Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Health care, abortion, and fear

So health care for all (or at least, health care for most) passed and was signed into law yesterday in the U.S. It's not perfect, but it's something. This take on it by Kevin M.D. is a great summary of the reality of the situation.

The thing that amazes me, though, is how abortion has suddenly become the hot-button issue in the health care debate. The Republicans -- hell, even some of the Democrats -- wanted to be extremely sure that no taxpayer money would be used to fund abortion.

Funny, no one ever asked me what I'd like my taxes to be used for before. I don't particularly support the wars going on in Afghanistan and Iraq, but no one has offered me the choice of not having my tax money go towards them.

Somehow abortion is different. It's like a code word for something so evil, so wrong, that people automatically give in when someone utters the word. "It's not going to be used for abortion, is it?" "Oh, no, never..."

As I've said before, abortion is a procedure that happens in a context. Something happens: birth control fails, a fetus develops a defect of some type, there is a change in a woman's life... and suddenly, abortion is the right option. Yes, you can love babies, and yes, you can love life (whatever that means), but abortion is necessary to protect women's health. Doing away with abortion, or making it harder to obtain, isn't going to stop abortion: it's going to drive it underground, and we know what happens with that.

Somehow, in this whole health care debate, abortion has (pardon the pun) taken on a life of its own. It symbolizes something other than what it actually is: a medical procedure. It seems to represent all the fears that Conservatives have about women, being out of control, sexuality run amok.

I truly hope now that health care reform has passed and been signed into reality, that this strange abortion thing will go away. Although I doubt it.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Connect the dots

I read with interest an op-ed "entitled Politically Exhausted," in today's Boston Globe. It starts:

Here's how the current narrative goes: Americans are fuming. They are fed up with Washington, Wall Street, the stimulus package and banking bailouts, the attempts at health care reform, pretty much everything. The Tea Partiers are all the rage because they seem to channel this fury and threaten to reshape the contours of the political environment through their anger.

It’s a pretty good story. But it is not the real story. What is significant is not that a group of extremists are protesting the government. What is really significant is that the majority of Americans aren’t involved, energized, or even angry. Quite the opposite. They are enervated, afflicted with an overwhelming sense of political exhaustion, dispirited over how wrong things are and uncertain that they can ever be made right. Simply put, they’ve given up. (emphasis mine)

I think the writer of this article, Neal Gabler, has a good point here. This past year, which started out with such promise, has just become worse and worse, and it's worn people down. Speaking for myself: it's worn me down. Government just seems so complicated and well, political, that nothing can really get done. It's much easier to just watch TV or surf the Internet and ignore what is going on, because we feel like we can't do anything about it.

Reading on, I found this article (Cancer costs more than double since ’90),
The rising cost of cancer research and care, which helped reduce death rates by 16 percent over 40 years, is straining the US health system and needs to be restrained, commentators said in a special edition of the Journal of the American Medical Association...The reduced death rates result from anti-smoking campaigns, early disease detection, and new drugs, which can cost individual patients up to $100,000 a year (note nothing mentioned about preventing cancer in the first place)...Cancer remains the second-leading cause of death in the United States, killing 562,000 people a year, according to the American Cancer Society...There has been “remarkable progress’’ in the treatment of certain types of cancer, the report said, including breast, Hodgkin’s disease, and testicular..."We’ve made progress, but people are still dying at too high a rate...’’
And reading still further (I had time today), I found this article (State honoring companies that detoxify manufacturing)
Since 1993, MD Stetson has cut its use of glycol ethers, often used as solvents, by nearly 60 percent, and today much of its product line is “green.’’ For that, the company was honored Monday by Massachusetts legislators and officials who administer the state’s 20-year-old Toxics Use Reduction Act, which aims to reduce the use of toxic substances.

Officials plan to highlight more than a dozen companies that, like MD Stetson, have cut toxic chemicals out of their manufacturing processes, helping to curb chemical use in Massachusetts by 41 percent since the law went into effect. Those companies include Millipore Corp., which has a research and development facility in Bedford, Lightolier in Fall River, and PerkinElmer Optoelectronics of Salem.

Jason Marshall, laboratory director at the Toxics Use Reduction Institute at the University of Massachusetts Lowell, where MD Stetson’s cleaning products were tested independently, lauded the Randolph company for “making Massachusetts safer.’’

“They did the right thing for the right reason,’’ Marshall said. “They said, we know the chemicals we use may not be the best for someone’s health.’’

To me, it's very simple to connect the dots between these three articles. It's important to feel angry (as I do) that people aren't focusing on preventing cancer (instead of just finding it and possibly curing it), and one way to do that is to encourage companies to reduce (or eliminate) the toxicity of the chemicals that they spew into the environment. I just wish there were more people who connected these same dots.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Just write!

I haven't been posting much lately. I'm sorry. I think I've been spending all of my energy on just getting through the days: getting to work; making sure J does his homework (but not always); getting dinner on the table (but not always); making sure the house isn't a total pit; trying to meet Sisterhood and Temple obligations; trying to stay focused at work (not always succeeding); trying to exercise a few times a week. I'm feeling pretty good today, but I've been dealing with nausea for over 3 months now, on and off, as well as some other annoying symptoms, and I just haven't felt like myself. In addition to my little struggles, it seems that the world is falling apart. I can barely read the newspaper anymore. Earthquakes, weird weather in all parts of the world, wars, increased conservatism all over the world, not to mention a sense of utter frustration with both the economy and the government here in the U.S. There is very little good news these days.

Now this is getting depressing.

On the plus side, I have been feeling better for the past few days; spring is trying very hard to arrive here in New England; J's basketball team is playing really well as they go into the finals; did I mention that spring is coming?