HealthLawProf Blog

Editor: Katharine Van Tassel
Concordia University School of Law

Tuesday, November 8, 2005

Maine Prisoner's Hunger Strike Over

Guess this kind of moots the interesting constitutional confrontation up there: Inmate James Emerson ended his month-long hunger strike with a peanut butter sandwich on Saturday night, followed by eggs and toast, some canned pears and two glasses of juice the next morning, according to a story in Monday's Bangor Daily News. Previous posts on this story are here and here. [tm]

November 8, 2005 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Abortion After Roe

David Crary of the AP has filed a story on the political and health changes that would be wrought if the Supreme Court were to reverse Roe v. Wade.  There are no great surprises here, but it summarizes the issues well and offers some good quotes.  The biggest question mark: state Republican lawmakers, who have made careers by criticizing Roe without having to actually cast a vote to restrict reproductive choice in their state, would have to confront the political reality of such a vote for perhaps the first time in their careers.  [tm]

November 8, 2005 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Monday, November 7, 2005

Cartoon Roundup

A feature I used to love doing back when I was running HealthLawBlog -- and the thought of copyright violations didn't bother me, because it was only my butt that was on the line and not Betsy's and Paul Caron's -- was a weekly roundup of political cartoons on health care issues.  I ran the cartoons (with attribution, of course) and nobody complained, presumably because my theory of what constitutes Fair Use was completely persuasive to the legal beagles at Universal Press Syndicate and other purveyors of fine political commentary.

Well, even if I can't run the panels on this page (by the way, didn't we used to say "what happens on healthlawprof blog stays on healthlawprof blog"?), I can run the links.  And what you do with the cartoons in your own classrooms, well, that's your business . . . .

Overview: Clear winners in the topical sweepstakes for this week: avian flu and the nomination of Sam Alito to replace S.D. O'C on SCOTUS . . . .

Medicare Reform/Drug Benefit
Signe Wilkinson (Phila. Daily News)

Avian Flu
Stuart Carlson (Milwaukee Sentinel)
Mike Luckovich (Atlanta Constitution)
Dick Locher (Chicago Tribune)
Lalo Alcaraz (Universal Press Syndicate)
Mike Luckovich (Atlanta Constitution)
Pat Oliphant (Universal Press Syndicate)
Jack Ohman (The Oregonian)
Pat Oliphant (Universal Press Syndicate)
Ben Sargent (Austin American-Statesman/UPS) (in honor of the first weekend of deer-hunting season here in the Lone Star State)

Supreme Court/Roe v. Wade
Ann Telnaes (CWS/NYTS)
John Deering (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette)
Signe Wilkinson (Phila. Daily News)
Pat Oliphant (Universal Press Syndicate)
Steve Kelley (New Orleans Times-Picayune)
Ann Telnaes (CWS/NYTS)
Drew Sheneman (The Star-Ledger (Newark, N.J.))


November 7, 2005 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, November 6, 2005

Bird Flu Update

From the AP( mostly) and others:

  • China Turns to WHO for Bird Flu Help - China said Sunday it had asked the World Health Organization to help it determine whether the death of a 12-year-old girl last month was caused by bird flu. If it is confirmed, it would be China's first known human death from the lethal and virulent H5N1 strain of bird flu.
  • Supporters: Cockfight Bill Could Stem Flu - A cockfighting bill aimed at stemming the spread of bird flu to the U.S. has stalled despite support from the Bush administration and the poultry industry. The bill targets trade from Southeast Asia, where cockfighting is suspected of spreading bird flu from chickens to humans.
  • Bird Flu Plans: Prudent or Overreaction? - Don't worry if you missed it when the Bush administration released its draft in August 2004 for fighting a potential flu pandemic. So did most of the rest of the country. The draft generated fewer than 50 public comments for the Health and Human Services Department to consider.
  • Hawaii Begins Airport Watch for Bird Flu - Hawaii became the first state in the nation this week to monitor airports for signs of bird flu or other flu viruses, health officials said.
  • States Have Their Own Plans for Bird Flu - States have their own ideas for dealing with an outbreak of bird flu or other super-flu strain - readying possible quarantine sites and talking about closing schools and businesses. State officials may tell hospitals they may have to evict all but the most critically ill.
  • China, Vietnam report new bird flu outbreaks - China reported its fourth bird flu outbreak in three weeks, saying that 8,940 chickens died in a northeastern village despite a nationwide effort to contain the virus.
  • Canada braces for bird flu - Amid recent concerns that avian influenza could enter the lower United States via birds traveling from the North, just what is neighboring Canada doing to prevent and prepare for a possible outbreak?


November 6, 2005 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Avian Flu Editorials

The New York Times has two interesting editorials on the avian flu.  The first is by former Speaker of the House Newt Gringrich and Robert Egge.  They argue that the government needs to change dramatically to ensure an adequate response to the upcoming pandemic.  They state,

What we need to do to prepare for and respond to a pandemic is change the very way the government delivers services. And to do that, the following initiatives must be integrated into the government's response:

Designate a single, accountable leader. An avian flu pandemic is among the greatest threats to our country today. Given our vulnerability and the amount of work to be done, the president must appoint a leader who is singularly focused on avian flu. This leader must be fully accountable for the government's progress. And the president must make it clear that this leader speaks on his behalf. . . .


Replace bureaucratic administration with entrepreneurial management. If an avian flu pandemic sweeps the United States, it will pose a tremendous challenge in terms of speed, lethality and complexity. Federal, state and local governments will need to act with the speed and agility of the information age.

Prepare for the days of a phony war mentality. Until we receive word that a pandemic is loose in this country, last week's announcement could well be the high point of public attention to the threat posed by avian flu. The pressure to prepare will decline. And as this happens, government attention will be pulled in other directions. . . .

A leading example of such an investment is an electronic health record system, which would allow the federal government to track the course and impact of a pandemic in real time. Public health experts widely agree that this kind of network would not only allow for safer and more efficient care under normal circumstances, but would also equip federal, state and local governments with the data needed to direct scarce therapies, medical teams and supplies to where they are most needed as a pandemic unfolds. There's no good reason why every American couldn't have a preliminary electronic health record by the end of 2006.

Just a few of their suggestions that didn't strike me as as too outlandish.  The second editorial is by Olivia  judson and discusses how the evolving avian flu strand should demonstrate for all the validity of Darwin's theory of evolution and importance in the classroom.  She concludes,

But the most important point is this: viruses and other pathogens evolve in ways that we can understand and, to some extent, predict. Whether it's preventing a flu pandemic or tackling malaria, we can use our knowledge of evolutionary processes in powerful and practical ways, potentially saving the lives of tens of millions of people. So let's not strip evolution from the textbooks, or banish it from the class, or replace it with ideologies born of wishful thinking. If we do, we might find ourselves facing the consequences of natural selection.


November 6, 2005 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)