Category Archives: Healthcare

Safe sex and Julian Assange

They fell asleep and she woke up by his penetrating her. She immediately asked if he was wearing anything. He answered: “You.” She said: “You better not have HIV.” He said: “Of course not.” 12th July 2011

The longer Julian Assange delays his return to Sweden to be questioned by the police, charged with rape and sexual assault, and for the Swedish justice system to decide what to do with him, the less likely it is that he will ever be tried at all. It is already three and a half years since two women went to the police to discover if they could force Julian Assange to have an HIV test and, in the process of describing what had happened, gave evidence that Assange had attempted sexual assault on one woman and raped the other woman.

Since 19th June 2012, Assange has lived in a room in Knightsbridge, a guest of the embassy of Ecuador, his request for asylum accepted by the President of a nation who has little concern for free speech. Assange has, in effect, sent himself to jail without trial under much more unpleasant conditions than he would have been subject to in Sweden: where he would have been unlikely – even if found guilty – to have been sentenced to more than three years. If he intends to imprison himself in Knightsbridge until the statute of limitations expires in Sweden, he will stay there til August 2020.
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Because it’s my choice

Over two years ago, I wrote a blogpost outlining why I thought those who were opposed to same-sex marriage were also opposed to safe legal abortion. (Human Rights: Abortion and gay marriage).

In 2004, the Partido Socialista Obrero Español (PSOE) won the general election and had as a manifesto commitment, lifting the ban on same-sex marriage in Spain. In 2005, Spain became the third country in the world in which same-sex couples can marry. In 2011, the right-wing Partido Popular (PP) won a majority, and had in their manifesto commitments to roll back access to safe legal abortion, and to have the Constitutional Court consider re-imposing a ban on same-sex marriage.

Courts and judges, upholders of law and order, have in general proved to be supporters of keeping marriage legal, because unmaking lawful marriages is disorderly, and to the judicial mind, disorderliness in marriage law is anathema. In 2012, so it proved in Spain: rather than fall into the unutterable confusion of declaring that seven years of marriages would no longer be recognised, the 2005 law was upheld.
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Goodbye NHS

David Cameron - NHSThe Tory/LibDem policy of destroying the NHS has been sweeping along since 2010, to the financial benefit of Tory donors.

This is really just one more step, but it’s a big one.

The prolife Conservative party instituted charges for maternal health care for “immigrants and tourists” in 2011. With the obvious results:

The researchers heard the case of a woman who needed a caesarean for medical reasons, but who gave birth at home because she could not afford the charges. The midwives and overseas visitors officers told the charity that some women were not going to their antenatal appointments and were instead turning up in labour with severe complications.
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Prolife Ireland talking bollocks

Yesterday in Ireland 25,000 people [or 15,000] gathered to support the important ethical principle that when a woman in Ireland needs an abortion, she should have to go overseas. (Rumours that Ryanair was one of the major donors to “Vigil4Life” unconfirmed.)

This well-funded “vigil” was in response to the Irish government’s announcement that they would legislate for legal abortion in Ireland where the woman would otherwise die. Savita Halappanavar’s parents have said they would welcome the law that would have saved their daughter’s life to be named after her.

The prolifers in Dublin were so confident of the ethical case for outsourcing all abortions overseas at the patient’s expense that they did not stoop to lying about it:

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Life, life, life

A few years ago, when I was on holiday in Belgium, I spent hours in churches. (The friend I travelled with, who hadn’t voluntarily been in a church in decades, and who knew I am an atheist, was worried I would catch Christianity.) What I wanted to see was the paintings. The invention of oil paint meant Lowlands painters could create pictures so finely detailed it is possible to see the weave in the carpet and the stitches in the embroidered clothing: pictures from five or six hundred years ago that glow from the canvas.

The Annunciation, by Jan Van Eyck, 1413And over and over again, pictures of Mary. Mary as a baby, with Anna her mother: Anna and Joachim, Mary’s father, together: Mary saying “Fiat” to the angel: Mary as a young woman, as a mother with a preposterously large infant on her knee, Mary being carried into heaven by a troop of angels on her death. Mary is supposed to have been conceived on 8th December, and on that date in 2009, The US Senate rejected by a narrow margin an amendment proposed by Senators Ben Nelson, D-Nebraska, and Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, that was intended to modify “Obamacare” so that any private insurance company that got federal funding for Obamacare insurance, couldn’t offer health insurance plans that included abortion.
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Women Under Siege

Women Under Siege is an independent initiative documenting how rape and other forms of sexualized violence are used as tools in genocide and conflict throughout the 20th century and into the 21st.

Victoria Jackson, who describes herself as an outspoken activist for the conservative movement, on Facebook, reacting to the Connecticut shooting

20 children have been killed in Connecticut, and six of their teachers, all women. All of the heroes are women: the school secretary who warned the other teachers and was shot, the principal who tried to disarm the shooter and was shot, the teacher who was shot when she put herself between the shooter and her students.

[The heroes of Sandy Hook Elementary School: Rachel Davino, Dawn Hocksprung, Anne Marie Murphy, Lauren Russeau, Mary Sherlach, Victoria Soto.]

Mother Jones – A Guide to Mass Shootings in America:

Since 1982, there have been at least 62 mass murders* carried out with firearms across the country, with the killings unfolding in 30 states from Massachusetts to Hawaii. … Just under half of the cases involved school or workplace shootings (11 and 19, respectively); the other 31 cases took place in locations including shopping malls, restaurants, government buildings, and military bases. Forty three of the killers were white males. Only one of them was a woman.

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Nadine Dorries returns – to what?

The author of Short Cuts Blog asks “What should Nadine Dorries do next?” and appears to be blithely unaware that although Nadine Dorries is suspended from the Conservative Party, she is still an MP, and will remain one until the next General Election, unless she decides to make David Cameron happy by resigning and triggering another by-election:

There’s a question mark over whether or not the programme-makers could have allowed her to promulgate a political agenda, under the terms of the Communications Act 2003. Perhaps she should have looked that up before she said yes, but she was too busy perverting the course of reproductive health (and whatnot).

Another miscalculation, I think, is that she assumed her likability would come across on screen. The truth is, in Portcullis House she is approachable, modest and subtly conspiratorial; but that kind of stuff is all relative. Somebody who seems nice in a room full of MPs does not necessarily shine in a box full of earwigs.

Nadine Dorries claims she is prochoice (no, really she does) she just wants women who need abortions after 20 weeks to have to travel to another country to get them, just as they do in Ireland for all abortions. So does Alex Neil, Health Secretary for Scotland, Alex Salmond, and David Cameron: an important company of men to decide what women can be allowed to do.
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Vigil for Savita

At 4pm today outside the Irish consulate in Edinburgh, about fifty people came to stand vigil for Savita Halappanavar, to sign Diwali cards for Enda Kenny and James Reilly.

This week Savita should have been celebrating Diwali with her family and with the Indian community in Galway. She and her husband should have been together, mourning the loss of her first pregnancy.

If they had chosen almost anywhere but Ireland to settle and have children, she would have been alive.
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Life-saving abortions and prolife indecision

Savita HalappanavarAs far as I can see, there are two prolife trends in response to Savita Halappanavar’s death in hospital, denied an abortion.

One reaction is to argue that she would have died anyway, so an abortion wasn’t necessary as it never is no matter what.

For example, SPUC dehumanises Savita as the foetus’s “protection” and argues that the hospital were right not to perform an abortion:

“It is not ethical to induce delivery of an unborn child if there is no prospect of the child surviving outside the womb. At 17 weeks’ pregnancy Mrs Halappanavar’s child was clearly not viable outside the womb, as there is no scientific evidence that unborn children are capable of surviving outside the womb at such a young age. Rather than removing the protection of the womb from unborn children, the ethical response to emergency situations in pregnancy is medical treatment of the mother for the conditions causing the emergency. In the case of infection, this is usually timely administration of antibiotics. It is also not ethical to end the life of an unborn child, via induction or any other means, where the child is terminally-ill.”

The other is to argue that there was medical incompetence because of course she could have received “all necessary medical treatment” to save her life: the familiar prolife distinction that makes some abortions, in their mind, not really abortions.

(Meantime, the prochoice majority is simply outraged. But that’s the human response.)

It is worth noting that had Savita Halappanavar got an abortion on 21st October and been home in time to celebrate Diwali with her husband, if similar publicity had been given to her getting an abortion in an Irish hospital as has been given to her death as a result of being denied an abortion, we would now be seeing from both sets of prolifers a universal outcry against her having been “allowed” to have an abortion: and any Catholics who performed or who assisted in her abortion would be excommunicated.
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New party?

NHA PartyYesterday, the National Health Action Party launched.

The idea behind the NHA Party is one I support: since the Labour Party is unable and unwilling to properly defend the NHS against the Tory attacks – unable because it is at present a minority party with an unpopular leader, unwilling because properly doing so would involve backtracking and acknowledging that the Labour Party itself went hellishly wrong during the Blair years – there must be political pressure on Labour to force them to act when, as I hope, they win the next election.

Founded by a group of health professionals, our party strongly opposes the Health and Social Care Act. We believe the Act is wrecking the NHS in England by allowing it to be broken up and sold off. We intend to put up around 50 candidates in carefully chosen general election constituencies, and we will urge the Labour party to repeal the Act. We’ll also field candidates in local council elections.

Party co-leader and cancer specialist Dr Clive Peedell said: “For generations we’ve trusted the NHS to be a safety net for everyone in times of need. Putting the values of business and the markets ahead of those of patients and communities will ruin the NHS. This destruction is being fast-tracked by Tory and coalition policies. We hope our new party will halt this process.”

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