SEARCH

Entries in Arizona (16)

Wednesday
Mar302011

Arizona Outlaws Abortions Based on Race or Sex of Fetus

Digital Vision/Thinkstock(PHOENIX) -- Arizona has made it a crime to perform an abortion because of the sex or race of the fetus.

The bill, signed by Gov. Jan Brewer Tuesday, targets doctors or other abortion providers. It allows the father of the aborted baby -- or the maternal grandparents if the mother is a minor -- to take legal action against an abortion provider, who could face up to seven years in jail and the loss of their medical license if convicted.

Proponents of the new measure said it protected against capricious abortions performed because parents preferred a baby of a different race or gender.

The sponsor of the bill, Republican state legislator Steve Montenegro, an evangelical pastor, could not immediately be reached for comment. But Matthew Benson, a spokesman for Brewer, said via email: "Governor Brewer believes society has a responsibility to protect its most vulnerable -- the unborn -- and this legislation is consistent with her strong pro-life track record."

Critics of the measure said it was aiming to create another obstacle to abortion for women. "It's to stigmatize women choosing abortion and to create more fear and uncertainty for the medical professionals providing the care," said Bryan Howard, CEO of Planned Parenthood of Arizona.

David Michael Cantor, a Phoenix-based criminal lawyer, said the notion that Arizona residents were practicing sex- or race-based abortion was a "fantasy."

"We're not Pakistan, we're not China," Cantor said, referring to countries where there is a strong cultural preference for boys. He added that he did not believe mothers who knew they had conceived a mixed-race baby were having abortions for that reason, pointing out that the state has a large number of mixed-race children. "Arizona is just a melting pot," Cantor said.

There is some evidence of sex selection among U.S. immigrant parents, according to research by economists Douglas Almond and Lena Edlund of Cornell University. They found that U.S.-born children of Chinese, Korean, and Asian Indian parents were statistically more likely to have a boy if their first child was a girl than were white parents. If the first two children were girls, the third child was 50 percent more likely to be a boy in those communities, according to the economists' analysis of 2000 U.S. Census data.

But Howard of Planned Parenthood said the motives for an abortion were a matter for the individual to consider. "We don't have evidence of these kinds of motives in the state," he said in reference to sex and race selection. "That being said, it's not my business -- or the legislature's."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio 

Tuesday
Mar082011

Music Therapy Helps Gabrielle Giffords Find Voice After Shooting

Douglas Graham/Roll Call/Getty Images(HOUSTON) -- It has been two months since the Tucson shooting spree that killed six people and injured 12, including Arizona Rep.Gabrielle Giffords.  Now Giffords, who survived a gunshot wound to the left hemisphere of her brain, is finding her voice through song.

"Gabby responds to music because she knows a lot of songs," said Maegan Morrow, Giffords' music therapist and a certified brain injury specialist at TIRR Memorial Hermann Rehabilitation Hospital in Houston.

Since Giffords was transferred to TIRR on Jan. 21, reports of her singing "Happy Birthday" for husband Mark Kelly and Don McLean's "American Pie" have signaled what some have called a miraculous recovery.

"The brain can heal itself if you do the right protocol," Morrow said.  "It just needs lots of repetition, lots of consistency."

Protocols like music speech stimulation and melodic intonation therapy can help patients with damage to the brain's communication center, like Giffords, learn to speak again.

"It's creating new pathways in the brain," Morrow said.  "Language isn't going to work anymore, so we have to go to another area and start singing and create a new pathway for speech."

Music therapy was first recognized as a tool to aid soldiers returning from World War II with brain injuries.

"It was discovered that music was more than a diversion or recreational activity -- it could be incorporated into the overall treatment of an individual," said Al Bumanis, director of communications for the American Music Therapy Association.  "It could address non-musical goals in a very unique way -- sometimes coming in through the backdoor where some therapies can't."

Indeed, a person who has suffered an injury due to stroke or trauma may have difficulty speaking but be able to sing.

"Patients can be essentially mute, unable to utter a single word but put on the Beatles' "All You Need is Love" and suddenly patients can sing.  Substitute some of the words and now patients are speaking again," said Dr. Michael De Georgia, director of the Centers for Neurocritical Care and Music and Medicine at University Hospitals Case Medical Center.  "Music is very powerful."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
Mar042011

'Heart Attack Grill' Spokesman Dies at 29

ABC News/HeartAttackGrill [dot] com(PHOENIX) -- Blair River, the 575-pound spokesman for the Heart Attack Grill, an Arizona restaurant that serves shamelessly high-calorie burgers and fries, died Tuesday at the age of 29, following a bout of the flu.

At 6 feet 8 inches tall, River garnered celebrity as the grill's "Gentle Giant" when he became the face and advertising star of the medically themed restaurant -- famous for its triple-bypass burgers, flatliner lard fries and server "nurses" donning uniforms fit for adult films.

River came down with the flu last week, and after four days in the hospital, he succumbed to pneumonia, says Jon Rosso, owner of the grill and close friend of River. Rosso described River's death as "tragic," because he was a "young creative genius, a promising man whose life got cut short because he carried extra weight. Had he been thin, he would have had a tenfold opportunity to survive the pneumonia."

Though Rosso goes by "Dr. Jon," in line with the restaurant's medical theme, he is not medically trained and so can't speak to the role obesity might have played in River's illness. The official cause of death for the hamburger model is still unknown.

"Obesity increases your risk for just about every condition, and it can make nearly every acute health problem worse," says Keith Ayoob, director of the nutrition clinic at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City.

Those who are morbidly obese have an increased risk for sudden cardiac death and heart attacks at a younger age, says Dr. Carl Lavie, medical director of cardiac rehabilitation and prevention at the Ochsner Heart and Vascular Institute. "All of this could be worsened with a flu or other respiratory illness.

And research during the H1N1 swine flue epidemic of 2009 suggested that extreme obesity did complicate recovery in flu patients. One study, published in the journal PloS One, found that among those requiring inpatient care for the flu, those with a body mass index of 40 or higher were almost three times more likely to die than those of normal body mass index.

It is impossible to say whether River's weight was a factor in his death from pneumonia, but Ayoob says that it's a matter of adjusting the risk when dealing with obese patients.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
Jan102011

Gabrielle Giffords in Medically-Induced Coma to Help Brain Recover

Photo Courtesy - Tom Willett/Getty Images(TUCSON, Ariz.) -- Doctors say that while the bullet that struck Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords did not hit any critical parts of the brain, whether she will survive and how fully she will recover are still unknown.

"This was a devastating wound that traveled the length of the brain on the left side," Dr. Peter Rhee, trauma director at University Medical Center in Tucson, said during a press conference.  Giffords' family confirmed to ABC affiliate KTRK that the bullet entered the back of her head and exited through her forehead.

Giffords is currently in a medically induced coma that doctors say will help her brain rest.  She had surgery to stop the bleeding and help control swelling on the left side of the brain.  Doctors also had to decompress her eyes.  Eyelids often swell when there is trauma to the brain.

"Brain swelling is the biggest threat at this point," said Dr. Michael Lemole, chief of the the division of neurosurgery at the University of Arizona.  To help control swelling, part of Giffords skull was removed and will be reimplanted, possibly in a few months.

Giffords was awakened periodically and she has made nonverbal responses to simple commands, but Rhee said she has not spoken because she is on a ventilator.

Lemole said Giffords was able to squeeze a doctor's hand and hold up fingers when asked, and these responses are good signs.

The next few days and weeks will be critical to determine how much brain function Giffords has lost, if any.  Doctors will keep an especially close eye on the level of brain swelling and also on her ability to recover speech and movement on the right side of her body, which are controlled by the left side of the brain. 

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Sunday
Jan092011

Surviving Gunshot to Brain Is Possible, Say Doctors

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(TUCSON, Ariz.) -- Despite being shot in the head with a bullet that went through her brain, it's entirely possible for Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords to survive her injury, neurosurgeons believe -- though without knowing the trajectory of the bullet, they say, it's difficult to predict how fully she will recover.

Twenty-two-year-old Jared Lee Loughner allegedly shot Giffords and several other people at a political event outside an Arizona grocery store Saturday morning. Six people have died, including a federal judge and a child.

Giffords survived and is now receiving treatment at Tucson's University Medical Center. The medical center's trauma director, Dr. Peter Rhee, says he is "optimistic" about Giffords' chances of survival.

There are a number of different scenarios that make it possible to survive a gunshot to the brain.

"If it's a glancing blow that injures the skull and a small amount of brain and doesn't go directly through the whole brain is one case," said Dr. Paul Vesta, director of neurocritical care at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles. "People can also survive with parts of the brain missing."

Giffords is at risk for seizures, a stroke and more bleeding.

"[There will also be] two weeks of dealing of ICU [intensive care unit] issues, infections and pulmonary embolism [clot to the lungs]," said Dr. John Boockvar, associate professor of neurological surgery at New York-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center in New York.

After that, doctors say it will take a couple of months to determine if there has been any loss of brain function and how extensive it is. The fact that Gifford is only 40 years old works in her favor, since younger people tend to recover more easily.

"It is entirely possible to make a complete recovery," said Vesta.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Nov182010

Arizona Budget Cuts Put Some Organ Transplants Out of Reach

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(MESA, Ariz.) -- As the United States continues debating expanded health care access, the state of Arizona has begun rationing some care it says it cannot afford to give its poorest residents. Beginning on Oct. 1, Arizona's Medicaid program, the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System, stopped covering seven types of organ transplants, including heart transplants for non-ischemic cardiomyopathy, lung transplants, pancreatic transplants, some bone marrow transplants and liver transplants for patients with hepatitis C.

The reductions made by the Arizona state government were approved by the federal government, according to an Aug. 11 letter from Gloria Nagle, associate regional administrator for the Division of Medicaid & Children's Health Operations. In addition to limiting organ transplants, Arizona also restricted coverage of prosthetics and zeroed out podiatrists' services, preventive dental services, and wellness and physical exams for adult Medicaid enrollees.

"This may be a harbinger of what will evolve in this Obama national healthcare system where the expense of the health system will only be able to be contained by limitation of access," said Dr. David C. Cronin, director of liver transplantation at the Medical College of Wisconsin. "So everybody may be covered, but all services may not be available."

Of Arizona's decision to pull the plug on an insured patient's transplant, he said, "I don't see how that's fair on any level. It's indefensible to renege if the patient did everything they were supposed to do and they don't have another option. You shouldn't try to balance your budget on the backs of the most desperate patients."

Arizona's Republican governor and legislature, who already control the state's purse strings, want even more independence when it comes to determining which health care services Arizona Medicaid patients receive. Indeed, Arizona's newly elected Senate President Russell Pearce has argued for cutting the state's Medicaid program, even if that means Arizona will lose about $7 billion worth of federal grants.

Jennifer Carusetta, chief legislative liaison for AHCCCS, said the state is facing a $1 billion deficit in the program come July 2011. Although Arizona's fiscal year began July 1, the state opted not to implement the cuts until Oct. 1, when it estimated they'd affect about 100 people on transplant lists. However, Carusetta said the state anticipated that only a fraction of them were likely to feel direct effects of the policy change. "We believe that only about 15 percent of those individuals would be able to get a match and secure an organ," she said.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Page 1 2






ABC News Radio