In April 2007, the issue of Kansas wiping out exceptions for partial birth abortion was discussed on the Diane Rehm show by a Family Research Council (I'm in Ohio so that immediately conjures up images of Ken Blackwell who is now a senior fellow there) individual and Kate Michelman. Here's what I wrote about it, here's what I thought as I listened:
I've just finished listening to this very disturbing hour on Diane Rehm.
About midway through the edition, the anti-abortion advocate from the Family Research Council (the group that anointed Ken Blackwell as a senior fellow), Cathy Cleaver Ruse, completely, totally and unbelievingly - in the wake of what we know now about the VaTech shooter and his mental health problems - devalued and discounted the role of a woman's mental health status when choosing to have a legal medical procedure.
What did she say:
Ruse was seeking to make her point that partial birth procedures are never medically necessary to save the life of the mother and that they are performed on healthy women.
To make this point, Ruse referred to health statistics from the state of Kansas (which you can see here, and I have reviewed), the only state that has kept stats on partial-birth procedures. Then, she indicated that in 1999, 182 partial birth procedures were reported to have been performed in Kansas. Then, she emphasized that in all those instances, according to the report, physicians indicated that the major bodily function that would have been impaired if the procedure was not performed would be mental, not physical.
So - to Ruse, mental health needs are not needs at all, and certainly not health needs. Want to tell that to the parents of the dead from Virginia Tech?
Mental health parity is finally being achieve on a number of levels. A position by Obama such as this not only implies a less than equal status for mental health issues related to choice, but for every other context as well. Do not underestimate how this could happen.
I do not know what he intended, re: the seriousness with which Obama views mental health issues - we need to know that. But at a minimum, this is a very sloppy place to be and shows a lack of preparation and/or understanding for how such a position may impact the perception of mental health on many, many levels - not only as it relates to choice.
Who, by the way, do we want making the decision of whether a mental health issues rises to what threshold, exactly, before it matters?
Again - very problematic, not well thought out on Obama's part and we cannot have this happening on any regular basis.
My opinion, fwiw: they're reading all the wrong blogs if they actually want to know what people think. No offense intended - the large blogs aggregate and are useful, no question, for a quick hit. But we know that there are so many individual blogs maintained by...well, individuals who just focus on writing their thoughts and questions and concerns down in the one place and not going to the more often visited sites.
Anyway - I'd advise offices and staffers to get more local and more individual if they want to work on giving their constituents a sense that they know how they feel and care.