31 May 2009

R.I.P. Dr. George Tiller

Today, Dr. George Tiller was gunned down in the church he attended every Sunday with his family.  Dr. Tiller is survived by his wife, his four children and his ten grandchildren.  This is a day that many of us feared was inevitable – but always hoped to be proven wrong.

I wish that I were more eloquent, so that I could adequately convey the outrage, anger, sadness and hopelessness I feel by what has transpired today.  Sadly, I’m not.  My anger clouds my ability to write this in a way that is uplifting.

After his clinic was bombed, he was shot, his name and address was listed on right-wing websites, his clinic vandalized and he was targeted for prosecution – he still came to work everyday and provided a service that women needed, that they requested.

IMG_0683Dr. Tiller trusted women.  He felt they were competent to decide the direction of their lives.  He was compassionate enough to understand that for some women, giving birth to a dead or dying baby was worse than having a late-term abortion.  He was one of only three doctors providing these procedures.

Women came from far and wide for the services that Dr. Tiller courageously provided. 


Tonight they came from far and wide to pay tribute to an assassinated champion of women’s rights.

I think it is important to call this event what it is.  This murder was a political assassination.  Dr. Tiller was gunned down in his house of worship for the beliefs he held, as much as for the services he provided.

While Operation Rescue and other groups scramble to absolve themselves of responsibility for this tragedy, my hope is that they are not allowed to.  Many of them (Randall Terry I’m looking at you!) are just as guilty in this as the shooter. 

I can only hope that this tragedy will end the complacency regarding reproductive rights.  Everyday, every legislative session – the ability for women to control their destiny is under attack.  We must stand, we must fight.


13 May 2009

Confessions of a SCOTUSphile

court_front_med I have been fascinated by the Supreme Court since I was a kid.  Yes, even then I was a political nerd.  Between the nomination of Sandra Day O’Connor, the Bork and Thomas hearings, the Pelican Brief – I watched it all! 

Now brings us to another such pivotal moment in our nation’s history.  As you are all aware David Souter has decided to hang up his robe and bid the town he despises adieu. 

Souter’s tenure has been interesting.  Nominated post Bork and Thomas – Daddy Bush, was looking for an easy sell.  He found a judge that he thought was pretty conservative, but one that had very little in the way of a paper trail.  In the end, Bush was very surprised by the judge he got.  Honestly, it was a lucky mistake for those of us that prefer a progressive court.  Souter has never liked D.C., and if you believe certain reports he was brought to tears by the deciding of Bush v. Gore (as anyone with a shred of judicial integrity should have).  So it really shouldn’t be a surprise that Souter would wish to cut his time on the bench a bit short. 

What we all should be asking ourselves now is – Who will it be?  Not that President Obama probably cares, but my advice would be to make this a “swing for the fences” kind of pick.  This is a situation where you have a near filibuster proof  majority – go for it.  The court tilts conservative – balancing the court is very important.  While he will probably have the chance to nominate at least one, probably two more justices, but who knows what the congressional make up will be at that time or how support will be for the President at that time. 

Here’s what I want:  Sorry guys, but I want a female justice.  I want an unashamed liberal, who will reaffirm Roe and that believes in the rights of people.  Who believes in the Separation between Church and State.    Basically, I want the kind of justice that will make Eric Cantor’s nog pop off. 

So Mr. President, Swing for the Fences. 


08 May 2009

Please Veto! (A.K.A. Huelskamp is a Tool!)

 veto.jpg The healthcare of Kansas women is once again imperiled by men with an agenda.  I wish I could say I’m surprised, but I’m really not.  Well – I’m not surprised by the action, so much as the lack of rationality displayed by the supporters. 

State Senator Tim Huelskamp again brought an amendment to the budget that defunds Planned Parenthood.  This time instead of being removed in committee, it is in the final bill that our new (and somewhat questionable) Governor will be signing.  The only hope now is that Governor Parkinson realizes the damage this will do Kansas women.

Huelskamp’s reasoning for offering this amendment was clear, Planned Parenthood provides abortion services (at limited clinics and as far as I know only one in the state) and being the good little zealot he is – he doesn’t want a dime of state money going to the big, evil Planned Parenthood.  What seems to be lost on Sen. Huelskamp is that funding from the state is used for education services only.  I’m sure Sen. Huelskamp is a member of the abstinence-only crowd, so I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. 

If Governor Parkinson doesn’t veto this bill – Kansas will become the 7th state to defund Planned Parenthood.  Wow, we should be so proud (yes that was sarcasm). 

At times of economic hardship family planning services become even more vital.  Studies have shown a strong uptick in abortion rates at times of economic struggle – how is this so hard to understand?  We are having a severe downturn in our state and they pick now to defund family planning education?  If they are as anti-abortion as they claim, they should be increasing funds for family planning.

“I am excited that both chambers of the Kansas Legislature have approved my amendment to remove taxpayer funding of Planned Parenthood. With Kansas facing a budget crunch, this would be a big victory for the taxpayers," he told LifeNews.com.

Senator Huelskamp obviously doesn’t understand (or is willfully ignoring) is that unwanted pregnancies cost the taxpayers of Kansas way more than funding education services at Planned Parenthood.

I strongly urge my Kansas readers to reach out to Governor Parkinson and urge him to veto.

It is disgraceful that one man’s vendetta against women’s reproductive freedom has gotten this far.


07 May 2009

Beating a Dead Horse?

I realize that I tend to talk a lot about healthcare on this blog – I really feel like it’s one of the most important issues facing our nation.  I also realize I’m preaching to the choir for most of you – so thanks for humoring me.  LOL

Senators Baucus and Grassley held committee hearings on Tuesday.  On the agenda was “Expanding Health Care Coverage”.

From Senator Baucus’s prepared statement: (Emphasis Added)

First, the U.S. is the only developed country without health coverage for all of its citizens.  Approximately 87 million people – one in three Americans – went without health insurance for some period during 2007 and 2008.  And the situation is only getting worse.

Second, the economic climate has caused even more people to become uninsured.  According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, for every one percent increase in the unemployment rate, Medicaid and CHIP enrollment increases by one million.  And the number of uninsured Americans increases by one point one million.

In today’s economy, that means a lot of folks are affected.  In March 2009, the unemployment rate rose to eight point one percent.  According to the Center of American Progress, 14,000 more people lose their health insurance coverage every day.

Third, why is covering all Americans so critical?  It is because people without health coverage generally experience poorer health and worse health outcomes than those who are insured.  The Urban Institute reports that 22,000 uninsured adults die prematurely every year because they lack access to care.

In addition to the uninsured, another 25 million Americans are “underinsured”.  They don’t have enough coverage to keep their medical bills manageable.  Despite their insurance coverage, medical debt keeps these Americans from feeding their families, paying their rent, or heating their homes.”

From that statement – it would seem that Senator Baucus “gets it”.  Unfortunately, the Senator chose to ignore the possibility of a single payer system.  He and Senator Grassley refused to allow a representative of a single payer system a seat on their panel. Several organizations decided to protest this “oversight”, resulting in a minor disruption of the events.

The most popular argument against government sponsored single payer healthcare is “I don’t want the government choosing my doctor!”  How exactly is this different that the current insurance system?  Doctors credential themselves with insurances in order to be “in network” – if the doctor you “choose” is not in network your benefit is severely reduced.  The best example would be an employer provided health care plan that locks you into a Catholic hospital system.  Your access to reproductive healthcare (hysterectomy, vasectomy, tubal ligation, etc.) is reduced because of this “choice”.  

Of course single payer detractors never mention that.


05 May 2009

Sick and Tired

I really don't even know where to start this post.  I'm a big ball of frustration and that doesn't lend itself well to eloquent writing, but well here goes.

When will our elected officials get it?  While we all expect our Government to accomplish things, if it requires completely abandoning the principles that got you elected - it probably shouldn't be done.

For example: Healthcare.  Tomorrow (well actually later today) there will be hearings on the hill regarding our healthcare crisis.  Unless the line up has changed - single payer healthcare will not be represented.  Why?  Because it isn't popular with politicians that line their pockets with insurance money.  (Ben Nelson - you are a tool!)

For those that don't get it:

1) A lot of people cannot afford the astronomical premiums charged by the insurance companies.

2) Not everyone's employer assists them with healthcare costs. (In fact more and more companies are not offering group coverage)

3) Most insured people do not understand their policies and will be in for a rude surprise, should they actually have to use it.

4) If you have a pre-existing condition - you are probably S.O.L. in finding your own coverage.

The people of this country NEED help!  It is the responsibility of our elected officials to work for US - not for their re-election or for their next campaign donation.

Our Congresspeople do not understand the issue as it effects average Americans.  

How many of them are worried about paying for food because they need to get a prescription filled?  
How many of them have missed a check up because they just didn't have the money/coverage? How many of them are one illness away from losing everything?  

Not a single one.