Tag Archives: Health

Call The Midwife and Social Justice

27 May

CallTheMidwife_S5_BLUFor those who follow this blog, you know I am a devoted fan of Call the Midwife.  My husband and I just finished watching the conclusion to season five and wow! While the story is quite different from the show I fell in love with during seasons one through three — where they were drawing from Jennifer Worth’s memoirs and based on her experiences working in London’s East End in the late 1950s — season five proved to be an amazing journey. The season fully explores topics of social justice — issues of power, race, misogyny. In fact, season five seems to be the point of reinvention. This is where the show decided to really take on themes of that are sadly still relevant today such as queerness, the lesbian love story, and poverty, and how differently women have to navigate the world and how difficult it can be for women to govern their own bodies.

From the start, season five addresses powerful topics and does not shy away from where and when people in the “helping profession” cause harm. Such is the case in episode two, which deals with breast feeding or using formula. What is lovely is that our dear Sister Evangelina (Pam Ferris) is able to offer some repair work with a woman who was unable to breast feed. Episode three was very difficult to watch and deals with how we treat pregnant women who are not married and also takes on the issue of abortion. I strongly recommend this episode, as here in 2016 women still face so many of these same barriers. Of course, if we then look at intersecting identities, we look at how women of color and queer women may face even more barriers.

The show also takes on sex work, poverty, and the clandestine lesbian affair between Patsy and Delia. We also see the advent of the pill and how we look at women’s reproductive health and choice. I have to say that every episode is very intense and well done. I will continue to use many of the episodes in social work classes I teach, as they address what good social work can look like and what intersectionality is.

While I am exceedingly sad that our Pam Ferris has left the show, and I still miss Chummy (Miranda Hart), I am thrilled that Call The Midwife will return for a sixth season.  Rumor has it that our Chummy will return. I don’t know of another show that takes on social issues the way this show does, especially around the disparities of how we treat women. Well Done! Stay tuned for Season Six.

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Number 5 Hero of the Year 2012: Hillary Rodham Clinton

27 Dec
Number 5 Hero of 2012

Number 5 Hero of 2012

Let’s start this year’s honor roll with a big THANK YOU to all the readers and friends of TSM who nominated heroes this year. It’s a wonderful list that helps to maintain my sometimes shaken faith in humanity, where I can easily plummet into a misanthropic abyss. It’s a special pleasure to recognize outgoing Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at #5.

Clinton had a hard job to do from the start. Following the disastrous non-diplomacy of Condoleezza Rice and the integrity-challenged Colin Powell, she had to work with President Obama to help restore the United States’ international image. She proved more than equal to the task. A consummate diplomat and articulate spokesperson for core American values, she reassured the world that the abusive days of W were gone and that responsibility and participation would be watchwords of the new administration.

Throughout her tenure, Clinton has also been a true champion of rights for the oppressed. She speaks out regularly about using international cooperation to address poverty and hunger. She is a very outspoken ally of the LGBT community, encouraging equality in the State Department and insisting on its promotion internationally. Secretary Clinton is also a wonderful role model of the powerful woman, proving that barriers based on sex are at best irrational. Thank you for your service, Hillary, you will be missed.

TSM extends best wishes to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and a speedy recovery from blood clots.  May you enjoy the New Year at home with your family and know how much you are loved and admired by so many of us.

Honorable mention in the women in leadership category goes to the incoming class of U.S. Senators and Representatives. The 213th Congress will have the largest number of women in the Senate and the most diverse class of Representatives ever. Despite all the efforts made to disenfranchise women and minorities, voters helped move the numbers forward. We look forward to seeing how this diverse coalition helps shape policy to the betterment of all Americans and address the bizarre and arcane disproportionality of representation of white heterosexual men.

Hero of the Week Award: September 14, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton

14 Sep

Hero of the Week

This week’s tragic events in Benghazi, Libya once again demonstrated the kind of powerful leadership we have in the Obama administration. With exceedingly difficult and painful news to deliver, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton delivered a strong, passionate statement to the press after it was learned that Ambassador Chris Stevens and three aides were killed. She struck the perfect balance of respect for the dead, determination for justice, and a call for clear heads to prevail in the face of confusing and tragic events. She and the President avoided the opportunity for political grandstanding in a tough election year, focusing instead on providing the kind of leadership and clear foreign policy our country needs.

This is an attack that should shock the conscience of people of all faiths around the world. We condemn in the strongest terms this senseless act of violence, and we send our prayers to the families, friends, and colleagues of those we’ve lost. […] Today, many Americans are asking – indeed, I asked myself – how could this happen? How could this happen in a country we helped liberate, in a city we helped save from destruction? This question reflects just how complicated and, at times, how confounding the world can be.But we must be clear-eyed, even in our grief. This was an attack by a small and savage group – not the people or Government of Libya.

It was the kind of statement that serves as a model and should be used to teach public speaking and diplomacy. How good was it? Sen. John McCain (R – Angry Lawn), hardly a fan of anyone named Clinton or Obama, had this to say:

Just watched an excellent and moving statement by Sec. Clinton — just the right message and tone.

Here is wishing Secretary of State Clinton a very speedy recovery from her blood clots and our best wishes for a Happy New Year!

 

What has the world come to when I agree with Sen. McCain. You can watch the whole statement on YouTube.

Honorable mention this week goes to Australian football player Jake Ball who became one of the rare public sports figures to come out as gay. Despite his reservations and fear of being removed from the team, he decided that someone needed to be the first. To his pleasant surprise, his team has been very supportive and the macho homophobic language in the locker room has reduced to zero.

Affordable Care Act Helping Women

4 Aug

Thank you to my friend and LGBT ally, Jennifer Carey, for inspiring me to write this article.  During this Republican War on Women, and for those ill informed detractors of the Affordable  Care Act, it behooves everyone to know some facts on how this act actually significantly helps women. Of course for those of us who actually took the time to read the ACA, none of this comes as a big surprise.

Scientific American, points out that as of August 1 the Affordable  Care Act requires private insurance companies to provide the following for free:

  • approved contraceptives (per the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s recommended list, which includes major oral contraceptives as well as sterilization procedures) as well as contraceptive counseling;
  • well-woman visits (those annual trips in to the OB/GYN to get everything checked out);
  • breastfeeding supplies (such as breast pumps), support and counseling;
  • STI (sexually transmitted infection) counseling—including HIV testing and counseling as well as genetic HPV (human papillomaviurs) testing for women 30 and older;
  • screening for gestational diabetes (a condition which can increase the risk for complications and developing type 2 diabetes later as well as metabolic challenges for the child);
  • and domestic violence screening and counseling.

It’s about time, given that during the Bush Administration Viagra was provided for free.

Kathleen Sebelius, the Director of Health and Human Services sums it up best:

These historic guidelines are based on science and existing literature and will help ensure women get the preventive health benefits they need.

These preventive measures for women’s health (many already afforded to men) will save millions of dollars in the long run in health care costs.  If you are pro-woman and pro-woman’s health, I strongly encourage you to think about whom you will vote for this November.  Do you really want someone who has now stated that he will overturn Roe v. Wade and gut Planned Parenthood and work against civil rights of LGBT folk? Or would you prefer a President who has made it clear that women’s health issues cannot be ignored and has taken a strong stand for civil rights?

The Affordable Care Act: Being Sick

5 Apr

The Affordable Care Act was passed by Congress and signed by the President; Barack Obama didn’t just write it on a napkin. I grow ever weary of hearing so-called journalists referring to this landmark legislation as “Obamacare.”  I am hard-pressed to believe there is not a trace of racism there.  Even here in enlightened Portland, Channel 2 and Channel 8 have repeatedly referred to the Affordable Care Act as “Obamacare.”  Yes, how dare President Obama want all Americans to have health insurance?  Contrast this to the supporters of the GOP candidates during the debates: they cheered for death rather than caring for all Americans.

First, let us take a real look at what the Affordable Healthcare Act does.  This law aims to improve our current health care system by increasing access to health coverage for all Americans and introducing new protections for people who have health insurance. Furthermore, the Act is not linked to employment, thus some small businesses with fewer than 25 employees can get help paying for the cost of providing health insurance; insurance companies can’t deny health coverage to kids with pre-existing conditions; insurance companies can’t place dollar limits on the health care they cover in your lifetime. These are just a few of the benefits of the Affordable Care Act which is designed to help those who have barriers to accessing healthcare.  Obviously, I have a few choice words for the Supreme Court Justices who are part of the 1% and seem poised to abolish the Act under the guise of its constitutionality.  Let us not forget that their job is to interpret the constitution, not set an agenda for a white heterosexual Christian male discourse.

What happened to the social contract?  Is Elizabeth Warren the only politician who knows about the social contract? Remember that the Affordable Care Act that garnered support from the full congress is not dissimilar to the healthcare reform proposed by Mr. Millionaire Flip Flop, Mitt Romney.

Health insurance has really hit my family hard recently, as it has hit many people in the United States.  Out of the top six industrialized nations, the U.S. falls dead last in health coverage for its citizens as well as quality of healthcare.  However, we rank first in the cost of this worst healthcare.

Insurance became quite scary for my family when my husband lost his job and we are now without any source of income.  Unfortunately, I started to become ill back in November of 2011. I am stubborn and also worried about how to pay for doctor’s appointments and for any prescriptions.  Sadly, two weeks ago, I cracked a rib during a coughing spasm, so my husband forced me to see our primary care physician.  We have a wonderfully kind and caring doctor and he and my husband pressured me to have a CT-Scan immediately.

I was rushed to St. Vincent’s hospital here in Portland where the CT-Scan showed that I had several pulmonary embolisms on both my lungs.  They admitted me to the hospital immediately and started me on blood thinners. I was unaware how serious blood clots on your lungs can be, but it was impressed upon me by many people at the hospital how many people die from pulmonary embolisms.  Needless to say, both my husband and I were quite scared. What circled in the back of my mind was also how are we going to pay for all of this? Surely, I am not the only one in the United States who is terrified of being sick and how to afford treatment.

I am back home now and my poor husband has to give me injections in my stomach of Lovenox, a blood thinner…not a trip to chuckle town. What sticks in my craw is that the 1% of Americans, many of whom hold positions in our government, never have to think about retirement accounts or how to afford healthcare, but where does that leave the rest of us?  I strongly recommend the PBS special Sick Around the World just to see how horrible and unfair our health system is here in the United States. Fair care should be common sense. It shouldn’t take an experience like mine to demonstrate how badly our system needs to be fixed. The Affordable Care Act is just the reasonable first step on that path.

Women’s History Month 2012: Sandra Fluke

4 Mar

The past few weeks have been a hotbed of action in the evolving tapestry of women’s history. The Republican war on women has amped up to a fever pitch with efforts to restrict birth control, make abortions more difficult, force invasive procedures, and defund women’s health organizations like Planned Parenthood. When the Obama administration followed through on its promise to require employers to include contraception in their insurance plans, Republicans went nuts (okay even more nuts). Even though the plan allowed a narrow exemption for religious institutions and a method of accommodation for employers with religious affiliations (like some hospitals and community centers), the GOP trotted out their old “war on religion” lies. The odious Rep. Darrell (I hate women and gays) Issa held hearings about the mythical violation to religious freedom that the contraception rules created, inviting not one woman to testify about women’s health–talk about policing women’s eggs!. The ranking Democrat on the committee holding the hearings, Rep. Elijah White, asked to invite a woman to testify and was rebuffed. That woman was Sandra Fluke.

She was an exellent choice. A third year law student at Georgetown University, Fluke had already racked up impressive credentials in working for women’s rights. Since obtaining her degree in Feminist, Gender, & Sexuality Studies from Cornell in 2003, she has worked tirelessly against domestic violence and human trafficking. While working at Sanctuary for Families in New York, she she co-founded the New York Statewide Coalition for Fair Access to Family Court, which after a twenty-year stalemate, successfully advocated for legislation granting access to civil orders of protection for unmarried victims of domestic violence, including LGBTQ victims and teens. At Georgetown, Fluke is the Development Editor of the Journal of Gender and the Law, and served as the President of Law Students for Reproductive Justice, and the Vice President of the Women’s Legal Alliance. In her first year, she also co-founded a campus committee addressing human trafficking. It’s no wonder Issa didn’t want her near a microphone.

The Democrats, showing delightful backbone for a change, held their own hearing and allowed Fluke to testify. She told a moving story about a colleague who lost an ovary due to the lack of birth control coverage in her insurance. What did Sandra Fluke get for her efforts? An attack by Rush Limbaugh. In a diatribe that is mean-spirited and idiotic even by his own standards, the gasbag called her a “slut” and a “prostitute” just for mentioning birth control. When he was called out for his bad behavior, Limbaugh upped the ante and became even more offensive on two successive broadcasts. Not one Republican legislator or leader has offered more than a tepid response to Limbaugh’s ranting, certainly no repudiation. As a result, Fluke’s grace and eloquence have helped rip the mask off the Republican myth of victimhood and shown the true misogyny that lurks behind so many of their legislative agendas. She even managed to squeeze a very rare (if weak) apology from Limbaugh. What does she have to say about the whole situation?

Initially, you’re stunned, but then very quickly, you’re outraged, because this is historically the kind of language that is used to silence women, especially when women stand up and say that these are their reproductive health care needs and this is what they need.

Well said, Ms. Fluke. Thank you for your role in removing that silence and adding a ray of hope to women’s history.

DADT: Health Hazards

3 Dec

Thanks to my friend Madeleine for sharing this story.  As the bigots still focus on if us homos are allowed to serve openly in the military, there are some very serious health issues involved if they do not repeal DADT.  Dr. Kenneth Katz points to a real problem:

The problem with “don’t ask, don’t tell” is that it’s a giant roadblock in the middle of the typical “ask” and “tell” encounter that’s absolutely essential to the effective practice of medicine. It’s like trying to take care of a patient with chest pain without being able to ask him whether he smokes, or has a history of heart disease, or has ever had a heart attack in the past. It’s not good medicine.

Can you imagine being afraid to seek medical help because you may be “outed,” and thus lose your job–be discharged from the military.  Where is the honor in that?  Again, Senator McCain, or McCarthy, is this not why we fought wars was to protect civil rights of all of our citizens?  Isn’t your job to protect all of us, not just the white hetero Christians.  Honestly, how did you get elected?

See the full article here.

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