Tag Archive: abortion

The Right-Wing (and others) Co-Opt the Language of the Debate

Once again, the media (including Blue Jersey) have fallen into the trap of allowing the right-wing to enable its agenda by choosing the name for political initiatives.

For example, much of the media uses the term “gun control” when the advocates of common-sense gun laws are really promoting “gun safety.” Technically, both terms are correct, but the former has the ring of men in black suits coming to confiscate your legal weapons.

Similarly, if I’m not in the “pro-life” camp, it doesn’t mean I’m “pro-death.” Proponents of women’s health have done a decent job promoting the “pro-choice” moniker, but the other side is more accurately described as “anti-abortion.”

Now, the topic of discussion is the bill that passed in the New Jersey Assembly yesterday – the “Aid in Dying” bill. Media outlets (including this one in today’s roundup) use the term “assisted suicide.” Technically – from a linguistic point of view – they are correct. But the term “suicide” comes with negative and often violent connotations. A more accurate term would be “death with dignity” or some variant of the name of the bill – “aid in dying.”

Language matters. The right has understood this for decades. It’s time for the left to gain control of it, too.

Did Jersey’s Pre-1973 Abortion Ban Really Kill Women? The Research Says Yes, Absolutely.

New Jersey deaths by the only methods afforded women before legal abortion. Gruesome detail I almost wish I didn’t read. Promoted by Rosi. Cross Posted from Dan Kurz’s Jersey Globe Blog.

The debate over abortion is one of the central issues in American politics. Actually, abortion brings on a set of questions, one often feeding off another to shape opinions and passions. Is a person created at conception? If so, what rights does a fetus have? When, during the course of a pregnancy, is “personhood” reached or achieved? What is the proper role of the state in regulating abortions? If abortions were again banned, what would be the consequences for the women who would surely seek them?

Joe Kyrillos is All Over the Map on Choice

Most of the time, I find Republicans intransigent in their positions. Whatever the issue, their solution is either tax cuts, reduction in spending, or a fundamentalist religious interpretation of a social issue. There is no nuance to their positions, and they are uncompromising.

But a new breed of Republican is emerging. They are what the late great Ted Kennedy called “multiple choice” in his 1994 Senate election debate with Mitt Romney. Romney has flip-flopped so many times on significant issues, it has become a staple of material for comedians.

Now, fellow Republican Joe Kyrillos is learning from the top of his ticket. Listen to his response to Jim Gardner’s question in the latest debate. He declares he’s both “pro-life” and “pro-choice” in the same answer. He claims that he’s personally “pro-life”, but “pro-choice for society at large.” This is not nuance, it’s obfuscation. While he states that he is opposed to third trimester abortions, he does not say that abortion is legal and should be kept legal and safe.

Kyrillos’ voting record belies his faux centrism. I have no doubt that if elected, Kyrillos will continue his record of voting against women’s issues. So while his opponent, Senator Bob Menendez, has a commanding lead, we need to ensure that the GOTV campaigns are successful and that people are aware of the differences in this campaign.

 Kyrillos on Choice by deciminyan  

Questions the National Media Should Ask Governor Christie, but Won’t

Next week, Governor Christie will bask in the biggest national spotlight he’s had since he excoriated teacher Marie Corfield in one of his earliest YouTube events. It’s an opportunity he relishes, and it’s also an opportunity for the national media to provide a balanced view of the true Chris Christie to the American voters.

Here are some questions I’d like to hear asked by the national media:

  • Do you support the so-called “pro-life” GOP platform that prohibits abortion in all instances including rape, incest, and when the mother’s life is in peril?

  • New Jersey lags the nation in job creation. Do you regret cancelling job-creating programs to improve infrastructure (like the ARC tunnel) and reduction in public safety personnel in high-crime urban areas?

  • You vetoed a Marriage Equality bill based on your personal beliefs. Should personal beliefs trump equal rights for all New Jersey citizens?

  • Some of your GOP colleagues have introduced voter ID legislation just weeks before a major election. Even if you support these voter suppression efforts, shouldn’t any such changes to election eligibility be done with as much advance notice as possible to allow voters time to obtain the proper credentials?

  • Your record on the energy and environment is mixed, at best. While you supported some renewable energy initiatives, you also took New Jersey out of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative – an initiative that promotes clean air and creates jobs. Your action was taken right after a secret meeting that you had with the Koch Brothers. What influence did they have on your decision?

  • Do you support or reject laws that would restrict the possession of assault weapons? Concealed carry?

  • Many of your GOP colleagues oppose teaching evolution in schools. Do you agree with them?
  • Blue Jerseyans – what other questions should the national media ask him? Leave your suggestions in the Comments section

Guest Post: A Doctor on Transvaginal Ultrasounds

This diary is not specifically to New Jersey, but is vitally important.  It was originally posted on John Scalzi’s blog Whatever by a physician who feels obligated to speak up but is afraid of the professional repercussions for doing so.  How sad is that last part?M=

Where Is The Physician Outrage?

Right. Here.

I’m speaking, of course, about the required-transvaginal-ultrasound thing that seems to be the flavor-of-the-month in politics.

I do not care what your personal politics are. I think we can all agree that my right to swing my fist ends where your face begins.

I do not feel that it is reactionary or even inaccurate to describe an unwanted, non-indicated transvaginal ultrasound as “rape”. If I insert ANY object into ANY orifice without informed consent, it is rape. And coercion of any kind negates consent, informed or otherwise.

In all of the discussion and all of the outrage and all of the Doonesbury comics, I find it interesting that we physicians are relatively silent.

After all, it’s our hands that will supposedly be used to insert medical equipment (tools of HEALING, for the sake of all that is good and holy) into the vaginas of coerced women.

Fellow physicians, once again we are being used as tools to screw people over. This time, it’s the politicians who want to use us to implement their morally reprehensible legislation. They want to use our ultrasound machines to invade women’s bodies, and they want our hands to be at the controls. Coerced and invaded women, you have a problem with that? Blame us evil doctors. We are such deliciously silent scapegoats.

It is our responsibility, as always, to protect our patients from things that would harm them. Therefore, as physicians, it is our duty to refuse to perform a medical procedure that is not medically indicated. Any medical procedure. Whatever the pseudo-justification.

It’s time for a little old-fashioned civil disobedience.

Here are a few steps we can take as physicians to protect our patients from legislation such as this.

1) Just don’t comply. No matter how much our autonomy as physicians has been eroded, we still have control of what our hands do and do not do with a transvaginal ultrasound wand. If this legislation is completely ignored by the people who are supposed to implement it, it will soon be worth less than the paper it is written on.

2) Reinforce patient autonomy. It does not matter what a politician says. A woman is in charge of determining what does and what does not go into her body. If she WANTS a transvaginal ultrasound, fine. If it’s medically indicated, fine… have that discussion with her. We have informed consent for a reason. If she has to be forced to get a transvaginal ultrasound through coercion or overly impassioned argument or implied threats of withdrawal of care, that is NOT FINE.

Our position is to recommend medically-indicated tests and treatments that have a favorable benefit-to-harm ratio… and it is up to the patient to decide what she will and will not allow. Period. Politicians do not have any role in this process. NO ONE has a role in this process but the patient and her physician. If anyone tries to get in the way of that, it is our duty to run interference.

3) If you are forced to document a non-indicated transvaginal ultrasound because of this legislation, document that the patient refused the procedure or that it was not medically indicated. (Because both of those are true.) Hell, document that you attempted but the patient kicked you in the nose, if you have to.

4) If you are forced to enter an image of the ultrasound itself into the patient chart, ultrasound the bedsheets and enter that picture with a comment of “poor acoustic window”. If you’re really gutsy, enter a comment of “poor acoustic window…plus, I’m not a rapist.” (I was going to propose repeatedly entering a single identical image in affected patient’s charts nationwide, as a recognizable visual protest…but I don’t have an ultrasound image that I own to the point that I could offer it for that purpose.)

5) Do anything else you can think of to protect your patients and the integrity of the medical profession. IN THAT ORDER. We already know how vulnerable patients can be; we invisibly protect them on a daily basis from all kinds of dangers inside and outside of the hospital. Their safety is our responsibility, and we practically kill ourselves to ensure it at all costs. But it’s also our responsibility to guard the practice of medicine from people who would hijack our tools of healing for their own political or monetary gain.

In recent years, we have been abject failures in this responsibility, and untold numbers of people have gleefully taken advantage of that. Silently allowing a politician to manipulate our medical decision-making for the purposes of an ideological goal erodes any tiny scrap of trust we might have left.

It comes down to this: When the community has failed a patient by voting an ideologue into office…When the ideologue has failed the patient by writing legislation in his own interest instead of in the patient’s…When the legislative system has failed the patient by allowing the legislation to be considered… When the government has failed the patient by allowing something like this to be signed into law… We as physicians cannot and must not fail our patients by ducking our heads and meekly doing as we’re told.

Because we are their last line of defense.