Saturday, September 02, 2006

Bad News

1) Iran is becoming a nuclear power. It's not quite there yet, but the country is definitely trying, and is very defensive about letting anyone come in and look around. The UN specifically told them not to do this, and threatened them with sanctions. Where are the sanctions now? European nations, including Russia, are afraid to administer sanctions at this time. Why? Because of America. They're afraid we're going to go invade Iran and start yet another Middle Eastern war of attrition. (New York Times, 09/02/06)

Way to go, America. Our invasion of Iraq, under largely false or trumped-up charges, has almost guaranteed that Iran, the scarier country with a larger inferiority complex, is going to make a bid for nuclear power. Good job on keeping down that Axis of Evil, there, Georgie.

2) A study in France found that women without any prenatal complications had 3.6 times the risk of dying after caesarean section compared to vaginal delivery. The deaths came from anesthesia, infection, and blood clots. (Obstet Gynecol. 2006 Sep;108(3):541-548)

Now, even at 3.6 times the risk, this is still a very small risk--the study included 65 deaths out of over 10,000 births. However, we need to study this very closely. In 2004, 29% of births were C-section, compared to 20% in 1996. More and more of these are elective C-sections by first-time moms who want scheduled births or have elective scheduled inductions, which increases the risk of having a C-section (the key word here being elective). This is frightening. These are young, healthy women choosing dangerous procedures for essentially "convenience" reasons.

Mind, the rate of C-section has risen not only because of elective procedures but for several other reasons: 1) obese women have more prenatal complications which necessitate C-sections. As our obesity rates climb, so will the attendant C-sections. 2) Doctors are afraid of lawyers who sue at the drop of a hat and recommend C-sections more frequently. 3) Multiple births following fertility procedures often require C-sections. 4) Women who have had 1 C-section often require later births to be C-sections as well.

I just wonder how "convenient" some of these women would find a C-section if they knew they had an increased (yet still small) risk of not going home to raise that baby.

(Note: I have friends who have had C-sections for medical reasons. I'm not referring to you. Nor am I trying to lay all the blame on the women who want elective procedures--there are still real live doctors performing these procedures, knowing the risks, after all. I think our culture has encouraged this mindset, and we all need to evaluate these risks fairly and change our minds together.)

3) Texas Family Code 261 ties clinic funding to mandatory physician reporting of child abuse, including "sexual indecency with a child". According to this law, "an acceptable affirmative defense for abuse as defined in the Penal Code §21.11 (sexual indecency with a child) may be that the actor was not more than three years older than the victim; and of the opposite sex [emphasis mine]; and the actor did not use duress, force or a threat against the victim at the time of the offense."

Okay, so a 15 year old boy who sleeps with a 15 year old girl (assuming this was consensual and not coerced) has an affirmative defense against abuse; yet a 15 year old girl who sleeps with a 15 year old girl has NO affirmative defense, and this action is considered abuse under Texas law, and must be reported as such to Family Protective Services or the police.

This is clearly discriminatory. If a 15-year-old heterosexual couple can "consent" (it's not really consent since they're minors under 17) then a 15-year-old homosexual couple should be allowed the same protection under the law. If you're going to report one, you should report the other; or you should not be required to report either.

4) Under this same law, physicians are required to report to the authorities if a minor (under 17) requests a pregnancy test or tests positive for an STD. So, we're not required to tell the kid's parents about this treatment, but we have to tell the authorities?? What are the authorities going to do, arrest the kid for trying to obtain health care?

These laws were originally passed as a "rider" on funding legislation for the state health department. Since then, if you are a minor seeking treatment at Planned Parenthood, they hand you a form when you walk in delineating what may or may not be reportable; you have to sign to receive treatment. So either 1) kids are lying or witholding information when they receive treatment or 2) they're leaving and not receiving treatment.

As with the homosexual law, I believe that when these kids are afraid you'll call the police to tell them they're having sex, these kids will then NOT TELL YOU what they're really up to. I don't think this is discouraging teenaged sexual behavior; I think this is discouraging teenagers from receiving health care related to that behavior. If a 15-year-old male who is homosexual and sexually active cannot tell you, his physician, that he thinks he might have HIV because his male partner does, then he won't receive treatment or testing. If a 16-year-old girl thinks she's pregnant and can't come to the doctor for a test, the doctor can't assess what risks she's taking or try to counsel her regarding safe sex, abstinence, or anything that would decrease her risk.

It's just a bad news day today.

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