Digging in the Dirt

I’m digging in the dirt

To find the places I got hurt.

– Peter Gabriel – 
I’ve collected several different articles regarding the ethics of doctors and health care providers.  Particularly, are they allowed to exercise their freedom of conscience professionally without discrimination?  Should a pharmacist be able to refuse to fill a prescription for contraceptives because of their conscience?  
I’ve run across several articles on this issue.  The first one is here, but it’s really just an abstract of this article from the New York Times.  Do you notice anything interesting in these two articles?
Neither article actually gives us the name of the bill or rule or whatever you want to call it from 2008 that Bush enacted.  Neither article actually gives us the name of the bill or rule or whatever you want to call it, even though the whole article is about the controversy of the original bill and the subsequent controversy of Obama’s changes to it.  No link is made to the rule – either as it was originally enacted or as it has been or will be modified.
Huh.  That made me curious.  So I started Googling to see if I could find the name of this amendment.  Wikipedia didn’t have a link to it (or it probably did, but I would need to know the exact name of it to find it).  It took me several minutes – an eternity in online searching! – to finally come up with this Health and Human Services memo on the issue from 2008.  Through it, I was able to figure out that the 2008 legislation in question was the Weldon Act.  
At least I think it is.  I have yet to be able to successfully get a hold of that Amendment, or even be certain that I’m looking at the appropriate legislation which the Amendment is a part of.  I think that this is it.  I’m still not certain.  And even if it is, I have to figure out which portion of this massive piece of legislation is the Weldon Amendment.  
All of which leads to several interesting observations and realizations (well, interesting to me, at least!).   Firstly, in reporting news to people on legislation, the assumption seems to be that what we need and want are the perspectives and attitudes of various people on different sides of the issue.  We want to know why some people like it and why others don’t.  Of course, in reporting this, any particular news outlet is going to be tempted to skew the perspectives to emphasize or better represent the side that best matches the outlet’s own ideas or views on the topic.  The assumption is not only that the reader does not want to look at the actual legislative text, but that they aren’t capable of understanding it.  
Tragically, the latter part may be true, based on my limited explorations thus far!
Another realization is that if there are avenues for examining the enacted laws and legislation for our nation, we aren’t educated in where these resources are or how to utilize them.  I would think that this sort of public service information would be made available in various ways.  Legislators campaigning for office might provide the URL for these sites on their publication materials.  
To save you the trouble, here are some useful resources (or what I hope will be useful resources, once I get better at using them) for looking at the actual legislation being discussed or voted on or enacted, rather than listening to various people’s opinions about the legislation.  I tend to idealistically think that if citizens got used to insisting on seeing what the legislation actually says, we might also be a bit more inclined to get involved more with governance rather than relying on lobbyists and special interest groups to claim to represent us or advocate for us.  We aren’t a direct democracy, but I suspect that even representative democracy ceases to work in our best interest if we aren’t well-informed.
Here are some links:
The Library of Congress, THOMAS portal:  http://thomas.loc.gov.   This is the main mechanism provided by our government to review what our government is doing legislatively.  You can search for current or past legislation.  
US House of Representatives web site:  http://house.gov.  Information on the current House of Representatives.  
US Senate web site:  http://senate.gov.  The partner of the House of Representatives web site, providing information on the current Senate.
Enjoy!

2 Responses to “Digging in the Dirt”

  1. seks randki Says:

    You post very interesting posts can’t wait for more posts

  2. ufc betting Says:

    Awsome post, what blog platform do you use on your site ?

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