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While Donald Trump Is Golfing, Americans Are Dying In Puerto Rico

San Juan mayor: ‘I am begging, begging anyone that can hear me to save us from dying…we are dying’

The ACLU Sues for LGBT Equality… AGAIN.

The argument that religious bakeries should be able to refuse service to the LGBT community has now extended to placement of children in need of loving and safe homes.

Not unlike many government functions, Michigan outsources services related to the child welfare system (i.e., foster and adoptive placement) to private agencies. These private agencies receive public funds (a.k.a. tax dollars) in order to allow them to carry out these functions.  Because some of these agencies are religiously affiliated, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services allows said agencies to turn away same-sex couples as prospective placements, based on the agencies’ religious objections. This means that children are remaining in foster care for longer periods of time, and when they are placed, they are in jeopardy of being separated from their siblings, and placed long distances from their families.

 

The ACLU is suing the Department in federal district court, claiming that the Department allowing such discrimination harms children, and is in violation of the First and Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

This suit is about so much more than the discrimination felt by same-sex couples who wish to foster or adopt; this is about the what is right for the children of our country.

Barack Obama Is Everything Donald Trump Is Not

I miss him.

His kindness. His integrity. His intelligence. His empathy. His honesty. His selflessness. His humility. His compassion. His dignity. His values. His decency.

All characteristics President Obama does not share with the current occupant of the White House.

People say you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone. Truth is, you knew what you had, you just never thought you’d lose it.

Puerto Rico Desperately Needs Our Assistance — Here Is How You Can Help

Puerto Rico is facing a humanitarian crisis unlike any we have seen in the United States in recent memory. Donald Trump rather focus on NFL players kneeling and mocking John McCain’s physical condition then saving our fellow citizens in Puerto Rico.

While the Trump Administration waived the Jones Act for Texas and Florida after hurricanes Harvey and Irma, no similar waiver was granted for Puerto Rico. Perhaps that has something to do with race given that Puerto Rico is 0.6% white non-Hispanic compared to Florida which is 57% and Texas which is 44%. Regardless, our fellow citizens need our help.

Here is how you can help:

UNICEF

Americares is providing medicine and medical supplies, and responding to recovery needs as they arise.

Catholic Relief Services is partnering with local organizations and working to provide “shelter, water and critical supplies, including tarps, tents, and hygiene and kitchen kits to families affected by these disasters.”

Convoy of Hope, another faith-based organization, provides food, water, and emergency supplies.

GlobalGiving is a global crowdfunding network (with a four-star rating from Charity Navigator). Their fund for hurricane recovery in the Caribbean encompasses emergency supplies and long-term recovery and rebuilding, channeling donations to vetted local organizations.

Hispanic Federation launched Unidos, a disaster-relief fund for Puerto Rico and Mexico.

International Medical Corps provides emergency relief and longer-term training programs to help communities recover from disaster.

The Sato Project is rescuing displaced and homeless dogs and transporting them to shelters outside of Puerto Rico.

Unidos por Puerto Rico was launched by Beatriz Rosselló, the first lady of Puerto Rico, “with the purpose of providing aid and support to those affected in Puerto Rico by the passage of Hurricane Irma and Hurricane María.”

Australian Surrogacy Ruling Leaves Many Children in Legal Limbo

A legal decision issued by the Australian Family Court last week has determined that an Australian couple will not be recognized as the legal parents of a child born under an international surrogacy arrangement. Australia’s commonwealth Family Law Act allows individual Australian states to “determine the status of children born under surrogacy arrangements.” As of 2017, however, commercial surrogacy is a criminal offense in all jurisdictions. Consequently, this ruling, made in the case of a “Mr. and Mrs. Bernieres,” allows the couple to act as the child’s guardian but does not grant them a recognition or declaration of parentage. It now falls upon the Bernieres to adopt their child in order to secure parentage, although some have noted that Australian bureaucracy has made this process increasingly difficult in recent years.

The Family Court judges stated in their decision that “it was not open to the court to fill the ‘legislative vacuum’ that existed for children born via overseas commercial surrogacy arrangements,” and that this “vacuum” must be addressed by legislation instead. Surrogacy Australia president Robert Reith agreed, stating “[t]he law absolutely needs a review and to be brought up to date with modern standards.” The lack of progressive legislation concerning commercial surrogacy in Australia is unsurprising, given the government’s historically unfavorable attitudes toward surrogacy. Altruistic surrogacy was also illegal in Australia until 2004, and in 2010, New South Wales’ Family and Community Services Minister Pru Goward likened surrogate mothers to commercially exploited “cows.” This phrasing, of course, denies surrogates their agency as ethical actors by assuming both that money is their primary motivation and that they have no say in their surrogacy arrangements. Attitudes such as Goward’s highlight Australia’s need for comprehensive surrogacy legislation that clearly establishes the rights of all parties: the rights of the parents who expend considerable time, effort, and energy to bring their child into the world; and the rights of the surrogate, who deserves to be protected by a comprehensive set of laws whether her arrangement is commercial or altruistic.

TrumpCare is Dead, Thanks In Part To Jimmy Kimmel

Thank you Jimmy Kimmel for sharing your story and using your platform to help those less fortunate.

Under Graham-Cassidy Health Care Bill, Insurers Will Charge Women $17,320 More For Pregnancy

If TrumpCare passes, women can expect to pay an insurance surcharge of $17,320 for their pregnancy. Please call your Senators now to oppose this heartless bill.

Graham-Cassidy Health Care Bill Does Not Pass The Jimmy Kimmel Test

New TrumpCare Bill Will Lead To the Deaths Of Patients With Pre-Existing Conditions

If the Graham-Cassidy bill becomes law, those with certain pre-existing conditions will likely die. This is not hyperbole. Have metastatic cancer? Your premium surcharge will be $142,650 per year. Asthma patients will pay an extra $4,340 annually. Suffer from diabetes? You’ll pay a surcharge of $5,600 per year. If you are pregnant, you are facing $17,320 in surcharges while those with arthritis will pay an extra $26,850, above and beyond your premium and deductible.

This is not healthcare reform. TrumpCare is a death sentence for our fellow citizens, friends and family members. Call your Congressional representative now and voice your objection. You can find the number of your Senator by clicking this link.

Or target these 4 GOP Senators on the fence:

Sen. Susan Collins, ME: (202) 224-2523
Sen. Lisa Murkowski, AK: (202) 224-6665
Sen. John McCain, AZ: (202) 224-2235
Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, WV: (202) 224-6472

Sanofi Stops Work on Zika Vaccine After US Government Funding Cuts

Sanofi S.A., France’s largest pharmaceutical company, announced in a statement on September 1st that it would not be continuing work on a Zika vaccine that it has been developing since July 2016. The project, funded by a $43 million grant from the United States government’s Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, will continue to be funded “to a point where development would be indefinitely paused but could be restarted if the epidemic re-emerges,” as per Sanofi spokesperson Ashleigh Koss.

There are still over thirty potential Zika vaccines in development around the world, so these funding cuts haven’t completely hobbled the medical research community. This announcement still raises two concerns, however:

  1. It clearly demonstrates how government funding can potentially impact public health. American politics are currently very volatile, to say the least, and medical research is not immune to the fallout. In fact, Donald Trump proposed a 22% budget cut to the National Institutes of Health six months ago in order to shore up funding for defense and border security. The proposal was defeated in Congress last week, and funding to the NIH was actually increased.
  2. Although transmissions of the Zika virus have decreased since 2016, it remains a highly infectious disease. At the height of the Zika epidemic, it was estimated that over a million people in Brazil had been infected with the virus. The World Health Organization still considers Zika “a highly significant and long-term problem,” and defunding research of the disease only increases the likelihood of further outbreaks.

Although relying on private enterprise to come up with solutions to public health issues comes with its own set of ethical concerns, it is still unfortunate that we have been deprived of one less opportunity to stop this disease in its tracks. Here’s hoping that it doesn’t take another resurgence of Zika for our government to squash this problem.

Asides

  • We are re-tooling the blog by giving it a complete face lift. So please excuse the mess as we are updating it. #

Welcome to The Spin Doctor

Blogging about the legal, social and political issues of the day with an emphasis on reproductive rights and bioethics.

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