Category Archives: Health Care

Abortion is not negotiable: Democratic Party Draws A Line In The Sand On Abortion Rights

tom perez

The DNC future: Agree with us or go

A personal/religious belief shall not go against the collective thinking of the demorat platform.

Tom Perez is the best thing to happen to the RNC (and yes, I mean RNC)!

From HuffPo: Democratic National Committee chairman Tom Perez became the first head of the party to demand ideological purity on abortion rights, promising Friday to support only Democratic candidates who back a woman’s right to choose.

“Every Democrat, like every American, should support a woman’s right to make her own choices about her body and her health,” Perez said in a statement. “That is not negotiable and should not change city by city or state by state.”

“At a time when women’s rights are under assault from the White House, the Republican Congress, and in states across the country,” he added, “we must speak up for this principle as loudly as ever and with one voice.” 

Perez’s statement follows the DNC’s controversial embrace of Heath Mello, a Democratic mayoral candidate in Omaha, Nebraska, whose years-long history of voting against abortion rights in the state Legislature drew fire from progressives this week. Daily Kos, a liberal website that raises money for lesser-known Democratic candidates, pulled its endorsement of Mello this week after discovering his history on the issue, and NARAL Pro-Choice America President Ilyse Hogue slammed the DNC for adding him to its cross-country unity tour.

“The actions today by the DNC to embrace and support a candidate for office who will strip women — one of the most critical constituencies for the party — of our basic rights and freedom is not only disappointing, it is politically stupid,” Hogue said in a statement.

Perez initially defended the DNC’s acceptance of an anti-abortion Democrat. “Our job at the DNC is to help Democrats who have garnered support from voters in their community cross the finish line and win ― from school board to Senate,” Perez said. “The biggest threat to women’s reproductive rights is the relentless Republican attacks on women’s health care, including legal, accessible abortion services. And I won’t let anyone get in the way of our fight to protect a woman’s right to choose.”

But Perez changed course Friday and delivered a big victory to the reproductive rights movement, saying that he “fundamentally disagree[s] with Heath Mello’s personal beliefs about women’s reproductive health” and that “every candidate who runs as a Democrat should do the same, because every woman should be able to make her own health choices. Period.” 

Perez’s statement will likely alienate some high-profile anti-abortion Democrats in the party, including Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards and Sens. Bob Casey of Pennsylvania and Joe Manchin of West Virginia. Edwards said at the Democratic National Convention in 2016 that the party might be more successful in the Deep South if it allowed more anti-abortion candidates to rise in the ranks. 

“It’s hard to remain a big-tent party if you have a very small platform,” he said. “We have to make our voices heard.”

Reproductive rights advocates agree with Perez that the party must stand firm on the issue. Hogue celebrated the victory for the movement on Friday.  “Kudos to Chair Tom Perez and the DNC for recognizing that we are a stronger party when we stand for our core values,” she said in a statement to The Huffington Post. “Women across the country who are, and have always been, the heart and soul of the Party, are breathing a sigh of relief to know that the DNC has our backs, and we look forward to a day when we don’t have to fight this fight again.”

h/t Twitchy

DCG

Advertisements

Weinstein Co. to Challenge MPAA’s R Rating of Transgender Teen Drama

3 generations movie

Actors Fanning, Watts and Sarandon

Because it would be a “tragedy” if high school students couldn’t see this film.

From Hollywood Reporter: The Weinstein Co. (TWC) will challenge the MPAA’s decision to assign an R rating to its upcoming transgender drama 3 Generations. TWC was told that the film, which stars Elle Fanning, Naomi Watts and Susan Sarandon and was directed by Gaby Dellal, received the rating due to language and some sexual references.

In its bid to downgrade the R rating to a PG-13, TWC has enlisted attorney David Boies, who is the company’s go-to lawyer for high-profile cases (Boies also represented TWC in its battle with Warner Bros. over the use of the title The Butler).

The MPAA offered a statement in response to TWC’s promise to fight the 3 Generations rating. “Under the Classifications and Ratings Administration (CARA) rules, the ratings board and appeals board maintain confidentiality and do not comment publicly about the process for movies under review,” MPAA spokesperson Chris Ortman said. “Any filmmaker who objects to the given rating can choose to go to the appeals board.”

TWC has a long history of challenging the MPAA’s ratings, sometimes successfully. The Michelle Williams-Ryan Gosling starrer Blue Valentine initially received an NC-17, but it was knocked down to an R. The company’s best picture Oscar winner The King’s Speech also received an R, which remained in place, but TWC managed to get a PG-13 rating for an alternate version.

Boies helped get the rating changed on the documentary Bully. Initially given an R for reasons similar to 3 Generations, TWC challenged the rating because it wanted the film to be more accessible to its intended teen audience. The film eventually received a PG-13.

“This film is a beautiful and touching story about family and identity,” said Watts, who stars in the film as the mother of the protagonist Ray, played by Fanning, and who also is an executive producer. “It is important for teenagers to see it and the R rating doesn’t reflect today’s society. 3 Generations doesn’t have a bad bone in its body. It’s an expression of love, acceptance, strength and honesty — values that could not be more necessary right now.

Added TWC co-chairman Harvey Weinstein: “Gaby, Naomi, Susan and Elle made this movie to share its message of acceptance and inclusion with all generations. The fact that an R rating would prevent high school students from seeing this film would truly be a travesty. The MPAA and I were able to come to an agreement on Bully, and I am confident that we will be able to do so again.”

The film follows Ray, a teenager who has struggled with the body assigned to him at birth and is determined to start transitioning. His single mother Maggie must track down Ray’s biological father (Tate Donovan) to get his legal consent to allow Ray’s transition. Dolly (Sarandon), Ray’s lesbian grandmother, is having a hard time accepting that she now has a grandson. The film follows their journey as each character confronts his or her own identity and learns to embrace change while ultimately finding acceptance and understanding.

“3 Generations is an important movie for everyone to see, especially transgender youth who are feeling isolated or fearful and their families,” said Sarandon. “It’s ridiculous to have an R rating, which would prevent this audience from seeing the film.”

Added Dellal: “As a mother and a filmmaker, I want to speak to kids, to parents and to grandparents everywhere in a common language of love and inclusion about a subject matter that is not only real and complicated, but one that is important and alive today. There are kids all over this country that are still too fearful to speak out and to step out; they’re too alone to fight, lacking the kinds of support that would let them feel free to be themselves. Our story wants to humanize this family experience, and to take the mystery out of the secrets. I hope the MPAA will reconsider this R rating and encourage children to see this story and feel connected.”

DCG

How to perform the Heimlich maneuver on yourself

Do you live and/or eat alone?

If so, you need to know how to perform the Heimlich maneuver on yourself.

The Heimlich maneuver is administered when an individual is choking — the airway obstructed by food or some other object. The person administering the first aid places their arms around the choking person from behind, and pull upwards and inwards on the abdomen below the ribcage. The pressure from this movement can expel the obstruction, allowing the patient to breathe again.

Professor Sir Malcolm Green, Emeritus Professor of Respiratory Medicine at the UK’s Imperial College, said: “People are often embarrassed when they start to choke and move away from their friends to somewhere private, to the toilets or out onto the street, and that can result in their death. We need to make sure they stay where they are and know how to do the maneuver on themselves or over the chair they have just been sitting on.”

Experts have found that the maneuver — a short sharp burst of pressure to the abdomen to clear a blockage in the throat — is just as effective when performed by the person who is choking.

Here’s how to perform a Heimlich maneuver on yourself:

  • Press your abdomen sharply onto the back of a chair, or
  • Deliver a sharp thrust to your abdomen below your ribcage with your hand.

Source: The Telegraph

~Eowyn

Hundreds of immigrant detainees at Tacoma ICE facility on hunger strike, activists say

concerned face

From Seattle Times: As many as 400 immigrant detainees at the Northwest Detention Center have refused meals for a second day, according to activists, while federal immigration officials prepare to invoke a hunger-strike protocol that could result in forced treatment of inmates who continue to refuse nourishment.

A group of immigration and Latino activists rallied outside the Tacoma detention facility for the second night while inside they said hundreds of detainees facing deportation have refused to eat. Some of those with jobs inside the privately run facility have stopped working, said Maru Mora Villalpando with the group NWDC Resist, an anti-detention group led by undocumented immigrants illegal aliens inside the detention center.

On Monday, the group presented the detention center with a written list of demands, mostly involving living conditions in the detention center, including the quality of food, access to medical care and lowering of commissary prices.

What began with a handful of protesters has turned into a hunger strike involving hundreds of detainees, Villalpando said Tuesday. “So far, so good,” she said. She said the estimated number of participants has been determined through telephone and email contacts with detainees throughout the facility.

The detention center, operated by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) through a private contractor, GEO Group, contains more than 1,500 detainees.

Rose Richeson, a spokeswoman for ICE, has referred to the protest as a “meal refusal involving a number of detainees who have chosen not to eat meals provided by the cafeteria.” Some continue to eat food purchased from the commissary, she said.

Richeson said Tuesday that the “number of detainees refusing prepared meals at the NWDC continues to decline.”

So far, she said, “none of the detainees has missed a sufficient number of meals to be considered on a hunger strike.”

Those who have refused any food are being monitored. Once they have gone 72 hours without food — sometime Wednesday for those who began the strike Monday — the agency will initiate a hunger-strike protocol that will allow the detainees to be referred to the medical department for monitoring “and possible treatment.”

“Individuals on a hunger strike will continue to be offered three meals daily and provided with an adequate supply of drinking water and other beverages. They will also be counseled about the related medical risks,” according to Richeson.

DCG

Swedish midwife loses fight to be exempt from performing abortions

elinor grimmark

Grimmark: Must choose career over conscience

Scary.

From Fox News:  A Swedish midwife on Wednesday lost her years-long legal battle to be exempt from performing abortions — an act she says violates her religious freedom — and is now considering a final push before the European Court of Human Rights.

Midwife Ellinor Grimmark objects to abortions because of her Christian beliefs. But the Swedish Labor Court decided that midwives are obligated to make a choice between conscience and career — contradicting international law, which protects conscientious objection, experts say.

According to the organization Scandinavian Human Rights Lawyers, “freedom of conscience” is a human right stating that no one shall be deprived of their ability to work in their profession because that person — by ethical, moral or religious reasons — cannot perform a task that “extinguishes human life” at its beginning, or final stages.

“Restrictions on the right to freedom of conscience must be supported by law and be necessary in a democratic society,” Scandinavian Human Rights Lawyers said after the appeals court decision in Grimmark’s case.

In November 2015, a district court found that Grimmark’s right to freedom of conscience had not been violated, and required her to pay the local government’s legal costs, which totaled more than $100,000.

Grimmark has been commuting to Norway, where midwives and doctors are granted freedom of conscience, according to the human rights group.

“The Court has failed to protect Ellinor Grimmark’s fundamental right to freedom of conscience despite the clear legal protections that exist in international law,” Robert Clark, Director of European Advocacy for ADF International, an organization that advocates for the right of people to freely live out their faith, said in a statement. “Some have attempted to frame this case as one that pits one human right against another — however, the only person whose rights have been violated is Ellinor Grimmark.”

According to ADF, three different medical clinics in the district of Jönköping had refused to employ Grimmark because she would not assist with abortions due to her belief in the “dignity of human life.”

Grimmark must now decide whether or not to pursue her case before the European Court of Human Rights.

DCG

Bruce/Caitlyn Jenner Reveals She’s Had Gender Reassignment Surgery in New Memoir

Bruce Jenner as Caitlyn

No need to “tuck” anymore…

You can cut off whatever body part you want and change your pronouns. Doesn’t change your DNA.

From Yahoo: Much of Caitlyn Jenner’s transition has been up for public consumption, but the Olympian managed the seemingly impossible: She underwent gender reassignment surgery in January of this year, and nobody suspected a thing until she revealed it to the world herself.

Jenner, 67, shares and bares all in her upcoming memoir, The Secrets of My Life, due out April 25 — and it’s there that she talks about the experience for what, she writes, will be the first and last time.

“I just want to have all the right parts. I am also tired of tucking the damn thing in all the time,” she explains, adding that she was excited to realize she’d be living authentically for the first time in her life. “The surgery was a success, and I feel not only wonderful, but liberated.”

She continues, “I am going to have an enthusiasm for life that I have not had in 39 years since the Olympics, almost two thirds of my life.”

In the book excerpt obtained by RadarOnline.com, Jenner reveals she finally made the full transition after being annoyed by fans asking intrusive questions about her genitals. But that doesn’t mean fans have the right to continue to pester her about it. As she says in the book, “You want to know, so now you know. Which is why this is the first time, and the last time, I will ever speak of it.”

Jenner’s upcoming tome netted a huge advance — $4 million, to be exact — and she worked on it with Friday Night Lights author Buzz Bissinger, who also wrote the Vanity Fair profile that introduced Caitlyn to the world. Jenner’s life has certainly exploded since she revealed her transition to Diane Sawyer on 20/20 just two years ago this month.

“For all intents and purposes, I am a woman,” she told Sawyer. “My brain is much more female than it is male. That’s what my soul is. Bruce lives a lie. She is not a lie. I can’t do it anymore.”

Which is why gender reassignment was a natural next step. As Jenner continued to embrace her new form, she found she had no use for anything that was associated with her old self. As she writes about the choice to undergo surgery, “So why even consider it? Because it’s just a penis. It has no special gifts or use for me other than what I have said before, the ability to take a whiz in the woods.”

Of course, the more public aspect of Jenner’s transition from Bruce to Caitlyn continued long after her interview with Sawyer, including her groundbreaking Vanity Fair cover story and photo shoot in June 2015, which Jenner likened to being better than winning a gold medal. She became active on Twitter soon afterward, and now boasts nearly 4 million followers. That July marked the debut of her E! reality show, I Am Cait, which was canceled after two seasons. Jenner officially changed her name in September 2015.

Previously, Jenner was reluctant to discuss gender reassignment — even going so far as to shoot down any comments on it in her Sports Illustrated appearance last June. “It’s nobody’s business whether I want to do that to my body,” she told SI. But she did admit that “Little Caitlyn” had been inside her since her youth, and it took a long time for her to come to terms with it.

“Sometimes she raised her cute little head more than others. I was female inside, but I wasn’t an effeminate male. So I could hide easily in the male world,” Jenner said of that period of her life. “My life was distraction after distraction after distraction. Being a macho male was a way for me to try to convince myself that the woman living inside of me really isn’t living inside me.

“It disgusted me,” Jenner said of her male body. “I was big and thick and masculine. The rest of the world thought it was this Greek god kind of body. I hated it. But it’s what I was given, so I just tried to do the best I could with it.

But now that she’s undergone gender reassignment surgery, Jenner can truly live freely as her authentic self. Congratulations, Caitlyn! Now let’s respect her wishes and never speak of this again.

DCG

Hawaii LGBT couples seek equal access to fertility treatment

inequitiesFrom ABC News: Sean Smith and his husband paid more than $20,000 for a fertility procedure when they decided to have a child using a surrogate mother. They did not know at the time that if they were a heterosexual couple, they might have saved that money.

Now, Smith and other members of Hawaii’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community are lobbying for equal access to the financial help married, heterosexual couples enjoy under state law.

They are pushing legislation that would require insurance companies to cover in vitro fertilization for more couples, including making Hawaii the first state to require the coverage for surrogates, which would help male same-sex couples who must use a surrogate.

“Now that marriage equality is the law of the land and is accepted, now let’s turn to family building, and let’s figure out how we fix all these inequities that exist,” said Barbara Collura, president and CEO of Resolve, a national organization that advocates for access to fertility treatments.

Hawaii is one of eight states that require insurance companies to cover in vitro fertilization, a costly procedure where a doctor retrieves eggs from a woman, combines them with sperm from a man and then implants an embryo into a woman’s uterus.

But Hawaii’s mandate applies only to married heterosexual couples because it covers the medical intervention only if a woman uses sperm from her spouse, leaving the LGBT community and single women behind.

“At the end of the visit, I would be going into the office and pulling out my credit card, and other people are probably just walking out and insurance is picking up the tab,” Smith said. “We had to borrow money, refinance a second mortgage, and I’m sure there are people who don’t even explore the option because the expenses are too great.”

The measure pending in the Hawaii Legislature removes requirements that the egg and sperm come from a married couple and includes surrogates among the people to be covered. No other state has included surrogates in their laws, Collura said.

“It is definitely groundbreaking,” Collura said. “And it’s an often-overlooked way that people choose to build their family, and it should not be left out. It’s great to see that Hawaii is taking the lead.”

Kaiser Permanente Hawaii opposed the measure, saying the medical provider and insurer does not perform in vitro fertilization with donor eggs or surrogates because of complex legal issues and medical risks. The company asked lawmakers to remove egg donors and surrogates from the bill, saying requiring coverage of additional procedures would raise costs for the company and its customers.

A similar measure in Hawaii failed in previous legislative sessions. But aside from Kaiser, the bill has seen little opposition this year.

A broad coalition including the American Civil Liberties Union of Hawaii, the Hawaii Civil Rights Commission and the Democratic Party of Hawaii are working with LGBT groups to push for change. The proposal passed the state Senate and is up for a vote in the House this week.

Maryland had a law that also excluded same-sex couples until about a year ago, when the Legislature changed the provision so it no longer required using a husband’s sperm. That helped lesbian couples, but gay men were still left out because the law didn’t cover surrogates, Collura said.

Most state mandates limit insurance reimbursement to a certain number of in vitro fertilization trials or allow coverage only after years of infertility. Some states also allow religious or small employers to get out of the requirement.

“We need to change these laws,” Collura said. “We need to update them and make them so that they are no longer discriminatory.”

DCG