Wednesday, June 29, 2011

US Court of Appeals of the Sixth District: PPACA is constitutionally legit!

Keywords or Terms: Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA); US Court of Appeal; Constitutionality of law; Florida Attorney General; National Federation of Independent Businesses (NFIB), Standard of non-severability; rationality Principle

You may wonder, like many Republicans, if the Patients Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 is Constitutional. Or perhaps you already wonder if the intrusive nature of some of the provisions in the law make it unconstitutional or undermine the constitutionality of the whole law. Either way, the US Court of Appeals in the sixth district, has resoundingly answered those questions or reservations. Yesterday, the Cincinnati-based court of appeal, chaired by one of the most respected conservative republican judges and one known for ultra respect and preservation of state’s rights, handed down a ruling in support of the constitutionality of the law. Jeffery Sutton, an appointee of President George W. Bush, who once persuaded the Supreme Court to shield States from suits under the federal-bias and disabilities laws, unequivocally said: “Not every intrusive law is an unconstitutionally intrusive law”. In order words, there may be a perception that the Patients Protection and Affordable Care Act is intrusive; however, that intrusiveness does not rise up to the level of unconstitutionality.

At the beginning of this month, the Eleventh U.S. Court of Appeals, sitting in Atlanta, heard argument in a case brought by Florida Attorney General, twenty-five other states and the National Federation of Independent Businesses (NFIB), praying the court to reverse a Pensacola, Florida Federal Judge’s decision, that the mandate provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), is unconstitutional. The foundation of their argument hinged on the claim that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) violates the Commerce Clause by requiring Americans over the age of 18 to purchase individual health insurance plan by 2014. Are these rulings confusing or conflicting? Wait, here is another dozy: just last month, a federal court of appeals in Richmond, Virginia, heard a combined appeal of two lower courts that have ruled in conflicting ways. While one of the courts struck down the purchase mandate in he Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), the other upheld the act and dismisses a challenge to the law. The way things are going with all these cases, there is hardly any doubt that the ultimate decision regarding where the nation must go from here, will depend on a ruling from the United States Supreme Court.

Many legal luminaries and watchers of the United State Congress observe that the mandate provisions of PPACA and the related insurance regulation are at the heart of the complex legislative compromise that led to the enactment of the whole law. Unfortunately, both of these issues are now lighting rods for opponents of the law. Litigation takes a long time and this is probably the reason why it may take a while before all these cases reach the supreme court, except some unforeseen events arise that will help speed up the process for the highest court of the land to hear the case over the issue of constitutionality or non-constitutionality. If the rulings in the lower courts are anything to go by, we are probably going to see arguments in the likes of why: 1) the standard of non-severability has held up in the past lower court decision; since the court found part of the statutes as unconstitutional, the remaining provisions of the law stand invalidated; 2) the rationality principles uphold with respect to the enactment of the law; in this instance, Congress had a rational basis for concluding that the minimum coverage requirement is essential to the broader reform of health care system; and the place of a wider and pluralistic health insurance is in order in a national market place.

The growing complexity which multiple litigation is bringing to the understanding of the law, including whether the law is constitutional or not, make the heads of ordinary Americans spin. The conflicting confusion not only makes the ordinary American wonder, what’s next, it launches a doubt in their minds as to the good faith effort of congress to enact a responsive health care reform law, in the first place. Further, it makes nearly all the judges in the cases that have already been heard so far over the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, second guess themselves, on an issue that impacts about one sixth of America’s economy. Just as many free loaders of the America’s health Care System, prior to the advent of the PPACA, had in-congruently presumed that someone will eventually cover the costs they incurred while receiving treatments in hospital emergency rooms, so also, are judges hearing arguments regarding the constitutionality of the law or its provisions, rely on the US Supreme Court to eventually sort the thorny issues regarding the constitutionality of the law, or more, in the long run.

It is the position of this blog that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act has launched a new era in America’s health care system. Essentially, opponents of the health care reform law are engaging in pull-it-down syndrome, just because the law had been passed without a single vote from the Republican Senators and many legislators. While the law makes hospitals, clinics, doctors and allied health professionals accountable, it also demands that health insurance companies invest in the health of average American that they collect premiums from, through lower administrative overhead cost commitment. Insurance Companies know they have a primary duty to improve how they sell health insurance policies to Americans; however, more so during the new reform that is re-shaping health care delivery, the companies realize that they need more consumers of their product to remain solvent. Under this type of scenario, it is difficult for many people to understand the argument that Congress was improperly regulating activity in the health care industry, by passing the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

Many Americans, if not all, agree that the status-quo under the prior health care system is unsustainable; and, there was need for something to be done, if the system was to survive. This something that needed to be done, wasn't limited to the health industry, it included what was going on in the health insurance industry. While many opponents of the law were waiting for someone or a miracle to take place to correct for the inadequacies of the prior health care system and health insurance business, democratic lawmakers under the leadership of the current president, took the bull by the horn and enacted what, for all intense and purpose, is probably the most revolutionary change to the health care system and health insurance industry, in half a century. The problem is tat Republicans do not want to give credit to where credit is due and for this reason, they have continued to engage in retrogressive acts through the courts by attempting to work with judges who maybe sympathetic to their myopic way of looking at the impending reforms to the health care system.

Additionally, the current court decisions have been very explicit, if not too dramatic; regarding how each judge had interpreted the constitutionality of the provisions of the health care reform law. The mandatory changes that haven’t come into effect, seem not to be of paramount concern of these judges, because the prayers from the plaintiff was built on the question of constitutionality of the law as a whole, and sometimes on parts of the law. Where some careful judges, legal observers and lawyers have sided with the constitutionality of many of the provisions in the law, some business owners and their republican friends have used the law as a crouch for why they are hardly going to create jobs in the private sector, as they sit down on over one trillion dollars in their bank account.

The nagging issue of constitutionality of the law was taken heads on, when one of the judges that have ruled in favor of the constitutionality of the reform law, indicated that: “No one is inactive when deciding how to pay for health care, as self-insurance and private insurance are two forms of action for addressing the same risk.” Asking a broader participation of Americans in the health care system is hardly encroaching on people’s inactivity rights, but rather, a conscious determination, based on experience, that if more healthier group participates in the obviously interstate and inter-regional commerce impacting health care delivery system, then, there is more to be gained by all; not just the few who can only afford health care for themselves, prior to our enactment of the Patients Protection and Affordable Care Act.

At a recent conference of the American Medical Association, over two-thirds of the doctors subscribed to the mandatory participation of Americans in the health care insurance policy market; because for many reasons, physicians find the participation of many Americans as one way to fight the problem of uninsured or under-insured at the gate of health care delivery. Further, this provision, guarantees that many more Americans will be in a position to pay for their care through the carrying of a health insurance policy. The nation had just been getting by under the previous health care system and the unsustainability of the past system was not only going to doom the health care delivery as a whole, it was going to set the nation back on its achievements over the quality of care available to Americans.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Struggling against Violent Extremism: A word or two on Google’s sponsored conference in Ireland?

Keywords or terms: Violent extremism; Information Dissemination; Cradle of Violence; Europe; North America; Middle East; Africa; Russia; Civil and Political Rights; Al'Quran; Jihad-ism; Social-political-religious issues; Terrorism; Civility; Intense Passion; and Dastardly Acts

The idea of a global conference on violent extremism is, on one level, an admission by Google’s idea that violent extremism is probably an issue that must be considered by Google’s audience and or customers. Yet, it is also an aberration of Google’s position as a global leader in information sharing or dissemination. How about the responsibility of sharing thoughts that are civil rather than radical; or, those that provide permanent solutions to many past dastardly acts of many extremist groups across the globe?

Google’s idea’s initiative to sponsor a conference, where past and present terrorist groups share banter and discuss their past and probably current conquests, of innocent governments and peoples, may make sense to Google’s idea; however, many governments of nations of the world, would rather not have to deal with a publicity for violent extremists or their associates. While Google might have found a cradle for a conference like this, in article 19 of the universal declaration of human rights and probably the covenant on civil and political rights, there are some governments, who are at the throes of long battles against extremist groups within and without their borders, who will absolutely condemn this new venture from Google’s ideas. Opening up a venue for extremist groups to identify or crusade about their conquests, is probably unwise, especially in a world where suicide bombing is like having breakfast for some violent extremists in some countries of the world.

Many governments of the world hardly trust a conference of this nature yielding positive information that may lead to the eradication of extremism. How do you convince radical Muslims not to attack countries and governments who do not share their interpretation of AL'Quran on Jihadism? How do you convince Northern Protestant Ireland that Northern Catholic Ireland is forever at peace with it? How do you discuss violent extremism without discussing social, cultural and religious content of anti-Semitism that gripped Europe in the Middle Ages, without addressing the long standing bad blood of the 1942 expulsion of Jews from Spain?

How do you address the ugly head of Nazism with the evident element of “purity of blood” precedent to the second world war? How do you discuss how the Palestinian Authority has failed to fulfill security obligations to Israel; or, how extreme groups within Israel have failed to see the essence of swapping land for peace with the Palestinians? How do you explain away to extremist groups, US government constant reminder that the nation is not at war with Islam as a religion? How do you discuss the resurgence of Neo-Nazis groups in Sweden and their tentacles of extremist networks in North America, Europe and Russia? How do you convince the cult of suicide bombers to desist in Middle East, Pakistan and Afghanistan? How do you share new information on combating hatred, segregation and war, staples of violent extremists across the globe? These are challenging questions that a conference as that convened by Google’s idea, may attempt to scratch the surface of, but can hardly resolve, even if every attendees at the conference actually understand the essence of Google’s initiative on this current front.

A conference on violent extremism may be construed as a window to the minds of terrorists or terrorist groups across the globe. However, there are other problems that this conference can lead to, including opening up canker-worms of what some governments have undertaken, in fighting terrorism within their borders and probably worldwide. The intense passion with which many governments of some nations of the world have fought violent extremism, shows how difficult it is to address violent extremism and terrorism; and, what some governments have been forced to do in order to preserve the liberties of their citizens. To a few of these nations, which may have been criticized for engaging in underhanded tactics to get terrorist groups off their back, the thought of a conference as this, would be considered as misguided. The maƮtre of some of these nations is: you cannot negotiate with terrorists; or, it is political suicide to negotiate with any extreme group that engages in violence to advance her position. Further, if your choice as the leader of a nation is to be firm and resolute, you must not be found as accommodating negotiations or condoning deliberations or conferences with extreme groups or adversaries. While some progressive groups may want to respect Google's initiative to convene a conference where members of extreme or past extreme groups are given audience, or rob minds with their so-called enemies as a precept to bringing about peace across the globe, some governments of the world in the thick of battle against extreme groups for the survival of their nation, would probably pass on this conference.

Google’s conference on struggling against violent extremism could achieve multiple objectives: reduce violence in some parts of the world for some time, engage or pacify some extreme groups on many governments' watch lists; re-position individual nation’s or extreme groups’ objective relative to their avowed enemies; and, perhaps identify some grievances that have led some groups to take up extreme violence to achieve their goals and much more. What it will never achieve is lasting peace with groups that are bent on self-destruction and or, philosophy of my way or the highway. The conference may be able to open some initial discussions on some pressing issues regarding violent extremism with social-religious-political ramifications; however, the concept of conflict resolution will continue to outlive whatever accomplishment Google Idea is attempting to accomplish here. The effort from Google’s idea to expand the horizon of people, their customers and search engine service users through this conference, is hardly reputable and may actually intensify the positions of other extreme groups or person within the hate networks across the globe.

The event of September 11, 2001 hopefully has taught all of us, that extreme violent groups or extremists are irrational, inhumane and lack the capacity to appreciate civility in the discussions of issues in which they probably feel aggrieved. Even with the demise of Osama bin Laden, members of the extreme Al ’Qaida group have chosen a new leader to carry on with their violent baptism. How do you open up a conference or deliberations over what drives such extreme groups? Will a conference on struggling against violent extremism halt extremism and or terrorism? The answer to the last question is probably, No! If in doubt, talk to US State Department officials to elicit candid comments, not diplomatic comments, on what it will take to restart talks on peace and further the two states solution to the Israeli-Palestinian hostilities; or, what headaches they have been having with negotiations with Al'Qaida in Afghanistan?

The good news is that this conference is convened or led by an information dissemination leader and probably the most conspicuous search engine globally. To expand its ideas and probably influence on search engine algorithm, Google may have venture into an arena that is politically hot or somewhat sensitive. While Google may be seeking to identify with an issue that has a global relevance, it may have created a back lash for organizing a conference that is loaded with a lot of skepticism. It is understood in some quarters that a conference of this nature, will leave many participants with more questions than answers. If extreme groups take up the responsibility of putting down their arms and seeking peace, genuine peace, maybe this type of conference could have helped everyone along.

A few people in and out of government understand what Google idea is attempting to accomplish: Peace worldwide; or something that resembles it. However, the world has been in the desert of hatred and war mongering that some parts of the world, have not known peace for decades. Talk to children of hostilities in many parts of the world, where wars had persisted for any length of time, Somalia, Bosnia, Lebanon, Niger, North and South Korea, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Iran and all you probably hear is: we’ll pay billions to be at peace and war mongering is probably unworthy! If you plod them a little further, asking why they didn't contemplate peace earlier? Their likely response will be: No one was listening to us! Will Google’s conference answer this question to the satisfaction of warring parties? Your guess is as good as mine.

The bad news about this conference is that Google has chosen to convey the conference in summer and far away in Ireland, when many people are thinking more about fun rather that the consequences of war. Anyone who have talked in privacy with extremist group members would probably find some form of credibility and some nonsensical in their comments. To the millions of people who have suffered from the brutality of extreme groups, any organization offering opportunities for such groups to vent probably do not understand the nature of the beast. Many extreme groups go to the edge out of the fear of the unknown or plain ignorance; and, offering them an open conference, attempts to legitimize their cause, not assuage it.

A major battle with aggrieved parties is often the ability to properly define their opposition(s) or their conviction that there can never be peace between them and their adversary. Much as many peace loving people, groups and governments, have worked hard to bring about peace among warring factions, there has always been this inkling to assert one's position without giving difference to the opposition. Maybe Google's idea of opening up discussion in a conference to extreme terrorism issues or why extreme terrorism is a modern day caviler, can give the organization a global public citizen award, however, this initiative is probably not going to stop groups bent on anarchy and destruction. More importantly, this conference may end up being an icon for what not to do as a commercially successful global organization attempting to change the tide on a political problem across the globe.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

PPACA: A thumps up democratic vote for the health insurance mandate from the American Medical Association?

Keywords or Terms: American Medical Association (AMA); Patients Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA); Health Insurance; Health Care System; Guaranteed Reimbursement; Questions and Answers on PPACA; ERISA; Republicans; Comparative Effectiveness; Democrats; President Barack Obama

With all the shaky criticisms and innuendos from the right leaning public, the American Medical Association (AMA), debated and took a vote on the mandate provision of the Patients Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), defaulting on the side of momentous history. Not being one to splurge in his own conviction, I took a look at the democratic voting results of the membership of the AMA, and came out with the result or conclusion: two-thirds of our doctors believe that the mandatory provisions of the Patients Protection and Affordable Care Law of 2010 was good, not only for the practice of medicine but also, for the opportunity it affords health care consumers. Doctors and patients for the first time are going into an accord, particularly for those under Medicare, to ensure that their rights as professionals, patients and consumers of health care as a product, are sacrosanct. The idea that patients’ rights and benefits are protected under a health insurance scheme, including the opportunity to receive care from physicians in a network of providers as well one, out of a network, and both guaranteed cost reimbursements for services received or tendered, are rather revolutionary.

This is why the Patients Protection and Affordable Care Act has translated to an opportunity for Americans as patients to receive truthful answers to questions about their health insurance coverage and be assured that the risks involved in their care are ameliorated to an extent permissible by patients, physicians and or representatives with utmost faith. Many scoffers of the mandatory provisions of the law, mostly republicans who chose to wait the law out, who complain that the law is either unconstitutional or shows an overstepping of the federal power, will end up punning up support, once they realize that members of a reputable organization like the AMA, must have mulled over this same provision in the law, debated actively its pros and cons; and voted, to support the law in spite of. Others, who believe in many of the provisions of the law, who are not necessarily on board at this time, would eventually subscribe to the mandatory provisions of the law, once they understand the reason for the provision. What is the difference between these two groups?

The group(s)of people still antagonistic of the mandatory provision of the law are failing to see how this provision came about; or, are oblivious to the reality of the debate over two summers ago, when republican lawmakers became too recalcitrant to work with, as they sought so many changes in the provisions, before they could throw their support behind the bill. Alas, they still retracted and held back their votes when the bill came to the floor vote in congress. You do not have to be a genius to understand that insurance is a game of number; underwriters need enough critical mass to be able to find underwriting of a policy profitable. To ignore the complexity of health insurance underwriting and essential components of actuaries is to fail to appreciate the reality of underwriting policy for millions of people, who have in the past been considered freeloaders of the American Health Care System.

Critics as well as supporters ought to now start to face the inevitable or reality: the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) is not going anywhere. There may be need to improve on some of the provisions of the law; however, taking out the mandatory participation component is not part of this equation, no matter how appealing it looks. Underwriting health insurance policy is a business; and, successful management of the provision of the service to additional millions of American depends on peoples’ understanding and insurance companies’ insight. Insurance companies as well as health care consumers must see beyond the obvious for the impending reform components of the law to be borne out; and, for people to appreciate the challenges of what America’s Health Care System had become prior to PPACA; and, why it was absolutely necessary to do all it takes to ensure that health delivery, physicians and hospital providers’ performance and the health care insurance market, will move to a better future. For the law to be considered responsive to the needs of the average American there is need for a critical mass of healthy health care consumers who are buying the health insurance policies that will help build individual responsibility toward the law. This last comment is coming from someone, who was absolutely suspicious of insurance of any kind in the past, as I found the math always in the favor of the provider; and, not the consumer! However, there were too many Americans before the PPACA, who were without health insurance in a temperate climate and activities ladden society as ours, that I started considering that the issues of health care and insurance are life and death issues.

I have heard past criticisms of the PPACA and haven’t so much cared for them; because most of such criticisms come out of the misunderstanding of the whole essence of the law; and, why in the first place, we needed to reform the health care system as we once knew it. The American Health Care System was broken and needed fixes, for health care delivery to function better than it was, delivering all the types of expanded services that consumers of health care, so much longed for. The establishment of state insurance exchanges along side the mandatory provisions of PPACA, make the expectation of health care consumers and providers possible and the shaky criticisms against the law, especially the mandatory provisions of the law, rather moot. Dr. Cecil Wilson, the outgoing president of the AMA was quoted as saying: "The AMA has strong policy in support of covering the uninsured, and we have renewed our commitment to achieving this through individual responsibility for health insurance with assistance for those who need it." Through this statement AMA has appreciated the need for individual responsibility in their health care demand; and, the importance of giving health care consumers a base from where to get a bang for each of the dollar spend on health care services.

The uniqueness of the PPACA is the preservation of the rights of out-of-network physicians and hospitals as well as in-network physicians and hospitals in terms of reimbursement for services; and, this may have been one of the reasons why more physicians are in support of the law. Yes, there is a message that encourages broader participation of Americans in the health insurance coverage as well; but more importantly for out-of-network physicians and hospitals, is the message that no matter where services are provided or received, payment or reimbursements must seize to be based on whether the provider is out-of-network or in-network. In one sentence, the Patients Protection and Affordable Care Act protects not only the rights of the patients, but also, the rights of the physicians or provider. The old discriminatory anti-assignment practices that discriminated against all out-of-network providers in receiving direct reimbursements and appeal rights, are a thing of the past, with the onset of PPACA. On September 23, 2010, the age-old discriminatory practices, which many out-of-network physicians and hospital have repeatedly complained about, became a thing of the past in the American health care delivery system.

No one is ruling out that physicians and hospitals have their own interest to preserve regarding the provisions of the health care reform law. Many of the benefits that are about to phase in come 2014, including 50% discounts for name brand drugs for seniors in the Medicare “donut hole”, tax credits for small businesses that provide insurance for their employees, and increased access of patients to preventive health care services, directly or indirectly, impacts many physicians and small hospitals, far flung in the land. Doctors are no longer bound to recommend name brands and when they do and patients are compelled to buy that prescription because of their location or any obscure reasons, there is an opportunity for discount for Medicare patients. Did this catch the attention of physicians or is it the fact that increased accesses to preventive cares create more volume for business for the physicians or providers? Not only does PPACA provide better benefits for patients, it is affording them better health as they get to see their physicians and provider more often, with the greater possibility of catching ailments before they become too big of a problem to treat. The dramatic changes that PPACA is going to afford or is already affording in preventive care services, is the care of Americans, wherever and from whomever they choose to receive care; and this, the American Medical Association is saying: that's Okay with us along as they mostly carry health care insurance.

Why is the AMA's support of the mandatory participation of Americans in the health insurance coverage laudable? Often, the mention of health care bills, as the number one cause of personal bankruptcy in America made physicians and providers complicit in the problem. Many providers never wanted to be labeled as the cause, or part of the reasons why their patients, especially their long-term patients, go bankrupt. Hardly will being part of a problem rather than the solution, stimulate one’s ego. Thus, finding physicians subscribing to an arrangement, that will make it possible for health insurance to cover the risks, which have in the past been borne by providers, affluent and not-so affluent patients, seem advisable and pleasing to physicians and providers. No one needs to persuade the physicians and hospital providers that having more patients carrying health insurance helps spread out the risks of underwriting, and helps ensure payments or re-imbursements for treatment of patients. This is probably another reason, why more physicians have fallen in love with the singular provision of mandatory participation.

Physicians as well as hospital providers were concerned by the critical element of the downward trending health care system, including the double-digit increases in health care costs in America, before the onset of the Patients Protection and Affordable Care Act. Many physicians and hospital providers, like the federal government, were interested in dealing with the problems of uninsured 51 million and 60 million underinsured Americans, if not overtly, but covertly, in a more than positive way. Part of the reasons for the double digit increases in health care cost was the problem of free-loaders, who benefited from emergency room visitation, but unable to pay. There were few things that sank the hearts of some physicians and hospital providers, when they learned that their treated patients are uninsured or underinsured. The negative feeling that the physicians or hospital providers would have to recoup cost of their services elsewhere, including turning to debt collection agencies for assistance, was getting to be a public relation disaster, especially for those physicians and or providers, who wanted to keep their patients as long-term customers. The PPACA was probably perceived as a life-saver for the health care industry; and, maybe that is why two-thirds of members of the American Medical Association have flocked toward it.

Additionally, part of what probably closed the deal for the AMA members was the fact that PPACA outlaws managed care anti-assignment practice for all group health plans outside Medicare and Medicaid programs, including individual policy markets in all the fifty states. This is an innovative provision that guarantees that care of patients will hardly be determined outside of the patient’s charts. The fact that a patient had to call a non-treatment insurance administrator, who will then determine whether a necessary procedure recommended by a physician is going to take place or not, is now a thing of the past; with the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, patients now have a bill of rights, which now auger well for their care and treatment. Not only has PPACA adopted the federal law ERISA claim regulations as a minimum standard for internal claims and reimbursements to providers, it defines a claimant to include the health care provider as an authorized representative. While very revolutionary, this is the first step to ensure that providers like claimants can receive reimbursement checks directly and can at the same time protect the interest of the patients, regardless of their participation in a network or non-networked service. This type of reform definitely endeared the physicians and providers to the Patients Protection and Affordable Care Act.

At the end of the day, the overwhelming support from members of the American Medical Association is a function of personal and professional interest; and, the need to facilitate better health care delivery. Doctors swore to an oath to do no harm; and, while the Patients Protection and Affordable Care Act, in the form that it is in, is not a panacea to all problems, it is still a better prescription for the health care system problems. Yes, there are the criticisms that Republicans had no hand in the law; that Democratic lawmakers resorted to reconciliation to get the bill through the possibility of a Republican's filibuster and that some money had to be shifted from Medicare program while making it more efficient; however, no one can say definitely that a law that builds on the 2003 Medicare Modernization Act, is completely absolved of Republicans contributions! The American Medical Association has democratically given the Patients Protection and Affordable Care Act’s provision of mandatory participation, a thumb up. Can we now rely on the Republicans to do the same?

Thursday, June 16, 2011

When two Mormons seek the highest Political Office in the United States?

Keywords or Terms: Mormons; Mitt Romney; John Huntsman; GOP Nomination; Religious bigotry; Polygamy; Theological Commitments; Unemployed; Mockery; Ambition and Dreams

In an expose on the nation’s religion, Newsweek wrote the following words in an excerpt on Mormons Taking the Stage:

Taken to the extreme, the peculiarities of Mormon history and belief can lead to the anti-government conspiracy theorizing of Glen Beck and the John Birch Society, which enjoyed support in Mormon circles during the 1950s and ‘60s. But the same constellation of views can lead toward consensus-building moderation. Think of Mitt Romney’s stint as governor of liberal Massachusetts, when he championed health-care reform. John Huntsman showed similar instincts when he accepted President Obama’s nomination to serve as U.S. Ambassador to China. In the words of Kirk Jowers, director of the University of Utah’s Hinckley Institute of Politics and a practicing Mormon, Romney and Huntsman are typical of what happens when prominent members of the church spend time “in environments where Mormonism is simply not part of the everyday equation.” They blend in. (Newsweek June 13 & 20, 2011, Pp.44).

As you read the above except, consider the following questions:

1) According to the article, what are critics within the Mormon Church saying of the candidacy of Mitt Romney or John Huntsman for GOP nomination for the highest political office in the nation?

2) What is the reflection of Mitt Romney or John Huntsman to Kirk Jower’s assessment of what typically happens to a Mormon when he or she spends time in environment where Mormonism is simply not part of everyday equation?

It is encouraging, at least for the first time, to have probably two Mormons seeking the highest political office in the country. At the heart of the candidacy of these two prominent Mormons is probably the need to profess solution to one of the nagging problems in the nation: Unemployment. If we are to take the doctrine espoused by the Mormon Church that your whole eternal identity as a person is defined by external progression to become like our heavenly father; then, an overwhelming number of Mormons are probably apprehensive of these two politicians seeking GOP nomination for the highest office. The issue of professing solution to the nation’s unemployment problem becomes secondary, since the religious dogma of Mormons is to be like their heavenly father. You will have to oblige me here, for I do not know what being like heavenly father of Mormons connotes.

Compelling questions have been raised in recent time, about the suitability of a Mormon for the Office of the US President. How many protestant Americans would consider a person of an outsider faith as a winner of the 2012 Presidential election? Would the apprehension of the main stream religious groups, including the forth mainstream religion in America, derail the dream of either Mitt Romney or John Huntsman? In fact, can the experience of these two Mormons running for the GOP nomination transform the Church or its true believers?

It may be fine for Mormons, like any member of other religious groups or denominations to seek the highest political office in the land. However, could the unifying framework of what it means to be a true Mormon, call to question the choice of Mitt Romney or John Huntsman to seek the office? There obviously are some theological commitments of these two Mormons to their church; however, could such commitments derail their choice to enter into mainstream national politics? Would outsiders to the Mormon Church have their prejudices borne out if either of these men win the 2012 Presidential election? These are very important questions to ponder over this time, considering that the announcements for running for the oval office in the White-house, is now in vogue among Republicans.

One expects President Obama to face somewhat of an intransigent opposition from the Republican Party; however, could he be facing similar opposition from the Mormon Church and its membership, once either Huntsman or Romney is the GOP nomination for the 2012 Presidential election? If Romney and Huntsman have their way, they would probably want to play down their Mormonism; however, there are some Mormons, based on their theological doctrinal identification, who would prefer they play it up. There are others, within the fold of the Mormon Church, who probably question the authenticity of these two Mormons, or others coming in the future to show interest in the office of the presidency. The issue is not that of qualification; rather, it is on the call by their religion's purist, what is expected of a Mormon?

Forget the GOP nomination for the 2012 presidential election for a moment. Faced with hostile fire on the campaign trail, how would either of these men respond to the issue of their religion doctrine? Ask yourself: what would men and women in America's Bible belt say about having a Mormon in the Oval office? Can we have a president that subscribes or condescends to the practice of polygamy? These are relevant questions, which both Mormons and mainstream religious affiliated Americans have to contend with in this cycle or future cycle of elections, when and where a person of Mormon faith presents him or herself for a national political office.

In the last run for the office of the Presidency, Mitt Romney was faced with hostility on the question of his religion; and, while he tried to play it down, there were obvious differences with some voters, who believe that the theological doctrinaire or affiliation of Mitt Romney or John Huntsman, disqualifies them to seek their votes, not to talk of electing either to the highest political office in the land. There are political strategists who recommend that both men should embrace their religion and stand up for what they believe, even if it costs them the White-house. To this group, one’s faith is more important than an ephemeral in-habitation of the White-house.These and other issues must be burning on the mind of Romney or Huntsman at this time. We can only hope that these contestable issues will not subsume their ambition for the highest political office in the land.

How about the issue of underpants garments or spectacle? These concerns may make some people; even in Romney or Huntsman's inner circle assume that both men's campaign is headed for calamity. Americans, who think we are somehow in the middle of a renascence, considering that the first African-Americans was elected into that office four years ago, may be surprised that the issue of a man’s or woman’s religion could still play a huge role in a voter’s decision to vote or not to vote for him or her. Just like Barack Obama was not voted for by some voters because of his race, Mitt Romney or John Huntsman should not be surprised, if some Americans keep their votes to themselves or give it to another candidate because of the candidate’s Mormon faith.

Despite the thinking of many well-meaning Americans, the optimistic Plato is not yet here. America for all its beauty and glory, is still fighting the war of its 'isms' that continues to hunt not only its education, economy and politics, but the whole fabric of the society, even when we try to deny them. This is the reality that the two Mormons on the 2012 presidential campaign trail have to contend with. I understand, like many well-meaning middle of the road Americans do, that a man's or woman’s religion should not stand in his or her way of seeking the highest political office in the land; however, I have lived long enough to appreciate the reality of American life. That day has not come, much as some of us would like, where extraneous sociological variables seize to be part of the determinant of success in any sphere of American life.

Before I am labeled a pessimist, could anyone answer this question: what is the justification for the assessment of the Director of University of Utah’s Hinckley Institute of Politics, that qualification: [Romney or Huntsman's aspiration] are typical of what happens when prominent members of the church spend time “in environments where Mormonism is simply not part of the everyday equation? Mr. Kirk Jowers has not made that assessment lightly; neither has he concluded that either Romney or Huntsman does not merit running for that esteemed office; rather, he is probably making an observation based on the teachings of the Mormon Church. Frankly, many Mormons would probably contend that their members have no business seeking mainstream political office or being part of any association that is not purely doctrinal Mormon. For this group, Romney's and Huntsman's ambitions are aberration to the doctrine of the Mormon Church.

If the goal is to be a true Mormon, or to be like our heavenly father, hardly would any Mormon be aspiring to the office of the Presidency of the United States, for it will be tantamount to associating with those hardly vast in the ways of the Mormons. Probably, this is why many Mormons in Congress and mainstream society, attempt to play down their Mormonism. Any member of the fourth largest religion in America must be cautious that every of its six million American members may not be voting them because of their choice to seek the highest office in the land; and, why such a choice is probably at variance with the teaching of the Mormon faith. The unusual beliefs and practices of the Church of the Latter Day Saints, somehow put some people on pins and needles and probably alienate them from truly understanding, what the religion is all about. To consider giving their votes to the unknown is like asking for too much.

But as painful as religious bigotry among voters may be for Romney or Huntsman, it is not a death knell for their ambition to the highest political office in the land. Stranger things in life have happened; and, neither should throw up his hands and say, I give up. If either men gives up their aspirations because of the fear of religious bigotry, they probably will miss the opportunity to dispel some known prejudices or misconception about the Mormon faith. Religious affiliation or association is not the end of life, and must never be a persuasive argument not to run or seek the highest political office in the land. Pluralistic religious acceptance by voters is never going to be possible for a lot of reason, including prejudice; however, one must never shy away from insisting that a man’s or woman’s ambition must never be determined by his or her religion, race, age or sexual orientation.

The brilliance of President Obama's candidacy now and four years ago is that it was built on hope; and, this erudite strategy or campaign stance helped herald him into the highest political office in the land. Romney or Huntsman may want to borrow a leaf from that conviction. Imagine if Senator Barack Obama had held back and said, because he is African-American, he will never stand a chance to win. Participating and winning the national election are his audacity of hope! This time around for both Mormons in the race, it is their audacity of being who they are, religious-wise. Maybe that is why it makes sense for Romney and Huntsman to embrace their religion, just as Barack Obama has embarrassed his race on the road to the White-house.

Finally, not withstanding the front-runner status of Mitt Romney among Republicans today, if he continues to make the type of gaffes attributed to him regarding the unemployed, that type of audacity will augur huge failures for him at the polling boot. No American wants to be made fun of; and not even now, with over sixteen million Americans out of work. The gaffe of Mitt Romney saying he is unemployed makes him look disingenuous and dishonest. The kind of comment from a known millionaire would undermine his candidacy faster than his religious affiliation. Just because you are striving to identify with the unemployed voters or want them to perceive that you understand their plight, hardly calls for insensitive comments. Mitt Romney is a millionaire Mormon, running for the GOP nomination for the office of the Presidency of the United States. That’s enough challenge to deny him votes in some quarters; adding gaffes that make him seem disingenuous and insensitive, would send his effort definitely moribund.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Electronic Technology and our Democracy: When Congressmen misbehave in the public eye and attempt to hold on to their offices?

Keywords or Terms: Underhanded behavior; Electron Communication; Congressman Weiner (D-NY); Cyber-relationship; Infidelity; MSNBC-ED Show; Web-of-lies; Selfish and Self-absorption; Culture of Deceit

In my doctoral dissertation, a quarter century ago, I recognized the potential of electronic technology in affording the user to communicate in numerous ways to ubiquitous places. At that time, my attention was focused on the potential that the technology had, in allowing farmers communicate, including moving files and data over satellite and video-conference lines. What I missed or hardly could imagine was that an astute liberal leaning politician would someday use this technology to transfer half naked or full picture of himself to places and people he has never met; or, familiarized himself with their character.

In the past months or years, Congressman Weiner, Democrat from New York, did what was unimagined and probably considered lewd and unacceptable behavior, by sending picture of his naked body to females across the nation, a few of whom he has confessed not to have met; and, in light of his recent public confession, probably hardly can tell if he had coached them on how to handle the media, if this uncomfortable behavior, become public. The discussion of this issue on this blog today has nothing to do with how a conservative activist ousted Congressman Weiner or why politicians tend to be self-centered, but why some of these narcissistic lawmakers are often caught in web of lies, after this type of fiasco. I know that your imagination could run wild, if I let you this morning. However, I am just going to discuss a few of the behavioral implications to voters and our Democracy.

Underhanded behavior regarding male-female relationships are hardly foreign to politicians. I can list a whole page of fiasco in recent memory from the Whitehouse to Governor’s Offices; from Capitol Hill to State Capital; from Senators to Congressmen; the list is endless in American politics. This fiasco is probably not going to end with Congressman Weiner; neither is it going to task other politicians to watch their steps as they use their blackberries or other newer technologies in communicating, either with their constituents, close associates or those they have hardly met. Cyber-relationships and infidelities are now growing and one is wondering when are these relationships going to be considered marital infidelities or cheating; and, what is the honorable thing to do when a politician or person is caught in this confusion. Although many politicians are simply gracious by stepping down when caught in a dastardly act, occasionally, some of them work hard to keep their offices even under the stress of criticisms and bad press over their alleged misbehavior.

Smart and reflective politicians often take the gracious way out and save their family, close associates and constituents the embarrassments of the bad media. In a country where there is an oversupply of people waiting to get into congress or become lawmakers, it is not surprising that when one person gets into the office, he or she attempts to hold on to it, as if the office is synonymous with their ego or superego. Not withstanding failures or misbehavior, some lawmakers are just too much into themselves and can hardly fathom why their failures or misbehavior is of concern to many. Now, can you relate to why Mr. Weiner is somewhat unapologetic for his behavior and attempting to hold on to his office? Yes, there have been a few politicians caught in similar Web, who waded the storm and survived!

Sometimes, the values of the politicians are in sync with their constituents, occasionally, they are not. The question then is this: should a politician step down once caught in underhanded behavior and save his family, close associates and constituent the embarrassment of bad media? Some people will reply: It depends; others will say, Precisely Yes! In this case of Congressman Weiner, some members of his constituent appreciate the work he is doing for them in congress; others are probably unsatisfied and are asking for his outage at the first prompt of the fiasco. Both groups would have their say in the next election in Mr. Weiner’s New York Constituency. One man’s hair loss is another’s wig!

While Congressman Weiner behavior is just too suffocating and disheartening for some, other people consider it as a matter between his wife and himself. Like one gentleman said on the MSNBC ED Show, he did not elect Mr. Weiner to represent him in congress on grounds of his private life, rather on what he has been doing, standing up for liberal values on health care and Medicare; both programs that affect him and his family directly. To talk about Mr. Weiner’s behavior with regard to moving nude pictures over phone lines, probably during the 24-hour work cycle expected from a lawmaker, is to miss the point of his election from his New York constituent, says the interviewee. It is a position that is baffling for some people. It is also a position that is quite in line with the thinking of Mr. Weiner right now.

Oversimplification of how a congressman is expected to behave while in office, or how he is expected to behave as member of a body that holds itself to a high standard through its Code of Ethics, is sometimes challenging. Since Congressmen are not acting in official capacity with respect to their private relationship, or so we expect, it is often a gray line, to condemn them unequivocally regarding a behavior that would be considered as horrendous and unacceptable for a person in the capacity of a congressman. When you have people in position of power doing eye-popping things or acting juvenile, you wonder what type of democracy we are running.

According to my grandma, what you are ashamed to let me know is a behavior that I do not expect from you. You want to have a culture of behavior in your congressman that does not challenge a good thing or values that you hold dearly. You want to think that the best person, both privately and publicly, is representing your interest in congress. A lot of time, you believe that the person you are voting for in a general election, will work hard not only in representing your interest in congress, but also, in sharing your values and those of the majority of residents in your constituency. With the new decadence behavior of many of our governors, lawmakers and representatives, it may be time to do more leg walk in finding out, among the candidates vying or putting themselves up for election into public offices, which of them hold high the values you hold dearly; and, are they representative of the majority of residents in your constituency? Further, which of the candidates for the public office is more likely to remain loyal to those epitomized values; and, which of them is more likely to deviate, or fall short of the epitomized values while in office. Even with these, you can never be sure, all the time!

There are several misjudging, misguiding or outright misbehavior that can come from a lawmaker representing your interest in congress, not because you did not choose right, but because of the difficult nature of predicting human behavior. When candidates present themselves for an office, he or she, attempts to present the advocacy part of them to you and often, you buy into those qualities when you go into the voting booth to elect someone. Experience has shown that politicians are sometimes able to act in consonance with your expectation when in office; and, sometimes, these same individuals can be complete failures in difficult situations. Further, it has been documented that social behavior are relative for some people; while some politicians are able to maintain their integrity, when push comes to shove, others can hardly tell you what behavior is considered acceptable or the norm for the office they are seeking or holding. Additionally, some politicians are sources of inspirations for their constituency, who want to believe that they voted the right person to represent their interest; however, there are occasions when the wrong guy gets the job. On the latter occasion, you may just have to suck it up until next election, or until a re-call election is feasible.

Many politicians are probably not open with members of their constituency, regarding all the issues they are going through, especially in their private lives. Many politicians are able to curtail their behavior while in office, others are not. In fact, some politicians hide from public eye, the evil side of them that have always been present. Withholding the dark side of them is the probably the only option available to these politicians, if they are to win the coveted office. If members of their constituents have the premonitions that there is this dark side to their representatives, they probably will not vote him or her into office. When all the attention is focused on the issues that affect constituent members, it is hard to sieve through the negative aspect of that politician that is going to stand up for those issues. While we cannot completely blame the public for poor choice made in a politician’s private life, it behooves the politicians to stand up for integrity; and, this why a case for Mr. Weiner’s resignation is in order.

There are so many things going on in the life of a politician. Many of them, the politician have control over, others probably not. A politicians who is able to develop a healthy private relationship, would probably be able to maintain an over the board public life. Establishing strong bonds with family members and friends is probably a good recipe for establishing greater bond with one’s constituency. Politicians who have acquired taste, either through associations with other politicians who have made their name through honesty and integrity, does not assure that these men-tees, will uphold same standard associated with their mentor. Arguing on behalf of Weiner in the context of his chief-of-staff association with Hilary Clinton is not just enough. One cannot expect same moral behavior from Weiner as from Hilary Clinton. In a closer-to-perfect world, you’ll expect that Weiner would uphold some values of Hilary Clinton, or learned something from the experience with Bill Clinton!

In order to have a representative that uphold the highest standard and value of behavior, both publicly and privately, politicians have to be forthcoming and honest about their private and public life. Voters have to be able to say, this what my representative will do under this circumstance, and this is what he or she would not. Without such trust, it is difficult to foretell what a politician will end up doing while in office, or under some circumstances. If a politician is focused and sensitive to what his or her constituent is all about, it is very unlikely that he or she will be caught in underhanded behavior or fiasco as the one Mr. Weiner is, today.

Our Democracy needs reliable and consistent men and women. The system requires honest men and women, willing to put their interest second to members of their constituency when it comes to making laws or upholding ideal values. A Democracy cannot survive on lies and innuendos, neither will it thrive, if our congress is populated with men and women, who are so much ready to send pictures of their shirtless bodies across unsecured computer connections or networks. Yes, times are changing, but we all seem to know what decency is when we see it. We all expect our lawmakers to hold themselves to the highest standard and maintain some decency and integrity, even when not in the office.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Health Data and Outpatient Care Forum: What about having your medical records on doctor’s blackberry or Smart phones?

Keywords or Terms: Health Data; Tools and applications; Medical Records Mobility; U.S. Department of Health; WebMD; Visualization Science Group; BMJ Group; Definiens Tissue Studio; IN/US Systems; Genedata; ICD group; Pharmacology and Biotechnology; Pathology image analysis; Patient’s Care

A second historic forum on health data is scheduled for June 9th, 2011, where it is expected that over five hundred participants are going to showcase how tools and applications can be created to help Americans make informed decisions as health consumers and patients. The issue of access to health data in the delivery of health services in the past has been a challenge. Many physicians and patients have complained about the absence of portability and transparency in health data sharing and an interoperable nationwide electronic health system that support responsive health care decisions. Access to patient’s medical record has been restrained to many physicians’ desktop or physical record, making mobility of patients’ data difficult; this has in turn added to the cost of delivering health care and delayed care in some cases.

The June 9th forum is a joint effort of the U.S. Department of Health and the Institute of Medicine, meant to highlight the importance of medical data content and quality for making informed health care decisions. When patients relocate and treatment physician in their new domicile has to make quick emergency decision, the absence of portable patient’s health record make health delivery more challenging. Imagine if physicians are able to retrieve patients’ medical record on their mobile phone from a different treatment source. Imagine having patient’s historical anatomy after several operations or one operation, available in an application after the completion of the procedure. How about having a monochrome screen of an ongoing operation procedure to a remote location for experts to assess and offer immediate relevant procedure recommendation to scuttle a possible error. These are the type of issues, this forum on tools and application in health care is anticipating solving; and more. Today, we will review a couple of new tools and applications that would assist physicians respond faster and afford patients and consumers make relevant health decisions.

How about doctors downloading patients medical records using high network computer connections? Phone users have access to larger full color screen with good resolutions and polyphonic sound; why not gynecologists to help resolve significant complication issues during births? The time has come, when a gynecologist is able to turn to his or her ipods, android or blackberry to check for useful WebMD information. Over the past five years, physicians in Europe have been turning to information on WebMD on their desktop for useful information. While still not error proof, we may be looking forward to a period, when physicians can turn to their iphones to get similar information, a dramatic shift from the old known way of primary care and sourcing treatment information.

At this stage, offering a mobile version of patients medical record is not only feasible, all the technological walls that have prevented doctors from providing immediate information to help patients make personal medical decisions, are soon going to be a thing of the past. There are the possibilities of 70-100k downloads of patients records through iPhone apps and the number of such downloads per second will only improve as the mobile technology advances. For example, a product called Differential Diagnosis (DDX), which tailors patients’ treatment records to Best Practice tools, was recently released by the BMJ Group. What this is doing, is affording for a rich culture of the use of apps in rapid treatment and care of patients.

With many information providers contemplating mobile versions of their website, how about creating open source software that allow physicians to download best practices application in the treatment of difficult operational procedures? How about reception of standardized treatment information and data retrieval on smart phones? It does not require huge effort in terms of engineering to add patient’s medical records and best treatment tools to a smart phone. The wide variety of applications, developed and those to be developed is the reason to contemplate the ease which these technologies can bring to health care delivery. It is probably also, one of the reasons for this second forum sponsored by the United States Department of Health and the Institute of Medicine.

Medical laboratories collect and receive tons of samples and information from different treatment sources and physician offices. Some data generated or collected information from samples by medical laboratories is not important for a doctor’s analysis and treatment. How about apps and tools to weed out irrelevant data from treatment and analysis; or, a data management tool that streamlines data to particular treatment analysis? How about apps to streamline test results in multiple formats to allow doctors of different specialty to isolate possible issue by seeing the data in formats that are specialty or treatment specific? How about apps that enable physicians to investigate if a virus breakout may turn to an epidemic or pandemic?

Can we be talking about value added services as integral part of patient medical records and data management? There must now be a tool or apps that allow doctors and patients to simply view treatment plans and discuss alternatives with other physicians or family members on a vacation trip on a blackberry? How about apps that allows medical laboratories to populate new results and findings from samples in real time and sharing this information with multiple locations and Operation Theater. A green-hand medical laboratory technologist once had problem reading the results of an ultra-sound and or X-RAY; that difficulty was not resolved until a seasoned medical laboratory technologist showed up on a later shift. How about those apps sending ultra sound and or X-RAY results to his iPhone or Blackberry in color-filled monochrome screens?

Here are some intriguing tools and apps, already available in the market and their developer or manufacturer: 1) the Visualization Science Group launched version six of their popular Avizo 3D visualization and analysis software. This software offers users a wide range of data imports, advanced image processing modules and mesh data visualization (; 2) Definiens Tissue Studio introduced a digital pathology image analysis software package. This software optimizes cell-by-cell biomarker quantifications for simplified pathologist’s analysis. Pathologists can now identify and visualize a region of interest for further analysis and explanations (; 3) IN/US Systems updated its Laura 4 radiochromatograpy system with the ability to import data from liquid scintillations counters and plate readers. This intuitive tool affords for chromatogram integration and data comparison alongside others collected through flow-through detectors (; 4) Genedata introduced Expressionist Migration program that provides medical researchers and bioinformaticians tools for migration of mass spectrometry and related data source (; and, 5) ICD offers an integrated platform that allow large-scale and medium-sized medical laboratories to work together for both pharmacology and Biotechnology services (

The next-generation medical data management application and tools are now ripe for mobile use or transmission on secured platforms to doctor’s iphones and blackberries. With the increasing amount of patients’ data flowing from doctor’s office and laboratories, there are now need for tools that will enable doctors and medical laboratories work more efficiently and easily. The long wait for manual data to be moved from medical labs to the doctor’s offices must become a thing of the past. Medical data formats and applications need to be integrated in ways that will allow for coherent understanding of medical reports by the physicians and laboratory technologists. Often, the medical reports that distill a patient’s medical status are taking time and money to arrive at the desk of physicians; how about making these available on their mobile networks?

Many of us are looking forward to the June 9th Forum, arranged by U.S. Department of Health and the Institute of Medicine, to document and make available to physicians, medical personnel and patients, advances that would revolutionize the movement of medical records to help improve the care of, and decision making of patients. The challenge for a forum as this is ensuring that information on advances in technology and application tools are relevant to the needs of doctors, medical personnel, consumers and or patients, so they may become empowered to make decisions that are critical to solving health issues. The contemplated or developed applications and tools must be able to replace manual process and delayed style of medical information delivery, both in structured and unstructured formats.

This forum requires some level of transparency, not only on health data management but also, what the functional applications and tools are supposed to serve in standardizing informatics and data retrieval on health care decision making and health service delivery. The global perception is that the US collects the most health data; more than any nation; yet, it finds it difficult to use these data or make sense of them to help consumers/patients make better and informed decision on time. This forum is probably going to help us all understand the current problems with health data glut, time sensitivity, and available computer applications and tools that may make patient record easily portable to doctors and treatment sources. The new applications and tools must be such that doctors and medical personnel feel more comfortable with their use, assuring medical treatment decisions that are up-to-date and relevant. Finally, the applications and tools must create awareness of patient’s treatment portfolio privacy, including the legally approved use of patient’s medical data and information

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Rethinking the debate on Abortion: What if life begins at fertilization?

Keywords or Terms: Anti-Abortion; Pro-Abortion; Embryo; Sperm; Ovum; Zygote; Fetus; Beginning of life; Women's Health; Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act; Emotions, Religious Preferences; Violence; Compromise; Sacrilegious; The Unending Debate

Pro-abortion and Anti-abortion groups need to be careful in their definition of when life begins. The pro-abortion groups have taken the position that a zygote can not be a child, but a one-cell fusion of a sperm and ovum; while the anti-abortion groups feel so contrary. To the anti-abortion group, life begins at the union of male and female gametes. The pro-abortion group appears to be saying a zygote can hardly vote, inherit a bequest from a will or sit in a womb and be considered a person in a higher occupancy vehicle; therefore, there is hardly any news that the first stage of the development of an embryo is legally denied equality to a human being. The courts have been plain and direct in their definition of life; however, the anti-abortion groups are still seeking better clarification for there to be peace between themselves and the pro-abortion groups. The new resurgence of what constitute a human being as against when life begins came out of the long summer debates over reforming America’s health care in 2009 and 2010; and the conscious effort by Republicans to undermine the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, by going after Planned Parenthood Organization as a surrogate.

A common roadblock to the definition of the beginning of life between the two opposing groups encompasses the perception of each group regarding public policy and the direction which some past provisions of public health law has taken. Why is there a federal law that prevents public fund for abortion, when the state of pregnancy can put a woman’s health in jeopardy? Why can a teenager walk into a Planned Parenthood clinic and be afforded abortion counseling and adoption options? In the first question, the debate has been laid to rest based on probably pluralistic agreement that taxpayers may not be asked to underwrite personal preferences that may not sit well with all tax payers. Further, the first question attempts to put the women, who may be seeking abortion out of concerns for their health on the defensive, because it rekindles the emotion in both opposing group: anti-abortion groups want the right of the unborn baby to be respected, even at the likelihood of the abridged life of a pregnant female or, at the expense of the life of a pregnant woman. The second question is about the context of demand for abortion: pregnant females, teenager or otherwise, must not be accommodated by a non-governmental body who may have the chance of having a federal fund sipping into the area of counseling female for abortion.

To the pro-abortion group, when a female gets pregnant she must effectively consider herself as ready to bear a child. This argument is structured in a linear sense: a pregnant female must have no alternative but give birth. Now, the question: what if the life of the mother is in jeopardy due to the pregnancy or, if the zygote ends up in the fallopian tube or elsewhere in the female body and not in the uterus? The argument against abortion move from fiction to reality, when the zygote settles in other areas of the body of a female, except the uterus. Obstetricians offer a thoughtful experience when they say a zygote cannot develop into a full blown baby, if it fails to receive the nourishment and embodiments of a womb. Thus, a zygote in any other part of a female body but a uterus will constitute a health hazard. Even, if a zygote is attached to the uterus, there is no guarantee that it will result in a full blown fetus, because there could still be a lot of extraneous events that could lead to the abortion of the fetus; one not necessarily from human-induced abortion operation.

The debate moves into the arena of the anti-abortion group. Why must the rights of a fetus, which by their definition, is real life or a human, be abridged through human-induced abortion or counseling to facilitate the possibility of an abortion? The anti-abortion group approaches the debate partly on ideological ground and sometimes, on a religious ground. Both approaches are emotional and hardly difficult to comprehend by the pro-abortion group, who for all intense and purpose, would rather not want anyone to define a zygote or a fetus as a baby, until it is delivered by the pregnant female. Emotions and objectiveness can hardly be grouped together, that is why the debate between the pro-abortion and the anti-abortion groups will persist until kingdom come.

The irony of the resurgence of the new fight over abortion is that, although both opposing groups would want the public to default on their side, the debates have always carried too much acrimony and sometimes violence, by one side of the debaters, to advance their cause. Such violence has called to question the use of violence to achieve an objective that is considered violent by the anti-abortion group: abortion of a fetus. It is hard to remove from the anti-abortion groups a commitment to non-violence to achieve their aim, though they would always deny this. The pro-abortion groups seem to continue to advance their position through controlled behavior, going to courts, holding symposium on the rights of women to abortion and providing counseling or funds to organizations supporting pregnant females and those who are choosing to have reproductive choices and advice.

For years, the debate over a woman’s right to abortion against the need to protect innocent fetus from violence had gone on; sometimes silently, occasionally heated. The issue of unfairness and ineffectual advice from reproductive advising non-profit organizations like the Planned Parenthood had been trumpeted by the anti-abortion groups. The pro-abortion groups have constructed their message in support of a woman’s right to choice, based on the notion of women’s civil rights and the need to support helpless females who have found themselves at the receiving end of the aggressive male testosterone. The assumptions of the opposing groups are often: if we are right, the opposing group must be wrong. The difficulty with this assumption though, comes out of frustration with the opposing group: why don’t they see the issue our own way! The problem once again to many of us who are indifferent to the issue: people will do what they have to do to get over a tight and difficult circumstance. The challenge is not taking sides with a particular group, the problem is that both opposing groups are probably using crouches to advance their respective position; and when things like this happen, it is more complicated to choose sides.

The position we support can no longer survive when advanced before either opposing parties. Pro-abortion groups need to be more circumspect just as the anti-abortion groups need to be accommodating. The bad news is that, neither of the two groups is ready to listen to a truce. Each of the groups are not content with the argument of the opposing party and are willing to expend resources to their full extent to advance their cause. If the argument is made that either opposing groups may have to divorce their pre-conceived notion of what the other group is all about, we may be able to conceive and maintain some peace over this very difficult and challenging issue. However, no one is fooling himself or herself that the anti-abortion groups are going to condescend, neither are the pro-abortion groups.

The reemergence of the debate over abortion came at the hill of the possibility of federal funds going into abortion in the newly passed health care reform law. The principle of reconciliation of differences in perception of what the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act said is far remote for both groups. While the pro-abortion groups maintain that the Orin Hatch Act has been preserved in the health care reform law when passed in 2010, the anti-abortion groups maintain that grants going to Planned Parenthood Organization can still trickle down to performing abortion; and that, they cannot stand. Reconciliation of differences in perception to help us move forward on what the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act actually stipulates, is proving very difficult daily, as the debates between both groups on the question of abortion funding, continue to create a wider rift between the group and probably the nation. Accommodation and Reconciliation is becoming infeasible for either parties; and, we are left with the difficulty of brokering a lull for now.

For those Americans who subscribe to social activism on the question of abortion, it is possible to create a sort of energy behind either group for and against abortion alternatives. With a wink or a smile, it may be possible to help either group solidify their position. We all grow up in homes that encourage us to understand that people may not always see issues our own way, or so I hope. In that context, it is possible to honor the position of your opponents without being disrespectful or violent. Many of us on the side line are appropriately concerned with the level of violence surrounding the debate over abortion and would rather want each of the opposing group to turn the rhetoric down for a while. To those remarkable people, who continue to work for peace around the country and across the globe, it is important to appreciate the difficulty of reaching a compromise for these long enemies, if you allow me. It is time that the peace lovers bring their experience to resolving this age-old problem of settling amicable the definition of when life really begins.

Please don’t send me any hate mail. Direct all your emails on this blog to I will attempt to address your concerns over this essay as best as I can, but don’t expect my replies to satisfy your inquisitiveness; and, or preferences.