Tag Archives: health care reform

Patents on BRCA genes ruled invalid

The ACLU has won the lawsuit against Myriad Laboratories re: their patenting of human BRCA1 & BRCA2 genes.

“Today’s ruling is a victory for the free flow of ideas in scientific research,” said Chris Hansen, a staff attorney with the ACLU First Amendment Working Group. “The human genome, like the structure of blood, air or water, was discovered, not created. There is an endless amount of information on genes that begs for further discovery, and gene patents put up unacceptable barriers to the free exchange of ideas.”

 If this ruling sticks, what an enormous feminist victory, and a victory of human rights. Coupled with the passage of a health care bill–incredible. Can it be that this country is really making strides to release the slow chokehold of government and corporate control over our bodies–and women’s bodies besides?

For background on this issue, watch the ACLU video against monopolies over human genetic testing here.

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This is Wendy. Wendy believes in social justice.

As the healthcare debate descends further into absurdity–

I decided to write my own version of Rep. John Shadegg’s address on Capitol Hill.

Emily, an uninsured cancer patient from the great state of Pennsylvania,

and her kitten.


This is Wendy.

Wendy believes in social justice.

Wendy likes America because we have social justice here, and Wendy believes in universal healthcare.

She asked to come here today to say she doesn’t want the insurance companies to deny her healthcare; she wants to be able to have access to treatment regardless of her financial status or pre-existing conditions.

You see, Wendy knows that if this bill doesn’t pass, it says that her mom continues to be without coverage for cancer.

 As a matter of fact, if the bill doesn’t pass, then her mom still won’t have coverage in five years, and if she has a recurrence, she may have to face the costs of chemotherapy without the nationalized healthcare protection she received in England.

Wendy wants patient care. Wendy doesn’t want her mom to be forever denied health insurance because she was diagnosed with cancer at the age of twenty-four; Wendy doesn’t want her mom to die because she can’t afford treatment, do you, Wendy? That’s a cruel and consumer-driven perversion of what should be a government’s obligation to its people!

Wendy doesn’t want a capitalist social Darwinist healthcare system. She wants America’s healthcare insurance companies to stop scaremongering at the expense of people’s lives.

She believes in the right to healthcare.

But most of all, Wendy says, don’t deny healthcare to those whom you guys feel undeserving and undesirable. If you want health insurance, well,

that’s what a government is there for.

Because it’s not fair to deny medical treatment to me,

or to anyone.


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On Being Young & Uninsured in America

220 to 215.

I tire of watching American television not just because it’s all commercials, but because as far as advertising goes, the commodification of  healthcare seems to beat out Christmas toys 2 to 1. America can commercialize the birth of Baby Jesus til the four horsemen of the apocalypse come crashing past Santa’s sleigh, and I won’t bat an eyelid. But every time some silken voice suggests I ask my doctor whether Zoloft or Lipitor or Enablex or Viagra is right for me, I want to scream. 

What is wrong with this country?

Whenever  Alex Trebek gives pause, we’re bombarded by video of forlorn-looking people who live mired in pain and shame over their illnesses. Overactive bladder. Erectile dysfunction. Manic depression. Fibromyalgia. Then they ask their doctor…and the miracle medication with a Star Trek name propels them into a world of color, a world of horse-riding, soap-bubble-blowing, small-children-tickling. They smile distractedly at the screen while an in-the-event-of-emergency voice, a required-safety-instructions voice, informs us of the possible side effects, something that can never be done in a single breath. In extreme and rare cases, it most always causes death.

I don’t want to be diagnosed by the television. I don’t want to ask my doctor about it either. If I’m in need of medication, I want a doctor to tell me so, not a drug company. Because that’s a doctor’s job.

Worse are the insurance commercials, the ones with radiant-skinned nuclear families and the Blue Cross  that promises their protection.

As if it’s entirely reasonable that your health is something else to shop for.

In the meantime, a health care reform plan squeaks through the House at 220 votes to 215.

Democrats say the House measure — paid for through new fees and taxes, along with cuts in Medicare — would extend coverage to 36 million people now without insurance while creating a government health insurance program. It would end insurance company practices like not covering pre-existing conditions or dropping people when they become ill. (New York Times)

I’m continually baffled that members of a largely civilized and educated democratic republic do not feel that their government should be at all responsible for their wellbeing. And that the state has made people so fearful of government intervention that its citizens even actively resist measures designed for their own protection. Their government-instilled fear of government itself allows the state to evade any moral obligation to its people. It’s one of the greatest ploys in American political history.

In that respect, I don’t fear government as much as I fear what we’d do to one another without it.

And I feel about as much stigma at being called a socialist as I would at being called queer or a feminist.

As in, I couldn’t have put it any better myself.

I understand the American attitude toward hard work and self-reliance and a sense of entitlement, I do. America teaches you that, ye ole rags to riches. But what I cannot begin to fathom is the active resentment of the have-nots, the absolute refusal to even consider anyone else’s needs but your own.

Because another thing America should teach you is how quickly you can go from riches to rags.

Especially as far as insurance is concerned. My situation in not anomalous to the American experience. I didn’t end up uninsured because I’m a degenerate who’s never contributed to society. I ended up uninsured because I’m sick.

I was supposed to have a full healthcare package along with my teaching assistantship from the University of Michigan. But because I got cancer, I couldn’t go to Michigan, and ended up without the healthcare.  

So coming out of the NHS and into the never land of the American healthcare nightmare has me perpetually on edge. I’m what I was always afraid I would be: young and uninsured in America (because I don’t consider being on Medicaid being ‘insured’ any more than living in a shelter would convince me I weren’t homeless). And I’m what I never even dreamed I would be: young and uninsured and a cancer patient. Scheduling the appointment for my CT scan in Pittsburgh had me in tears with the receptionist. Because the primary concern at any American hospital is not what’s medically necessary, but what your insurance covers. Or rather, doesn’t.

“I don’t understand why you’re giving me a hard time,” I said to her.

But I do. I do understand why. It’s the system we live in. It’s not her fault–but the problem isn’t that it’s someone’s fault, but that it sometimes appears to be no one’s concern.

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Breast Cancer® by Beckett


<—For the cure!

Because why the hell not?  

Pink shit everywhere. As omnipresent as the American flag and just as commercialized, bastardized almost out of meaning.

Not completely. But almost. Because as the American flag still connotes the rockets’ red glare etc, it’s been saturated with commercial meaning too (as K often says when pointing to “American style” muffins or burger buns in an English grocery, “It’s got the American flag on it…it’s gotta be good). So too with the pink shit. It still connotes the struggle with the disease, the awareness etc…but it also connotes, “Buy this pink shit and feel like a better person.” (It’s got a pink ribbon on it…it’s gotta be good).

“It’s gotta be good” is a dangerous phenomenon. Because it almost never is. There’s too much trust placed in arbitrary symbolism.  If you risk becoming too attached to the symbol, you can forget the substance. Continue reading


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I survived the NHS

I think I need to get this printed on a T-shirt and wear it around Western Pennsylvania.NHS

One of the things I am most dreading about my imminent return to the US is having to face the omnipresent Republican propaganda which, in absence of cogent analysis of the issue at hand, somehow makes continual recourse to the following tagline:

“If I lived in England, I’d be dead.”

I lived in England. I got breast cancer. I was treated. On the NHS. And am living to tell about it. Continue reading

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