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ObamaCare and King v Burwell 3/24/2015
Vaccines and Disneyland 6/24/2015
Charles R. Drew 6/20/2017
The first-known case of Ebola on American soil was reported in late September in Texas. Liberian national Thomas Duncan contracted the Ebola disease when he was visiting Liberia and brought it to America. Ebola is an often fatal infectious disease that originated in Africa in animals. It spreads to humans when there is bodily contact, such as from eating an animal that has the disease. In humans, it spreads when there is contact between blood, secretions, bodily fluids of infected people, and when there is contact with surfaces and materials contaminated with these fluids. Symptoms of Ebola first resemble the flu but increase with severity over time. There is no vaccine against Ebola. Ebola was first known in 1976. Currently, the Ebola outbreak in West Africa is the worst ever, killing approximately 4,000 people.
Duncan helped people who had the disease, and then flew to the United States, taking at least three planes. He flew to Brussels, then to Washington, and then to Dallas. Reportedly, he told airport screeners that he had not been in contact with people infected with Ebola. After flying to Dallas, Duncan went to a hospital in Dallas with symptoms of fever. The doctors checked him, prescribed him antibiotics, and sent him home. A few days later, he returned in an ambulance. It was then he was diagnosed with Ebola.
Duncan lived with his partner, her son, and her two nephews. They are still in the apartment. The boys who had contact with Duncan went to school after he had been diagnosed with Ebola. School officials then sent the boys home.
Some countries, like Britain and France, have refused entry from those travelling from countries where there is an Ebola outbreak. The United States, however, has not done this. In 2005, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) proposed new rules to keep infectious diseases out of the United States. These rules involved the forced quarantine of travelers who exhibited symptoms of serious diseases while en route to the United States. In 2009, the Obama administration scrapped the rules, after groups like the ACLU complained the rules were discriminatory.
In mid-September, President Obama said, “The chances of an Ebola outbreak here in the United States are extremely low. We've been taking the necessary precautions, including working with countries in West Africa to increase screening at airports so that someone with the virus doesn't get on a plane for the United States. In the unlikely event that someone with Ebola does reach our shores, we've taken new measures so that we are prepared here at home.” Within two weeks, the first Ebola case in the United States was reported.
The apartment Duncan lived in went for at least one week from being sanitized after Duncan was admitted to the hospital. Disagreement between two federal bureaucracies how to handle the items within the apartment caused the delay. One bureau, the Center for Disease and Control, considered the items medical waste. A second bureau, the Department of Transportation, thought the waste was illegal to transport. Until this was resolved, no sanitation could happen of the apartment. Meanwhile, Duncan’s partner, her son, and two nephews are quarantined in the apartment.
1. Based on Duncan’s travelling, and the activities of those he lived with, about how many people do you think came into contact with him while he had the virus, before he was admitted to the hospital? 2. What are a few simple things everyone can do to ward off sickness? 3. Do you think the U.S. should ban travel from countries where there are Ebola outbreaks?
Affordable Care Act, or, ObamaCare, and King v. Burwell
3/24/2015 On March 10, 2010, President Obama signed a bill into law which greatly altered how health insurance is designed, bought, and sold. The law is titled “The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act” but is also known as Obamacare, because President Obama greatly favors the bill and because the President has endorsed this name. Recently, the Supreme Court heard arguments in a case that may be the end of this new law. The case, King v. Burwell, focuses on the source of subsidies that many receive who are insured under the new law. The court case touches on the constitutional issues of how laws are implemented, the meaning of words, and the separation of powers between the executive branch and the legislative branch. Insurance is a funny product. The buyer purchases it with the hopes he will never use it, or at least hoping he won’t use it too much. The insurance company selling it makes a bet that the buyer will also not use too much of the insurance, and determines the price of it depending on the person’s age and health. So health insurance is a product bought and sold by people who hope the user will not really use it. In the U.S.A., from 1789-2010, the U.S. government had stayed out of forcing an American to buy something. Nowhere in the Constitution is it written that the government has the power to force someone to purchase a product. This is because the American Founding Fathers believed in the free market and that the American government should be limited in its power. Obamacare changed the relationship between Americans and their government. Obamacare established the precedent that the government can compel its citizens to purchase products that the government decides is good for them. In the U.S. government, there are three separate branches, each with its own powers. American founding fathers established the government this way so that not one branch would become too powerful. The executive branch (President) is to carry out the law, the legislative branch (Congress) is to write the law, and the judicial branch (Supreme Court and all federal courts) is to decide the legality of the law. In the court case, King v. Burwell, plaintiffs argue that the Obama administration is not following the law, but is instead changing the law and thus, acting like the lawmaker, Congress. The defense argues that the Obama administration is correctly acting within its powers of the executive branch, and is merely interpreting the law so that it makes sense and works. Does the law mean what is written, or does it mean what the President says it means? This is one of the questions the Supreme Court justices are deciding. At issue is how Americans receive subsidies to help pay for their health insurance. As the law is written, only citizens in states that set up their own exchanges, or markets, will receive subsidies. A chief architect of the law, Jonathan Gruber, was videotaped multiple times explaining that the Obama administration wrote the law this way to force states to set up their own exchanges, and that whichever state did not set up the exchange, would risk having their citizens not receive subsidies. Obama, however, is currently directing the federal government to offer subsidies to citizens of over 30 states, because these states decided not to set up the exchanges. These states argue that the Obama administration is taking power illegally, creating a federal government that is taking over the rights of the state governments. It is believed the Supreme Court will issue its ruling on King v Burwell in June. If the Supreme Court decides the Obama administration is acting unconstitutionally, the federal government will cease offering subsidies to citizens in those states that chose to not have state exchanges, and the words of a law will determine its meaning. If the Supreme Court decides in favor of the Obama administration, it will mean Obamacare will continue as it is, and most likely, that whoever is the Presidents receives great freedom in determining what a law means, even if it means going against the meaning of the words used in creating the law.
What is Obamacare?
What is King v. Burwell?
What is the argument in King v. Burwell?
How is this a Constitutional issue?
How do you think the Supreme Court justices should decide? Explain your answer.
Vaccines and Disneyland 6/24/2015
Vaccines In January 2015, 51 individuals contracted measles at Disneyland in southern California. This outbreak has been the cause of many debates about vaccines, public health, the rights of parents, and the role of the state.
What is a Vaccine? A vaccine is a product that produces immunity from a disease and can be administered through needle injections, by mouth, or by aerosol. A vaccination is the injection of a killed or weakened organism that produces immunity in the body against that organism. Vaccines attempt to spur the body to make anti-bodies that will fight the weakened strain of the disease, so that if the body is attacked by a stronger strain later in life, it will be able to fight the disease.
What are Vaccines Made Of? Vaccines are made from bacteria of infected animals or people. There are also at least 23 vaccines that are created from cells of aborted fetuses. Vaccines for measles, mumps, rubella, chicken pox, hepatitis and rabies are created from aborted fetuses.
A History of Vaccines As early as A.D. 1000, Chinese used a vaccine to fight smallpox, and as early as 1661, a Chinese Emperor decreed that all Chinese should receive a smallpox vaccination. During the American Revolution, a smallpox epidemic broke out among Bostonians when British soldiers occupied the city. The British had been inoculated against smallpox. Later that same year, George Washington ordered mandatory inoculation for every American soldier of the Continental Army. In 1796, British doctor Jenner discovered that he could make a person immune from smallpox by inoculating a person with matter from a cowpox sore.
In the 1800s and 1900s, most developed countries of the world adopted laws that made vaccination against certain diseases mandatory. In the United States of America, the Supreme Court ruled in 1905 in Jacobson v. Massachusetts that states had the right to pass vaccination laws. A “well-ordered society” must be able to enforce “reasonable regulations” in responding to “an epidemic disease which threatens the safety of its members,” wrote Justice John Marshall Harlan. The Constitution did not protect “an absolute right in each person to be, in all times and in all circumstances, wholly free from restraint.” The findings of this case have been looked at as the guiding principle in relations of individuals and their state to vaccinations.
Arguments in Favor or Vaccination The main argument in favor of vaccination appears to be that it works. In 1962, before the measles vaccine was licensed, over 500,000 American children came down with the disease, 48,000 required hospitalization, and 450 died. In 1997, under 100 American children came down with measles. Similar examples exist regarding polio. Polio is a contagious viral illness that causes paralysis, difficulty breathing, and sometimes death. Before the creation of the polio vaccine, the U.S. experienced 20,000 cases per year, primarily in children. After the creation of the polio vaccines in 1952 and 1955 and mandatory vaccinations, polio has been eradicated in the United States, with the last known case occurring in 1979. After a world eradication program of eradicating polio, the numbers of polio illnesses dropped from 350,000 cases in 1988 to 223 cases in 2012.
Arguments Against Vaccination There are a number of arguments against forced vaccination. One involves the materials used to create the vaccines. In at least 23 vaccines, cells from aborted fetuses are used to create the vaccines. For those who are against abortion and believe that the unborn life should be protected, the use of materials from the aborted fetuses presents a moral problem of great magnitude.
Another argument against forced vaccination involves the great number of vaccinations that each child attending an American school is supposed to have. Each vaccination has its own possibly grave side effects. As the number of required vaccinations grow, the number of individuals hurt by these side effects will grow, as well. According to the Center for Disease and Control (CDC), the U.S. federal agency charged with America’s health, there are 14 diseases that young children under 6 need to be vaccinated for. For 7-18 year olds, the CDC recommends at least 14 more vaccines. Many parents question the need for each of the vaccines. One vaccine is for a disease that is spread through sexual activity.
What is Herd Immunity? Herd immunity is a belief, or theory, that states when a certain percentage of people in society are vaccinated, then there is a lower chance of a disease spreading. Because some people are unable to be vaccinated against some diseases, either because they are too young, or too weak, many doctors believe that it is essential that most are vaccinated so that herd immunity be maintained. However, there are also those who disagree with the validity of the idea of herd immunity.
Dr. Andrew Wakefield, Vaccination, and Autism In 1998, British Dr. Wakefield wrote an article in The Lancet that claimed there was a link between measles-mumps-rubella vaccine and autism. In the western world, many believed this claim to be authoritative, and in the United States, some parents chose not to have their children inoculated. In California, politically liberal citizens living in areas that tend to vote Democrat were the most affected, including Marin County, Santa Monica, and Beverly Hills, as parents chose a philosophical exemption to vaccinating their children.
Dr. Wakefield’s study was shown to be fraudulent, he was on the payroll of attorneys wanting to sue the government, and in 2010 he lost his medical license. Great Britain’s medical regulator ruled that Dr. Wakefield acted dishonestly and irresponsibly. It appears that Dr. Wakefield based his entire study on 12 children, and he misrepresented these 12 children, as well. However, the effects of his study still are being felt.
Conclusion An outbreak of measles in January 2015 at Disneyland, California, has been the cause of great discussions involving disease, vaccination, and the role of government and public safety. Americans argue over the importance of vaccinations and the power of the state.
Questions 1. What is a vaccine and how do doctors believe it works? 2. What is the first known use of a vaccine? 3. What do people who support vaccines say is the main reason all should be vaccinated against certain diseases? 4. What are the main reasons people have against forced vaccination? 5. What role do you think the government has in mandating vaccination?
By Adam De Gree of The Classical Historian
Helen Keller was born into a wealthy household on June 27, 1880, yet her story is not one of ease and luxury. Helen was struck deaf and blind at the age of 18 months in a time when people with disabilities were not expected to live full lives. Largely due to Helen Keller and the work of her teacher, Anne Sullivan, that is no longer the case. Through her courage and intellect Helen Keller showed the world that the deaf and blind can change history. As a young girl, Keller was unruly, and this is understandable – she had no way to see or hear the world around her. That all changed with the arrival of Anne Mansfield Sullivan, a poor 20-year old graduate of the Perkins School for the Blind. Sullivan was determined to help young Helen. She began by ‘writing’ words into Helen’s palms one letter at a time. Unfortunately, the young girl had no idea what this meant – she did not know that words existed. One day, Anne tried something new: she took Helen (7 years old at the time) over to the water spout and signed w-a-t-e-r into one of her hands as cold water poured over the other one. Suddenly, little Helen understood that the fluid touching her body was signified by the word ‘water.’ That day the young pupil learned 30 different words. Within several years Anne had trained her student to speak, write, and read manual and raised print. Helen was very bright and learned quickly. She learned so quickly that she made it into the news as a blind and deaf prodigy and attracted the notice of such dignitaries as Mark Twain and Alexander Graham Bell. As the young girl entered adolescence she prepared to attend Radcliffe College. In 1904, Helen Keller graduated from Radcliffe College with a Bachelor of Arts degree with honors – the first deaf and blind person to graduate from any university in the world. At each step of the way she was aided by Anne Perkins, who faithfully traced each letter of her reading into her hand. Anne also helped her with a blossoming career as a writer – in 1903, Helen’s autobiography, The Story of My Life, was published to international acclaim. Helen Keller relied on Perkins until she died in 1936. At that point, Polly Thomson took over the task of helping Keller navigate a world built for those with sight. Keller always saw herself as a writer. Through the written word, she reached millions of people around the world. A passionate humanitarian, Helen Keller wrote about civil rights, socialism, women’s suffrage, and other issues that fit her Socialist worldview. She became a member of the Socialist Party in 1909. All of her writing gives evidence to Keller’s immense courage and faith in the face of adversity and in her politically radical views. Through her writing, Keller worked tirelessly on behalf of the nation’s – and the world’s – community of deaf and blind people. Keller joined the American Foundation for the Blind in 1924 and worked for the organization as a writer and speaker for over 40 years. She was also a founding member of the American Civil Liberties Union. Her national profile earned her audiences from president Grover Cleveland to Lyndon Johnson, and she proved expert at using her connections to improve the conditions of disabled people. During WWII Keller visited veteran’s hospitals to administer and support men who lost their sight, hearing, or limbs in battle. After the war, Keller became America’s first Goodwill Ambassador to Japan. Her visit left a profound impact on Japanese society and the way that deaf and blind people in Japan were treated. Seven years later, in 1955 and at the age of 75, she spent five months traversing 40,000 miles on a tour through Asia. Many of the countries that she visited now have organizations that help the poor and blind that started because of her. Keller continued her work until a stroke limited her capabilities in 1960. She passed away in her sleep eight years later on June 1 at the age of 87. She is remembered all over the world as a champion for those with disabilities, as well as workers, women, and minorities. Today, her image is etched onto Alabama’s state quarter, the only US coin to feature braille. Interesting Questions to Discuss with your Children:
Why was Helen Keller an unruly child?
How did Helen first learn what words are?
What was Helen Keller’s job?
Did Helen travel a lot?
Why do you think that Helen Keller was chosen as America’s first Goodwill Ambassador to Japan after World War II?
Charles R. Drew was born in Washington, D.C. on June 3, 1904. By the time of his death just 45 years later, he had become the ‘father of the blood bank’ and one of the great scientists of the 20th century. Along the way, he pioneered new medical techniques, broke down racial barriers, and saved thousands of lives. As a black man born in a time when segregation was still practiced all over the United States, his achievements stood as an example of the great potential of African-American doctors and researchers. Yet despite his laboratory success, his early life was marked more by sports greatness than academic excellence. Drew was not a good student until well into his university years. However, his natural athleticism earned him a scholarship to Amherst College for football and track and field. It was there that he developed an interest in medicine. After graduating, he chose to attend medical school at McGill University in Montreal, Quebec, where his academic pursuits finally took center stage. Drew earned the annual scholarship in neuroanatomy and won multiple awards on his way to graduating 2nd in a class of 127 students. After graduating from McGill with honors, Drew began his work with transfusion at Montreal Hospital. There, he worked with bacteriology professor John Beattie to develop treatments for shock. Drew hoped to pursue transfusion therapy studies at the Mayo Clinic, but racial prejudice against African-Americans barred him from joining the organization. However, he was admitted to doctorate studies at Columbia University, where he studied with John Scudder and aided in the establishment of an experimental blood bank. At Columbia, Drew overcame racist treatment to successfully complete his award-winning dissertation, “Banked Blood: A Study in Blood Preservation.” His research brought significant progress to the growing field of transfusion. Drew’s understanding of fluid balance, shock therapy, and the processing and storage of blood samples allowed him to develop new and safer ways to collect and store blood. This earned him a post at the head of the Blood for Britain Project. Thanks to his work, thousands of liters of blood were sent to Britain as it bled in World War II. When the United States joined World War II there was a great need for blood donations. Naturally, Drew was the man for the job. He was named assistant director of the National Blood Donor Service, where he pioneered the invention of ‘bloodmobiles’ – blood donation trucks with refrigerators. Yet even though Drew was an African-American, the Red Cross did not allow blacks to donate blood. This meant that Drew could not donate to his own program. Eventually, this policy changed to one of segregation, where the blood of black donors could only be used by black recipients. Drew called this “unscientific and insulting to African Americans.” He resigned after a few months. Drew spent the rest of his career at Howard University, where he had taught on and off in between other assignments. He headed the Department of Surgery and sought to “train young African American surgeons who would meet the most rigorous standards in any surgical specialty.” In addition to training surgeons, Drew campaigned relentlessly for the inclusion of black doctors in local and national medical associations. On April 1, 1950, Charles Drew fell asleep at the wheel on the way to a medical conference. He died despite being given a blood transfusion at an all-white hospital nearby. In less than half a century, Drew earned numerous awards and appointments unique for his age and his race. His work on blood transfusion has undoubtedly saved the lives of millions of people. Today, he is remembered as one of the greatest medical scientists of the last century. He is also remembered for powerful words such as these: “So much of our energy is spent in overcoming the constricting environment in which we live that little energy is left for creating new ideas or things. Whenever, however, one breaks out of this rather high-walled prison of the "Negro problem" by virtue of some worthwhile contribution, not only is he himself allowed more freedom, but part of the wall crumbles. And so it should be the aim of every student in science to knock down at least one or two bricks of that wall by virtue of his own accomplishment.”
Was Charles Drew an outstanding high school student?
Where did Drew earn his doctorate?
Why didn’t Drew work at the Mayo Clinic?
Why couldn’t Drew’s blood be donated to a white blood bank?
Why did Drew encourage black students to make worthwhile contributions to science and medicine?