Monday, March 26, 2012

The hypocritical GOP war on healthcare

Today I visited the GOP website and the front splash is "Repeal Obamacare," showing a lawsuit of the people of the United States versus The Obama Administration.  The petition message reads: As the Republican Attorneys General from the twenty-six states challenging the constitutionality of Barack Obama and the radical Democrats' disastrous "ObamaCare" healthcare takeover prepare to make our case for liberty before the United States Supreme Court, I am proud to offer my pledge of support to these principled men and women working to safeguard our precious American freedoms.

I am so amused when I sneak onto Facebook and blog conversations among staunch conservatives and read their parroted missives from the likes of Rush and Fox News about how the Liberal Conspiracies have ruined the fabric of America.  I feel a little more indignant when this comes straight from the official mouth of the Republican National Committee.

The Affordable Healthcare Act (e.g. ObamaCare) was enacted two years ago, which is why both parties are making a scene: Dems are celebrating its passage and the GOP are flagellating because it has contaminated our purity of essence. You can tell which side of the argument I am on.  Here are just some of my arguments against the GOP's crusade to convince Americans that healthcare is wrong.  
  1. First of all, grammar check for the GOP author: was the legislation radical, or were the Democrats who passed it? It was passed 219-212 in the House and 60-39 in the Senate.  Since 100% of the Senate Democrats and over 90% of House Democrats voted for it, the GOP has articulated that nearly all Democrats are Radicals.  Dear author of the petition: if you meant to say the legislation is radical, LEARN TO WRITE!!  Oh wait, educated people are liberal snobs.  My mistake...
  2. Is the healthcare act disastrous?  Let's first talk dollars.  A quick check of the non-partisan OMB says that over 10 years, the statute could lead to a deficit reduction over 1 trillion dollars, with a longer-term deficit reduction around 0.5% of the GDP.   A more recent estimate from the CBO also suggests 50 billion dollars in savings in insurance subsidies.  Even if all of these are overestimates by a factor of two, we are still talking about HUGE savings to taxpayers.   In other words, deficit reduction and less taxpayer burden is disastrous to our country and way of life.  
  3. Let's now talk impact to citizen health.  The CBO estimates that by 2019, there will be 32 million more Americans with healthcare.  By the end of 2011, the number of uninsured 19-25 year olds declined by almost 400,000. And just to ice the top of this cake, many small businesses started offering healthcare insurance for the first time.  Medicare medicine costs dropped by about 40% on average.  Again, more Americans with affordable healthcare coverage is going to destroy the fabric of our great country.
  4. There is no rational argument to be made that health insurance doesn't save money.   
  5. Do the statutes threaten our liberty and "precious American freedoms?"  The United States Consitution was enacted, in part, to "promote the general welfare."  How does one promote the welfare of citizens if they are unable to sustain an acceptable quality of life by maintaining reasonable access to medical care?  How does one enjoy life, liberty and pursuit of happiness if one must face financial ruin to cure treatable illnesses?  In short, how does keeping the population healthy diminish our freedom?  
  6. Do "precious American freedoms" refer to keeping the government out of our houses and our lives so that we can all do as we please?  If so, then this is the great conservative hypocrisy: I can pass radically-intrustive laws telling you how to run your life, but you can't do anything that even risks being intrusive to me.  It is not only acceptable, but the sacred duty of a conservative to actively invade or restrict my life if I'm doing things they don't like (i.e. abortion control, access to contraceptives, prayer and creationism in school, just to name a few) while vigorously crying foul if the government even suggests that they do something, whether or not they like it.  Simply put, why is it right for the GOP to shove a medically unecessary probe up a woman's uterus but wrong to give everyone medically necessary healthcare coverage?
  7. The litany of conservative hypocrisy does not stop there.  Imagine what would happen if Senator Reid stood up this morning on the Senate floor and announced a new task force to investigate ending unemployment insurance, social security, and food-assistance programs.  Would the GOP and all of its constituents be up in arms?  These are all socialized forms of federal assistance, where everyone pays in whether they like it or not.  Is the GOP vigorously fighting social security or unemployment insurance?  Every person who pays taxes on salary must pay into these through mandatory FICA contributions.  Are these programs "disastrous," created by unprincipled men and women, and threatening to destroy "our precious American freedoms?"  If these "entitlement" or "social-safety net" programs are good for America, then how exactly is a nationalized healthcare system dangerous?
What can we do to stop these ideological policies of "just say no" and "separate and unequal?"  It may really come down to a tit-for-tat series of laws like the REPRIMAND legislation that we are promoting.  Conservatives acting on their own, and the GOP in general, may not stop taking away our rights until it starts happening equivalently and in kind to them.  There have been a lot of arguments that "an eye for an eye makes the world go blind" through mutually-assured destruction but such a threat can also have a very strong deterrent effect.  Think of how well President Reagan's nuclear missile shield worked (whether or not you agree with what he did).  

If you are sick and tired of being sick and tired (to paraphrase Monty Python) please forward these ideas to your friends, and write your lawmakers urging them to consider what our REPRIMAND laws would accomplish.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

REPRIMAND and women's rights–one image says it all

The image below shows an incomplete timeline of GOP and conservative-backed legislation and public nonsense centered on Women's Health and Reproductive Rights (if this is incomplete, what does a complete listing look like?).  How much of this would have happened if the REPRIMAND laws were in effect?  Would men across the country be up in arms if laws were passed requiring invasive and unnecessary medical probing of a man's anus?  Would men sit quietly if the law required them to pay at least half the costs of an unwanted pregnancy they caused?  Would majority-male legislative bodies so callously pass invasive transvaginal-ultrasound laws if men had to have equally-invasive procedures in exchange?  

If you don't think that tit-for-tat laws are necessary, just study the figure below, and ask yourselves what the coming years of the conservative "separate and unequal" agenda will bring.  Write your lawmakers and tell them enough is enough.  

Thursday, March 22, 2012

On gun violence and Trayvon Martin

Sorry to jump on the bandwagon of obvious criticism and understandable outrage regarding the shooting death of Trayvon Martin, but it seems there are two highly unequal laws that allowed this to happen.  First, many states have very liberal gun ownership and carry laws.  You have to wince at the irony that most of these are extremely politically conservative.  Second, the "stand your ground" law gives you the right to use deadly force without trying to retreat if you are outside your house.

It isn't very difficult to find an overabundance of commentary on how dangerous these laws are.  Let's approach the issue instead from a question of equality.

On the surface, a state that allows carrying concealed weapons would seem to provide uniform privilege to all law-abiding citizens.  However, since not everyone exercises this right, anyone carrying a weapon is radically more lethal than most everyone around them.  What kinds of restrictions are placed on carry permits?  Since Florida is in the news, here is information from its Division of Licensing.  First, A Note From the Commissioner says:
Applying for a license to carry a concealed weapon or firearm for self-defense is a right of law-abiding Floridians. However, you must remember that a license to carry a weapon or firearm concealed on your person does not authorize you to use that weapon. Use of a concealed weapon or firearm is regulated by other provisions of Florida law. It is my hope that you will exercise your lawful right to carry a concealed weapon or firearm responsibly, properly, and safely.
Please note that the lawful use of the weapon is only expressed as a hope.  Seriously, just a hope???  I tell my children "I hope you don't hit each other" but they still do; fortunately a slap isn't very long-lasting, but does land them in time-out.  The state says "we hope you don't kill other people" and yes, if you do, you will probably land in jail, but that doesn't bring the other person back to life.  In any case, we grabbed an application here, and find the minimum requirements for a concealed-weapon permit are:
  • You must be at least 21 years of age.
  • You must meet the CITIZENSHIP and RESIDENCY requirements set forth in the law. 
  • You must be able to provide a CERTIFICATE OF COMPLETION from a firearms training class or other acceptable training document that evidences your competency with a firearm. 
  • You must not have a DISQUALIFYING CRIMINAL RECORD or other condition that would make you ineligible for licensure. 
  • You are required to be familiar with Florida law.
Note that you do not need to pass a test proving you understand Florida law, nor a psychological profile to ensure you are stable and safe enough to be entrusted with this weapon of death.   You just need $117, fingerprints and a visit to a pawn shop to have unfettered access to an instant killing machine.  Lest we say again, even if you are punished for breaking the law with your firearm, you can't bring your victim back from the dead!  Which returns us to the original point: allowing ordinary citizens to carry firearms, whether concealed or in plain sight, makes those citizens lethal and deadly in ways that no other law-abiding citizen can be.  A person who can't afford a gun, or doesn't want to carry one, or whose religion prohibits it, should never find themselves in mortal danger because some people around them are packing heat.  There should be more between life and death than hoping the citizen gun owner keeps calm in a crisis.

The second issue is the extension of the "castle doctrine" to "stand your ground."  Over 30 states have some form of a castle law that says you can protect yourself from harm while on your own property without trying first to retreat.  You can shoot a person who comes through your front door to hurt you, rather than first trying to run away to safety and calling 911.  This permission to use of deadly force if you believe you or someone with you are in imminent danger is often argued as justifiable homicde.  Some states extend this right to protect yourself retreat and without fear of prosecution to your car, your business, or in the case of stand-your-ground, anywhere you stand.  Again, one can easily argue that these laws give everyone the right to protect themselves if they feel threatened, which provides equal protection to all citizens.

What happens when the state combines stand-your-ground with the right to carry a deadly weapon?  People die when they didn't need to.  This isn't a legal statement on guilt or innocence of George Zimmerman and Trayvon Martin.  It is much simpler: if these two laws had not been on the books, Mr. Martin would still be alive.  Chances are good that Mr. Zimmerman would be too.

Stand-Your-Ground and Carry Permits create a combination that has far too great a potential to take innocent lives to be considered safe for the general public.  They create an invasion into the rest of our rights to exercise life, liberty and pursuit of happiness.  They must be changed.

Please, write your lawmakers and explain that the potential to use lethal force in public must only be given out under very special and much-more highly regulated situations.  Share this and ask your friends to do the same.  If you hear back from them, please let us know.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Reprimand the Creationists!

According to the NCSE, the Tennessee Senate has passed SB 893, which encourages teachers to present the "scientific strengths and scientific weaknesses" of "controversial" topics such as "biological evolution, the chemical origins of life, global warming, and human cloning."  This is thinly veiled legislation to promote the teaching of "alternative theories" like Creationism and Intelligent Design.  We will talk about the demerits of pseudoscience later.  For now, let's consider what would happen if a national REPRIMAND/Inequality law existed?  

Promoting religious beliefs in public schools is a clear violation of the Separation of Church and State, and you would think this would be enough of an argument to stop proponents of teaching religious dogma in public schools.  Even the briefest perusal of the principles of Intelligent Design make it clear that this is merely pseudoscientific wool on the wolf, but direct appeals to the public under the guise of science continue to lend legitimacy to anti-science legislation like the "monkey bill" in Tennessee.   

When a law inserts issues that belong in the church into the public schools, only a small portion of the public (namely, school children) are being subjected to this invasive legislation.  The REPRIMAND/Inequality law would require that Tennessee SB 893 have an equivalent provision in exchange.  For example, all houses of worship in Tennessee must give up their non-profit and tax-exempt (i.e. 501c3) status and be subject to all state laws regulating businesses.   

We can't reason with people who, by their very nature, do not want to listen to it.  Our political climate is about at the point where we can't stop people from promoting invasive or repressive laws by writing petitions and op-eds either.  The only solution seems to be to strike back in kind and use their own kinds of laws against them.  Please share with your lawmakers that "an eye for an eye" is likely to be the only way to stop the Conservative warpath to social ruin.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Help Missouri Rep. Stacey Newman stop the Rush Limbaugh Statue

Missouri Representative Stacey Newman and a number of her colleagues co-sponsored an anti-vasectomy bill in the state legislature to combat the anti-women legislation being proposed by the GOP.  We wrote to applaud her work, and received this response, and request, to help stop the House Speaker Steve Tilley from erecting a Rush Limbaugh State in the Capitol.  Please see her message below and help fight this GOP/Conservative nonsense?

Thank you so much for your email – it was a joy to hear from you, even if you don’t live in my district. I am just thrilled!

It means a lot that you took the time to find me and write about this horrendous anti-woman agenda that has taken hold of our state legislatures. As you can tell, we progressive women legislators have had enough.  I am COMMITTED to keep at this fight with my colleagues all over the country but we need people like you, encouraging us on.

I ask a favor - Can you help us out in Missouri  by signing the following petition? Over 20,000 have to date and we need Speaker Tilley’s office bombarded.

A Rush Limbaugh Statue in the Missouri Capitol? No. Freaking. Way.
You’re not going believe this:  Missouri House Speaker Steve Tilley is planning to honor Rush Limbaugh in the Missouri Capitol’s “Hall of Famous Missourians” this year. 

Tilley's response to the media today: “I’m sure there are people who are not fans of Rush Limbaugh, but I’m not one of them and I get to make the decision.”
Please  help us STOP this nonsense by signing a petition to Speaker Tilley, Gov. Nixon and other legislators – AND by calling Speaker Tilley’s office – 573.751.1488.


Rep. Stacey Newman
Missouri 73rd House District

Missouri State Capitol
Room 101K
Jefferson City, MO  65101

6340 Clayton Road #206
St. Louis, Missouri 63117

Anti-Abortion Legislation as of March 8, 2012

This is a good summary of the GOP nonsense, and some pushback, regarding anti-abortion legislation.

A short response from Senator Jim Wilson

In response to the Oklahoma measure to require mothers seeking abortions to listen to the fetus' heartbeat, two state senators have fought back.  According to this article,

When a zygote-personhood bill was introduced, Sen. Constance Johnson added an amendment making it illegal for a man to ejaculate anywhere outside a woman’s vagina because that would be “an action against an unborn child.” She also suggested that any man who impregnates a woman without her consent should be fined $25,000 and get a vasectomy, “in the spirit of shared responsibility.” Sen. Jim Wilson proposed an amendment that would require the father of the unborn child that the state is insisting be brought to term, be financially responsible for the mother’s health care, housing, transportation, and nourishment during the pregnancy, instead of shifting that responsibility to the state.

We wrote to both Senators Johnson and Wilson to congratulate them and share our support of their amendments, and also to let them know what we were working on.  We just got this response from Senator Wilson.

I appreciate your email - and sense of humor.  I hope to do something with it before the end of session.

I did mention it during an interview with an NPR affiliate in LA Friday.

Thanks much,

Jim Wilson

Senator Wilson, thanks for your hard work and for giving our little project your attention.  Keep up the good fight!!

What would the REPRIMAND/Inequality law actually do?

The REPRIMAND/Inequality law (REsponsible Pairing of Restrictive & Invasive MANDated Inequality) would require that all restrictive or invasive laws which disproportionally affect only one segment of the population must be paired with equivalent restrictions against the rest of the citizenry.  What would this mean for the GOP's current crusade on abortion and contraception?  It means everyone would feel the affects, and we all know that most people keep quiet about restrictive laws that only affect others, until they feel the effects personally.

Gestational Abortion Limits:  Forty states currently limit abortions after a certain point in pregnancy.  Heartbeat Laws like the one recently approved by the Missouri House of Representatives limit abortions to before the fetus has a detectable heartbeat.  Ohio is considering a similar measure.  This is significantly earlier than the consensus among the other states, and disproportionally affects pregnant women living in Missouri and Ohio, forcing them to break the law or cross state lines to receive a legal procedure.  Suitable equivalents for all others might include mandatory waiting periods or time limits on how long menopausal women can receive hormone replacement therapy, or how long men with erectile dysfunction (ED) can take Viagra, Cialis, etc.  Or since abortion deals directly with pregnancy, the state would have to set limits on how many times a couple can try alternative methods of fertilization, like Intrauterine Insemination (IUI) or In-Vitro Fertilization (IVF).

Insurance Coverage for Contraceptives:  If an employer is allowed to refuse coverage for women's contraceptives then they must refuse coverage for equivalent drugs or medical treatment for all their other patients.  Again, this might include hormone-replacement therapy in menopausal women, ED drugs for men who can't "perform,"  or fertility testing and treatment.  After all, if it is God's will to naturally procreate then using medical science to make babies when nature stops working is...against God's will!

Preferential Firing of Women on Contraceptives: If an employer can and does fire a women for using contraceptives, then that employer must fire post-menopausal women (who do not need the treatment) and men under equivalent circumstances.  Perhaps men at these businesses should be forced to show all their pharmacy receipts and can be terminated for buying condoms.

Personhood: These laws require that a fetus (or embryo or blastocyst) have the same rights and protections as any other person, often as early as the moment of conception.  Under these laws, abortion can be treated as intentional murder and is effectively rendered illegal.  Pregnant women are no longer able to access their legal right to have abortions at all.  It is hard to think of a law that unilaterally restricts a person's access to a legal activity, and demands that an equal prohibition to the rest of the residents of those states.  Since the state is so concerned about the health and welfare of the baby before it is born, perhaps the state should be required to provide lifetime, comprehensive health insurance to each baby born in that state.

Mandatory Transvaginal Sonogram: Laws like those in Texas and Virginia that require a women seeking an abortion to undergo a transvaginal ultrasound are being forced by the state to submit to a medically unnecessary internal probe.  States must require similar internal probes for men, such as mandatory rectal probes for men seeking treatment for issues related to low testosterone (this is the basis for the original REPRIMAND law).

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Announcing REPRIMAND/Inequality: End bias in laws restricting access to legal acts

These last months have seen an unprecedented rise in the volume of legislation biased against one segment of the law-abiding population.  Virginia and Texas have legislated that women seeking abortions must undergo a medically unnecessary transvaginal exam.  Texas has also signed into law a statewide ban on medicaid funding for any doctor or clinic that performs, or is even affiliated with, abortion.   The Missouri House of Representatives has passed a bill that (1) prohibits abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected, (2) defining life as beginning at conception (a.k.a. Personhood) thereby (3) banning many forms of contraception by classifying them as murder, and (4) requiring transvaginal ultrasounds for women who still seek abortions.   The Oklahoma State Senate, perhaps mildly more moderate than Missouri, has only passed a personhood bill.  The U.S. Senate tried to allow employers to deny women insurance coverage for contraception, and when that failed, Arizona took up the cause with gusto, adding that employers can fire women who use birth control if it violates their religious views.  The list goes on and on...

Spin the stories any way you want, the fact remains that these laws only impact women who are performing or engaging in lawful acts.  These laws represent blatant legislative biases of elephantine proportions (a fitting reference since they are penned almost exclusively by Republicans).  These laws are written mostly by men, and intended almost exclusively to restrict the rights of women.

The 14th Amendment guarantees equal protection under the law.  Typically we read this as meaning everyone reaps the same rewards from the same rights.  Shouldn't equal protection also require that everyone suffers equivalent restrictions under the law.  If a state has the legal ability to deny, limit, restrict or alter a woman's access to lawful activities, then surely men must suffer equivalent legislative consequences.  Otherwise, these laws have introduced intentional bias.     

"Separate and unequal" is not the GOP motto, but it seems to be their current practice.  Unless states and the Federal government require equal restriction as well as equal protection, what is there to stop a political party from marginalizing any group of citizens through the same kind of legislative bullying as is currently underway?   

We propose the REPRIMAND/Inequality (REsponsible Pairing of Restrictive & Invasive MANDated Inequality) law, that requires that all restrictive or invasive laws which disproportionally affect only one segment of the population must be paired with equivalent restrictions against the rest of the citizenry.  In other words, if you limit a woman's access to insurance coverage for birth control, then you must limit men's coverage for an equivalent condition, such as vasectomy.  If you wish to ban gay marriage, you must ban some equivalent set of rights of all straight couples.  Undo unto others what they have undone unto you.  Otherwise, we are not all equal before the law.

Introducing REPRIMAND/Paternity: Noncustodial and deadbeat dads must pay half of all pregnancy and neonatal costs.

According to a 2007 report from the Dept. of Health and Human services, the average medical cost for a pregnancy was $7600.  Even if your insurance covers all medical aspects of pregnancy, you will still have an out-of-pocket cost of up to $1000 due to deductibles and co-payments.  Now add in the cost of maternity clothes, nine-months of increased food consumption, and out-of-pocket costs for vitamins, anti-acids, etc., and over nine months you will still spend thousands of dollars.  This doesn't even include everything you have to buy, beg or borrow for when the baby comes home.    

In 2010, 15% of American's were poor, as defined by the US Census bureau. This means that for a single mother with one child, the household income is under $15,200 per year.  Most of us can't fathom how a mother making so little can possibly provide for herself, let alone her child.  After the baby is born, that mother can save a little money through child-tax credits, and if she can find a lawyer, she might be able to sue the birth father for child support (although some estimates show that only 10% of poor birth fathers actually pay support).  How does she recover from the huge financial burden she bore in the nine months leading up to birth?   Even mothers above the official poverty line are financially stricken, and after pregnancy, they are financially ruined.  There are millions of sweet, innocent American children growing up in abject poverty.  How are they supposed to grow up to be tomorrow's future if their mothers aren't sure how they will make it through today?   To really see how bleak the situation is, read this article on how bad things are for poor black children.  

You can make all sorts of arguments as to why this situation should never have happened.  Women shouldn't have premarital sex.  Remember, "abstinence only" works, right...?   The man should have worn a condom.  Of course, it is hard to make sure men know their part in safe sex when the GOP wants to remove sex-ed from school.  The mother should have been on birth control.  That is difficult when you are uninsured or on medicaid, and the GOP is fighting to make it impossible to access contraceptives.  The mother should have aborted the baby.  Good luck with that one thanks to the GOP's war on women.  

In this political climate, there is only one solution.  The REPRIMAND/Paternity (REquired Pregnancy Reimbursment IMen AbandoN Duties of Paternity) law will require that noncustodial or deadbeat birth fathers pay mothers back for half of all costs associated with the pregnancy up to and including neonatal expenses.  Tell your State and Federal lawmakers to either pass REPRIMAND/Paternity laws, or go to sleep at night knowing that they are abandoning millions of children.

We can't claim complete ownership of this idea, by the way.  Oklahoma State Senator Jim Murray offered a version of this idea as an amendment to an anti-abortion piece of legislation.  We've thanked him for his hard work, and you should too!

Friday, March 16, 2012

A Response from Ohio Sen. Nina Turner

As part of the the REPRIMAND project, we have written to lawmakers across the country.  Here is a reply from Minority Whip Nina Turner in the Ohio State Senate, who has proposed SB 307 to regulate men's access to erectile-dysfunction medication (e.g. Viagra).  She is a real hero in this fight and should be commended for her vigilance and honest hard work.

Dear Concerned Citizen,

Thank you for taking time to share your thoughts with me and for expressing your concern for important women’s health issues.  As we all know, this struggle is about equality: whether men and women should be given equal footing when it comes to making important healthcare decisions, and whether they should have equal access to the highest-quality health services our country has to offer.  More importantly, this is about a woman’s right to choose.  Reproductive decisions are best made by a woman and her doctor, and we must respect their ability to make these choices.  Government has no place inside a woman’s womb.

This war on reproductive rights is an insult to women everywhere.  It demonstrates that those waging it view women only as vessels of life—not as the intelligent and capable individuals that they are.  Taking away the right to control one’s own destiny is not only un-American, it flies in the face of the ideals of independence and self-determination on which our nation was founded.

S.B. 307 is a serious bill, and the side effects of PDE-5 inhibitors are real. As a nation of equals, we must care just as much about men's health as we do women's health, and this is why we must take strong steps to protect against the harmful side effects of medications used to treat symptoms of male impotence, such as priapism, hearing loss, and vision loss. Such medications should be considered with the utmost concern and caution. These medications can be seriously detrimental to men with heart problems, including heart pain, heart failure, abnormal heart rhythms, high or low blood pressure, a history of stroke within the last six months, eye problems such as retinitis pigmentosa, sickle cell anemia, or leukemia.

Nobody laughs when legislators throughout the country introduce legislation that aggressively mandates government regulation of women's health decisions. No one questions those who introduce oppressive legislative measures contradictory to the autonomy and sovereignty of American women. This is no laughing matter.  

Women are being disregarded and disrespected by lawmakers across the nation.
We must heed the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.: "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." If women today, it will be another group tomorrow. Thank you for being champions in the fight—the fight for our foremothers, for ourselves, and for our daughters. Spread this far and wide.

All the Best,

Minority Whip
Ohio Senate—25th District
1 Capital Square | Room 223
Columbus, OH  43215

Why link low testosterone to prostate exams?

Reader's are asking "do men with low testosterone really need prostate exams?"  It is a fair question.

First, our population is aging.  In 2010, one quarter of our population was between 45 and 64 years of age (the Baby Boomers) and another 13% are over 65.  In other words, 2 out of 5 American men are over 45, and are therefore at risk for low testosterone.

A 2006 study by Shores et al. showed that some 20% of male veterans over 40 had low levels of testosterone, and that low testosterone led to a 68–88% increase in chance of death over the course of the study.  Taken at face value, one out of every five men could be up to twice as likely to die because of low testosterone.  

Many studies show that low testosterone increases the risk of being diagnosed prostate cancer, and its severity, i.e. how quickly it grows, spreads through your body, and kills you.  According to the CDC, 1 in 6 men will have prostate cancer during their life, and some 10% of these will die each year.  Prostate cancer accounts for about 10% of the cancer deaths among men nationwide.  So if you are that one man in six with prostate cancer, and you have low testosterone, your chances of surviving get much worse the later the cancer is discovered.  Plainly put, having low testosterone puts a man at much greater risk for death from prostate cancer.  

Another fascinating article published by Albano et al (1997) shows the clear trend that men with less education are twice as likely to die of cancer.  Let's say this again: based on cancer deaths among a group of 120 million people, men with 12 or less years of education are twice as likely to die of cancer as those with a college degree or higher.

Now consider an analysis of the 2010 census, which showed that over 30% of Baby Boomers had less than 12 years of high school.  If we assume even fewer of our elderly population went to college, then we see that a huge percentage of our aging American men are at significant risk of dying from cancer.  If you are over 45, have low testosterone and did not go to college, statistics say that your chances of dying from prostate cancer are very high.  

Up to a million men could be saved from dying of prostate cancer by a simple procedure that takes under a minute to perform.  When a man goes to the doctor complaining of any symptoms that may point to low testosterone, the doctor must do a manual (or "digital" because you use your finger) rectal exam to help protect this at-risk population.  For any number of reasons, from lack of willingness of the patient, to insurance bureaucracy, to doctor's having to pack in too many patients, these tests aren't being conducted.  The law must step in and save these men's lives.   
If you knew that a million men could be saved, what would you do?  It isn't the American way to stand idly by.  We picked up our guns in the past to protect American lives.  Now, we should pick up latex gloves and take it like the men that we are!

Mandatory prostate exams: invasion of privacy?

A lot of men are asking the same questions: isn't REPRIMAND an invasion of privacy and a violation of the sanctity of their bodies?

The GOP has always stood for individual rights and a strict adherence to the Constitution.  Peruse their website and you will see that their history is rich with the colors of patriotic sweat and blood.  The GOP has always been the relentless fighters for freedom, smashing the color and gender barriers in their crusade for equal rights, and protecting us from oppression since individuals, not government, make the best decisions.  Today, their issues stay true to their base: tax cuts so you can keep your hard-earned cash, peace through strength so we can smash any enemy that threatens our way of life, common-sense health care that is not controlled by the government, a judiciary that is grounded in the Constitution instead of social activism, the power of school choice and choice in school, and a free-market economy that gives confidence to consumers and job makers, alike. 

Now the liberal media and its many allies will have you believe that the recent wave of state and federal legislation that conservatives and the GOP have been authoring on topics such as contraception, abortion and women's health, are in fact violations of privacy and liberty, and are an assault on women's rights.  Let's stop and ask, how could a party that has fought tirelessly for 150 years for the freedom of all Americans, and still cries from the mountain top for freedom from oppression, government mandates, and inequality, HOW could this party of patriots possibly commit the sin of "treading on me."  We know that any GOP-backed bill, whether in the state or federal government, has always and will always uphold the Constitution and the rights of the individual, at all costs and against all enemies.   As a last reminder of how ridiculous these claims are, the majority of our country is women.  How can anyone truly believe that an entire political body as vast as the GOP, with ambitions from city to national levels, would sponsor or support bills to drive off the majority of the voters in this great country? 

Take just two recent examples.  Virginia's Transvaginal Ultrasound Bill safeguards the health of our fertile female population while increasing jobs in the OBGYN and Vaginal-Probe industries.  Utah's senate just passed a bill to force women to wait 72 hours before having an abortion.  The left-wingers would have you believe this is so the state can force its pro-life agenda on mothers trying to exercise their legal rights, when in reality it is to provide sufficient time to ensure that the mother's health will not be put in jeopardy during the medical procedure.  When more women go to see counselors and doctors, more counselors and doctors are needed.  This is simple demand-and-suppy economics, and we see the GOP again hard at work to create jobs and fight for our health.

Turning back to the original question, we can rest easy knowing that all laws, whether proposed or enacted, that involve a so-called invasive procedure to women, were carefully legislated and/or supported by the GOP.  This is like the Good Housekeeping seal of approval for laws.  If the GOP endorses or sponsors it, it has to be right (pun intended).  Is it technically invasive to require a women to have a transvaginal sonogram?  Perhaps a little.  But it is for the greater good?  Without any doubt.  Is it really an invasion of privacy or the sanctity of her body?  Since the GOP righteously stands for both, the answer must be "no."  And there is your answer about prostate and rectal exams. 

As a final note, the Fourteenth Amendment (which was supported by the GOP, by the way) guarantees equal protection under the law.  Aren't men owed the same protection as women?   Shouldn't we demand it, even if it hurts for a minute? 

Call your state and federal lawmakers and demand that they enact REPRIMAND legislation.  Mandatory rectal exams for men with low testosterone can be the GOP's legacy to men's health!

Live-saving procedure or humiliating rectal probe?

When you think of a rectal exam, you probably have this in mind:

Or maybe for some of you, this....
A thorough rectal and prostate exam requires about 10 to 15 seconds, and with a little longer to wipe off the lube and zip up, you can have it over and done within about a minute.  The payoff, however, can be huge: prostate cancer has an almost 100% survival rate as long as it is caught early.  

If it is this safe, quick and helpful, why don't all men have regular rectal exams?  Do you honestly believe women think the same thing about mammograms and Pap smears?  Do you think women avoid them because of embarrassment or a little discomfort?  Moms sit down with their daughters and gently pass on generations of wisdom, including the importance of life-saving medical tests.  Dads who talk about men's health issues either awkwardly give their sons a few Trojans and make vague references to farmers and raincoats, or threaten their sons with eternal damnation for the sin of sex out of holy wedlock.  A dad just doesn't not talk about his anus with his boys, let alone anyone else.  Don't count on your friends either: when is the last time a group of salt-of-the-earth men stood around the bar chit-chatting about anal health over a few pitchers of suds.  You are basically on your own, left to ignore a few poorly-made public-service announcements over 40 or 50 years until suddenly, you can't urinate.

We can try to change public opinion by spending millions of taxpayer dollars, or we can make them mandatory through simple federal legislation that can actually make the government money through a variety of stiff fines for men who keep their heads where a latex-covered finger should be.  The choice is yours, citizens.  Demand that your government representatives support the REPRIMAND law, and help save a million men.

Is REPRIMAND a response to abortion and contraception legislation?

Many readers have asked whether REPRIMAND legislation is in response to the recent wave of what the liberal media has dubbed the "Republican War on Women?"  In a way, yes...

The 2010 census showed that 51% of the American population is female, that is, our great nation has a majority of women.  The Center for American Women and Politics reports that 83% of our Federal lawmakers (i.e. the House and Senate) are men, and according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 76% of state lawmakers nationwide are men.  The National Journal reports that in 2011, 68% of the "congressional staffers who hold the key posts in the legislative leadership offices and the committees" are men (note that in Democratic positions, 62% are men, while Republicans have a 73% majority).  By some estimates, only 1/3 of the Washington lobbyists are women.  In other words, men are overwhelmingly representing an increasingly female population. 

We should all applaud the attention that men are bringing to women's issues, but laws requiring transvaginal ultrasounds before abortion, for example, offer very limited health benefits in terms of preventative screening by capitalizing on an already-present audience.  Each year, 2% of women have abortions, and while ultrasounds of their vagina, uterus and ovaries can provide early detection of a variety of life-threatening diseases,  roughly 16 out of 100,000 women die yearly from cancers of the female genital system.  Prostate cancer accounts for 10% of the cancer deaths among men.  Which seems more urgent of an issue to you, the voter?

The ongoing federal and state debates on contraception and reproduction suggest that our largely male legislative body is overly concerned with issues of women's health and reproduction.  This is why it is so important that our lawmakers understand the critical difference they can make by passing similar legislation for men.  The REPRIMAND law is much bolder than what a few lawmakers have already suggested.  For example, Ohio State Senator Nina Turner has proposed SB 307 to regulate men's access to erectile-dysfunction medication (e.g. Viagra), however far more men suffer from low testosterone than erectile dysfunction, so even Sen. Turner's law is limited in scope.  Men need, and deserve, better coverage than merely when they need a little extra help in the sack. 

In terms of invasive procedures being forced on citizens during medical treatment, prostate exams are no more onerous than a transvaginal sonogram, and can save up to a million men!  The REPRIMAND law will offer equal legislative compassion to the men of our great country.  Isn't it time that men give themselves a fair shake?

Introducing the REPRIMAND law

As men age, their testosterone levels can drop.  According to the Mayo Clinic, this can be as high as 1% per year at age 30, and by age 70, many men can have only half the testosterone their body needs.  Up to 20% of men over 60 can have levels low enough to require medical treatment!  What can this cause?

  • Sexual changed like erectile dysfunction, loss of sexual desire, or infertility.
  • Sleep problems like insomnia or constant sleepiness
  • Body changes including weight gain (i.e. your gut!), loss of muscle, reduced endurance, loss of body hair, and swollen or tender breasts.  Yes guys, breasts!
  • Emotional changes like depression, lack of self-confidence, and memory or concentration.
Low testosterone (also called "male menopause," "androgen deficiency," "Low T," or "andropause") literally robs you of your manhood.  What is worse, many studies show a relationship that low testosterone increases the risk of prostate cancer, and possibly its severity (i.e. how quickly it grows, spreads through your body, and kills you).   In other words, "male menopause" doesn't just kill your mojo, it can kill you.

The nation so focused on issues of women's health, that it is ignoring the importance and urgency of men's issues like Low-T and prostate cancer.  We must legislate mandatory prostate exams in all men seeking treatment for symptoms of low testosterone, including all those listed above.  Consider this website, that only lists a host of blood tests needed to diagnose Low T.  Or this one, that gives a host of problems for men to rule out as the cause of symptoms, but does not recommend that men ask to include a prostate exam.   We imagine that too often, men have the following conversations with their doctor about erectile dysfunction:

MAN: "I can't get it up anymore.  Can I have Cialis?"
Doctor: "Certainly, but I need to run a few tests to make sure it is safe for you."
MAN: "Sure, as long as it isn't a rectal exam."
Doctor: "Well these are important for your general health but not really necessary for Cialis."
MAN: "Phew.  Then skip it doc!"

By legally requiring that all doctors and healthcare professionals give men a full prostate exam when treating not only issues of erectile dysfunction, but any symptoms that point towards low testosterone, we can ensure that men receive the critical, preventative care they need.  Prostate cancer accounts for 10% of the cancer deaths among men in this country. That number is too high!  If manual (also known as digital) prostate exams can save even a fraction of those lives, and if men with abnormal testosterone are more likely to die from prostate cancer, then such tests must be mandatory to ensure we aren't killing the patient through an incomplete cure.

That is why we are putting men with Low-T in the crosshairs of medical preventative care.  Early diagnosis saves money and lives.  Can we afford to ignore our men any longer?  The REPRIMAND law (Required Exam of PRostate In Male ANdrogen Deficiency) will require doctors to give a manual (or "digital" because they use their finger) rectal and prostate exam to every male patient presenting with symptoms that point toward low testosterone.  Follow this blog as we explore the rationale, benefits, and raise awareness of this critical piece of male healthcare legislation.