Choice in Health Care

This is a really big topic, and the center of a lot of debate at the moment.

When I was pregnant with my son, we spent a lot of time looking over all of the information about the different tests and things that were available to us. We decided not to do any tests that we could not do anything about. What that means is that if the result of a test would tell us something, but we could not do anything to change the outcome then there is no point. One of these tests would tell us that our child would likely have down syndrome. Because there would be no way to lessen the probability following the test, we decided not to do it. Additionally the risks associated with the test were far more likely to cause problems than the likelihood that it would find anything. I have worked with down syndrome kids and we knew that if anything were to happen we would deal with it.

That said I was seeing many different doctors within the practice so that I would have met any of the ones who might end up delivering the baby. One of these doctors (luckily they were no longer employed there by the time I went into labor) was very indignant that we opted not to do this test. I understand that doctors have their own personal beliefs, and that they are supposed to do no harm. We were very upset that she refused to respect our choice, especially since that choice, according to the statistics, the science, was the less damaging. The doctor agreed that there was nothing that could be done about the results, and understood our risk/benefit analysis. Unfortunately the doctor’s personal preference to know took precedence and made us very uncomfortable.

This is something that is the patient’s choice. It has no effect on anyone else’s life. Us knowing in advance would change nothing except potentially adding problems because of the test.

Some people choose to have the test because if the child is more than likely going to have down syndrome, they would terminate the pregnancy. This would be considered a medical reason and is subject to different rules than if the parents chose abortion for a healthy child. I respect that choice. Having children is a huge responsibility, children with special needs more than doubly so. Although I do believe that every person has worth I know that many people would not be able to handle the care that these children require.

Abortion is a choice that does affect other’s lives, mostly the parents and the child’s. That choice should be about what is best for those people. If the parents, specifically the mother, know that the child would not be well off growing up in that household or situation, they have the options of adoption or abortion. It is the responsibility of those involved to make the decision about what is best. Just being alive is not always the better option. I used to say that having a child would end my life, not in a literal sense, but in a figurative one. When I was younger I would not be able to devote the time to improving my situation if I were to care for a child. The child would come first, and unfortunately would not be able to be brought up in the way I would like if I did not have a job and an education.

So what about the other big debate right now? Vaccines. I believe in free choice. I do not like it when the government imposes things we have to do. As far as I am concerned wearing a seat belt should be a personal choice. The statistics are out there, it is undoubtedly safer with a seat belt, but the only life lost would be your own, yes other lives are affected by this as well. In a perfect society I would say that people need to take that into consideration as they weigh the risks and benefits (?) of not wearing a seat-belt. I know however that people tend to be self-centered and not consider that others would be affected by their passing.

What does this have to with vaccines? I believe that people should be allowed to make their own choices. However people are not very good at weighing the data, or considering others. I really feel silly for repeating some of this, but the original study used to back the argument that vaccines cause autism has been retracted, and the author discredited. The other risks that are often cited are concerns about the inefficacy or side effects of the vaccines themselves. If the vaccine is ineffective, you are no worse off than if you did not have it, so I believe there is no more to be said about that. As far as side effects, these are usually minimal, a little soreness, but come on, you stuck a needle there, why wouldn’t it be sore? Yes, some people are allergic to certain elements of the vaccines. The chances of this are extremely remote. Those who are too young, do have a bad reaction, or find that the vaccine is ineffective are those who have to count on herd immunity. As a culture we have had this type of immunity for long enough that some people forget what the risks really are, which makes a real risk/reward analysis skewed. It can also allow people to forget that their decisions can affect others.

This is an article about a child who was exposed to measles. And this is the response from an anti-vaccine advocate. One of the points made in the response is that the man who carried the infection had been vaccinated. This means that he is just as much of a victim of the shrinking herd immunity as the child. Yes, I have problems with the pharmaceutical industry, but that is about them charging too much for things. They have something of value and a monopoly on it. They are taking advantage, and not realizing who that might hurt, but I do not believe they are evil. If you look at some of her links you can see that the evidence does not all fit. The risks associated with the vaccine are stated, but it is clearly stated that those risks apply to the people who should be counting on herd immunity. Her link about the court case has a headline reading “Merck Whistleblower Suit A Boon to Vaccine Foes Even As It Stresses Importance of Vaccines”.

I do believe in free choice, but I am an idealist and think that people should have the ability to make informed decisions when they are given the information. I have a problem when what I believe should be the case is not the case. In the case of vaccines, I am tempted to say that the government should take away people’s right to choose, for other’s protection. But if I do that, am I any different than those who want to take away women’s right to make decisions about abortion? Am I any different than those who advocate taking guns away because some might be used to kill? Am I any different than those who are trying to take away our right to choose our leaders? If I choose to limit people’s right to spread misinformation I am not different than anyone who tries to limit my speech against corporations or governments. These are rights I believe in, and I refuse to participate in setting a precedent that would assist taking away these rights, and others. I can only hope that giving people the information and teaching them how to use it (including reforming our current school system) is the best way. I am not willing to risk the future of our democracy in order to combat one ill-informed decision. A functional democracy depends on having an informed populace. That is what we need.


Abortion and Adoption

The abortion debate has been a hot-button issue for a long time. To recognize the fact that this issue could possibly shut down our government, I thought I would talk about it today.

First off, the monikers. The fact that both sides refer to themselves as Pro-something is a hint that no-one feels that they are against something, but rather in favor of it. The opposite of Pro-Life is not Anti-Life, but rather Pro-Choice, and vice versa. It seems that the Pro-Lifers actually think that people who do not want to completely abolish abortion must be in favor of killing babies. This is absolutely ridiculous.

I recognize that many of the points defending legal abortion have been made many, many times before, so I will not focus on these issues, but just mention them quickly.

  • People who want abortions will get them. We just want to make sure that it is safe.
  • We want to make sure that the mother is safe in the event that the pregnancy is dangerous to her.
  • Rape victims should not be forced to raise the product of their rape.

All of these issues are very valid, but they have all been said before. Here I will focus on an issue that is often raised in defense the of Pro-Life perspective. It is often said that if a mother does not want a child, they should just put the child up for adoption. This argument is never really touched on by the Pro-Choice side.

Yes, a woman does have the option of bringing an unwanted child to term, and then giving it up. In order to consider that option, we must also have information regarding the foster care and adoption systems that would care for the child.

The foster system is already incredibly overloaded with children. Not all of these kids are not eligible for adoption, although they may be later. These kids are intended to be placed with relations, or group foster homes. There are stories of foster children sleeping in office buildings because there is no-where else to place them. This means that these kids do not have access to adults to give them limits, direction, or advice. On the positive side, they are protected from foster parents. There are no-where enough people who are willing to foster kids. Unfortunately, even of those that are willing, some should not be allowed. Foster parents receive a small monetary compensation, and that can be taken advantage of. While many foster parents do what they do for the right reasons, not all do. Some kids end up in a situation no better than the one they were removed from, if not worse.

The situation of adopted kids is usually better. At least these homes are permanent. They are also subject to more scrutiny than foster homes. Unfortunately nothing is perfect and kids can still be endangered. The biggest problem though is that there are never enough people willing to adopt. THIS NEEDS TO CHANGE. Many people think of adoption as the alternative to having kids of their own. If people cannot conceive, only then they will consider adoption. Adoption is not lesser than biological. The kids that are up for adoption are no less than those that a couple could conceive themselves.

Even when people do consider adoption, people usually think of adopting newborns or kids from different countries. Yes, these are good things to do, However older, American kids need forever homes too.

The newborn adoptions and the overseas adoptions have very heavy legal costs associated with them, that are not necessary in country. The perception of these fees is often enough for people to dismiss the possibility of adoption entirely. Spread the word, YOU DO NOT HAVE TO BE RICH TO ADOPT.

I remember telling someone once that I wanted to adopt kids when I grew up. I was told that all kids up for adoption are crack babies. I was absolutely shocked by that assumption. Kids are kids no matter where they are. Sure chances are good that with so many kids up for adoption, some are. By the same logic, so are some of the kids that your children go to school with.

Kids that are up for adoption have undoubtedly been through a lot, but that does not mean that they are dangerous. Most would be very grateful for the being removed from the traumatic life, and loyal to the person who saved them.

Today I have kids of my own, and I plan to adopt one child for each that I have. A family is made by love, not blood. Let me repeat that; A FAMILY IS MADE BY LOVE, NOT BLOOD. There is already an overpopulation problem in the world, there is no need to produce more children when so many need good homes.

I understand the reluctance that people have to abortion. I don’t advocate having them, but I DO ADVOCATE HAVING THE CHOICE.