Thursday, December 8, 2011

We Are All An 11 year old girl - and she is pretty annoyed

Women are the last remaining voting majority who are treated like a splinter group.  It will stay that way until we stand up for ourselves, together, and demand power.

The Democrats drove us away from the polls in 2010, and they're getting ready to do it again.  It's ok, though.  They need to focus on creating jobs.  We don't want to disturb them with anything controversial.

The Republicans don't care whether or not we experience regret after our abortions.  They want to pump up the fanatic religious extremists who they hope will give them control of the Senate and the White House in 2012.

The Pediatricians, Gynecologists, and Adolescent Medicine doctors deplore the decision yesterday by the Secretary of Health and Human Services to override "an evidence-based decision by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to approve an application for over-the-counter access without age restriction to the emergency contraception (EC) product Plan B One-Step. This move defies the strong data that EC is safe and effective for all females of reproductive age.

“As advocates for the health and well-being of all young people, the AAP recommends that adolescents postpone sexual activity until they are fully ready for the emotional, physical, and financial consequences of sex,” said Robert Block, MD, FAAP, American Academy of Pediatrics president. “However, as physicians who care for our nation’s children, it is our responsibility to protect the health of our teenage patients, and an unintended pregnancy can have significant implications for adolescents’ physical and emotional health.”

Presumably Sec. Sebelius was following orders from her boss, already jittery because the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops is offended that HHS has had the temerity to acknowledge that contraception is a preventive medical service, and should be covered without additional co-payments just like Pap smears.

You can join lots of important efforts to call the White House or sign petitions, including sites for NARAL, the National Women's Health Network, and the Feminist Majority.

Maybe, also, we can snatch some tactics from AIDS activists. Maybe we need to start bird-dogging policy-makers who have difficulty living up to their promises.  And working in communities where people who don't have jobs are being convinced to turn their anger against women who don't have rights. 

Thursday, November 17, 2011

God to Congress: OK to Gang Up on Women's Rights

"It is not our job as Catholics to tell God what we should do.  It is our job to learn and follow his teachings.  Conscience is not convenience. We must enforce the laws of God." Rep. Tim Murphy, Republican of Pennsylvania, having ascertained that the supreme deity is male, explained why Congress should deprive the employees of Catholic schools, hospitals and charities of the right to purchase affordable birth control, regardless of the employees' own beliefs or practices. The  hearing of the Health Subcommittee of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce took place on Wednesday, November 2, 2011.

Republicans in Congress are truly on the warpath against women's rights, and in many cases against reason. 

Just a few points here about women and contraception.  For starters, while it usually takes two to conceive a child, only women get pregnant. The right and ability to make independent decisions about whether and when to become a parent are fundamental to every other aspect of a woman's life: whether society recognizes women as autonomous, independent, responsible and competent; and whether women themselves experience the same opportunities as men to acquire education and employment, and to construct a meaningful life based on loving relationships.

Cost is a barrier to purchasing birth control for lower-income women.  More effective forms like new, safe intrauterine devices (IUDs) cost more than birth control pills or devices like diaphragms that can be bought in smaller, cheaper quantities, but also are less reliable. The rate of unintended pregnancies is soaring among low-income women, and at 132 per thousand (women aged 15-44) is 5 times higher than the rate for higher income women (those over 200% of poverty).  Low income women are more likely to have unplanned births. The costs of contraception are minute compared to the costs of pregnancy and delivery, in dollars as well as in human health. 

The new health reform law, the Affordable Care Act (ACA), calls for covering preventive health care services without requiring copayments, effective in 2010.  Copayments are fees individuals must pay when they go for care, in addition to their premiums, and are intended to discourage health care visits.  The problem is that they discourage people from getting care they need, particularly low-income people.  Preventive health care services like flu shots can protect health by avoiding illnesses entirely or catching them early, and also save money. The ACA eliminated these copayments for prevention. 

Except in the case of contraception.

In 1968, despite the recommendation of the majority of Catholic bishops, the Pope adopted the minority recommendation to declare that using birth control was inconsistent with the Church's beliefs.  Nevertheless, U.S. Catholics continue to use birth control, to the same extent as other Americans. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has grown increasingly insistent on enforcing the birth control ban.

Virtually all heterosexually active couples in the U.S. of child-bearing age use birth control at times, including Catholics.

As of August, 2011, after a year of studying whether or not contraception is a preventive health care service, the federal Department of Health and Human Services ruled that birth control would count as a preventive health care service.

In covering contraception as a preventive service without copayments, HHS granted an exception for actual churches who provide health insurance to their employees, but required all other religiously sponsored institutions such as hospitals that offer health benefits to follow the rule.

Catholic organizations have gone to court in the past to avoid state rules that require including coverage for birth control in the health care plans they provide for employees, and failed every time.  The Church sponsors large organizations including health care providers, universities and social service agencies, as well as churches. They employ millions of Americans, many of whom are not Catholic. Their work generates the funds their employers use to pay for health insurance.  Most economists assert that the costs of employee health benefits are reflected in lower pay; that is, employers calculate benefits as a form of compensation, and many reduce wages accordingly.  In effect, the money that pays for health insurance is really money that employees generate, and belongs to them.

Not good enough for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and the extremist Republicans running Congress.  While dire economic threats face many Americans, Rep. Joe Pitts of Pennsylvania decided to change the subject.  He called a hearing entitled “Do New Health Law Mandates Threaten Conscience Rights and Access to Care?”  []

Now let's be very clear here.  The Republicans and the Bishops are claiming that institutions have a conscience.  Not a policy.  A conscience.

Here is Joe Pitts' description of his concern [and my comments in brackets]:

"Many entities feel that it [the proposed policy] is inadequate and violates their conscience rights by forcing them to provide coverage for services for which they have a moral or ethical objection. The religious employer exemption allowed under the preventive services rule -- at the discretion of the HRSA [Health Resources Services Agency] -- is very narrow.

"And the definition offers no conscience protection to individuals," [there is no involvement of any individual employer in this matter, or any issue of an individual's conscience except that of employees deciding to purchase and use contraceptives] "schools, hospitals, or charities that hire or serve people of all faiths in their communities. It is ironic that the proponents of the health care law talked about the need to expand access to services but the administration issues rules that could force providers to stop seeing patients because to do so could violate the core tenants of their religion."  [The rule requires employers' health plans to cover contraception without any additional copayment.  There are three parties involved here: employers, employees, and health plans.  No provider or caregiver is involved, nor is any patient, student, or recipient of charity. At the most extreme, every Catholic institution could claim it will close their doors absent this exclusion.  So far no such institution has done so where state requirements are in effect, and when Rep. Jan Schakowsky asked representatives of Catholic institutions at the hearing if they would close, they affirmed that they would not.]

Rep. Gingrey, GA, opined: "Imposing the dictates of the state on the will of employers sounds un-American to me."

And another gem: "Should we force religious employers to violate their consciences?  To recognize same-sex marriage?  Will we ethically neuter health care professionals?"

Articulate Democrats on the committee - Henry Waxman, Frank Pallone, John Dingell, Lois Capps, Tammy Baldwin, Jan Schakowsky, Edolphus Towns, Eliot Engel - to a person challenged this tripe.

Tammy Baldwin: "This is a war on women."

Lois Capps: "An employer is not a person. Your boss' conscience is not your own."

Witnesses Jon O'Brien of Catholics for Choice and Dr. Steve Hathaway were articulate and brilliant in defending the truth.

But Rep. Tim Murphy, a psychologist in his fifth term in the House, was on fire:

"Conscience is at the core of Catholic teachings... and it is not left up to individuals to decide, thank goodness. Father Anthony Fisher tells us that ...there is an objective standard of moral conduct.  Vatican II teaches us that the moral character of actions is determined by objective criteria, not merely by the sincerity of intentions or the goodness of motives. It is not, I repeat, it is not our duty as Catholics to tell God what he should do or what image he should adhere to, or what he should think, but it's up to us to shape our conscience to conform with the teachings he's given us.

"Conscience, sir, is not convenience.

"Conscience is formed through prayer, attention to the sacred and adherence to the teachings of the church, and the authority of Christ's teachings in the church.  So asking a group in a survey whether or not they have ever acted or thought of acting in a certain way that runs counter to the Church's teachings is no more a moral code than asking people if they ever drove over the speed limit as a foundation for eliminating all traffic laws.

"I end with a quote from John Adams, in 1776, when he was writing our Declaration of Independence of the United States:  'It is the duty of all men in society, publicly and at stated seasons to worship the creator and preserver of the universe, and no subject shall be hurt, molested or constrained from worshipping God in the manner most agreeable to the dictates of his own conscience, or for religious profession or sentiments, provided he does not disturb the public peace or obstruct others in their religious worship.' The foundation of our nation is not to impose laws that restrict a person's ability to practice their faith, sir."

Well, actually, Tim: Exactly.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Best NYT comment on clearing OWS

Well, the important thing is that now Jeff (642) can have a bench where he can sit and relax while eating his lunch and contemplating which policy he would like to have changed by exercising his right to vote. It was difficult to focus on that with inappropriate behavior going on and no place to sit. But now that the park has been cleared, and Jeff has his bench back, he can remember that, after all, he was perfectly satisfied with the way things are, that there are no policies he can think of that he would change, and that there isn't enough mayonnaise on his tuna sandwich.
695, Susan
Houston, Texas
November 15th, 2011
11:01 am

Thank you Susan!

Friday, October 7, 2011

Stand up for Our Rights?

Here is what we are up against:

28 Republican Senators have written to protest that the HHS decision to cover contraception as a preventive health care service interferes with the constitutional right of your religious employer to dictate whether or not you use birth control. (Technically, whether it should be a covered benefit and therefore affordable.)

That’s right: these Senators are distressed because your employer, if it has a religious affiliation, should have a constitutional right to mandate your personal sexual behaviors and to trample on your reproductive health choices.

The signers include, for example, David Vitter. His known use of the public funds that pay his salary for the support of sex workers might seem to contradict his right to dictate your own behavior.

Some on our side say these loony extremist statements rile up the Republican base and turn out their vote. We should keep our powder dry and ignore them, because smart pro-choice voters are motivated more by economics and other issues. But these crackpot ideas are too often turning into crackpot laws. Seems to me it’s time to connect the dots: Our human, economic and reproductive rights are our rights, and no elected official will stand up for us until we stand up for ourselves. The extremists are attacking our economic wellbeing and our freedoms at every level. What do you think?

Johanns/Hatch letter on contraception:
In addition to Sens. Hatch and Johanns, the letter to Secretary Sebelius was signed by Sens. Marco Rubio (R-Florida), Roy Blunt (R-Missouri), Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas), Pat Toomey (R-Pennsylvania), Ron Johnson (R-Wisconsin), Dan Coats (R-Indiana), Jim Risch (R-Idaho), Rand Paul (R-Kentucky), Jon Kyl (R-Arizona), Jerry Moran (R-Kansas), John Cornyn (R-Texas), John McCain (R-Arizona), Rob Portman (R-Ohio), John Boozman (R-Arkansas), Tom Coburn (R-Oklahoma), and Kelly Ayotte (R-New Hampshire), David Vitter (R-Louisiana), Pat Roberts (R-Kansas), Johnny Isakson (R-Georgia), John Hoeven (R-North Dakota), Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), John Thune (R-South Dakota), Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina), Mike Enzi (R-Wyoming), Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), and Jim Inhofe (R-Oklahoma).

Monday, September 5, 2011

What would Jesus say? (with Track Changes by Rick Perry)

Justice: Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness accumulation: for they shall be filled. [Matthew 5:6]

Greed and Wealth:
Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed public assistance; a man's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions. [Luke 12.15.]

Truly, I say unto you, it will be hard for a rich poor man to enter the kingdom of heaven. [Matthew 19:23]

You cannot can serve both God and Money. [Matthew 6:24.]

Community: Love your neighbor as when they do good unto yourself. .[Matthew 22:39] So in everything, do to others as you would have them before they do it to you. [Matthew 7:12.]

If you would be perfect, go, take from the poor, sell what you possess and give to the poor a tax shelter, and you will have treasure in heaven. [Matthew 19:21]

Equality & Social Programs: But when you give a feast, invite criticize the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed, because they cannot re don't pay taxes. you. You will be repaid at the resurrection of the just entitled. [Luke 14:13 &14.]

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Tobacco Control: FDA Warning Labels Get Support on the Eve of Trade Talks

Five tobacco companies have filed suit once again to try to stop the federal Food and Drug Administration from implementing its rule to require larger, more prominent cigarette health warnings on all cigarette packaging and advertisements in the United States beginning in September, 2012. According to the FDA, "These warnings mark the first change in cigarette warnings in more than 25 years and are a significant advancement in communicating the dangers of smoking."

Tobacco control advocates discussed this new round of tobacco company lawsuits on Aug. 19 with KPFA "Livingroom" host Kris Welch and Health Issues Producer Ellen Shaffer of CPATH - , highlighting implications for African Americans, youth, and for upcoming negotiations for a U.S.-Pacific Rim trade agreement (Trans-Pacific Partnership) scheduled for Chicago, Sept. 6 -11. They discussed the lethal effects of tobacco and the need to move U.S. trade policy, which views tobacco as a legal substance to be promoted like any other, with guests:

Carol McGruder, Co-Chair African American Tobacco Control Leadership Council (, pointed out that tobacco use and related illnesses have disproportionately affected the African American community. While the smoking rate among all Californians has plummeted from 23% to 14%, a rate second only to the state of Utah, African American smoking remains the highest in the state at 21.4% of males and 17% of females. "The consequences for our community are sobering: Black men who smoke are 50% more likely to get lung cancer than white male smokers; Black men have the highest lung cancer mortality rate at 81%, compared to a mortality rate of 54% among white men; with 16.3 lost years of life per death compared to 12.0 for white males. Though tobacco related deaths continue to kill more African Americans than car accidents, violence, and AIDS, combined; these deaths have yet to be given the priority on the public policy agenda that they deserve. The great disparities in smoking related morbidity and mortality between African Americans and the general population of California is an open sore in California's tobacco control crusade."

Danny McGoldrick, Vice President for Research at the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, pointed out that these lawsuits have failed in the past, but that the tobacco industry continues to deploy its vast resources to resist all attempts to restrain it harm. He noted that the warnings are important in motivating calls to public "quitlines," toll-free phone resources known to help adults quit smoking.

Chris Bostic, Action on Smoking and Health (ASH), which serves as the Secretariat of the Framework Convention Alliance (FCA) ,, noted the contradictory position of the U.S. Trade Representative, which is advocating for free trade in tobacco products and restrictions on warning labels. The San Francisco Board of Supervisors adopted a resolution supporting the public health position during trade negotiation meetings in the city in July, 2010.

Hear advocates for local and global public health discuss the FDA warning labels on radio KPFA: CPATH, CTFK, FCA, AATLC (go to minute 34:35)

Friday, June 17, 2011

Utter Madness

Will this be the month that tips us into action?

We can't get jobs, live in our homes, educate our kids.  Get out of the way of the tornadoes. Or, apparently, influence substantially the policy decisions imposed by an increasingly vicious and mean-spirited minority.

In California advocacy has been reduced to documenting the rubble.  Medicaid is cutting doctors' visits to 7 a year, for the seriously chronically ill who can still manage to qualify.  To his credit, I think, the Governor just vetoed a budget that has been a disaster for decades because no one can wrench control of the process from the 1/3 of the legislature whose most animating vision is to drown the government in a bathtub. We cannot add $70 a year to our car registration fees as a downpayment on staunching the demise. You might have missed this story because there was a sex scandal this week, and some baseball games. (I like baseball; not the point.)

Other states are dealing with the crisis by fomenting mobs who probably do not quite get the biological links among contraception, pregnancy and abortion, but are convinced they're against all of it, whatever it is.

Congress will not tax a cent of a billionaire's gains from gambling on the stock market, but voted to cut the Women and Infant Children program that gets some minimum level of nutrition to indigent kids.  The Administration of course is taking a strong lead in rallying the nation to hold off on arbitrary cuts to the Social Security benefits of the 50% of seniors who subsist on meager incomes, and to keep Medicare out of the clutches of the vampires in the insurance industry.  Aren't they?  I thought they were; or intended to; or might at some point; or will promise to if re-elected.

Ok, it's not their job; when the people lead the leaders will follow. We are the majority, who support the idea of having an actual society, will lend our neighbor a hand, believe in the right to reproductive health care, above all know there's something terribly wrong when so many can't find work while so few bask smugly in obscene excess. I'll write again soon about the people, organizations and campaigns that are trying to corral us close enough to each other so that we can make a difference. We're out here.  But right now, it's time to take a moment and call a travesty a travesty.


Friday, May 6, 2011

From Crisis to Progress: This Week In Health Care Politics

So Republicans say they will not push Medicare repeal as a condition of raising the debt ceiling, which begins to expire on May 16 and still has life through August. Turns out even those deluded by Fox News aren't buying that one just yet, even though the House voted for the Ryan budget bill for 2012 a few weeks ago that featured turning Medicare into a scantily-funded voucher program.

So what other egregious demands can we expect to issue forth from the loonies of the Right?

Well for one hint take a look at H.R. 3, and the Dems' concession in the 2011 budget fight to sacrifice abortions for poor women in DC. H.R. 3 is the bill that would strip abortion coverage from private health insurance plans, on the grounds that employers that provide these plans receive a federal tax credit for doing so. Women who receive the small number of abortions still permitted because the pregnancies were caused by rape or incest could be required to document their trauma to insurance agents or regulators to get coverage. It passed the House on Wednesday by a vote of 251 to 175, with zero R's voting No and 16 Democrats in support: Altmire, Boren, Costello, Critz, Cuellar, Donnelly (IN), Holden, Kaptur, Kildee, Lipinski, Matheson, McIntyre, Peterson, Rahall, Ross (AR), and Shuler. That's

Reproductive rights has lost majority support in the House and the Senate. The 40-plus dependable champions in the Senate can muster a filibuster, but that's still short of the majority that would reflect pro-choice opinion in the country.

Of the 33 Senate seats up in 2012, 23 are Democrats (or Independents who vote with Ds) and 10 are Republicans


Come to the May 13 conference From Crisis to Progress: Health Care Reform, Public Health, and Women’s Preventive Services

Friday, May 13, 2011 ~ 8:30am to 4:00pm

Elihu Harris State Office Building at 1515 Clay Street, Oakland CA


Meanwhile, in California, there is progress;

State Senator Mark Leno's state single payer bill, SB 810, moved forward from the Senate health committee this week.

And CA Assembly member Mike Feuer's AB 52 moved ahead. This bill would authorize the state Insurance Commissioner to limit excessive health insurance increases, a power now available for auto insurance but not for health care. AB 52 moved out of the Assembly Health Committee and on to the financing committee (Appropriations) . If successful in Approps, it should go to the Assembly for a vote in June. Think your health insurance costs to much? Call or write your state assembly member and senator and let them know - and send a copy to Mike.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Standard & Poor’s: Canada Highly Rated

Standard and Poor’s on U.S., Canada, April 18 2011
The brief dust-up over Standard & Poor’s signal of concern over the likely stand-off on the U.S. budget (click on link above) failed to notice the statement’s positive assessment of nations considered the U.S.’ peers. France, the U.K., and Canada all have national, universal health care systems. In particular:
“…Canada, the only sovereign of the peer group to suffer no major financial institution failures requiring direct government assistance during the crisis, enjoys by far the lowest net general government debt of the five peers (we estimate it at 34% of GDP this year), largely because of an unbroken string of balanced-or-better general government budgetary outturns from 1997 through 2008. Canada’s general government deficit never exceeded 4% of GDP during the recent recession, and we believe it will likely return to less than 0.5% of GDP by 2013.”
When they get it right they get it right. But S&P is no bellwether of progressive economics - it still leaves the military budget offline, for example, and while expressing some concern over the extremist Republican agenda of slashing taxes and domestic spending, it mostly fusses that the President may continue to disagree for awhile.
For leadership on the program the public supports and needs – raising taxes on the wealthy and on corporations, protecting and expanding Medicare and Medicaid, and investing in a peacetime economy - look to the Congressional Progressive Caucus, and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Mr Reich, Improved Medicare for All is the Solution

The following widely followed column describes every problem in our health care system, problems Medicare shares and perpetuates.

What’s great about Medicare: everyone’s in it and the government runs it.
What’s wrong with Medicare: Fee-for-service payments, no incentives for quality like more primary care and electronic medical records. All improvements that are included in the Affordable Care Act.

Medicare for All Is the Solution

By Robert Reich, Robert Reich’s Blog – 13 April 2011

Mr. President: Why Medicare Isn’t the Problem, It’s the Solution hope when he tells America how he aims to tame future budget deficits the President doesn’t accept conventional Washington wisdom that the biggest problem in the federal budget is Medicare (and its poor cousin Medicaid).

Medicare isn’t the problem. It’s the solution.

The real problem is the soaring costs of health care that lie beneath Medicare. They’re costs all of us are bearing in the form of soaring premiums, co-payments, and deductibles.

Americans spend more on health care per person than any other advanced nation and get less for our money. Yearly public and private healthcare spending is $7,538 per person. That’s almost two and a half times the average of other advanced nations.

Yet the typical American lives 77.9 years – less than the average 79.4 years in other advanced nations. And we have the highest rate of infant mortality of all advanced nations.

Medical costs are soaring because our health-care system is totally screwed up.


Doctors and hospitals have every incentive to spend on unnecessary tests, drugs, and procedures.


You have lower back pain? Almost 95% of such cases are best relieved through physical therapy. But doctors and hospitals routinely do expensive MRI’s, and then refer patients to orthopedic surgeons who often do even more costly surgery. Why? There’s not much money in physical therapy.


Your diabetes, asthma, or heart condition is acting up? If you go to the hospital, 20 percent of the time you’re back there within a month. You wouldn’t be nearly as likely to return if a nurse visited you at home to make sure you were taking your medications. This is common practice in other advanced countries. So why don’t nurses do home visits to Americans with acute conditions? Hospitals aren’t paid for it.


America spends $30 billion a year fixing medical errors – the worst rate among advanced countries. Why? Among other reasons because we keep patient records on computers that can’t share the data. Patient records are continuously re-written on pieces of paper, and then re-entered into different computers. That spells error.


Meanwhile, administrative costs eat up 15 to 30 percent of all healthcare spending in the United States. That’s twice the rate of most other advanced nations. Where does this money go? Mainly into collecting money: Doctors collect from hospitals and insurers, hospitals collect from insurers, insurers collect from companies or from policy holders.

A major occupational category at most hospitals is “billing clerk.” A third of nursing hours are devoted to documenting what’s happened so insurers have proof.

Trying to slow the rise in Medicare costs doesn’t deal with any of this. It will just limit the amounts seniors can spend, which means less care. As a practical matter it means more political battles, as seniors – whose clout will grow as boomers are added to the ranks – demand the limits be increased. (If you thought the demagoguery over “death panels” was bad, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet.)

Paul Ryan’s plan – to give seniors vouchers they can cash in with private for-profit insurers — would be even worse. It would funnel money into the hands of for-profit insurers, whose administrative costs are far higher than Medicare.

So what’s the answer? For starters, allow anyone at any age to join Medicare. Medicare’s administrative costs are in the range of 3 percent. That’s well below the 5 to 10 percent costs borne by large companies that self-insure. It’s even further below the administrative costs of companies in the small-group market (amounting to 25 to 27 percent of premiums). And it’s way, way lower than the administrative costs of individual insurance (40 percent). It’s even far below the 11 percent costs of private plans under Medicare Advantage, the current private-insurance option under Medicare.

In addition, allow Medicare – and its poor cousin Medicaid – to use their huge bargaining leverage to negotiate lower rates with hospitals, doctors, and pharmaceutical companies. This would help move health care from a fee-for-the-most-costly-service system into one designed to get the highest-quality outcomes most cheaply.

Estimates of how much would be saved by extending Medicare to cover the entire population range from $58 billion to $400 billion a year. More Americans would get quality health care, and the long-term budget crisis would be sharply reduced. Let me say it again: Medicare isn’t the problem. It’s the solution.


Friday, April 15, 2011

Santorum: Our Abortion Was Different

Rick Santorum is one dangerously confused denialist. The former Pennsylvania Senator and presidential aspirant is best known for his inability to associate his professed compassion for life at the level of the zygote, with the physical realities of human sexuality. He has equated loving same-sex relationships to bestiality. He is opposed to abortion under any circumstance. Almost.

In October, 1996, his wife Karen had a second trimester abortion. They don't like to describe it that way. In his 2004 interview with Terry Gross, Santorum characterizes the fetus, who must be treated as an autonomous person, as practically a gunslinging threat, whom the mother must murder in self-defense. Karen has had to justify her decision to save her own life by explaining that if she died her other children would have lost a mother.

Republican extremists in Congress and the statehouses propose to make abortion illegal even if it would save the mother's life. Even the Santorums admit they would make that choice, while claiming that they didn't.

Losing a pregnancy because of a fatal fetal anomaly is never cause for celebration. The pain of second-trimester abortions is compounded by the hateful hypocrites who vilify families facing sorrowful circumstances, and the resulting scarcity of abortion clinicians.

It is revolting that Rick and Karen Santorum choose to stigmatize and harass those of us who, as they did, grieve over the loss of a possible child in the second trimester.

Abortion should not be driving U.S. policy. It's not a more fundamental right than the right to a job or safety from violence. But we can't stop it from being used as a wedge issue if we never talk about our experiences.

Here's the Santorums' description of their second trimester abortion, written by Steve Goldstein,
Philadelphia Inquirer, May 4, 1997

Karen was in her 19th week of pregnancy. Husband and wife were in a suburban Virginia office for a routine sonogram when a radiologist told them that the fetus Karen was carrying had a fatal defect and was going to die.
After consulting with specialists, who offered several options including abortion, the Santorums decided on long-shot intrauterine surgery to correct an obstruction of the urinary tract called posterior urethral valve syndrome.
A few days later, rare ``bladder shunt'' surgery was performed at Pennsylvania Hospital in Philadelphia. The incision in the womb carried a high risk of infection.
Two days later, at home in the Pittsburgh suburb of Verona, Karen Santorum became feverish. Her Philadelphia doctors instructed her to hurry to Pittsburgh's Magee-Women's Hospital, which has a unit specializing in high-risk pregnancies.
After examining Karen, who was nearly incoherent with a 105-degree fever, a doctor at Magee led Santorum into the hallway outside her room and said that she had an intrauterine infection and some type of medical intervention was necessary. Unless the source of the infection, the fetus, was removed from Karen's body, she would likely die.
At minimum, the doctor said, Karen had to be given antibiotics intravenously or she might go into septic shock and die.
The Santorums were at a crossroads.
Once they agreed to use antibiotics, they believed they were committing to delivery of the fetus, which they knew would most likely not survive outside the womb.
``The doctors said they were talking about a matter of hours or a day or two before risking sepsis and both of them might die,'' Santorum said. ``Obviously, if it was a choice of whether both Karen and the child are going to die or just the child is going to die, I mean it's a pretty easy call.''
Shivering under heated blankets in Magee's labor and delivery unit as her body tried to reject the source of the infection, Karen felt cramping from early labor.
Santorum agreed to start his wife on intravenous antibiotics ``to buy her some time,'' he said.
The antibiotics brought Karen's fever down. The doctor suggested a drug to accelerate her labor.
``The cramps were labor, and she was going to get into more active labor,'' Santorum said. ``Karen said, `We're not inducing labor, that's an abortion. No way. That isn't going to happen. I don't care what happens.' ''
As her fever subsided, Karen - a former neonatal intensive-care nurse - asked for something to stop the labor. Her doctors refused, Santorum recalled, citing malpractice concerns.
Santorum said her labor proceeded without having to induce an abortion.
Karen, a soft-spoken red-haired 37-year-old, said that ``ultimately'' she would have agreed to intervention for the sake of her other children.
``If the physician came to me and said if we don't deliver your baby in one hour you will be dead, yeah, I would have to do it,'' she said. ``But for me, it was at the very end. I would never make a decision like that until all other means had been thoroughly exhausted.''
The fetus was delivered at 20 weeks, at least a month shy of what most doctors consider viability.
In the months after the birth and death of Gabriel Michael Santorum, rumors began circulating in the Pennsylvania medical community that Karen Santorum had undergone an abortion. Those rumors found their way to The Inquirer, prompting the questions that led to this article.

``There are a lot of people who aren't big fans of Rick Santorum,'' the senator said of the rumors. ``You're a public figure, and you're out there. Maybe it accomplishes a political purpose''...

see also: The New Yorker, Jan. 5, 1998

An article chronicles the troubled pregnancy of Karen Santorum, wife of partial-birth-abortion foe Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa., and the evolution of the senator's views on the procedure. A birth defect threatened the lives of both fetus and mother, forcing the couple to face the ethical question of whether or not to abort to save her life. Premature labor made the quandary moot--the baby died two hours after birth--but stiffened their resolve against late-term abortion. (A "Strange Bedfellow" bashes Santorum's "pathetic grandstanding.")


Audio Interview: Santorum defends the GOP Platform on Reproductive Rights

Terry Gross, Fresh Air Aug 30, 2004 (20 min.)

Santorum discusses:
Human Life amendment to the constitution,
Why judges opposed to Roe are not activists,
That embryos from fertility clinics should be adopted,
The Catholic mass and viewing with his children at home of his son, Gabriel, who was born 4 months premature and lived for 2 hours .
Listen to entire interview.
Activists urged to call Family Circle on abortion article
November, 1997
Family Circle magazine featured an anti-abortion article in the "Full Circle" section of their October 1997 issue. The article, written by Karen Santorum, decried the use of late-term abortion under any circumstances. And it told the story of her own tragic pregnancy and the decision she and her family made - an option she and her husband would deny to other women .

Karen Santorum is the wife of right-wing, anti-abortion Senator Rick Santorum (R-Pa.). In 1996, Senator Santorum led the debate on a bill that attempted to ban late-term abortions, and refused to make an exception even in the case of "grievous bodily injury" to the woman. In Santorum's article, she expresses her view that carrying a non-viable fetus to term is the only option, and apparently does not think the woman's health or future fertility should be a consideration.

The National Abortion Federation (NAF) responded by requesting that a patient response be printed in the next issue, thus presenting an opposing view and bringing the argument "Full Circle." We have learned from NAF that Family Circle is only planning to publish "Letters to the Editor," and your actions could change their decision. Please urge Family Circle to print the article by Sophie Horak, which was submitted to them by NAF, in its entirety. We do not have permission to send you the text of the original article.

We urge you to email Family Circle at or call (212-499-2000) and express concern over their incomplete (and in this case, biased) reporting on the very private issue of abortion.
Send letters to:
Family Circle Magazine

Karen Santorum's letter to ill-fated son express joy, sorrow

Tuesday, June 23, 1998
By Karen MacPherson
Father First, Senator Second
For Rick Santorum, Politics Could Hardly Get More Personal
By Mark Leibovich
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, April 18, 2005; Page C01

In his Senate office, on a shelf next to an autographed baseball, Sen. Rick Santorum keeps a framed photo of his son Gabriel Michael, the fourth of his seven children. Named for two archangels, Gabriel Michael was born prematurely, at 20 weeks, on Oct. 11, 1996, and lived two hours outside the womb.

Upon their son's death, Rick and Karen Santorum opted not to bring his body to a funeral home. Instead, they bundled him in a blanket and drove him to Karen's parents' home in Pittsburgh. There, they spent several hours kissing and cuddling Gabriel with his three siblings, ages 6, 4 and 1 1/2. They took photos, sang lullabies in his ear and held a private Mass.

"That's my little guy," Santorum says, pointing to the photo of Gabriel, in which his tiny physique is framed by his father's hand. The senator often speaks of his late son in the present tense. It is a rare instance in which he talks softly.

He and Karen brought Gabriel's body home so their children could "absorb and understand that they had a brother," Santorum says. "We wanted them to see that he was real," not an abstraction, he says. Not a "fetus," either, as Rick and Karen were appalled to see him described -- "a 20-week-old fetus" -- on a hospital form. They changed the form to read "20-week-old baby."

Karen Santorum, a former nurse, wrote letters to her son during and after her pregnancy. She compiled them into a book, "Letters to Gabriel," a collection of prayers, Bible passages and a chronicle of the prenatal complications that led to Gabriel's premature delivery. At one point, her doctor raised the prospect of an abortion, an "option" Karen ridicules. "Letters to Gabriel" also derides "pro-abortion activists" and decries the "infanticide" of "partial-birth abortion," the legality of which Rick Santorum was then debating in the Senate. The book reads, in places, like a call to action.

"When the partial-birth abortion vote comes to the floor of the U.S. Senate for the third time," Karen writes to Gabriel, "your daddy needs to proclaim God's message for life with even more strength and devotion to the cause."

The issue came up again the following spring. Santorum, a Pennsylvania Republican, appeared on the Senate floor with oversize illustrations of fetuses in various stages of delivery. He described the process by which a physician "brutally kills" a child "by thrusting a pair of scissors into the back of its skull and suctioning its brains out." He asked that a 5-year-old girl be admitted to the visitors' gallery, though Senate rules forbid children under 6. "She is very interested in the subject," Santorum said, explaining that the girl's mother had been a candidate for a late-term abortion when doctors advised her during her pregnancy that the child was unlikely to survive.

Sen. Barbara Boxer objected, saying it would be "rather exploitive to have a child present in the gallery" during such a debate. Santorum relented, bemoaning Boxer's objection as proof that "we have coarsened the comity of this place."

The same has been said of Santorum. In so many words, or facial gestures....

Friday, April 8, 2011

Government Shutdown Threatens Public's Health in CA, US

EQUAL Health Network

Women’s Health, Greenhouse Gas Emission Protection, Health Care Reform at Risk

The public’s health would be a collateral casualty of caustic ideological battles over the national budget. Republican demands to defund family planning and to stop EPA regulation of greenhouse gas emissions have brought the federal government to a standstill. Crippling the popular Planned Parenthood clinics and lowering air pollution standards would profoundly damage the health of the nation and of California.

Women and men in many of the poorest neighborhoods rely on Planned Parenthood facilities for basic health care services, family planning, HIV care and cancer screenings. The Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California, Inc., has been instrumental in public policy for the health of women and girls.
These ideologically-driven "social riders" to the proposed budget would also eliminate funds for implementation of the Affordable Care Act and the new consumer protection bureau, leaving hundreds of thousands of families struggling to afford medical care.
Cuts could also fall on the Center for Infectious Diseases & Emergency Readiness at the University of California Berkeley, the only research center in the United States on radiological and nuclear public health preparedness.

The proposed $60 billion in cuts that Congressional Republicans have demanded this year, and trillions to come, would devastate the very projects that could revitalize jobs and ensure prosperity. Millions of people’s livelihoods depend on publicly funded transportation, infrastructure, education, and health care.

In addition, the shutdown itself will weaken the fragile economy, immediately placing 800,000 federal workers on furlough, suspending paychecks for soldiers and delaying business loans.
We need to develop a comprehensive solution that revitalizes federal revenues, while requiring those who benefit the most from our society’s infrastructure to pay the most to ensure its upkeep. Taxes for corporations and for wealthy individuals declined over the last decade, resulting in significant income disparities between the rich and the poor in the U.S., and leading to health inequalities. Reversing tax giveaways to the super-rich and the nation's largest corporations could raise $4 trillion within a decade.
We stand in support of reproductive and public health and against the threat of climate change! We urge our federal representatives to insist that these important programs continue!

California Public Health Association-North
 EQUAL Health Network

California Pan-Ethnic Health Network

Fixing Health Care: Care + Cost

Yes we have to fix financing. Yes we have to fix the delivery system. It's not a choice. Whichever we do first will not "work" (that is, control costs, and improve health) til we do both. It's understandable that we are having this debate: the Administration has tried to sell the delivery system reforms in the ACA as sufficient cost controls; many mainstream health economists are dubious about this, as are we. But it is also not the case, as Dr. McCanne asserts, that "the single payer model is structured as an altruistic, aspirational system that, quite automatically, actually does, in itself, improve quality and control costs." That's why every single payer bill before Congress also includes delivery sustem reforms, and always did. We need to be ready to fight for these reforms and for equity and accountability, as well as cost control, or we'll be surprised when the elected officials we put in charge of the single payer system cave in to the medical industrial complex. (Read up on Taiwan pre-single payer to get an idea of the relative simplicity and low cost of their system pre-reform. Different universe from the U.S.) Or try to cut funding for family planning.

As a single payer advocate I value the delivery system reforms in the ACA. They will not control costs unless and until we impose a budget on the healthcare system. We need a 900 pound government negotiator saying "no" to the drug, medical supply, institutional care, and provider industries. We can "save" all the money these reforms can achieve and the industry will find another pocket to put it into. (And by the way the ACA does put a cap on the Medicare budget as of 2019; we cd debate about the value of this and the likelihood of it occurring; but can also recognize the value of using the levers we have, including this one.)
But when we get to that point we'll be in better shape to make it work if we understand (as you both do) what we need to do to fix it so that people get care, and what safeguards and incentives we need to have to keep the system accountable. (It helps that Sebelius at HHS and CA's Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones, for example, are modeling what we want our regulators to do.)
Some people will not die in Massachusetts this year who otherwise would have because they have coverage. If they get sick next year, as the system becomes less "affordable" (meaning the state raises co-pays, instead of raising corporate taxes to pay for health care) they may be at greater risk.
We continue to murder people in hospitals through preventable errors in medications and other organizational dysfunctions, to say nothing of antibiotic resistance. This hasn't changed much since "To Err Is Human" came out in the 1990s. Electronic medical records will help address some of these problems. Better nurse staffing ratios will also help (something that nurses continue to fight for while fighting for single payer, because it improves quality and because it gives them more power as workers and professionals; it's a fight we can and must support at the same time as we fight to get rid of the parasitic insurance industry.)
Some teachers in CA took over a Wells Fargo bank in Oakland on Monday and closed it down for 2 hours.
If people all over the country were taking militant action on a regular basis, things might look a lot different today. Didn't happen. in 2009-10; might happen now.
So. do we go back now and accept that delivery system reforms in themselves, including those in the ACA, will control costs? Nope.
When we talk - and think - about what a single payer system is going to do and how we're going to make it work, why on earth would we abandon talking about delivery system reforms?

The point is not just to make health care cheaper; we could put the whole military budget into CMS and it wd be a vast improvement in our health. The point is to make the health care system equitable, high quality, universal, accountable and affordable. And to rebalance power relationships so that we have more of it (a major determinant of health).

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Looks, presence and power

I am an Elizabeth Taylor fan.  Manohla Dargis summed it up:

"Ms. Taylor managed the role of sex object effortlessly as if it too were just part of the job. In contrast to so many other actresses, she seemed as desiring as desirous, with the gift of a thrillingly unladylike appetite. She was a great lover of food, of course, as her cruelly documented weight gains make evident. Yet the appetite that appeared to drive, at times even define her, exceeded mere food to include everything, and her consumption of men, booze, jewels and celebrity itself was an astonishment."

However contrived and improbable the stories, her performances in "Place in the Sun" and "Butterfield 8" conveyed a passion and humanity that were consistent with her later public discussions about a studio system that gave her 2 weeks off after the death of her husband Mike Todd, and her later support for AIDS activism. Who knows what really goes on in the lives of the impossibly rich and famous - not me for sure. But to the extent our lives are bombarded with celebrity-dom, I liked it that rich gorgeous Liz made it a believable part of part of her public persona to stick up for herself and for the socially excluded. So, a salute.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Do You Have Sex? Do You Have Power?

Ellen Shaffer, Defend the Dream Rally, San Francisco, March 15, 2011

Robert Reich is an inspiration to all of us, and one of the country's truly great thinkers. There are a lot of very smart people over at UC Berkeley, where he teaches.
As Co-Director of the Center for Policy Analysis, I want to demonstrate to Professor Reich that we can hold our own over here in San Francisco, too. So I have some complicated math questions I want to ask you. Some of them are multiple choice. I want you to huddle up and get warm and stand with some other people you think are really smart and we'll see if we can figure out what the problem is around here.

Are you ready?

Ok here's the first question, tell me if you can answer it:

Do you have sex?

Let me repeat: Do you have sex?

Ok here's the next question, this one has multiple parts:

Have you ever had sex, do you plan to have sex in the future, do you have any friends or relatives who you have reason to believe have ever had sex?

If you said yes to any of these questions, think about this one:

Do you think it's any business of Congress' if you do or if you don't?

All right, now let's get into some really tricky stuff.

When you've had sex, how many of you were surprised at some point when you got pregnant?

Here's a fact: 50% of pregnancies in the US are unintended pregnancies.

And 30% of women have an abortion at some time in our lives.


Here's another little-known fact: some of those women are - Republicans!

Now let's see what else we can discover here today.
We hear there are deficits, at the state and federal levels. The federal deficit is a big one, $1.5 trillion.

So let's see whose fault that is.

Did you make $810 billion last year? Anyone?

The oil industry did.

Anyone here vote to spend $3 trillion fighting phantom weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, without any way to pay for it?

Fact: Corporate profits went up to $1.6 trillion in 2010. Over half of U.S. companies paid no federal taxes at some time in the last decade.

Anybody here make $1.6 trillion and not pay taxes?

Here in California we have seen some of the starkest financial tragedies, the tragic divide between rich and poor, entire communities devastated by the irresponsible, criminal negligence of banks and finance capital.

Now here's another question:

Do we have any power?

You bet we do. If we didn't have any power they wouldn't have to keep bopping us over the head to keep us down.

The right wing extremists in Congress are marching to the tune of the extremists in the corporate world.

In Congress, and in the states, the far right is going after us, all of us, with their guns drawn, literally and figuratively.

The Republican budget bill would slash funds to implement health care reform, slash Head Start early childhood programs, slash Pell grants to students, close down public radio, deregulate environmental polluters.

And to women, and to those of you who ever have had or ever will have sex, they would do this:

The would defund family planning, period. Defund Planned Parenthood, period - even the cancer screenings and preventive health services in poor neighborhoods that make up 97% of their budget. Remember, half of pregnancies are unintended; that percent would go straight up.

They would make it virtually impossible to get an abortion. Because many employers get a federal tax break for providing health insurance, extremists say this means you should not be able to use your private insurance to pay for an abortion, because there is a public dollar in there somewhere.

It gets worse than that. You've probably heard some of the proposals: defining the murder of abortion providers as justifiable homicide. Authorizing hospitals to refuse to perform an abortion even if the refusal would result in the death of the mother.

The number of reliable pro-choice Senators is now a bare 40.

The vast majority of Americans believe that we as individuals have the right to make our own decisions about how and when we're going to have children. The majority believe that abortion should be legal.

The Trust Women/Silver Ribbon Campaign was formed so that the 80% of us who support individual choices about our reproductive health can be visible and vocal, and can take action.

We can exert tremendous influences over our life courses, as individuals.

But in many other ways, do as well as our communities do.

It is when we are united that we truly have power.

That is why we have to be smart.

They are throwing everything at us at the same time: trying to smash our unions, smash our democracy, smash our freedom of choice about when we're going to have kids, and with whom.

Because we are strongest when we are united, and we are weakest when they can pull us apart.

We are here today with Madison, we are here today with Ohio, we are here today with the LGBTQ community, with undocumented immigrants, with men and women - and for sure with all of us who have sex!

We are here with the people near the Fukushima Daichi reactor, where caretakers kept saying, don't worry, it's perfectly safe.

We're here with each other because we know that when we stand together that is when we have power.

Do we have power?

Do we have power?

Do we have power?

Now let's show our leaders what power is and what to do with it.

Thanks to Weslyan Uncut:

Sunday, March 6, 2011


Here is one of the most insidious and widespread myths about the application of the Affordable Care Act. In presenting about the law in remote areas, I've found that people who had heard nothing about any of the benefits of the ACA had heard this: if you sell your house you'll have to pay 3.8% in new taxes on the amount of the sale.
Here's what is wrong with this:

Sec. 1411 is below. It does impose a 3.8% tax generally on unearned income, a progressive feature of the law.
And the 3.8% tax does apply to the sale of certain property.
But all of the following must be true for the tax to apply to proceeds from the sale of your home:
1. Your annual income must be $200,000 or greater if you file taxes as a single person, or $250,000 if you file as a couple. This excludes about 98% of Americans right there.
2. The net gain from the sale of your home must be declarable as taxable income.
Now if you've sold a residence in the last 20 years you know that Congress is constantly finding ways to exclude home sale gains from taxable income. Right now you usually pay no tax on the sale for a variety of reasons. These change from time to time but right now include these conditions at least:
a. The first $250,000 in profit on the sale of a primary residence (or $500,000 in the case of a married couple) is excluded from taxable income already.
b. If you buy another home, you pay no tax.
Remember, you can make a million in taxable gains on the sale of your home and the new 3.8% tax will not apply unless you're also declaring taxable earnings over $200,000 a year.
You can find all this out in summary at
But I think you're better armed by knowing where to look in the law so here you are:

‘‘(a) IN GENERAL.—Except as provided in subsection (e)—

‘‘(1) APPLICATION TO INDIVIDUALS.—In the case of an individual,

there is hereby imposed (in addition to any other tax

imposed by this subtitle) for each taxable year a tax equal to

3.8 percent of the lesser of—

‘‘(A) net investment income for such taxable year, or

‘‘(B) the excess (if any) of—

‘‘(i) the modified adjusted gross income for such

taxable year, over

‘‘(ii) the threshold amount.


an estate or trust, there is hereby imposed (in addition to any

other tax imposed by this subtitle) for each taxable year a tax

of 3.8 percent of the lesser of—

‘‘(A) the undistributed net investment income for such

taxable year, or

‘‘(B) the excess (if any) of—

‘‘(i) the adjusted gross income (as defined in section

67(e)) for such taxable year, over

‘‘(ii) the dollar amount at which the highest tax

bracket in section 1(e) begins for such taxable year.

‘‘(b) THRESHOLD AMOUNT.—For purposes of this chapter, the

term ‘threshold amount’ means—

‘‘(1) in the case of a taxpayer making a joint return under

section 6013 or a surviving spouse (as defined in section 2(a)),


‘‘(2) in the case of a married taxpayer (as defined in section

7703) filing a separate return, 1⁄2 of the dollar amount determined

under paragraph (1), and

‘‘(3) in any other case, $200,000.

‘‘(c) NET INVESTMENT INCOME.—For purposes of this chapter—

‘‘(1) IN GENERAL.—The term ‘net investment income’ means

the excess (if any) of—

‘‘(A) the sum of—
‘‘(i) gross income from interest, dividends, annuities,

royalties, and rents, other than such income

which is derived in the ordinary course of a trade or

business not described in paragraph (2),

‘‘(ii) other gross income derived from a trade or

business described in paragraph (2), and

‘‘(iii) net gain (to the extent taken into account in

computing taxable income) attributable to the disposition

of property other than property held in a trade or

business not described in paragraph (2), over

‘‘(B) the deductions allowed by this subtitle which are

properly allocable to such gross income or net gain.


trade or business is described in this paragraph if such trade

or business is—

‘‘(A) a passive activity (within the meaning of section

469) with respect to the taxpayer, or

‘‘(B) a trade or business of trading in financial instruments

or commodities (as defined in section 475(e)(2)).


TO TAX.—A rule similar to the rule of section 469(e)(1)(B) shall

apply for purposes of this subsection.


AND S CORPORATIONS.—In the case of a disposition of

an interest in a partnership or S corporation—

‘‘(A) gain from such disposition shall be taken into account

under clause (iii) of paragraph (1)(A) only to the extent

of the net gain which would be so taken into account

by the transferor if all property of the partnership or S

corporation were sold for fair market value immediately

before the disposition of such interest, and

‘‘(B) a rule similar to the rule of subparagraph (A)

shall apply to a loss from such disposition.


PLANS.—The term ‘net investment income’ shall not include

any distribution from a plan or arrangement described in section

401(a), 403(a), 403(b), 408, 408A, or 457(b).

‘‘(6) SPECIAL RULE.—Net investment income shall not include

any item taken into account in determining self-employment

income for such taxable year on which a tax is imposed

by section 1401(b).

‘‘(d) MODIFIED ADJUSTED GROSS INCOME.—For purposes of this

chapter, the term ‘modified adjusted gross income’ means adjusted

gross income increased by the excess of—

‘‘(1) the amount excluded from gross income under section

911(a)(1), over

‘‘(2) the amount of any deductions (taken into account in

computing adjusted gross income) or exclusions disallowed

under section 911(d)(6) with respect to the amounts described

in paragraph (1).

‘‘(e) NONAPPLICATION OF SECTION.—This section shall not apply


‘‘(1) a nonresident alien, or
‘‘(2) a trust all of the unexpired interests in which are devoted

to one or more of the purposes described in section


(2) ESTIMATED TAXES.—Section 6654 of the Internal Revenue

Code of 1986 is amended—

(A) in subsection (a), by striking ‘‘and the tax under

chapter 2’’ and inserting ‘‘the tax under chapter 2, and the

tax under chapter 2A’’; and

(B) in subsection (f)—

(i) by striking ‘‘minus’’ at the end of paragraph (2)

and inserting ‘‘plus’’; and

(ii) by redesignating paragraph (3) as paragraph

(4) and inserting after paragraph (2) the following new


‘‘(3) the taxes imposed by chapter 2A, minus’’.

(3) CLERICAL AMENDMENT.—The table of chapters for subtitle

A of chapter 1 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 is

amended by inserting after the item relating to chapter 2 the

following new item:


(4) EFFECTIVE DATES.—The amendments made by this subsection

shall apply to taxable years beginning after December

31, 2012.



(A) FICA.—√łAmended section 3101(b)(2) of the IRC, as

added by section 9015 (and amended by section 10906) of

PPACA, including inserting a new subparagraph (B)¿

(B) SECA.—√łAmended section 1401(b)(2) of the IRC,

as added by section 9015 (and amended by section 10906)

of PPACA, including inserting a new clause (ii) in subparagraph


(2) ESTIMATED TAXES.—Section 6654 of the Internal Revenue

Code of 1986 is amended by redesignating subsection (m)

as subsection (n) and by inserting after subsection (l) the following

new subsection:

‘‘(m) SPECIAL RULE FOR MEDICARE TAX.—For purposes of this

section, the tax imposed under section 3101(b)(2) (to the extent not

withheld) shall be treated as a tax imposed under chapter 2.’’.

(3) EFFECTIVE DATE.—The amendments made by this subsection

shall apply with respect to remuneration received, and

taxable years beginning after, December 31, 2012.

Plus, if you've gotten this far, you can look up portions of the Internal Revenue Code (IRC) referred to above.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

The House's Budget Bill is a Bully's Snigger

We've had our children, or not. But we remember.
Worried when we were "late." Escaped to New York or California or Mexico where it was legal, if we could, or found lay caregivers through Jane. Mourned our friends, or relatives, or patients, who were not so lucky. The girls who had to quit school; their boyfriends who never did.

We remember when domestic violence didn't have a name. We know that too many still cower in the face of it. We remember when women couldn't get jobs as reporters. We cringe that they are still blamed by some when they are raped on the job.

We fought on the job for decent pay and union rights, and at home for equality and respect. We're so proud of the lives we've created and equally proud of the generations of women and men who are asserting their places in the world.

We're not surprised that Republicans with no solutions for an ailing global economy are going after the rights of individuals to make our own reproductive choices, the rights of workers to a voice on the job, the rights of all of us to public health and health care. We have been startled at how quickly the Democrats will throw us under the bus.

The House's budget bill, HR 1, and the companion HR 3, are the equivalent of a bully's snigger. Their plans to cut health care services including family planning would force more unintended pregnancies on the most vulnerable women. And then deny access to abortions. They have come to push us around and take our money for their own binges, while bellowing about freedom and fiscal responsibility.

So, we need to find each other again, link up as allies, to renew our vision and our voices, to rebuild our power.

The Trust Women/Silver Ribbon Campaign will wear our silver ribbons for reproductive health, rights and justice ( at the Walks for Choices this Saturday, Feb. 26 at noon. There's one near you:

Let's get this party started.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

The Trust Women/Silver Ribbon Campaign for Reproductive Rights -- Why Now

We've learned a lot this past year.

We learned it is not enough to appoint and elect smart, progressive women and pro-choice men to government. They and we need to mobilize visibly and vocally to advocate for reproductive rights and justice.

As we celebrate the anniversary of Roe v, Wade on Jan. 22, we and our partners are launching the Silver Ribbon Campaign to Trust Women.

Since the beginning of time, women and men have found ways to control when and whether to undertake the joys and responsibilities of becoming parents. Most adults use or have used birth control. However, even the best birth control fails one time in a hundred. Half of all pregnancies are unplanned. At least a third of U.S. women have an abortion during their lives. Most adults believe that abortion care, a legal procedure. should be covered by health insurance as part of reproductive health services. 86% of employer-based health plans currently cover abortion. In these hard economic times, it is crucial that families have the choice whether to bring a child into the world.

But abortion has been stigmatized by a well-organized, well-funded minority movement, including extremists who provoke violent acts. Our reproductive health is used as a wedge issue, seizing on voters' anxieties about the economy and social issues to claim support for the regressive, anti-woman, anti-self-determination ideology of the right.

We saw a pro-choice president sign laws restricting access to abortion in at least three different ways: In the health care reform law, an executive order, and a regulation on state health plans. Despite the obvious fact that contraception is prevention, the Administration felt compelled to convene a panel to determine if contraceptives count as preventive care.

87% of counties now have no abortion providers. The burden falls hardest on the most vulnerable. 1 in 4 Medicaid recipients could not afford an abortion because it is not covered by their state. Medicaid funding restrictions also delay abortions by 2-3 weeks because of the hardship of raising funds to pay for the procedure. Delaying abortion results in higher risk for the health of the women and higher health care costs.

For too long, abortion providers have suffered from domestic terrorism by a violent, tightly-organized fringe. Virtually every clinic in the U.S. that provides abortions has experienced systematic harassment. Doctors who perform abortions have been targeted and murdered. Most recently, in 2009, an anti-reproductive rights zealot shot Dr. George Tiller point blank while Dr. Tiller was serving as a church usher. Each time a doctor murderer was apprehended, the media claimed that the perpetrator was a "lone wolf," a fable unmasked in Ms. Magazine's article by Amanda Robb.

It's up to us, the majority, to demand our rights. We have the right to make decisions about our reproductive health. We have the right to decide whether and when to have children. We have the right to use birth control as prevention. But if we do not stand up and be counted and seen, these rights will be chipped away -- or taken away.

On Jan. 22, on the anniversary of the 1973 Supreme Court decision on Roe v. Wade that made abortion legal, we join with men and women around the U.S. to launch a month in which we wear silver ribbons: the Silver Ribbon Campaign to Trust Women.

It's time to express the true voices of America.

It's time to come together and show our strength and numbers.

We need to stand by each other and claim our rights to the legal health care to which we're entitled.

Join the Silver Ribbon campaign to Trust Women, for Reproductive Rights and Justice.

1. Wear a Trust Women Silver Ribbon, representing science over ideology

2. Spread the word.

- Follow us on Facebook:

- Follow us on Twitter: @oursilverribbon

- Get your Twibbon:

Tweet and Facebook about the campaign the following lines:

Trust Women! Show your support for reproductive health care and women's rights by @Twibbon via @oursilverribbon

3. Take action!

Check out our webpage of events and share your story about reproductive rights and healthcare.

We who proudly wear the silver ribbon:

• Support reproductive rights

• Support free access to birth control

• Support keeping abortion legal and accessible

We Trust Women to make to their own reproductive health decisions and ask you to join us in showing that you Trust Women, too! Please wear a Silver Ribbon on 1/22-2/22 to show that you Trust Women and we (who Trust Women) are the majority.

Get involved! Go to:

Co-authored by with Sophia Yen MD, MPH: pediatrician, adolescent medicine specialist, mother, woman, wife.