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U.S. assistant secretary for health: Science is being ‘politically perverted’

“Those who attack our LGBTQIA+ community are driven by an agenda that has nothing to do with medicine. It has nothing to do with science”

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Admiral Rachel Levine, M.D., USPHS (Blade file photo by Michael Key)

FORT WORTH – Dr. Rachel Levine, the U.S. assistant secretary for health traveled to Texas Christian University School of Medicine in Fort Worth, Texas Saturday to deliver a speech at a conference on LGBTQ health care being hosted by students.

The nation’s top Trans official took aim at what she categorised as the ‘political perversion of medicine and science’ which are being used to attack access to healthcare by LGBTQ+ Americans.

Dressed in the uniform of an admiral denoting her role as head of the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Officer Corps, Levine addressed students at the Out for Health Conference, an annual forum organized for and by medical students and hosted each year by a different Texas school.

The Dallas Morning News reported that Levine told the gathering; “The truth we need to confront now is that medicine and science are being politically perverted around the country in ways that destroy human lives.”

“We have reached a tipping point for the role of medicine in civic life for the health and well being of LGBTQIA+ Americans and that is why I’m here today,” she added.

The admiral then stressed that physicians need to embrace their roles as patient advocates.

“I want to point out — this is a very important point — that if you’re an LGBTQIA+ child, adolescent or teenager having mental health challenges, the difference between life and death is often a single caring adult,” Levine, who specializes in pediatric and adolescent care, told the conference attendees.

Texas has been the epi-center for structured political targeting of LGBTQ+ people, especially Trans Texans. In February, Texas Republican Gov. Greg Abbott ordered state agencies to investigate reports of gender-affirming care on minors, following an official opinion from state Attorney General Ken Paxton that called the treatment a form of “child abuse” under Texas law. 

A move that last month led to nearly a dozen social workers with the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services having resigned over the order issued by Abbott to investigate the families of trans adolescent and younger minors for child abuse by allowing those children to receive transitioning healthcare.

More recently, this past Friday, the U.S. Department of Justice gave notice that it has filed a complaint in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Alabama, challenging the state’s  SB 184 – a bill that would criminalize doctors for providing best-practice, gender-affirming care to transgender and nonbinary youth.

Treating a minor Trans youth by a healthcare provider would be considered a felony under the Alabama law signed by Alabama Republican Governor Kay Ivey signed as part of a package of anti-LGBTQ+ legislation which included SB 184 three weeks ago.

In her speech Saturday Levine said those who push to limit transgender youth’s access to treatments like these are rejecting “well established” medical practices for “slander, bigotry and gender baiting hate speech.”

“Those who attack our LGBTQIA+ community are driven by an agenda that has nothing to do with medicine. It has nothing to do with science. It has nothing to do certainly with warmth, empathy, compassion and understanding,” Levine said. “We have to take a stand on behalf of those who are being hurt.”

“Gender affirming care is medical care. Gender affirming care is mental health care. Gender affirming care is suicide prevention care,” she added, citing a study published in February that showed that after a year of this care the odds of suicidality were lowered by 73% in a group of 13 to 20 year old trans and nonbinary patients.

Levine sat down and spoke with The Dallas Morning News after her speech telling the paper she met with transgender children and their parents while in Texas.

“We see them and we support them,” Levine said.

“The word I used when I spoke with the families is that it’s a very insidious way to address this issue,” Levine said. “It is turning the child protective agency, which is supposed to protect children and families, to attack children and families for political purposes.”

Asked about the current political climate by the newspaper, Levine noted that the ongoing coronavirus pandemic has ramped up the politicization of medicine and science, she remains optimistic that this most recent wave of negative attention on the transgender community will eventually diminish. This is an election year after all, she added.

“I don’t know how long it’ll last,” Levine said. “But I don’t think that that will continue forever.”

Many people who aren’t trans don’t understand the complexity of gender identity, Levine told the audience. Sex and gender are “multidimensional,” she said, and go beyond the “simple binary of male and female.”

“Anyone who believes that words are not the same as actions, who believe that LGBTQI people should just toughen up, should walk a mile in our shoes,” she noted.

That means having empathy, she told The Dallas Morning News: “It really is incumbent upon us to have empathy and compassion for those that are different from us.”

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Politics

Hillary Clinton labels Justice Thomas ‘a person of grievance’

Clinton cautioned that Thomas was also sending a signal to attack same-sex marriage, sodomy and contraception

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Screenshot/YouTube CBS Mornings

NEW YORK – In an interview with CBS News correspondent and co-anchor of CBS Mornings Gayle King, former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton reflected on last Friday’s stunning yet expected overturn of landmark women’s reproductive choice case Roe v. Wade.

During the interview, Secretary Clinton cautioned that Associate U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas was sending a signal to attack same-sex marriage, sodomy and contraception to lower federal courts and state legislatures and that he would be willing to consider cases that could target those rights.

“He has signaled in the past to lower courts, to state legislatures to find cases, pass laws, get them up,” Clinton said, adding Thomas’s message to conservative judicial activists has been “I may not get them the first, the second, or the third time, but we’re going to keep at it.”

Clinton also noted, “I went to law school with [Justice Thomas]. He’s been a person of grievance for as long as I have known him — resentment, grievance, anger … Women are going to die, Gayle. Women will die.”

Hillary Clinton on abortion ruling: “Women are going to die”

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Politics

U.S. House Speaker hints at legislation to codify same-sex marriage rights

Pelosi suggested such legislation in a “Dear Colleague” letter on Monday to fellow members of the House Democratic caucus

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U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi at SF Pride 2022 by photographer Barbara Kinney (published by permission)

WASHINGTON – U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-SF) hinted at the possibility of legislation to codify the right of same-sex couples to marry, which many fear is in danger after the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision overturning Roe v. Wade, as part of an effort to secure “freedoms which Americans currently enjoy.”

Pelosi suggested such legislation could be in the works in a “Dear Colleague” letter on Monday to fellow members of the House Democratic caucus addressing plans for congressional action after the ruling last week in Dobbs v. Women’s Health Organization, which eliminated the right for women to access an abortion.

The concurrence of U.S. Associate Justice Clarence Thomas is a core component of the letter from Pelosi, who expressed consternation about his rejection of finding unenumerated rights under the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

“It is still appalling to me that the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court would agree that a Constitutional right does not exist if it was not spelled out explicitly and in public when the 14th Amendment was ratified over 150 years ago,” Pelosi said. “While this extremist Supreme Court works to punish and control the American people, Democrats must continue our fight to expand freedom in America. Doing so is foundational to our oath of office and our fidelity to the Constitution.”

Thomas said in his concurring opinion he welcomes vehicles that would allow the court to revisit other major decisions, such as the Griswold decision guaranteeing the right to contraceptives; the Lawrence decision decriminalizing sodomy for same-sex couples and others; and the Obergefell decision legalizing same-sex marriage nationwide.

Although Pelosi doesn’t explicitly say she’ll introduce legislation on same-sex marriage, she brought up “access to contraception and in-vitro fertilization to marriage equality,” then added, “Legislation is being introduced to further codify freedoms which Americans currently enjoy. More information to follow.”

“It is clear from how Donald Trump and Mitch McConnell stacked the Supreme Court that elections have ramifications,” Pelosi said. “It is essential that we protect and expand our pro-choice Majorities in the House and Senate in November so that we can eliminate the filibuster so that we can restore women’s fundamental rights – and freedom for every American.”

Any legislation seeking to codify marriage equality would have to get around marriage being an issue administered by the states under the guidelines of the U.S. Constitution. In the past, Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) has introduced the Respect for Marriage Act, which would have required the federal government to recognize same-sex marriage and states to recognize same-sex marriage performed elsewhere.

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California Politics

Abortion rights: California Constitutional Amendment heads to ballot

The state is expanding efforts to protect women seeking abortions or reproductive care as well as anyone assisting those women

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Capitol building in Sacramento (Office of the Governor)

SACRAMENTO – In November, California voters will have an opportunity to amend the state’s constitution to include the right to an abortion and today, Governor Gavin Newsom signed an executive order to further protect women coming to California from other states.

“California will not back down from the fight to protect abortion rights as more than half the states in this country, enabled by the Supreme Court, ban or severely restrict access,” said Newsom. “We are ensuring Californians will have the opportunity this November to enshrine the right to choose in our state constitution. And we’re not waiting until November to take action, today’s executive order ensures that the state will not hand over patients who come here to receive care and will not extradite doctors who provide care to out-of-state patients here. In California, women will remain protected.”  

The order signed today prevents any information, including medical records and patient data, from being shared by state agencies or departments in response to inquiries or investigations brought by other states or individuals within those states looking to restrict access. The state is expanding efforts to protect women seeking abortions or reproductive care as well as anyone assisting those women.

SCA 10 was passed by the California State Assembly today and now heads to the November ballot.  

Within hours of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade last Friday, Governor Newsom signed legislation to help protect patients and providers in California from civil liability for providing, aiding, or receiving abortion care in the state. In addition, Governor Newsom and the governors of Oregon and Washington launched a new Multi-State Commitment to defend access to reproductive health care and protect patients and providers.  

The budget agreement announced yesterday includes more than $200 million in additional funding for reproductive health care services. Governor Newsom recently signed legislation eliminating copays for abortion care services and has signed into law a legislative package to further strengthen access and protect patients and providers.  

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