January 25, 2010 – Church and State

In the space of an hour tonight, the girls’ imaginative play included two hilarious and touching games.  The first was “Mass”, complete with Goldfish and water intincture for communion, the girls taking turns as priest, and a fantastic version of “Hosanna to Jesus the King” of Lucy’s own creation.

When that was finished, Lucy announced that we were going to do what the man on the computer was doing (Craig was watching the State of the Union): she would stand up and talk, and we would all clap.  The speech sounded roughly like this: “Blah, goobdy-glah, ookie jimbas.”  It was quite hilarious.

Breast-feeding support, from the Beltway!

This is one of the best things I’ve seen come out of the government in a long time.


The Surgeon General has issued a “Call to Action in Support of Breast Feeding”, which (from my quick look) is pretty sweeping in its arguments for giving mothers more breast feeding support and in its suggestions for how to do that.  It’s a long read, and a lot of it is common sense (but apparently somebody has to say it – it’s not happening otherwise!) but there are a couple of parts worth looking at.

I’m particularly excited about pages 43-45, which suggest that formula companies ought to back off with advertising and giving of free samples, and that doctors should clear their offices of advertisements, free samples, pens, and the like which promote formula usage.  What happens when the hospital sends a new mother home with no support and a free sample of formula?  End of breast feeding.  I don’t dare to expect formula companies to stop advertising in “Parenting” magazine and the like, but I sincerely hope these recommendations are put into effect immediately, at least on the part of health care providers.  We have been watching Similac commercials in the OB’s office for the last few weeks, and I would certainly not miss them.  (If only they would do the same with prescription drug advertising, particularly contraceptives…but that’s another long discussion!)

The other exciting part is the call for employers to expand paid maternity leave and opportunities for mothers to nurse or pump at work.  (See pgs. 50-53 of the PDF.)  With as many women working as there are today, this would make a huge difference in how long many of them are able to continue breast feeding.

So it’s nice to see that somebody in D.C. is doing something that might just be worthwhile.  The hitch, of course, is that most of the actions recommended are voluntary, so there is still a ton of grass-roots work to be done.  But maybe this will open a few eyes to what they could be working on, and it certainly gives mothers a new tool for discussing these issues with their employers and health care providers, who tend to care about these sorts of documents.

They Must be Bored

This is the email I received from one of our senators today:

“Dear  Friend,

I was outraged when I found out the Obama Administration  wanted to give Guantanamo Bay detainees  the H1N1 vaccine while millions of Americans – including  pregnant women and children – are still waiting  to get the H1N1 vaccine because of massive shortages.

Swine flu is a very real concern for all of us across  the country.  Currently, the H1N1 vaccine is only being provided to  certain high-risk segments of the population.  The vaccine is in short supply,  and, as such, there are millions of Americans in these high-risk groups still  awaiting the vaccine.  We should save the vaccine for those who need it  most, and as of today, women, children and other at-risk individuals should  fall squarely in line under that category.

Last week I introduced a Senate resolution with  several of my colleagues asserting that the Obama Administration should not  provide Guantanamo Bay detainees and terror suspects with the H1N1 vaccine  before the H1N1 vaccine shortage is addressed and all American citizens  prioritized as vulnerable to H1N1 have the choice to obtain the H1N1 vaccine.

Rest assured as your Senator, I will keep fighting so that terrorist suspects and detainees do  not jump to the front of the line while millions of Americans vulnerable to  H1N1 are waiting to take the vaccine.

David Vitter
U.S.  Senator”

And this is the letter I wrote back to him:

“I would like to express my disappointment that you would waste public time and money by introducing a resolution to keep Guantanamo Bay inmates from receiving the H1N1 vaccine ahead of American citizens.  While I, too, would like to see all those at high risk from the various strains of flu provided with access to vaccines in a timely manner, squabbling about less than 300 vaccines does not seem particularly helpful to fulfilling this purpose.  Furthermore, I think we must keep in mind that inmates in prisons are most certainly in the “high-risk” group.  In fact, because of their close proximity to other inmates, guards, and other staff, those in prisons are, because of their incarceration, automatically at greater risk, regardless of their personal health.  Further, those at Guantanamo are not criminals; they are suspected of terrorist leanings and activities.  It is bad enough that they have been held so long without proper trials, will we now deny those who are at our mercy access to simple preventative health care?  By taking them into our prison, we, the American people, have taken on the responsibility for their health.  If we want to continue to claim the moral high ground (if that is even possible anymore!), I think it is necessary to show that we are willing live up to just these sorts of responsibilities.  In the future, I, as your constituent, would prefer you focus on bringing affordable healthcare to all Americans, rather than wasting time trying to deny it to a handful of people under our care whom you think are not worthy of healthcare.”

It really bothers me that people can be so self-righteous about making other people suffer.  Vitter is saying, “These guys don’t like us, so let’s let them get the flu and die.  That’ll show them!”  His web site brags that he and his wife are lectors at a parish in Metairie.  Sigh.