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2016 Texas Republican Platform - Part 8, Health Care

Republican ElephantThis entry is part of a series taking a look at the latest Texas Republican Party Platform. For a list of all entries in this series, go to the Introduction. This entry will cover planks related to health care.

Health Care- Health care decisions, including routine preventative care such as immunizations, should be between a patient and health care professional and should be protected from government intrusion. Abortion is not healthcare. Government has no right to mandate specific medical procedures or methods of healthcare.

They're sly about it, but they're playing to the anti-vax movement, implying that immunizations should be free from 'government intrusion'. Since what I wrote last time still fits, I'm going to quote that here. "I'm becoming less and less patient with the anti-vax movement, given the deadly results. Personally, I think withholding a vaccination from your child is a form of child abuse (at the very least criminal negligence) and should be punished accordingly. Children should not have to suffer deadly or crippling diseases because of the stupidity of their parents. And given the concept of herd immunity, avoiding vaccines puts others as risk, as well, not just yourself or your own unvaccinated children. Newborns have died because of unrelated idiots who didn't get their vaccinations and became vectors for diseases. Why does this platform promote such a dangerous, irresponsible position?

"For more, including links to statistics and heartbreaking examples, read Phil Plait's article, Debunking vaccine myths."


Conscience Clause- All persons and legal entities have the right of conscience, and should be protected under Texas law if they conscientiously object to participate in practices that conflict with their moral or religious beliefs. This includes, but is not limited to, abortion, the prescription for and dispensing of drugs with abortifacient potential, human cloning, embryonic stem cell research, eugenic screenings, euthanasia, assisted suicide, harmful futile procedures, and the withdrawal of nutrition and hydration.

Well, this is another one that gets into a grey area - personal freedom of conscience vs. professional responsibility, but I tend to fall on the side of professional responsibility. An example I used before is police officers. No matter what a police officer's personal feelings may be about the morality of using drugs (a topic I'll address myself a few entries from now), we expect that officer to enforce the law. They can't turn a blind eye to drug dealers because it is their duty to uphold the law. And if they really do want to refuse to enforce the law, then they have the freedom to find a different line of work.

When it comes to medical professionals, they're providing a service to the public, and have their own set of ethical standards that they must follow. This becomes even more of an issue in small towns or rural areas where they might have effective monopolies. If for example there's only one pharmacist in town, and they refuse to fill prescriptions for birth control or any other drugs they don't like personally, then patients in that town are being denied the proper medical care that they and their doctor have agreed upon.

And note how they included 'legal entities' as having rights. Corporations are people, my friend.


Health Care- Legislators shall prohibit reproductive health care services, including counseling, referrals, and distribution of condoms and contraception through public schools. We support parents' right to choose, without penalty, which medications are administered to their minor children.

This comes back to a point I made in the Civil Rights entry. Children aren't the property of their parents. Parents should have a lot of latitude in raising their children, but the child's best interests should always be the primary concern.

The Republican position on sex ed and reproductive health care for minors is pretty regressive, and is a pretty big contributing factor to Texas having the 3rd highest teen pregnancy rate of all states in the US, more than 2 ½ times higher than New Hampshire (source). We shouldn't be encouraging teenagers to go out and become sexually active, but we also need to recognize reality and that a certain percentage of them will be having sex, so we need to do what's best for them and reduce their risks of contracting/spreading STDs or becoming pregnant / causing a pregnancy. And if part of that strategy is handing out condoms in public schools or providing counseling for students with nowhere else to turn, well, that doesn't seem like such a big deal compared to the consequences.

The last sentence of that plank is similar to their anti-vax hinting up above. Most parents are not doctors. Most parents don't have the knowledge of medicines and medications to be able to make better decisions than doctors. Now, many parents are well-informed, enough so that if they disagree with a doctor, they can go seek a second opinion. But if a second opinion or even a third opinion don't give the parents the answer they want, there's probably a reason. And children shouldn't have to suffer because of the ignorance of their parents.

To give an example of exactly what I mean, read this entry from last year, Tragic Death of a Girl due to Alternative Medicine & Religious Beliefs. An 11-year old girl, Makayla Sault, had been diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Doctors said that with appropriate treatment, chemotherapy, she had roughly a 75% chance of being cured. Several weeks into the treatment, she had a dream where she believed Jesus came to her and told her to stop the chemo. Her parents, both pastors, agreed to let her stop the chemo, and took her to an alternative medicine clinic, instead. Tragically, the outcome was what you would expect, and Makayla died. This is exactly the reason why parents should not have the "right to choose, without penalty, which medications are administered to their minor children". If the parents' choices are endangering the child, then the state should step in to protect the child, and enforce penalties when appropriate to dissuade other parents from endangering their children.

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These planks go way too extreme in wanting to remove government regulation and oversight, especially for our state's most vulnerable citizens, children, who would otherwise have no recourse if their parents endangered their health or even their lives. It is the duty of the government to guarantee the well-being of children, even if it means that parents don't have full and complete autonomy over how they want to raise their children. Raising children is a responsibility, not a right.

The anti-vax planks are particularly frustrating, but just one more symptom of the anti-science tendencies of the modern Republican Party.


Continue to Part 9, Education

 

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