David “Avocado” Wolfe, an herbalist who denies that the Earth is round or revolves on its axis around the sun!

Pediatrician Laurence Pavlesky, MD,who is prominently featured in the video, doesn’t define the characteristics of a “proper” study in the video, he does in another interview,

“What’s missing in these data is a population of healthy people who have not had any flu symptoms – to actually see if their noses contained H1N1 – because if someone is sick and has the presence of an H1N1 virus in the nose, it doesn’t mean that the H1N1 is causing the illness.

“You really have to take an appropriate control group to see if people are colonized with that virus even when they’re not sick. “

http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2009/11/14/Expert-Pediatrician-Exposes-Vaccine-Myths.aspx

So do docs have to match stroke or heart attack victims with healthy controls, to prove that the controls have no lesions in order to prove that occluded vessels caused the lack of brain function or heart function? 

It’s well-documented that some people are chronic carriers of strep, but not sick. Typhoid Mary was colonized, able to expose others who got sick, but not sick, herself. We also know that the incubation period varies.

Okay, maybe we could get over the difference of opinion about “proper” controls. Or whether the earth is flat. Or even why a CPA and lay people are capable of learning the truth about scientific knowledge, but doctors aren’t. However, another theme often repeated by Pavlesky and other “experts” prominent in Bollinger’s video is the denial of the germ theory.

Fom Pavlesky’s “General Guidance”:

“The expression of these symptoms may not always be caused by infections from bacteria and viruses. Instead, these symptoms and illnesses may develop as a sign that our children are healthy; that their bodies are strong, and working to bring to the surface, and cleanse, any accumulation of wastes that are deep inside them, having accumulated due to their exposure to varying stressors in their lives. In many instances, the process of bringing these wastes to the surface of the body is aided by the bacteria and viruses already living inside of them, and is a necessary step for them to become well.”

Sheri Tenpenny, DO  is another doctor in the video. On her blog, she also promotes infections as a good way to get rid of  “toxins,” adding,

As contrary as it seems, germs are attracted to the diseased tissues; they are not the primary cause of it.”

Here’s a little statement from me:

*The diseases we call infections are caused by infectious agents: bacteria, viruses or parasites​.* 

If we can’t agree on this (and that the earth is not flat), we have no common ground for a logical discussion about Western medicine.

More to come in later posts about the “experts” in the video.

The wrong abstinence lesson

About that private Christian high school that refused to allow a girl to walk at graduation. Okay, I get it: you have rules and worry about the influence on younger students.

Yeah, ’cause if your teaching about sin doesn’t prevent other students from premarital sex, not getting to walk at graduation will! Or at least not to let you know about it.

Well, for one thing, this girl has already proven that actions have consequences!

How about the one without sin casting the first stone? Is there no place in your world view for, “Go, and sin no more?”

You’re not celebrating her pregnancy. You’re celebrating her fulfilment of the requirements for graduation. And demonstrating what it means to follow Christ.

 Why not turn this into a lesson on loving the sinner, on promoting life, on the fact that her life isn’t over and even though it will be harder, she can achieve, even without killing her child by intentional interventional elective abortion?

“Ethically Problematic” Gender Roles and Support for Breastfeeding as “Natural”

​This tops every gender protectionist rant I’ve seen.

The April, 2016, the Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, published a “Pediatrics Perspective titled “The Unintended Consequences of Invoking the ‘Natural’ in Breastfeeding Promotion.” The authors invoked a concern that promoting “natural” as superior might enforce objections to vaccines. But then, they call the promotion of breastfeeding “ethically problematic” to “support biologically deterministic arguments about the roles of men and women in the family.”

I’ll say it again, biology isn’t destiny, but it does have consequences. Besides, men can lactate, too. Under certain circumstances.

Law makers to doctors: “Keep the patient alive” 

If only we doctors – or legislators, lawyers and probate judges – really had the power to “keep the patient alive” as this article claims two new Bills  (  HB 4090 & SB 1213) in front of the Texas Legislature will (force doctors to) do. 

The article is misleading in its claim that a committee or a hospital decides whether or not a therapy is given: Texas doctors practice medicine in Texas. Even the Bills make it clear that the “attending physician” makes the decision whether or not to follow the patient’s (or more likely, the surrogates’) medical request.

We – Texas doctors, hospitals, and legislators – have tried repeatedly over the last decade to amend the law, Texas’ Advance Directive Act,   to increase the time frame. Last Session, we helped to ensure that food and water can’t be withheld. The lawyers and those who would have Estate (probate) judges involved in every dispute – even at the bedside of the dying – have blocked effort after effort because the Bills did not include liability for the doctor. 
These Bills are just the camel’s nose under the tent of Texas’s tort reform. Worse yet, we’d end up with medical expert testifying against medical expert in court, with the judge eventually telling the doctor how to practice medicine. It would also severe the “ethicists” who actively seek to undermine conscience protections for health care professionals.
If you’ll notice, the Bills also remove the requirement for the patient to pay for any transfer, too. I don’t suppose that the tort lawyers ​will pay for the ambulance or plane ride.

Do you want Texas law to force doctors to practice against our consciences​? 

How long and how far should any man or woman be forced by law to act against his or her will?

​Would you like to refuse?

Shocking Bill from Texas’ Jason Villaba, Republican State Representative from Dallas’ District 114 :  HB 1938 would make organ donation after death “opt out” for anyone applying for a driver’s license in Texas.

Texas would be the first State to pass such a law.

Organ donation is a public good for those who wish to do so. However, there is no ethical or legal precedent for treating human bodies – living or dead – as public property or commodities.

From the Bill as introduced:

 (2)  for an applicant who is 18 years of age or older:
                     (A)  specifically ask each applicant the
  question, “Would you like to refuse to join the organ donor
  registry?” and state, “If you answer ‘no’ to the previous question
  or do not answer the previous question, you consent to join the
  organ donor registry by performing either of those actions.”; and
                     (B)  if the applicant does not affirmatively
  refuse to be included in the registry under Paragraph (A), provide
  the person’s name, date of birth, driver’s license number, most
  recent address, and other information needed for identification
  purposes at the time of donation to the nonprofit organization
  contracted to maintain the statewide donor registry under Section
  692A.020, Health and Safety Code, for inclusion in the registry.

http://www.legis.state.tx.us/tlodocs/85R/billtext/html/HB01938I.htm

It’s a “March for Life”

powerofone

2017 Theme March for Life

But if you want information about the (correction,  it’s Friday,  not Thursday,  repeat as necessary  ) Friday , January 27, 2017 March, you probably should search for “Anti-abortion March.”

The New York Times managed to “report” that Kellyanne Conway will speak at the 2017 National March for Life in Washington, DC on Friday , without once calling the March by its proper name. The only time the organization responsible for 44 years of the “Anti-abortion March” is named, is when giving the job title of the president of March for Life, Jeanne Mancini.

march-for-life-cropped-white-coat-january-22-2009-016

2009 National Rally for Life

This year’s March wasn’t held on the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, as it has been in the past, due to the inauguration events on Friday and, I suspect, the Women’s March on Saturday. The inauguration events didn’t prevent us from attending the 2009 March the day after Barack Obama was sworn in, but I imagine the concern about the two opposing groups clashing in front of the Supreme Court was just too much this year.

Friday  is probably not the best day for families, school groups and people who have regular jobs, but I expect it will be well attended, since we’ve been promised a “heavy administration presence.” There have been related Marches for Life all over the country all week (Idaho, San Francisco, Tulsa and Raleigh, where it was noted that both the Women’s March and the March for Life were held at the same time – but across town from one another.)

mygenerationYou might also search for “Rally for Life,” as the Texas Rally for Life will be held in Austin on Saturday, January 29.  Beginning at 12:00 – 1:00 PM, marchers will gather at 18th & N. Congress Ave. and then begin the short march to the South Steps of the Texas State Capitol.

(Edited to correct the day of the week of the March for Life in Washington,  DC.  BBN) 

I hope you can recall this

The future includes so much more than a 10 year old video, for people who don’t have memory problems.

Forget the Clinton’s sale of nights in the Lincoln Bedroom and misplaced furnishings from the White House and, later, the State Department offices. Go ahead, laugh at the “Reset button.”

But don’t forget the pay-for-access that continues to this day. Please don’t dismiss Clinton’s complicity with the sale of US uranium and her own dismissal of the deaths of four Americans at Benghazi or of “our posterity” in the case of the unborn children whose lives are ended by elective, intentional abortion.

These recollections make a difference today and for the future.

What place will there be in a Clinton II Administration for people who oppose abortion or who prefer to continue to include “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance? Can we tolerate another 4 years of IRS discrimination against conservative non-profits? Do we need to have more lawsuits against nuns or regulations forbidding Christians from praying in the name of Jesus?

We certainly won’t be invited to any closed door meetings on HillaryCare. And there’s no telling how many boxes of FBI files and billing records will disappear never to be “recalled” if Clinton gets another shot at the White House.

I would much rather hold Donald Trump to his promises than watch Hillary Clinton keep hers.

Beverly B Nuckols, MD

Trust me, I don’t have a conscience (yes, THAT again)

Speaking of CS Lewis’ “conditioners” in my last post, a small group of “philosophers and bioethicists” got together in Geneva, Switzerland last June and came up with a “Consensus Statement on Conscientious Objection in Healthcare.”

On the “consensus” from less than 20 self-selected individuals, we’re supposed to advocate the move from shaming doctors for objecting (to acts that have been considered shameful by Western society since Hippocrates) to some sort of judgment by tribunals.

From the BioEdge.org blog:

“After a special workshop held at the Brocher Foundation in Geneva, Switzerland, over a dozen bioethicists signed a ten-point“Consensus Statement on Conscientious Objection in Healthcare.” The group stated that “healthcare practitioners’ primary obligations are towards their patients, not towards their own personal conscience”. As a consequence, “healthcare practitioners who are exempted from performing certain medical procedures on conscientious grounds should be required to compensate society and the health system for their failure to fulfil their professional obligations by providing public-benefitting services.” They also stated that “Medical students should not be exempted from learning how to perform basic medical procedures they consider to be morally wrong.”

What’s to enforce those guidelines if the physician has no conscience? What place does “should” or “ought” – words that are flung about in the “Consensus” – have if the conscience is to be dismissed?

As Wesley Smith points out  at his blog on National Review, any objectors would be re-“conditioned.” The “Consensus” demands that  doctors not only be forced to explain their rationale, perform “public-benefitting services” (in addition to their jobs as doctors), and teach medical students those morally controversial procedures, they would be sent to re-education classes.

Oh, and they might not be able to get a job in the first place if they aren’t morally pure – excuse me – able to “fulfil (sic) their professional obligations,” according to this little club:

“This implies that regional authorities, in order to be able to provide medical services in a timely manner, should be allowed to make hiring decisions on the basis of whether possible employees are willing to perform medical procedures to which other healthcare practitioners have a conscientious objection.”

I sincerely doubt that any representatives were invited – or allowed – to attend. (At least, that’s my experience.)

More on “conscience” by searching the “Categories” on this page.

Truth and Conscience #SJWs

​Timely still, this essay by CS Lewis on “subjectivism.” Please watch the last few minutes – from about 10:30 in – if not the whole 13.
Lewis asserts that the idea that “good” can vary or is a product of evolution or conditioning will ultimately lead us to a society divided between the “conditioners” – eugenicists, (capital s) State educators,  and producers of mass propaganda – and the conditioned.

Those conditioners sound like our community organizers and progressives, who, in denying the time-tested absolute, ” self evident truths – while demanding that we accept the latest declaration of the “Social Justice Warriors” as . … absolute, self evident truths. 
While questioning the validity of any authority in order to demote conscience to opinion, they assume authority and invoke the conscience of the conditioned to enforce compliance.  How often do we find ourselves shamed  for objecting to actions that have been considered shameful for thousands of years by nearly every society on earth?
And since the SJWs (or their conditioners) de- and re-construct “truths,” their own consciences allow them to believe that they and their allies aren’t bound by the same “truths” that they hold the rest of us to. 
So, the next time yo find yourself the target of ethnic/gender/social conditioners for expressing truths that Aristotle, Hippocrates, the signers of the Magna Carta or the Declaration of Independence –  or even Jesus – would have recognized as self evident, turn their argument back on them. What is their authority, where is their evidence and how valid is it?

Texas’ Women’s Health, UT Study: Other than that*, the story was true.

*The authors of a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine admit to a narrow focus that ignored the multiple methods of funding Family Planning in Texas,  looking instead at a single type of “provider” – Title X clinics like Planned Parenthood (“PP”) – and a single source of funding for a specific set of services: long-acting reversible contraceptives such as the IUD and implants and injectables.

Yet, in typical fashion, the reports about the study claim much more. For example, the Texas Tribune has an article out, “Texas disavows Controversial Women’s Health Study,”  about the political fallout due to the skewed conclusions of the authors and the even more skewed editorializing in the media.

While the NEJM article (free article!) states in the “Methods” section that,

“After the exclusion, the provision of injectable contraceptives fell sharply in counties with Planned Parenthood affiliates but not in counties without such affiliates; subsequently, the numbers of claims in both groups of counties remained relatively stable during the next 2 years. In contrast, the provision of short-acting hormonal methods changed little in the two groups of counties in the quarter after the exclusion and declined steadily thereafter.” (Emphasis mine. )

the Tribune article reports that in answer to criticism,

Joseph Potter, one of the UT researchers who co-authored the study, said in an email that the paper addressed the “specific question” of how the exclusion of Planned Parenthood from the Texas Women’s Health Program affected women. Nothing raised in Traylor’s letter, he said, contradicted the researchers’ conclusions.

“We made no claims about access to reproductive health care as a whole in Texas,” he said, and he stood by the finding that claims for long-acting contraceptives fell after Planned Parenthood was excluded from the women’s health program.

The law in question, SB7, was passed with bipartisan support in 2011, a year when Texas, along with State budgets all over the Nation were tight. Although family planning was cut, no specific vendor was “excluded” and PP was not even mentioned in the legislation. Only because PP did not offer continuing, comprehensive care, that business would effectively be cut out.

The Obama Administration took great offense at our State’s attempt to take care of the whole woman and refused all Family Planning Title X money for Texas Medicaid.

Instead, Obama intervened to specifically direct $13 Million of Title X funds to a private organization,the Women’s Health and Family Planning Association of Texas (“WHFP”) which funds only Title X clinics, almost all of which are now Planned Parenthood businesses), so no money was lost even at PP.

The State Health Services no longer managed those Medicaid matching dollars once allowed by a special Medicaid waiver. Instead, State funding for the Family Planning programs and the Texas Women’s Health Program, was replaced by State dollars and directed toward programs and doctors that offer continuing, comprehensive care, such as Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHC), State, County and local clinics and hospitals, and fee for service doctors that participate with Medicaid. Women could be diagnosed and treated for a much broader spectrum of health problems and their families were welcome at the same clinics.

Senator Jane Nelson, Chair of the Senate Finance Committee and sponsor of the Bill, objects to the implication by the NEJM that the authors were writing on behalf of the State. In her letter to the Executive Commissioner of Texas’ Department of Health and Human Services, Chris Traynor, Senator Nelson noted,

“This study samples a narrow population within the Texas Women’s Health Program (TWHP) — which represented only 33 percent of the overall number of women enrolled in our women’s health programs in Fiscal Year (FY) 2014. This ignores hundreds of thousands of women being served through the Expanded Primary Health Care Program; the Family Planning Program; and the 628,000 women of child-bearing age receiving full Medicaid benefits, 75 percent of which received contraceptive services in FY 14. Women often rotate in and out of our state programs, so we must look across our entire system to determine whether we are truly meeting their needs. Just because a claim for service was not submitted to TWHP does not mean a woman went without that service.
The study also creates an impression that fewer Texas women are accessing long-acting reversible contraceptives (LARCs). That’s simply not true. Across our state programs, there were more claims for LARCs in FY 2014 than there were in FY 2012 when Planned Parenthood was still a provider.”

In other words, women with private insurance and women who never had access to PP had similar numbers.

And another thing: Potter, a sociologist at UTAustin and the co-author quoted above, was the one who told the LA Times that,  “It’s not like there is a large, over-capacity of highly qualified providers of effective contraception out there just waiting for people to show up.”

On behalf of Texas’ Family Physicians, OB/Gyns, Pediatricians and Internists who accept traditional Medicaid and who had been unable to access the money in those competitive Title X grants awarded to PP, I’d like to inform him that yes, we have been waiting – for a chance to offer our patients this care.

But other than that ….

Death, lies and video

Death, lies and video

Supported only by his imagination, what he saw in videos produced by Texas Right to Life lawyers, and a news article,Dr. Phillip Hawley, Jr., M.D., wrote “A Tragic Case of Modern Bioethics; Denying Life-Sustaining Treatment to a Patient Who Wanted to Live” about the truly tragic, but inevitable death of Chris Dunn. Hawley erred by pretending to read the minds of doctors and hospital representatives and calling complete strangers “utilitarian” “murderers.” Before discussing the ethics of his accusations, it’s necessary to explain the meaning of the documented facts, available in news sources, blog posts and court records:

  1. Dunn was not “alert and cognizant” as he had documented delirium secondary to hepatic encephalopathy and over a month on the ventilator with sedation and pain meds
  2.  The hospital voluntarily, without a court judgement, promised to continue life-sustaining treatments in place until the legal guardianship question was settled.
  3.  Food and water, legally termed as “Artificially Administered Nutrition and Hydration” or AANH and including total parenteral nutrition, cannot be removed against the objection of patients or surrogates, under Texas law.
  4. The doctors stated that they believed the “life-sustaining treatments,” were causing suffering.
  5. The hospital never sought guardianship for themselves, only for “a qualified family member,” and listed their names and locations in the original petition.

It is very unlikely that Chris understood his condition, the questions the lawyers were asking or the consequences of his “prayer.” That he was unable to make medical decisions is supported by the fact that his parents had been making his medical decisions. The Harris County judge agreed with the hospital’s request that a single legal guardian be named by a separate court.
“Life-sustaining treatment,” “medically inappropriate” and “Artificially Administered Nutrition and Hydration” are legal terms defined in the Texas Advance Directive Act (TADA), which outlines the exact procedure and language for communications between doctors, the hospital committee, and patients or their surrogates. The use, monitoring and adjustment of a mechanical ventilator is in the definition of “life-sustaining treatments.” TADA specifically excludes “Artificially Administered Nutrition and Hydration” (AANH) in the definition of “life sustaining treatments,” which would argue against the accusation that his doctors planned to withdraw “food and water.”
The only legal reason under TADA to remove any “life-sustaining treatment” is that it is deemed “medically inappropriate” by the attending physician and then only if the hospital medical or ethics committee “affirms” that decision. If and when they are withheld, the Act specifically prohibits “mercy killing” or otherwise intentionally intervening with the intent to cause death by artificial means.
Additional demands by Chris’ mother, Mrs. Kelly, and the lawyers in blogs and news articles would have also fallen under the legal definition of “life-sustaining treatment.” These demands included a biopsy in order to determine a definitive tissue diagnosis for the clinically apparent pancreatic cancer and liver lesions, a surgical tracheostomy and the removal of the ventilator (to be fair, I believe they meant the tube through the vocal chords), less sedation, searches for and trials of treatment of the cancer, and the non-standard use of an indwelling drain for the ascites (large exudates in the abdomen due to high pressures in the liver and the failure of the liver to make necessary proteins). These are invasive, potentially painful and, based on the reported size and effects of the mass, the extent of liver damage visibly evident in the videos as temporal wasting and copper-colored skin, ascites and the GI bleeding – they were very unlikely to lengthen his life, much less cure his cancer. In fact they could be very likely to hasten – or be the immediate cause of – his death.
Chris died in the ICU on full life-sustaining treatments, including the ventilator and intravenous AANH.
The doctors are on record as basing their decision on the suffering caused by the treatments to their patient, Chris. This is consistent with the known side-effects of the ventilator and even reports from Chris’ mother, who told reporters that Chris suffered from the treatments and fluid building up in his lungs despite the ventilator. And yet, Dr. Hawley made sensational statements such as:

“For patients with terminal illnesses, this standard often leads to the utilitarian question: Is the patient’s life still worth living?
“In Chris Dunn’s case, the committee’s answer was “no.” Relative strangers with little or no knowledge of his values and beliefs weighed his “quality of life” and decided that he no longer deserved to live.”
And,
“. . . How did these committee members who had only recently met the patient—if they ever met him at all—know that it was in his best interest for them to end his life?”
And,
“. . . But, somehow, we are to believe that these committee members were able to deduce existential truths about what was in Chris Dunn’s best interest?”

The physicians who cared for Mr. Dunn for over a month had certainly met him and members of the Methodist Hospital Biomedical Ethics Committee met with the family several times. Court documents are clear that the doctors believed the life-sustaining treatments were causing suffering and that the committee agreed that the treatments were medically inappropriate. There certainly is no evidence that the doctors or the committee members sought to intentionally “end” Chris’ life. “Medically inappropriate treatment” is not an “existential truth” and never in the patient’s best interest.
(Some may remind us that suffering can have benefits. However, Mr. Dunn couldn’t consent to suffering, much less benefit from the suffering, whether as a medical treatment or a willing religious self-sacrifice.)

Robert P. George is one of my heroes a conservative tenured professor of law and ethics at Princeton and one of the founders of the Witherspoon Institute, an organization known for its defense of Judeo-Christian ethics based on natural law, and the parent organization of Public Discourse. He has helpfully outlined a “key” to evaluate the withholding or withdrawing of life-sustaining care:

“[T]he key is the distinction between what traditionally has been called “direct killing,” where death (one’s own or someone else’s) is sought either as an end in itself or as a means to some other end, and accepting death or the shortening of life as a foreseen side effect of an action or omission whose object is something other than death—either some good that cannot be achieved or some evil that cannot be avoided without resulting in death or the shortening of life.”

George and Hawley each point to a value in medicine that is higher than autonomy or even preserving life at all costs: the duty of physicians to care for the patient. “Cure when possible, but first, do no harm.”
The lawyers didn’t just sue to maintain “life-sustaining treatments,” or even Mrs. Kelly’s right to force the doctors to treat Chris the way she wanted them to. The lawsuit, blog posts and public statements document the ultimate goal to have TADA declared unconstitutional and to force all doctors to give patients and surrogates the right to demand any and all desired treatment indefinitely. The power of State courts, law enforcement and licensing would be used to force Texas doctors to carry out acts against our medical judgment, education, experience and conscience.
What justification can the lawyers and Dr. Hawley give for not believing the physicians who care for patients daily and hourly when those caretakers document that the patient is suffering?

What kind of physicians will we end up with if the State can force us to act without judgement or conscience?

What kind of State would we have?

Based on a video and his imagined conversations between “malevolent” and “utilitarian” doctors and hospitals, Hawley declares Texas a “morally impoverished society.” Ignoring sworn statements from the physicians and misrepresenting TADA, he distorts the purpose of the Texas Advance Directive Act, which is to address the problems encountered when patients and surrogates disagree., Only by assuming evil intent is he able to force doctors to prove a negative and distract from any possibility of a conflict between the equal and inalienable rights of the patient and the doctor.

While the video of Chris apparently praying to be allowed to live wrenched at our emotions, it was used to tell a false story upon which Dr. Hawley built his harmful assumptions. We would all do well to remember my Mama’s advice: Don’t believe anything you hear and only half of what you see.”

Edited for grammar and decrease wordiness and formatting (1-15-16). BBN

Don’t believe the lies!

And stop “sharing” them!

Remember who the real opponents are: the Dems!

No matter how juicy the gossip, consider waiting a few hours for the rest of the story to come out.

(BTW, this is a test of my mobile app.)

Posted from WordPress for Android. Typos will be corrected!

Independence or slavery: Does the government own you?

Declaration photoLet’s face it: if the government can tell you that you cannot refuse to act, the government owns you.

Liberty is not simply the freedom to act, it’s the more fundamental freedom not to act. Remember the proverb that “The right to swing your fist ends at the tip of my nose?” True liberty includes the right *not* to make a fist at all. To force the hand of a person against his will other than to defend the higher-priority right to life is to enslave him.

The same sex marriage ruling and protected status for “sexual orientation” is the latest socialist infringement on the inalienable right to liberty. In the name of “equality,” “fairness” and even “liberty,” they attempt to give government the ownership of all property and the means to earn it.

In particular, they demand that people of conscience either deny their faith or get out of government and public activities, including business and earning a living. (For real life examples, read the earliest few comments, here.  Or here.)

People who want what they want, when they want it, and from whom they want it seem to have no problem forcing other citizens to act against their will. In order to devalue the right of conscience and religion they deny the rights in the First Amendment of the Constitution – or the very existence of inalienable rights at all.

The Board of Labor of Oregon just gave us a perfect example just this week. Brad Avakian, the judge in the Sweet Cakes Bakery case, has slapped the couple with a gag order.  He would deny them free speech as well as the free exercise of their religion.

Gag order sweet cakes

Here’s the justification for that order.

(Thanks to Kelsey Harkness!)

The Supreme Court of the United States, States and local governments cannot create a world of gumdrops and lollipops, where everyone likes everyone and everything they do. There is no right not to be inconvenienced, much less the right not to be offended. The right to liberty of anyone may not be infringed for the benefit of another person’s pursuit of happiness without significant distress to society and government.

Read the Declaration of Independence to see what happens when governments attempt to do so.

Wells Fargo: “Diversity” or Political Statement?

“When two becomes three.”

Wells Fargo is celebrating “diversity” in their new ad showing two women learning sign language. The story reveals that the women are a lesbian couple, about to be the “new mommies” to an adopted girl who is deaf.

(Oh, look! The gay couple are doing such a good thing! Celebrate their goodness! Ignore the political and spiritual realities!   And attack anyone who points out those realities!)

Samaritan's PurseWells Fargo could have simply depicted a traditional married couple, a man and woman, a doing the same thing — perhaps even learning a language in order to do mission work. Instead, they went out of their way to celebrate a small population that a much larger population considers to be practicing a sinful lifestyle.

How I wish the company had used their advertising dollars to give attention to Samaritan’s Purse, an organization that is “Helping others in Jesus’ name.”  Talk about diversity! Take a look at how they are helping mommies around the world.

 

 

Comal ISD and New Braunfels Early Voting Places and Times

There’s still 2 more days for early voting in the Comal Independent School District Bond and School Board Election. Regular Election Day is May 9.

 Here’s the times and places for early voting on Monday and Tuesday!
(Thanks to the New Braunfels Republican Women for the information!)

May 4 & 5Early voting

During early voting, you have the opportunity to cast both votes at one place!

You can cast both your votes for New Braunfels City Council (Districts 3 & 4) and Comal ISD School Board (Districts 1, 2, 5, & 6) and school bond locations at:

 

The Comal County Elections Office          May  58am to 5pm

178 E. Mill Street, Suite 10                                    May 47am to 7pm

New Braunfels  78130

Bulverde City Hall                                             May  48am to 5pm

30360 Cougar Bend                                                May 57am to 7pm

Bulverde  78163

 

Garden Ridge City Hall                                      May  58am to 5pm

9400 Municipal Pkwy                                              May 47am to 7pm

Garden Ridge  78266

 

 

Early voting for CISD School Board (Districts 1, 2, 5, & 6) and school bond only:

May 4 & 57am to 7pm

Bill Brown Elementary              Hoffmann Lane Elementary      Rebecca Creek Elementary

20410 Hwy 46 W.                       4600 FM 306                                  125 Quest Ave.

Spring Branch  78070               New Braunfels  78132                 Spring Branch  78070

 

Comal ISD Support Serv.           Indian Spring Elementary          Smithson Valley Middle

Admin. Bldg.                                 25751 Wilderness Oak                6101 FM 311

1404 I-35 N.                                  San Antonio  78261                      Spring Branch  78070

New Braunfels  78130

 

Church Hill Middle                     Kinder Ranch Elementary          Timberwood Park Elementary

1275 N. Business 35                  2035 Kinder Pkwy.                       26715 S. Glenrose

New Braunfels  78130              San Antonio  78260                      San Antonio  78260

 

Clear Spring Elem.                       M.H. Specht Elementary

550 Avery Parkway                    25815 Overlook Parkway

New Braunfels  78130              San Antonio  78260

********************************************************************************************************************    

 

Saturday, May 9 – Election Day – Polls open from 7am – 7pm

 

New Braunfels City Council (Districts 3 & 4)

Election Day polling locations at:

 

**NB City Council District 3 – Seele Elementary School, 540 Howard Street, New Braunfels

**NB City Council District 4 – Faith United Church, 970 N. Loop 337, New Braunfels

 

For City Council District Maphttp://www.nbtexas.org/DocumentCenter/Home/View/1480

(also listed on your Voter Registration Card)

 

Comal ISD School Board (Districts 1, 2, 5, & 6) and school bond only

Election Day polling locations at:

 

Single Member District 1                              Single Member District 2                  Single Member District 3

Clear Spring Elementary                                  Faith United Church                               Rebecca Creed Elementary

550 Avery Parkway                                           970 N. Loop 337                                      125 Quest Ave.

New Braunfels 78130                                       New Braunfels 78130                           Spring Branch  78070

Single Member District 4                              Single Member District 5                  Single Member District 6

Smithson Valley Middle School                      Bulverde City Hall                                   M.H. Specht Elementary

6101 FM 311                                                        30360 Cougar Bend                               25815 Overlook Parkway

Spring Branch 78070                                        Bulverde  78163                                      San Antonio  78260

 

Single Member District 7

Garden Ridge City Hall

9400 Municipal Parkway

Garden Ridge 78266

 

Regulate anti-vaccine docs?

syringe justiceWe may not ever solve the problem of an irresponsible tabloid press and sensation-seeking media, since the freedom of speech is too important to infringe.  But we do have power over those we license as physicians.

Dr. Walt Larimore enters the vaccine debate in his blog, not by suggesting forced vaccination, only the regulation of physicians. I wouldn’t support the recommendation without some leeway — I’m certainly not going to approve of every vaccine without a time trial in this very diverse lab that is the United States.

However, Dr. Larimore and his guest author, Dr. Russell C. Libby, are right to raise the ethical and medic0-legal responsibility of physicians who are licensed by the State and who advocate against good science and medical standards.

 

From the article:

“State medical boards must decide if the actions of healthcare practitioners who advocate against vaccination and undermine the public health efforts of their communities warrant investigation and intervention. There are a number physicians and other licensed healthcare professionals who trivialize and discourage immunization, whether it be for philosophical, financial, or self-promotional reasons.

“When the patients they influence contract preventable disease and have bad outcomes or they cause the spread to a vulnerable population, they should be held liable for malpractice. If it is in the midst of an outbreak or epidemic, medical boards need to sanction or suspend licenses.”

 

I’ve spent quite a bit of time — especially over the last week – attempting to educate interested people (including a family member) about the safety and usefulness or efficacy of vaccines.  My motto for these arguments has always been that, “Truth will out,” and, “If we’re right, we should be able to teach and convince.”

However, within the last week, an irresponsible Texas radio host trotted out the discredited and un-licensed doctor who fabricated the MMR/autism fraud and a Canadian newspaper published a hit piece on Gardasil. (You can find them easily on Google – I won’t give them “hits” from my page.)

When licensed physicians – men and women who should know better – spread demonstrable lies, even after being found guilty of fraud or when demonstrably spreading harmful misinformation, there should be consequences.

“How Government Killed the Medical Profession”

Contrast the Hippocratic ethic in which a physician recommends treatment to his patient, based on his best medical judgement in the patient’s interest, with that of the “veterinary ethic,” where decisions are made by the “payor” — or owner. Now, consider the effect of Government regulations which arbitrarily force doctors to learn protocols and guidelines (rather than adjust to the patient’s course of illness), to fit a patient’s illness into International Clinical Diagnoses (out to the nth decimal place) and which withhold payment when a patient becomes ill enough to need readmission to the hospital within 30 days of the last admission.

In an article published online by Cato, Dr. Jeffery Singer lays out the history of the destruction of Medicine as  a profession. In the past, Dr. Singer described the ethical transition toward the “veterinary ethic.”

Each of these articles is worth your time and consideration. The first article gives one of the best explanations of the Government move to “coding” of medical diagnoses in exchange for payment “reimbursement,” on through the forced move to Electronic Medical Records without evidence that patients will benefit and Accountable Care Organizations which assign patients to employee “providers.” The second, earlier article, reviewed the necessary change in medical ethics to allow doctors to practice without – or in contradiction to – their conscience.

Forget patient autonomy, long elevated by the lawmakers, lawyers and  Ph.D’s (in the name of “Bioethics”) above the traditional physician Hippocratic values of beneficence and its foundation, non-maleficence. In the world of Government medicine, your life is in the hands of the “payor:” the Golden Rule of “He who has the gold makes the rules.”

 

 

 

The Ethics of Quarantine

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed . . .”

Yes, I’m using the Declaration of Independence to explain the ethics of quarantine. In fact, I suggest that the inalienable rights to life, liberty and “the pursuit of happiness” actually requires that a “just government” quarantine people who endanger the life of others, while doing as much as possible to preserve the rights of those who are quarantined.
The threat of the Ebola virus has spurred the discussion about quarantine in the United States, due to the high mortality rate of the disease. We’ve forgotten the quarantines of the past and most people are unaware of the existence of Presidential Executive Orders concerning formal lists of “Quarantinable Diseases.”
Inalienable or fundamental rights are negative rights. Consider the proverb that “Your (inalienable) right to swing your fist ends at my nose.”
Negative rights are limited to prohibiting action, in contrast to positive rights, which would force others to act for our benefit. That means that we have the right not to be killed, enslaved, or coerced into acts by others – you have the right to swing that fist as long as you don’t hit anyone else by intention or accident.

However, when a third party’s action or negligence threatens to infringe on our fundamental rights we have the right to protect ourselves and our fellow citizens, in the form of government, have a duty to assist us.
This protection should involve the use of the least force possible, for the least time possible, and we must take care not to become guilty ourselves of unnecessarily infringing the inalienable rights of others by abusing the government enforcement of quarantine. When government acts to limit the liberty of people by quarantine, it is imperative to ensure that there is a real threat to the lives of others, to limit the time of quarantine to the time the person is a possible threat, and to protect the lives of those people by providing food, shelter and medical assistance for those who can’t provide for themselves.
Not only is it ethical to implement restrictions on people coming to this country from areas where the disease is epidemic, it is the duty of government to protect the right to life of our citizens by implementing procedures for involuntary quarantine within our borders.

I say “fertilization,” you say “conception”

Forty years ago the words “fertilization” and “conception” meant the same thing to doctors, lawyers, and embryologists alike: the joining of the 23 chromosomes in the sperm with the 23 chromosomes in the oocyte (“egg”) to form a new complete, unique human organism. “Contraception” was defined as any method that worked before the existence of the embryo by preventing fertilization. These were the hormonal treatments and devices that prevent ovulation of the egg and condoms, diaphragms and sterilization that serve as “barriers” between the sperm and egg.   Drugs and devices that may or may not end the life of the embryo after fertilization were legally and correctly called “abortifacients.”

 

However, legalized abortion and the ability to accomplish fertilization through in vitro methods led to new legal definitions of “pregnancy” and “conception” as beginning at implantation rather than fertilization.   Even in vivo, healthy human embryos in healthy mothers were deprived of legal protection as human beings for at least the first 5 – 10 days of their lives, the window of opportunity for implantation when the developing embryo grows to hundreds of cells organized in 2 or 3 recognizable tissue layers and interact with the mother’s body in ways that may affect the timing of birth or risk of diabetes and other health concerns. Possible abortifacients that work after fertilization but before implantation were redefined as “emergency contraception.”

 

In spite of what you may have heard on the news, the June 30, 2014 Burwell v. Hobby Lobby decision by the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) didn’t deny birth control for anyone. Everyone may still purchase his or her own FDA-approved birth control.  SCOTUS simply ruled that the government can’t force some employers to buy things that they believe are immoral.

 

In fact, Hobby Lobby only asked to be exempt from purchasing insurance plans that paid for specific drugs and devices used for “emergency contraception.” Before the passage of the Affordable Care Act (“ObamaCare” or ACA), the company purchased insurance that included true forms of contraception, including,

  • Those that prevent ovulation by preventing the normal ups and downs of the hormones estrogen and progesterone, such asBirth-control pills with estrogen and progestin (“Combined Pill”),Birth-control pills with progestin alone (“The Mini Pill”),Birth control pills (extended/continuous use), Contraceptive patches, Contraceptive rings,Progestin injections, andImplantable rods

and

  • Those that act as “barriers” to fertilization by preventing the union of sperm and egg: Male condoms, Female condoms, Diaphragms with spermicide, Sponges with spermicide, Cervical caps with spermicide, Spermicide alone, Vasectomies, Female sterilization surgeries, and Female sterilization implants.

The problem is that regulations written by the Obama Administration mandated that all insurances pay for all pregnancy “preventatives” approved by the FDA, including drugs and devices that may function after fertilization to end the life of the new human embryo:

  • Pills that mainly delay ovulation but may impair implantation and development of the placenta if fertilization takes place, such as over-the-counter Plan B and generic levonorgestrel tablets, and ella, which requires a prescription, and
  • Devices that mechanically and hormonally make the uterus inhospitable to implantation by the embryo, such as intrauterine devices like the copper-T, Mirena, and ParaGuard. These are inserted up to 5 days after unprotected intercourse to prevent implantation and then left in place to prevent fertilization and implantation for as long as 5-10 years.

 

 

Although the words we use do not change the fact that the human embryo is the same human life before implantation as after, they can change his or her legal status.

 

 

 

 

 

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