Sunday, July 4, 2010

Two Sides Journalism.

At Big Journalism (ultra-conservative Andrew Breitbart's site) Ken Blackwell takes NPR to task for not presenting the "pro-life" side of the abortion debate strongly enough in their reporting. A new policy at NPR requires reporters and journalists to use the descriptors abortion rights advocates and abortion rights opponents. He writes that NPR's bias is well known and explains that this is a scandal because NPR is publicly funded (annually only about 5.8% comes from federal, state or local governments).

Then Blackwell, known for his radically conservative views, takes on the New York Times and from there on his article moves from blatant inaccuracy to odd Red Scare paranoia. Here's how he ties his idea of freedom to abortion:

Pro-lifers alone are denied the right to be called what we call ourselves. Maybe it’s because liberal scribes see the power in the pro-life designation. Maybe it’s because they know that the truth can make people free.

Blackwell sees the "pro-life" mantle as encompassing the entire platform. But he fails to understand that abortion rights advocates also care about life, they just define it differently. NPR's new policy forces "pro-life" activists to delineate and clarify their positions on things instead of clinging to "culture of death" nomenclature that misrepresents the debate.

Pro-lifers are not just against liberalized abortion. We object to elder-killing—what they call euphemistically, physician-assisted suicide. We protest cloning humans. So, according to Gallup, do 88% of Americans. We are against killing unborn embryonic humans to obtain their stem cells.

All the communist stuff, pleading for two sides in the debate, chastising media outlets is really just "pro-life" individuals getting political -- as they have for the past 40 years -- and skewing freedom to mean what they intend it to mean: freedom for themselves and their ideas as enforced by government legislature.

Good reporting should have a bias; for the truth. If Blackwell and "pro-life" advocates want to cling to an ideology that harms women and families -- and deny the statistics show so as well as ignoring an evolving, changing society and medical industry -- so be it. But they can't expect the rest of us to ignore the fact that the Cold War is long over, women and elders have bodily rights, ideas of staunch (and destructive) nationalism have been debunked, and the church or religious ideas cannot be used to govern the rights of a nation.

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What Does "Do Everything" Mean?

At KevinMD
, Lyle Fettig of PalliMed looks at a new article by Tim Quill, Bob Arnold, and Tony Black at Annals of Internal Medicine that examines how to discuss treatment with patients who say they want to "do everything." The writers suggest a plan that combats the bifurcated language patients encounter -- "do nothing," and "do everything" -- with a number of conversational steps:

1) Understand what “doing everything” means to the patient, 2) Propose a philosophy of treatment, 3) Recommend a plan of treatment, 4) Support emotional responses, 5) Negotiate disagreements, and 6) Use a harm-reduction strategy for continued requests for burdensome treatments that are very unlikely to work.

Fettig writes:

The most essential part of this process is to refrain from interpreting the patient’s request to “do everything” as a blanket consent for any medical therapy available to humankind. Rather, such a request should be considered akin to a clinical sign that requires more investigation. In step 1, the physician develops a “differential diagnosis” regarding the meaning of “everything” which includes potential affective, cognitive, spiritual, and family related factors.

The article suggests appropriate questions that help to delineate the “diagnosis” (ie the meaning of “everything”). In this step, the patient’s values, priorities, and goals are revealed. The patient knows these better than the physician. What they may not know (and what the physician should assess) is whether potential medical therapies will be consistent with values and priorities or if they will stand a chance to help them meet their goals.

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