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General News    H2'ed 3/23/12

The Brave New World of Informed-Consent

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This may come as a surprise, coming from me, but I think Republicans are on to something with this "informed consent" business. They say they are concerned that, when women want to end an unwanted pregnancy or get a prescription for contraceptives, they should be better informed than they apparently are about, well, about how their lady-parts work and potential dangers involved. They point to "complications" that follow abortions as their reason women need better information:

While 97% of women who underwent an abortion reported no complications; 2.5% had minor complications, most of which could be handled at the medical office or abortion facility; and less than 0.5% have more serious complications that require some additional surgical procedure and/or hospitalization.

Nevertheless, the push for informed-consent is long overdue. Survey after survey has shown that Americans are among the most uninformed and/or misinformed citizens among developed nations. We make uninformed decisions on potentially dangerous stuff every day, and it's gotta stop. We need to make sure that every adult American is fully informed before we let them embark on damn near anything. The fact of the matter is that Americans are talking, walking accidents waiting to happen.

Before we lose any more lives or limbs we need to get these folks informed. And men, not women, are the ones statistics show are at greatest risk for stupid-related injuries and deaths.

So, bring on the informed-consent movement. Because, it's not just for women any more.


Erectile Dysfunction Drugs: This stuff can actually kill a guy, especially if he's taking heart meds as well. And they have been linked to causes of sudden and permanent blindness as well as dangerously extended, extensions. Men need to know more before they consent to go on this hard stuff.

  • - They should be required to get a rectal endoscope exam to insure their aging prostate is up to the intended task.
  •  And how many men actually know what their prostate looks like? None. So men will have to be made to watch the entire up-the-butt images beamed in living color to a TV screen.
  • - They will also need to pass a treadmill test to assure their heart is healthy enough for sexual activity.
  • - And finally, they need a full lecture on the dangers of four-hour plus woodies, including pictures of erections gone wild.

 Power tools: There are over 125,000 power tool-related injuries by do-it-yourselfers every year in this country. Table saw injuries alone account for nearly 32,000 slice and dice accidents. Also, in 2009 there were 400,000 workshop power tool accidents. And again, it's not women who need the informed-consent here. Males are 4 times more likely to be injured by a power tool than women. So before Sears can let a guy out of the store packing a sharp and shiny new chainsaw, they should be required to see proof from that guy's doctor attesting that the buyer had;

  • - Taken and passed a reflexology test.
  • - Passed a full hand-eye coordination test
  • - Watched a film showing real-life images of real power tool accident victims.
  • - Passed a reading test to prove he/she can read and understand safety warnings that come with power tools.

Firearms: If those born-agains are worried about the safety of the un-born, they should have no objection with a bit of informed-consent that safeguards the 360 million already-born Americans. Because the uninformed use of firearms results in nearly 30,000 accidental deaths a year in America. Again, the vast majority of those victims are men; 62.1 percent were white males, 21.4 percent were black males, 11.1percent were white females, and 2.9 percent were black females. And it's not just others they hurt and kill, but themselves as well. Also males with firearms in the home are at a significantly greater risk of suicide. Deaths from accidental discharge of firearms; men 0.15 per 100,000, women 0.1 per 100,000.  So, the need for a huge dose of informed-consent is obvious here, especially for the fellas:

  • - Those wanting to buy a gun should first have to undergo a full and comprehensive psychological exam.
  • - Complete and pass an eye exam so authorities can be sure that if he shoots something - or someone -- he can actually see what he's shooting at.
  • - Be required to complete a gun-safety course that includes watching a film showing actual gunshot wounds and victims.
  • - All the above requirements would apply for every gun a person purchases in the future as well, on the theory that a person needs re-informed-consenting to make sure they really get "the message."

Hunting Licenses: Buying a gun is one thing, but taking it out into the woods to hunt game is a separate matter, requiring an additional dose of informed-consent. According to the International Hunter Education Association, approximately 1,000 people in the US and Canada are accidentally shot by fellow hunters every year. And the vast majority of those casualties are what? - under-informed men. So, before a hunting license can be issued, the applicant must first prove he/she has:

  • - Completed a hunting safety course that includes sessions on subjects like, "What to do with your loaded rifle when you have to take a pee." And, "Hunting dogs that accidentally shoot their owners."
  • - Watched a film showing actual hunting accident victims.
  • - Pictures of animals wounded by hunters and left to die.
  • - Show receipts from a butcher proving they ate what they killed.
  • - Watched a film that informs them of the ecological dangers of over-hunting and the life-cycle of the deer, bear or other game the hunter intends to hunt, including footage of the intended game as baby critters. (Deer hunters will be required to watch the Disney classic, Bambi and submit an essay on why shooting momma deer can be bad for the species.)

Horsepower: Most men love horsepower. And currently they are able to walk into a dealership, put their money down and drive out with several hundred horsepower under their hood. The results are easily seen in accident statistics, and they're a lot larger, by a long shot, than post-abortion complications. Approximately half to 70% of all traumatic brain injuries, for example, are caused by motor vehicle accidents. And, I know this is getting repetitive, but 73 percent of all people killed in car accidents are male. Men are three times as likely as women to be killed in motor vehicle accidents. Men over the age of 65 years are twice as likely as women to be killed in motor vehicle accidents. So, auto/truck/motorcycle/boat and plane buyers need to prove they understand what they're getting into better than they do now. Which means they should be required to prove:

  • - They have taken and passed a reflexology examination to prove they can hit the brakes before they hit something else.
  • - Taken a full driving, boating, flying, riding safety course that includes films showing actual motoring-related deaths or injuries.
  • - Proven they can successfully navigate an obstacle course in their vehicle of choice.
  • - Watch a film on the effect of tailpipe carbon emissions on the atmosphere.
  • - Undergone an intrusive prostate exam - just because.
  • - These requirements will apply to every purchase of any vehicle with more than 90 horses under the hood.

I'm sure you can think of more activities that require nanny-state mandated informed-consent regulations. But I'll stop here. If the reasoning is sound for requiring women to undergo unnecessary, intrusive and insulting "informed-consent" procedures before they can end a pregnancy or get contraceptives, then the same reasoning is sound for each instance above. In fact, the number of deaths and injuries from those I list are astronomically higher than the death or injuries suffered by women from contraceptives or abortions.

So, when do we get started on my list? Let's see how the informed-consent-shoe fits when we require men to squeeze into it.

(Editing by Robert Duffey)


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Stephen Pizzo has been published everywhere from The New York Times to Mother Jones magazine. His book, Inside Job: The Looting of America's Savings and Loans, was nominated for a Pulitzer.

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