The Miseducation of California Nurses: Legal Loophole Enables Spread of Anti-Choice Medical Myths

Nicole Knight Shine of Reproductive Health Reality Check reports:

In a St. Louis high-rise hotel last April, health-care workers filed into a conference room to learn about the myth of undoing a pill-induced abortion, also called abortion pill reversal. The workshop, hosted by the anti-choice giant Heartbeat International, promised nurses in attendance that they could earn continuing education credits from a state some 1,700 miles away: California.

Missing from the conference materials was any disclosure saying that the medical establishment, including the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), rejects the so-called science behind abortion pill reversal. Instead, Heartbeat International displayed the medical imprimatur of the Golden State: “Provider approved by the California Board of Registered Nursing, Provider Number CEP 16061 for 1.25 contact hours for each workshop.”

How has Heartbeat International, along with other anti-choice organizations, co-opted a narrow area of health-care law in one of the country’s most progressive states? The answer exposes regulatory holes in the post-graduate education of California nurses.

Keep reading here.

My Right to Die: Assisted Suicide, My Family, and Me

Kevin Drum, writer for the website and magazine Mother Jones, has penned an excellent article for the January /February 2016 issue on physician assisted dying which has been posted online:

EVERY STORY HAS A BEGINNING. This one starts in late 2001, when my father-in-law fractured three of his ribs. Harry was a retired physician, and after a thorough workup that he insisted on, it turned out that his bone density was severely compromised for no immediately apparent reason. Further tests eventually revealed the cause: He had multiple myeloma, a cancer of the bone marrow.

Harry’s cancer was caught early, and it progressed slowly. By 2007, however, it had taken over his body. When my wife saw him in early 2008, she remarked that he looked like someone in a lot of pain but trying not to show it—despite the fact that he was taking oxycodone, a powerful opiate.

During a career that lasted more than three decades, he had watched all too many of his patients struggle with their final months, and this experience had persuaded him that he would take his own life if he found himself dying of an agonizing and clearly terminal illness. Now he was. Finally, on the evening of January 29, he stumbled and fell during the night, and decided his time had come: He was afraid if he delayed any longer he’d become physically unable to remain in control of his own destiny.

This was important. Since Harry lived in California, where assisted suicide was illegal, he had to be able to take his life without help. Because of this, he initially intended not to tell either of his daughters about his decision. He wanted to run absolutely no risk that merely by being with him in his final moments, or even knowing of his plans, they’d be held responsible for his death.

Luckily, neither my wife nor her sister had to learn of their father’s death via a call from the morgue. A friend persuaded him to call both of them, and on January 30 we all drove out to Palm Springs to say our last goodbyes. After that, Harry wrote a note explaining that he was about to take his own life and that no one else had provided any assistance. It was time. He categorically forbade any of us from so much as taking his arm. He walked into his bedroom, put a plastic bag over his head, and opened up a tank of helium. A few minutes later he was dead.

You can read the full article here.

Unvaccinated Child Diagnosed With Measles in Texas Vaccine Exemption Hotbed, Exposed Others at School

An unvaccinated elementary school student in Texas has been diagnosed with Measles likely contracted while recently traveling overseas:

The health agency sent parents a letter last week warning that anyone at Schell Elementary School in Richardson on Jan. 5 could’ve been exposed

Asghar says there are no indications of an outbreak, but it’ll take 21 days from the point of contact to confirm if the infection spread.

Texas allows for exemptions from immunizations for certain reasons, including those of conscience, which includes religious beliefs, and medical reasons.

As is usually the case, it’s unsurprising that an outbreak has occurred in this part of Texas:

Meanwhile, an investigation last year by our media partner KXAS-TV (NBC5) found that the number of parents saying “no” to vaccines had increased locally, including in Collin County. With more than 800 students who skipped one or more vaccines for personal reasons, Plano ISD had among the highest number of unvaccinated students in North Texas, the investigation found.

Worse yet, the number of unvaccinated students in the area has not just increased, but at a disturbing pace:

New state records obtained by NBC Investigates show the number of parents saying “no” to vaccines is on the rise in Dallas, Collin, Tarrant and Parker counties.

In Tarrant County, the number of conscientious exemptions has quadrupled over the last seven years. Last year, 4,202 skipped one or more vaccine. That’s about 1,000 more than the previous school year, a 42 percent increase in unvaccinated kids in just one year.

In Dallas County the number of unvaccinated students has tripled in seven years.

“The number of parents choosing not to vaccinate their kids is going up. It’s part of an overall trend across the country and it’s really concerning,” said Dr. Seema Yasmin, a public health professor and health reporter at The Dallas Morning News.

The district also saw two cases of whooping cough in November.

Judge: California Hospital Doesn’t Have to Do Tubal Ligation

The Associated Press reports on a disturbing legal development out of California, where a judge has ruled in favor of a Catholic hospital in a reproductive health care case:

Ordering a Catholic hospital in California to perform a tubal ligation sterilization procedure on a woman would violate its religious freedom, a San Francisco judge ruled Thursday.

“Religious-based hospitals have an enshrined place in American history and its communities, and the religious beliefs reflected in their operation are not to be interfered with by courts at this moment in history,” Superior Court Judge Ernest Goldsmith said while finalizing his previous tentative ruling.

The decision came after Rebecca Chamorro, 33, filed a lawsuit seeking a preliminary injunction that would require Mercy Medical Center in Redding, California, to perform the procedure after she delivered her third baby.

The judge also noted that Chamorro could get the birth control procedure elsewhere, and the hospital was not engaging in sex discrimination by denying it because its policy against sterilization on religious grounds also applies to men.

You can read the entire article here.

Prominent Scientists Urge Supreme Court: Reject Pseudoscientific Testimony for Texas Abortion Case

A press release from the Center for Inquiry:

Steven Pinker, Eugenie Scott, Lawrence Krauss, Richard Dawkins, and more than 40 other eminent scientists and public intellectuals are backing the Center for Inquiry in a brief to the Supreme Court criticizing the state of Texas’s onerous restrictions on abortion providers. CFI’s brief argues that the alleged expert, scientific testimony used to justify the restrictions is flawed pseudoscience and the Court cannot constitutionally rely on it.

Keep reading here.

Tell Congress: Stop Attacks on Planned Parenthood and Reproductive Health Care

An action alert from the Center for Inquiry’s Office of Public Policy:

Planned Parenthood is the largest provider of women’s and reproductive health services in the United States. Every day, millions of women rely on its guarantee to provide access to everything from cancer and HIV screenings and counseling, to contraception (~34% percent of total services) and abortion (~3% percent of total services).

Yet some members of Congress have made defaming and defunding this organization a central goal of their agenda — and this week they seek to move closer to achieving their goal.

The U.S. House of Representatives is expected to vote Wednesday on a bill that would withdraw a significant portion of federal funding from Planned Parenthood. The provision to defund Planned Parenthood is included in a budget bill titled the Restoring Americans’ Healthcare Freedom Reconciliation Act, which would also defund parts of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

This bill passed the Senate in December; if it passes the House, the only thing standing in its way from becoming law is a veto by President Barack Obama.

You can take action here.

Catholic Hospital System Says It Can Deny Women Emergency Care on Religious Grounds

The blog Eclecta reports on a lawsuit that highlights several disturbing cases of Catholic hospitals putting ideology above patient safety:

When you show up at an emergency room in need of urgent medical care, you have a reasonable expectation that you’ll be given the treatment you need — that the staff will do everything they can to save your life and protect your health. In fact, ERs are required by law not to turn anyone away for any reason.

Unless you’re a Catholic-affiliated health system. At least, that’s what one Catholic hospital system would like you to think, even though they’re dead wrong.

Keep reading here.

Ban Homeopathy on the NHS Because there is ‘No Evidence It Works’, Ministers Say

As reported in today’s Daily Mail:

The National Health Service (NHS) could ban homeopathy on prescription, ministers announced today.

It is thought the health service spends £4m a year on the controversial alternative treatment – and there are homeopathic hospitals and GPs around the country.

But Life Sciences Minister George Freeman said today that cash should only be spent on the most effective medicines.

You can read the full article here.

200-Year-Old Homeopathy “Cures” May Face Modern Medical Testing

After decades of non-regulation, federal agencies are finally taking a closer at homeopathy,reports BuzzFeed’s Dan Vergano:

The FDA is taking aim at homeopathic remedies — pills and preparations sold over-the-counter that claim to cure diseases with tiny doses of stuff that makes people sick.

But that may change. This month, both the FDA, which oversees drug safety, and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), which oversees drug ads, will end lengthy public comment periods that followed hearings on homeopathy. The FTC smacked its sister drug-safety agency in public comments in August, calling for the FDA to crack down on homeopathic products, which “may harm consumers.”

The Center for Inquiry has already filed comments with the FDA; they can be read here,

The article goes on to quote CFI’s Michael De Dora:

In 1938, before the advent of modern drug testing, the U.S. Congress added homeopathic remedies to the list of legal drugs nationwide. Homeopathy largely faded from medicine thereafter, dispensed in minute quantities from the cabinets of homeopathic doctors. That changed in 1988, when U.S. drug laws changed to allow these products on pharmacy shelves without a prescription, and without the efficacy evidence needed to sell other drugs. The same laws exempt homeopathic drugs from limits on alcohol, according to the FDA.

Regardless, a resurgence of interest in “natural” medical cures spurred the growth of a homeopathic remedy industry, Michael De Dora of the Center for Inquiry, a junk science watchdog group based in Washington, D.C., told BuzzFeed News.

By 2007, the CDC estimated that Americans were spending $34 billion a year on alternative medicine and doctor visits, including homeopathic products. The American Association of Homeopathic Pharmacists takes issue with market surveys that suggest homeopathic drug sales are around $6.4 billion yearly, instead claiming they are closer to $1 billion.

In any case, it’s a lot of money. “Especially with big box stores stocking homeopathic products on their shelves, the market has grown,” De Dora said. “They are on the shelves next to real medicine, they look like real medicine, and there is a lot evidence that people don’t know what they are buying.”

You can read the full article here.

A Center for Inquiry Campaign