March 15, 2017 – Arsenal For Democracy Ep. 173

Posted by Bill on behalf of the team.

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Topics: Republicans de-funding infectious disease prevention, why Democrats are very bad at taking credit for achievements, and Bill’s experience signing up for health insurance on the individual exchange in Massachusetts. People: Bill, Rachel, and Jonathan. Produced: March 13th, 2017.

Episode 173 (49 min):
AFD 173

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Music by friend of the show @StuntBirdArmy.

What is the debate about Planned Parenthood really about?

Hint: it’s certainly not about science.

planned-parenthood-logo

Since the release of five highly doctored videos of Planned Parenthood executives appearing to sell fetuses, much has been said about Planned Parenthood and the women who use their services. However, few people appear to have asked “Who was buying fetal tissue and why?” Little attention has been paid to the importance of research on fetal tissue and the typically bipartisan support that this research receives. (Even Senator Mitch McConnell, now spearheading the effort to defund Planned Parenthood, voted to support the donation of fetal tissue from abortions in 1993.)

On July 29, 2015, Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards sent a much-ignored letter to the director of the National Institute of Health. She wrote:

“It has become clear in the ensuing public debate … that there is widespread confusion about fetal tissue research and that government officials, medical researchers, health care providers, and the public could benefit from a review of the research and the procedures surrounding it by an independent expert panel. The last time such a review occurred was in 1988 during the Reagan Administration. We believe it may be time for another expert panel to examine these issues in light of the advancements achieved in medicine over the past 27 years.”

 
The 1988 panel to which Richards refers was overseen by a conservative judge opposed to abortion. Nonetheless, “a decisive majority of the panel found that it was acceptable public policy to support transplant research with fetal tissue.” The panel even concluded that aborted fetuses were acceptable donations to the medical community, so long as the decision to abort a fetus and decisions regarding the time or method of abortion were not interfered with in order to collect the tissue.

Fetal tissue is no longer a central focus of transplant research, but remains important for many other kinds of medical discovery, including the study of birth defects, genetic causes of diseases, and even possible cures for degenerative disease, such as Parkinson’s Disease. Researchers at MIT are even able to use fetal tissue to implant the human immune system into mice, allowing them to study tumors and human responses without using human test subjects.

Fetal tissue has a long history of being incredibly valuable in the medical field, most notably in the development of vaccines. In the mid-1960’s, an aborted fetus allowed researchers to isolate the Rubella virus and develop the vaccine for the deadly disease which is still used today. The researcher central to this discovery, Stanley Plotkin, spoke out:

“Human fetal cell strains, derived from voluntary abortions, have been extremely important for vaccine development, specifically for rabies, rubella, hepatitis A, and chicken pox. It is important to understand that the cell [lines] are stored and no new abortions are done to produce those vaccines.”

 
(The last line is presumably meant to clarify that the fetal cells are used only in the research and development phase, not the actual manufacture of the developed vaccines. –Ed.)

Richards’ letter to the NIH explains the limited, but important role that Planned Parenthood plays in fetal tissue donation. Planned Parenthood exists in all 50 states, but currently, in only five states are women able to donate tissue through Planned Parenthood. She writes:

“We participate in fetal tissue donation and occasionally partner in research not because this research is a core part of our mission, but because we are supporters of medical research and serve women who chose to make donations.”

 
In an editorial published in the New England Journal of Medicine, the influential journal threw their full support behind Planned Parenthood and their work:

“We strongly support Planned Parenthood not only for its efforts to channel fetal tissue into important medical research but also for its other work as one of the country’s largest providers of health care for women, especially poor women. The contraception services that Planned Parenthood delivers may be the single greatest effort to prevent the unwanted pregnancies that result in abortions…We thank the women who made the choice to help improve the human condition through their tissue donation; we applaud the people who make this work possible and those who use these materials to advance human health.”

 
An opinion piece in the Washington Post this week brought into light the similarities between the policies of Planned Parenthood and the donations of fertilized embryos by in vitro fertilization (IVF) clinics. The author, Margo Kaplan, an associate professor at Rutgers Law School, believes that one of the biggest differences between perceptions of the two donations is which women are making the donation.

Women who donate through the IVF clinic are women who want to become mothers and have waited a long time to get the treatment. (Oh, and they are typically white and wealthy.) Those women who decide to end a pregnancy at a Planned Parenthood clinic are admonished by society for their “irresponsible lifestyles” and unwillingness to become mothers at the moment.

It seems to me that if the outrage that has continued to smolder since the public viewing of these doctored videos was truly over the use sale of fertilized embryos and the use of fetal tissue in research, people would be talking about those things. (GOP Presidential candidate Dr. Ben Carson himself used fetal tissue in research, but claims that since the specimen was already dead when he used it, he is in no way in the wrong.) Instead, once again, it appears that the target of the public’s thinly-veiled outcry is actually the women who use the services of Planned Parenthood.

Some CA schools approaching 9 in 10 unvaccinated rates

From an op-ed by Robert Gammon in East Bay Express:

End the Vaccine Exemption

As the measles outbreak in California continues to spread — the number of reported cases reached 73 on Monday — it’s becoming increasingly clear that the state should end its so-called “personal belief” exemption for childhood vaccines. Currently, California is one of about twenty states in the nation in which parents can use the personal belief waiver. Most states only permit medical or religious exemptions for childhood vaccines.

For the measles vaccine to be effective for everyone, about 92 percent of the population needs to be have been fully vaccinated. But because of the personal belief waiver and the anti-vaccination movement, many communities in California fall well short of the 92 percent threshold. As a result, the measles, once thought to have been eradicated, has come roaring back to life.

But the anti-vax crowd shouldn’t have the right to endanger the health of the rest of us. The movement, which fears a link between childhood vaccines and autism, gained traction during the Aughts, following the revelation that the federal government had ordered the removal of the mercury-based preservative thimerosal from vaccines. Thimerosal had been used widely since the 1930s, and a study in the late 1990s claimed to have uncovered a link between the preservative and the rise of autism nationwide. That study has since been widely discredited. Moreover, thimerosal is no longer used in vaccines for children six and under (except for some flu vaccines).

As such, there is no longer a basis for the personal belief exemption in California. New York City doesn’t have it, and only 0.2 percent of public school students there have been exempted from vaccines, according to the Los Angeles Times. In California, wealthy parents who send their kids to private schools appear to be especially prone to using the exemption. For example, according to the LA Times, at the Berkeley Rose private school, the parents of 87 percent of kindergarteners in 2013 used it.

That’s not only dangerous, it’s disturbingly anti-science. Measles is a serious disease with serious consequences. And vaccines work — if they’re widely used. California, in other words, should stop pandering to the anti-vax crowd.

 
EIGHTY SEVEN PERCENT exempted from vaccines. In one school.

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In case you missed it…
Arsenal For Democracy – Dispatches from the end of the empire:

Apparently our ancestors crossed the harsh Great American Desert in search of a better life so their descendents a century and a half later could go to a children’s amusement park in Orange County and still contract the same damn diseases because somebody’s parents in the year Two Thousand Fifteen of Our Lord have the same understanding of infection transmission as any given covered wagon driver.

Dispatches from the end of the empire

Apparently our ancestors crossed the harsh Great American Desert in search of a better life so their descendents a century and a half later could go to a children’s amusement park in Orange County and still contract the same damn diseases because somebody’s parents in the year Two Thousand Fifteen of Our Lord have the same understanding of infection transmission as any given covered wagon driver.

“People Not Vaccinated for Measles Urged to Avoid Disneyland”

People who haven’t been vaccinated against measles, including children too young to be immunized, should avoid Disneyland after new infections were linked to the theme park, California public health officials said Wednesday.

So far, 70 people in five U.S. states and Mexico have contracted measles in an outbreak that was traced to Disney parks in December and has since spread into the community. The vast majority of infections — 62 — occurred in California, and the tally is expected to rise.

Health officials uncovered new measles cases linked to visits to Disney parks in January after the incubation period of the original outbreak.

Since measles is highly contagious, people who have not received the measles-mumps-rubella, or MMR, vaccine are susceptible and should avoid visiting Disney “for the time being,” said state epidemiologist Gil Chavez.

 
We’re now reaching a particularly decadent phase of our decline where people are reintroducing eradicated disease outbreaks to America solely by voluntarily refusing to make use of widely available, decades-old, very basic medical science solutions.

It’s one thing if your civilization is wiped out by a disease you had no way to resist. It’s another if you’re too arrogant to vaccinate your children against easily preventable 19th century diseases and thus endangered everyone else.

America, F@#$ Yeah. We’re number one.

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No budget for “those” kind of diseases…

Sad truths from a New York Times article on an experimental Ebola vaccine that had been successfully tested with monkeys to great fanfare and then sat on a shelf untested on humans for almost ten years…

Its development stalled in part because Ebola is rare, and until now, outbreaks had infected only a few hundred people at a time. But experts also acknowledge that the lack of follow-up on such a promising candidate reflects a broader failure to produce medicines and vaccines for diseases that afflict poor countries. Most drug companies have resisted spending the enormous sums needed to develop products useful mostly to countries with little ability to pay.

 

Credit: Wikimedia

Credit: Wikimedia

October 15, 2014 – Arsenal For Democracy 103

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[repeats] Guest expert Sydnee McElroy MD of the “Sawbones” podcast explains the science of vaccines (March 2013). Guest historian Pilar Quezzaire on the crisis in northern Nigeria (May 2014). Guest expert Abby Stoddard from Humanitarian Outcomes on violence against aid workers (November 2013). New introductions by Bill.

Discussion Points:

– How were vaccines invented?
– What is the significance and origin of the north-south divide in Nigeria? How did colonialism change the country? Who are the Boko Haram?
– How do kidnappings affect international humanitarian aid organizations?

Full episode:
Oct 2014, Interview Repeats – Arsenal for Democracy 103

Related links
Segment 1

Sawbones: “Dr. Mesmer and the Power of Animal Magnetism”

ABC News: “NYC Measles Outbreak Spreads to Lower East Side”
Think Progress: “Orange County, California Is Experiencing Its Worst Measles Outbreak in Decades”
New York Magazine: “Immune to Logic: Some New York City Private Schools Have Dismal Vaccination Rates”

Segment 2

More articles on Nigeria at Arsenal For Democracy

Segment 3

Humanitarian Aid Workers: Aid Worker Security Report
BBC: Sahara kidnappings: A massive money-making business
NYT: Paying Ransoms, Europe Bankrolls Qaeda Terror

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You have no excuse not to vaccinate

…when even the Amish are doing it.

Amish communities in six counties are taking drastic actions to control a rapidly spreading outbreak of measles, including vaccinations, quarantines, cancelation of church services, and postponements of weddings and other events where people would gather in large numbers from multiple locations.

They aren’t religiously opposed to vaccines, contrary to popular belief, but just have a low rate of vaccination due in part to nobody requiring them to get shots.

Meanwhile, on that note, a Federal judge in New York — where the crunchy anti-science-left private school parents have made measles all the rage again — just expanded the power of schools to strongly encourage vaccination, by compelling kids who aren’t immunized (by parental choice) to effectively drop out of school for days or weeks at a time every time someone else at the school became sick. The various parents in the suit tried to claim a religious exemption — again, remember that even the Amish don’t mess around with such BS — to this school exclusion, but the judge said that public health concerns trumped that under the famous Supreme Court ruling from the first decade of the 20th century:

In turning down all three families, Judge Kuntz cited a 1905 Supreme Court ruling that upheld a $5 fine for a Massachusetts man who disobeyed an order to be vaccinated during a smallpox outbreak, a case that helped establish the government’s right to require immunizations as a matter of public health.

 
So, you don’t have to vaccinate your kid, but the public school doesn’t have to let your kid be there either. The lawyers for the families tried to claim the vaccines of are somehow differenter and dangerouser now than in 1905 because reasons.



Past Arsenal For Democracy Radio Segments on This Topic

Guest expert Dr. Sydnee McElroy of the “Sawbones” podcast explains the science of vaccines.

Part 1 – Sydnee McElroy – AFD 78

Nate and Greg join Bill to talk about rising vaccine hysteria, the importance of public vaccinations, and how the “debate” fits into the broader arc of American politics and ideology.

Part 1: Vaccines – AFD 76


More on the New York ruling this month:

Ms. Check said she rejected vaccination after her daughter was “intoxicated” by a few shots during infancy, which she said caused an onslaught of food and milk allergies, rashes and infections. Combined with a religious revelation she had during the difficult pregnancy, she said, the experience turned her away from medicine. Now she uses holistic treatments.

“Disease is pestilence,” Ms. Check said, “and pestilence is from the devil. The devil is germs and disease, which is cancer and any of those things that can take you down. But if you trust in the Lord, these things cannot come near you.”

Seems legit.