Five sentences that killed 200,000 Americans

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Addiction to opioid painkillers has killed nearly 200,000 Americans and has devastated far more lives than that.  How could this have happened?

A study has traced the problem to a five sentence, 101 word letter to the editor in the New England Journal of Medicine in 1980.  The letter described a study of 12,000 hospital patients who were given narcotic painkillers.  It said that there were only four cases of addiction.  It concluded that there was therefore little danger in prescribing opioid painkillers.

That letter was cited and referred to in study after study.  It led doctors to prescribe that medication on a massive scale.

Unfortunately, the letter was mistaken, as a story explains after the jump.  But it led directly to the scourge that we are struggling with today.

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Assault on pro-life doctors

8928257201_d2ce02e317_zThe Hippocratic Oath specifically forbids physicians from committing abortion or euthanasia.  So that oath isn’t used much in the medical profession any more.  But doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals in the United States can still refuse to perform abortions on the grounds of conscience.

But now a concerted effort is underway to eliminate that conscience provision.  Lawmakers, professional organizations, and medical ethicists are considering making it a requirement that doctors do whatever their patients request.  “Personal morality has no place in medical practice.”

Under the proposed changes, a pro-life obstetrician must either perform the abortion or arrange for someone else to do it.  Or go into a different specialty.  Or leave the medical profession.

Wesley J. Smith reports on what is happening, linked after the jump, focusing on a recent article in the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine. [Read more…]

We mustn’t call breastfeeding “natural”

Henri_Lebasque_-_Mother_and_ChildAn article in the medical journal Pediatrics says that it is “unethical” to describe breastfeeding as “natural.”

“Coupling nature with motherhood,” says the study, “can inadvertently support biologically deterministic arguments about the roles of men and women in the family (for example, that women should be the primary caretaker.”

We shouldn’t couple nature with motherhood? The old politically-correct order insisted on a distinction between “sex,” which was about nature (biological organs, reproduction, the body), and “gender,” which was about culture (gender roles, cultural norms).

Then “gender” went from being a “social construction” to an individual construction. Then “sex” became an individual construction. Nature became swallowed up completely.

In this mindset, nature ceases to exist. And yet I suspect many people who buy into this shop for “natural food” and fret about the way human beings are destroying nature with pollution, development, and global warming. And yet surely they are the ones who are destroying nature in their repudiation of the body, as in transgenderism, and their unwillingness to acknowledge the natural function of sex and its connection to reproduction and thus to family structures.

But breastfeeding is, indeed, the natural way a mother nourishes her baby. She shares this power with all mammals. She and her baby and the father are all part of nature, even as they also are part of a supernature, and denying that fact is a rejection of reality itself.

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House votes to repeal & replace Obamacare

640px-Obamacare_replacement_brainstorming_sessionThe House of Representatives voted to repeal and replace Obamacare, a long-time Republican commitment that they could not pull off in March. Now the measure must be passed by the Senate, where its prospects are uncertain and where further changes are likely.
The “American Health Care Act” still leaves us with a national health care program much like Obamacare, resting as it does on individuals buying health insurance.  But the mandate forcing them to do so would be eliminated.  Also the subsidies will be replaced by a different system of federal tax credits.  And states can opt out of various requirements, including being able to set up high risk pools for people with pre-existing conditions.
For a detailed list and explanation of the differences between the proposed “American Health Care Act” and the previous “Affordable Health Care Act,” go here.
One complaint about Obamacare is that it is so complicated.  Trumpcare will also be complicated.  It is basically a revision of Obamacare, but one that is not so generous.  It will leave more people uncovered, since it is no longer forcing them to sign up.  The premiums should be lower, but so will the amount of government money available to help pay for them.
Do you think this new healthcare plan, assuming it gets through the Senate, will be more popular or less popular than the one it replaces?  Does it still do far too much, as far as conservatives are concerned?  Does it do far too little to satisfy the general public?  Will it be a net gain or a net loss for Republicans?
Photograph of White House brainstorming sessions for the American Health Care Act (March 2017) by Vice President Pence @ twitter – Caption; Picture URL, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=57023717

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Congress gets busy on the budget & Obamacare

640px-United_States_Capitol_-_west_frontCongress has passed a spending deal that will keep the government from shutting down.  The measure provides for increases in defense and border security.  A bipartisan committee worked out the compromise that will keep the government funded at least through September.

Also, there is a chance that Congress will act on healthcare as early as this week. The White House is claiming to have the votes to repeal and replace Obamacare this week, though Congressional Republicans are more cautious about those prospects.  See this for the current state of the healthcare bill. [Read more…]

Trump vs. his own supporters?

House_Freedom_Caucus_logoThe plan to “repeal and replace” Obamacare that was shot down on Friday was complicated politically.  Nearly all Republicans wanted the “repeal” part, just as nearly all Democrats opposed it.  The hangup was on the “replace” part.  Conservative Republicans, by and large, opposed the proposed replacement as little more than “Obamacare lite,” retaining the huge government role in healthcare that they oppose in the current law.  So it isn’t completely fair to say that Republicans who wouldn’t vote for the replacement were refusing to repeal Obamacare.

The American Health Care Act was a creation of Speaker Paul Ryan and other “establishment” Republicans who accept a somewhat more activist role for government.

Here is the irony:  Virtually all of the “Freedom Caucus” Republican congressmen who were responsible for defeating the bill were Trump supporters during the presidential campaign!  Ryan and the other authors of the proposed health care plan not so much!

Yet President Trump allied himself with his former opponents, throwing the full force of his office behind their bill, and now vilifies the lawmakers who otherwise are on his side! [Read more…]