Saturday, April 17, 2010

Friday News Roundup: Saturday Edition

I'm still having trouble getting back into my routine after my NYC trip with my niece. Here is a bleated-yet-interesting melange of what has been on my mind.

Obama: Hospitals Must Grant Same-Sex Visitations

Apparently the irreverent psychologist has been living under a rock. I hadn't heard about the Florida case in which Janice Langbehn, along with her children, were denied access to Lisa Pond in a hospital. About ready to depart from Miami on a family cruise, Pond suddenly collapsed. Langbehn and their three children were denied access to Pond at Jackson Memorial Hospital. Despite having durable health care power of attorney, "the hospital refused to accept information from Langbehn regarding Pond's medical history. The hospital also informed her that she was in an antigay city and state and that she could expect to receive no information or acknowledgment as family. A doctor finally spoke with Langbehn, telling her that there was no chance of recovery Despite the doctor's acknowledgment that no medical reason existed to prevent visitation, neither Langbehn nor her children were allowed to see Pond until nearly eight hours after their arrival. Soon after Pond's death, Langbehn attempted to obtain her death certificate in order to get life insurance and Social Security benefits for her children. She was denied both by the state of Florida and the Dade County Medical Examiner. (for more information about the legal case Langbehn was involved in, click here). 

This past Thursday President Obama issued a memorandum directing the Department of Health and Human Services to make rules that make "clear that designated visitors, including individuals designated by legally valid advance directives (such as durable powers of attorney and health care proxies) should enjoy visitation privileges that are no more restrictive than those that immediate family members enjoy. You should also provide that participating hospitals may not deny visitation privileges on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability."  The memorandum applies to every hospital that receives Medicare or Medicaid funding which is virtually every hospital in the country. 

Sadly, some have spoken against this memorandum. Ignoring that having appropriate legal documents Langbehn and her children were denied access in a Florida hospital the following was said by J.P. Duffy, vice president for communications at the Family Research Council, says the president is pandering to a radical special interest group: 
There are many other ways to deal with this issue, whether through a health care proxy or power of attorney, though private contractual arrangements. We have no problem with those situations, but the fact here is that this is undermining the definition of marriage.
I'm finding myself uncharacteristically speechless.  Shame on Jackson Memorial Hospital and the doctors on staff who were so negligent as to not collect health information on a patient. Shame on the hospital and staff to demonstrate such a lack of compassion to deny a patient contact with their loved ones in their last hours of life. Shame on the voters of Dade County and Florida for supporting laws that violate any sense of human dignity and compassion. Finally, and most importantly, shame on the Family Research Council for their continued propagation of hate.

The case of Langbehn and her partner bring into focus the very human face of the tragedy that some face in their last hours of life--or in difficult moments--in the hospital. If only we all could find ways to demonstrate the caring compassion that President Obama did in his memorandum.

Texas City Revives Paddling as it Takes a Swat at Misbehavior

Thirty U.S. states have banned the use of corporal punishment. The federal government has outlawed corporal punishment in it's prison system. Corporal punishment in schools has been outlawed in Canada, Kenya, Japan, South Africa, New Zealand, and nearly all of Europe except the Czech Republic and France.

This is just crazy. I've already blogged about whether parents should spank their kids. I feel the same way about corporal punishment in schools. There is just no reason to ever hit another human being. Ever. Never. Corporal punishment is not an enduring or effective method of shaping behavior or teaching children.

Veggie Burgers Contain Neurotoxin

Oh great, just when I was feeling healthy noshing on my veggie burger I find out that many of the soy products I consume contain hexane, a neurotoxin. This one is worth the read: a few simple choices in the grocery store can protect you from this particular problem. Rachel Carson's silent spring seems to be growing closer.

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