This week, a Christian school fires a teacher for pre-marital sex (10 points if you can guess the teacher’s gender), the FDA cracks down on over-the-counter DNA tests, Detroit’s HIV rates spike and Rand Paul’s eye-doctor credentials turn out to be, err, self-bestowed–read all about it in your weekly health-news round-up from Lindsay Beyerstein at the Media Consortium.
Rand Paul, DIY Ophthalmologist
Rand Paul, the Republican senate candidate in Kentucky, is a freewheeling libertarian. Instead of getting some fancy board-certification as an ophthalmologist, Paul decided to “go Galt” and make up his own credentials. Paul founded the National Board of Ophthalmology, ostensibly to certify doctors as qualified eye specialists.
The NBO is run out of Paul’s home in Bowling Green, Kentucky. Paul is the president, is wife is the vice president, and her father Hilton Ashby is the organization’s secretary. Normally medical boards sponsor rigorous exams to ensure the highest professional standards in their respective specialties. “I can’t tell you what the organization does,” Ashby told TPM.
It takes a rugged individualist eye doctor to found an entire medical board just for himself and a few friends. When you think about it, it’s kind of hypocritical of Paul to hold a standard medical license. If he were a true libertarian he’d found his own medical board and let the free market decide who’s a “real doctor.”
FDA cracks down on DNA tests
The mean old FDA has ordered that companies offering so-called over-the-counter DNA testing prove that their products actually work. Libertarian Alex Tabarrok is outraged. He argues that if the tests don’t actually harm anyone, the government shouldn’t restrict them.
At the American Prospect, Tim Fernholtz replies that the FDA’s decision is just common sense. If a company is claiming to provide medical information, the onus is on them to prove that they are informing the public accurately. Besides, even if the test itself is harmless the results of the test could have life-altering consequences.
Michael Mechanic reports in Mother Jones that one woman became convinced that she’d been the victim of a hospital baby mixup when a over-the-counter DNA test showed that her son wasn’t hers. Kevin Drum of Mother Jones applauds the FDA for getting involved but wonders aloud whether over-the-counter DNA testing is really that much different from astrology or other dubious prediction methods that are perfectly legal and protected by the First Amendment. Should Magic 8-Balls be allowed to market themselves as pregnancy tests? Signs point to no.
HIV in the Motor City
Former White House staffer Van Jones is raising the alarm about HIV in Detroit, as Todd Heywood reports in the Michigan Messenger. HIV rates in Brooklyn and Washington, D.C. have garnered national headlines, but the crisis in Detroit has gone largely unnoticed. Over half of the zip codes in Detroit report HIV prevalence rates of at least 3 percent. In the most severely affected zip codes, 6 percent of the population is HIV positive, an infection level on par with Uganda.
Modeling Christian behavior
A self-proclaimed Christian school in Florida fired a pregnant teacher because she admitted to conceiving her child three weeks before her wedding. Jaretta Hamilton was fired from Southland Christian School for telling the truth about premarital sex, Joseph DiNorcia reports in RH Reality Check. By all accounts Ms. Hamilton’s job performance was fine. Instead of bearing false witness, she answered an intrusive question truthfully. Apparently the school felt it was more “Christian” for Hamilton’s baby to be born to an unemployed mother. Hamilton is suing for discrimination.
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