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June 17, 2010

American doctors are still removing clitorises from baby girls

This starts off horrific and becomes monstrous. Bioethics Forum - Bad Vibrations
In “The Rhetoric of Dehumanization: An Analysis of Medical Reports of the Tuskegee Syphilis Project,” Martha Solomon brilliantly demonstrates how the project’s researchers hid their work in plain sight. Specifically, Solomon used the published reports of the Tuskegee syphilis study – which involved medical professionals actively withholding medicines from black men with syphilis for four decades – to show how the dehumanizing, scientized language of modern medicine “can obscure and deemphasize any ethical, non-scientific perspective.” Solomon’s insights come to mind as we read the 2007 Journal of Urology paper, “Nerve Sparing Ventral Clitoroplasty: Analysis of Clitoral Sensitivity and Viability” by Jennifer Yang, Diane Felsen, and Dix P. Poppas. Writing in the typically dry, quantifying language of modern medicine, the authors report why they believe Poppas, a pediatric urologist at New York Presbyterian Hospital, Weill Medical College of Cornell University, has left a group of girls still able to have sexual sensation after he has removed parts of the girls’ clitorises. With parental consent, these girls’ clitorises have been cut down in size after the physician deemed these clitorises too big. For over a decade, many people (including us) have criticized this surgical practice. Critics in medicine, bioethics, and patient advocacy have questioned the surgery’s necessity, safety, and efficacy. We still know of no evidence that a large clitoris increases psychological risk (so is the surgery even necessary?), and we do know of substantial anecdotal evidence that it does not increase risk. Importantly, there also seems to be evidence that clitoroplasties performed in infancy do increase risk – of harm to physical and sexual functioning, as well as psychosocial harm. But we are not writing today to again bring attention to the surgeries themselves. Rather, we are writing to express our shock and concern over the follow-up examination techniques described in the 2007 article by Yang, Felsen, and Poppas. Indeed, when a colleague first alerted us to these follow-up exams – which involve Poppas stimulating the girls’ clitorises with vibrators while the girls, aged six and older, are conscious – we were so stunned that we did not believe it until we looked up his publications ourselves. . . .

June 16, 2010

Prop 8 supporters want to annul 18,000 marriages in California

Prop. 8 forces target 18,000 same-sex marriages
As the trial over California's prohibition on same-sex marriage enters its final stage Wednesday, the ban's sponsors are urging the judge to go a step further and revoke state recognition of the marriages of 18,000 gay and lesbian couples who wed before voters passed Proposition 8. Such an order would honor "the expressed will of the people," backers of the November 2008 ballot measure said Tuesday in their final written filing before Chief U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker. Andrew Pugno, an attorney for Prop. 8's backers, said in an interview that the sponsors aren't asking Walker to nullify the 18,000 marriages, but only to rule that government agencies, courts and businesses no longer have to recognize the couples as married. Lawyers for two same-sex couples who sued to overturn Prop. 8, on the other hand, are asking Walker to lift the marriage ban permanently. The measure violates the constitutional guarantee of equality, they argued, and must be struck down "regardless of its level of public support."

June 14, 2010

BP call center employee admits they do nothing, never pass on calls

Think Progress -- Operator At BP Call Center Says Company Never Does Anything With The Calls: We’re Just A ‘Diversion’
To demonstrate that it’s responsibly taking care of the oil spill and listening to public complaints, BP has touted the fact that it has set up call centers to handle the response. However, one of the operators at the BP Call Center in West Houston has revealed that she and the other 100 employees are just PR props; BP isn’t actually doing anything with the thousands of calls it receives: “We take all your information and then we have nothing to give them, nothing to give them,” said Janice. Janice said calls about the oil disaster are non-stop and that operators are just warm bodies on the other end of the phone. “We’re a diversion to stop them from really getting to the corporate office, to the big people,” said Janice. … Because the operators believe the calls never get past them, some don’t even bother taking notes.