It’s a long-ish article, so some of the more important things to note:
The medical board’s prosecutor maintains that [Dr. Shelley] Sella breached the standard of practice in treating the woman, and contends that the abortion should have been performed at a hospital because the patient was at higher risk of a rupture due to her medical history.
But no hospital in New Mexico performs third-trimester abortions, and only 10 percent of such late-term procedures are done at hospitals in the U.S.
The complaint that triggered the medical board inquiry was filed in 2011 by local and national anti-abortion activists [Operation Rescue] who say a ruling against Sella could lead to a national medical standard of practice governing late-term abortions.
Operation Rescue’s Cheryl Sullenger told the Journal the key issue in the case is whether Sella’s actions should be judged based on obstetrical standards of care, rather than abortion standards.
If the board finds against Sella, Sullenger predicted the decision could have national ramifications.
“Right now, there really are no (national) third-trimester abortion standards and what it could do is essentially stop third-trimester abortions, which actually would be a good thing, even in the case of fetal anomalies,” Sullenger said.
The patient was discharged within three days, with no permanent damage indicated in medical records.
But Sella testified that the rupture could require her to have a C-section in the future if she becomes pregnant and can affect her ability to completely go to full term.
Her New Mexico medical licensing file shows three prior medical board investigations in Kansas that were triggered by complaints from the national anti-abortion group, Operation Rescue.
Only one was sustained, involving a handwritten note in a patient’s medical file that wasn’t legible or sufficient. She was required to take a course on record keeping.
The board is composed mostly of physicians who are appointed by Gov. Susana Martinez.
That last line is what worries me most. I’ve mentioned it in the past, but our governor? She’s one that has proposed a bill last year that people who are raped, conceive from the rape, and decide to carry, can only get state assistance if they prove they were “forcibly” raped… and we all know how difficult it is for rape victims to get justice in the court, especially if the state thinks a rape isn’t valid if the victim isn’t kicking and screaming.
Update: Dr. Sella was cleared of the charges:
The board voted unanimously this morning to exonerate her of the complaint after more than 45 minutes of deliberation.
“Hot Coffee” Premieres on HBO, Monday, June 27 at 9 PM
Is Justice Being Served?
Seinfeld mocked it. Letterman ranked it in his top ten list. And more than fifteen years later, its infamy continues. Everyone knows the McDonald’s coffee case. It has been routinely cited as an example of how citizens have taken advantage of America’s legal system, but is that a fair rendition of the facts? Hot Coffee reveals what really happened to Stella Liebeck, the Albuquerque woman who spilled coffee on herself and sued McDonald’s, while exploring how and why the case garnered so much media attention, who funded the effort and to what end. After seeing this film, you will decide who really profited from spilling hot coffee.
Above is the HBO promo. Watch the official trailer here
So I was born and raised in Albuquerque, and remember how this was the laughing stock of the nation for a while… Especially after McDonalds put the “CAUTION: HOT” warnings on their cups.
Anyway, vaguely interested in this… And for some reason, now I’m wondering which McDonalds location this happened at, because I’ve never looked into it before.
The plaintiff and the spill incident. The plaintiff, a 79-year-old grandmother named Stella Liebeck, was not driving, nor was the vehicle moving when the injury occurred. While the car was stopped, Mrs. Liebeck, who was sitting in the passenger seat, tried to hold the coffee cup between her knees as she removed the lid. The cup tipped over, spilling the contents into her lap.
The injury. Mrs. Liebeck’s injury was anything but trivial. The scalding-hot coffee caused third-degree burns over 16% of her body, including her genital area. She had to be hospitalized for eight days. She required extensive skin grafts and was permanently scarred. She was disabled for a period of two years. During the ensuing trial, Mrs. Liebeck’s physician testified that her injury was one of the worst cases of scalding he’d ever seen.
The coffee. At the time, McDonalds’ corporate specifications explicitly called for coffee to be served at a temperature between 180 and 190 degrees Fahrenheit. An expert witness testified that liquids at this temperature will cause third degree burns of human skin in two to seven seconds. (Coffee served at home is typically 135 to 140 degrees.)
McDonalds’ culpability. During discovery, McDonald’s was required to produce corporate documents of similar cases. More than 700(!) claims had been made against McDonald’s, and many of the victims had suffered third-degree burns similar to Mrs. Liebeck’s. Yet the company had refused to change its policy, supposedly because a consultant had recommended the high temperature as a way to maintain optimum taste. Some have speculated that the real reason for the high temperature was to slow down consumption of the coffee, reducing the demand for free refills.
Greed? Despite the pain caused by her injury, and the lengthy and expensive treatments she required, Mrs. Liebeck originally offered to settle with McDonald’s for $20,000. The corporation offered her a mere $800, so the case went to trial.
The settlement. The jury awarded $200,000 in compensatory damages to Mrs. Liebeck, which was reduced to $160,000 because the jury felt that only 80% of the fault lay with McDonald’s, and 20% with her. They also awarded $2.7 million in punitive damages, essentially as punishment of McDonald’s for its callous treatment of Mrs. Liebeck, and its years of ignoring hundreds of similar injuries. This amount was held to be reasonable given that it represented only two days’ worth of McDonalds’ revenue from coffee sales alone. The trial judge reduced the punitive damages, however, to $480,000. After further negotiation, Mrs. Liebeck ultimately received $640,000.
This event was life changing. Now I’m not gay or bi, but I do believe in the rights and support the gay movement. Now see I thought this was what pride was all about, standing up for a movement and supporting peoples rights, however after getting to pride I found out this was not the case at all. Sure pride deals with these issues and there will always be people there opposed to those ideals and they have the right to their beliefs as well.
What I found out that pride was truely about, at least to me was happiness. Just the pure joy of being around other people and feeling loved. This parade/festival/celebration was about love, and spreading that love to the people around you. Honestly looking out into the crowd, seeing peoples faces, just being around other people in the parade I felt more love than I ever have before. It was a truly amazing experiance and I feel bless that I was able to take part in it.
All the smiles I got, all the smiles I gave, I was moved at the pure joy in the atmosphere and I am so thankful I got to take part it in. Words can’t describe the affection in the air, the best way to sum up Albuquerque Pride 2011 is Love, and I feel this picture below says more than I could ever do with words.
For the full gallery click here.
I was invited to march with a different group at Pride last weekend (and we were of the loud, chanting & holding signs type, and heckled the protestors), but this is how it felt for me as well. It was a really beautiful morning and I’m really glad I got to take part in it. Thank you, NM Get Equal, for inviting me.
I was hella late (it was just one of those days…) and so I missed basically all of the action, which I regret, BUT! They made the news. Super proud of my friend Brittany for getting it all organized.
Pathetic. This isn’t the first time I’ve felt that the city just wanted to attack 1) anyone who isn’t “normal” or 2) their outlets for expressing that- which basically includes music venues like the Launchpad and Sunshine Theater. This isn’t the time or place for me to bitch about what the mayor was doing in 2005 to try to shut down the Launchpad, but this shit really upsets me.
I’m just going to quote a big chunk of their post. I think much of this is, in ways, also important in places that aren’t Albuquerque. Emphasis below is mine.
To anyone else living in New Mexico, if you could please click the link and send their letter- or even your own letter- to Mayor Berry (email@example.com), that would be awesome. I wasn’t even planning to go to Pornotopia, but the situation just pisses me off.
This year, in an attempt to defuse this ongoing conflict and comply with the City’s onerous zoning requirements, we voluntarily elected to postpone our annual film festival. Instead, we have spent recent weeks putting together a non-pornographic celebration of sexuality and the 1st amendment under the title of Pornotopia CENSORED. As planned, this one night performance consisted of burlesque, drag, torch songs, film clips and risqué comedy sketches, all highlighting the power and importance of open, uninhibited speech in a free society. Each act in Pornotopia CENSORED was deliberately designed to meet the letter of the City’s highly restrictive interpretation of its own zoning regulations. However, when it comes to Pornotopia, following the rules is not enough. Over the past few days, the City’s Planning and Zoning Department, apparently in coordination with other City agencies and departments, has conducted a campaign of bullying and intimidation against all those associated with Pornotopia CENSORED. Veiled threats have been made against the Sunshine Theater (the planned location of Pornotopia CENSORED) and against our performers. The City made it clear that both Zoning Enforcement officers and Special Investigations Divisions officers would attend the performance in number, and that these officers would find a way to shut down and silence an event focused on the importance and power of free speech. The Sunshine Theater was threatened with citations for permitting “adult entertainment” under an obscure provision of the zoning code which the City has never before enforced, and which it conveniently overlooked when similar events were held at City-run venues. The performers scheduled for Pornotopia CENSORED were threatened with potential citations for violations of the City’s business license requirements, even though to our knowledge no band, DJ or dancer at any other Albuquerque club has ever been required to meet such a requirement. Attendees, staff, and the Sunshine Theater itself were implicitly threatened by statements that Special Investigations Division officers would be specifically targeting the Pornotopia CENSORED performance for potential violations of New Mexico’s draconian alcohol service laws. Even if these various citations ultimately proved to be groundless, the costs of fighting the foreseeable legal battles would bring financial ruin to the individuals and small businesses targeted by the City.Under these circumstances, Pornotopia CENSORED simply cannot go forward. We cannot ask our supporters and our performers to risk legal and financial dangers of this magnitude. Pornotopia and Self Serve Sexuality Resource Center have always focused on promoting the beauty of adult sexuality in a safe, protected environment. The City’s actions have cast a shadow of fear and intimidation over the entire performance. Since we can no longer provide a safe space for our friends and allies to create their art and express their sexuality, we believe it is better to cancel the performance, conserve our resources, and move forward in our continuing efforts to bring an uninhibited, unashamed, sex-positive voice to the cultural and social landscape of Albuquerque.Having made the agonizing decision to cancel our constitutionally protected and erotically charged performance, we now turn to you, the people of Albuquerque. We ask you to consider what our city is losing by having Pornotopia silenced. We ask you to consider if this is the type of city government you want, one where a relatively minor city bureaucracy has unchallenged authority to determine what you can say, and where you can say it. The City has threatened to interpret its zoning provisions as broadly as possible. Under that standard, every burlesque performance, every R rated movie, every sexy song, every naughty dance, every bikini contest, in fact every public expression of sexuality, can be silenced. Using your tax dollars, the City can transform itself into a puritanical utopia.