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Rebick remembers the Morgentaler decision

Canadian journalist and activist Judy Rebick was delighted when she heard the verdict in the Morgentaler trial in 1988 that legalized abortion in Canada. "The day the news came out I watched people on the streetcars and I'd never seen it before — everyone was talking about it, saying 'Right on. Dr Morgentaler is a hero.' He's sort of a populist hero. He really inspired people. Truck drivers would give me money for him."

Ms Rebick's recollections about that fateful day in 1988 are collected alongside those of other Canadian writers, politicians and physicians in a in NRM's January 15 issue, which also features .

(Ms Rebick has published a longer version of her reflections on the Morgentaler decision on the Osgoode Hall Law School-operated website, TheCourt.ca.)


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Call for nominees to the Canadian Medical Hall of Fame

Do you know somebody who deserves to be named to the Canadian Medical Hall of Fame? The Selection Committee wants to hear from you.

Nominations are being accepted until June 16, 2008. You can download the and review the rules on .

"There is no better feeling than to see a colleague, mentor, student or caregiver who has achieved greatness recognized with the honour of being inducted into the Hall of Fame. It speaks to the importance of their work, and gives tremendous value to the support system in which they flourish such as the people, institution and infrastructure," board chair Dr David Hawkins said in a release.

Voting will take place in September 2008, and the results won't be released until an April 2009 ceremony in Montreal.

So far there are 71 delegates to the London, Ontario-based Hall of Fame, the most recent of whom included Dr Wilbert Keon, (pictured right) a Progressive Conservative Senator and famed heart surgeon who was of NRM's October 15, 2007 issue. Read on to check out .

2007 Laureates

* Bagshaw, Dr. Elizabeth
* d’Hérelle, Dr. Félix
* Dussault, Dr. Jean
* Keon, Senator Dr. Wilbert
* Tulving, Dr. Endel

2006 Laureates

* Hubel, Dr. David
* McEachern, Dr. John S.
* McWhinney, Dr. Ian
* Pawson, Dr. Anthony
* Selye, Dr. Hans

2004 Laureates

* Avery, Dr. Oswald Theodore
* FitzGerald, Dr. John Gerald
* Lalonde, Honorable Marc
* LeClair, Dr. Maurice
* McCulloch, Dr. Ernest
* Till, Dr. James Edgar

2003 Laureates

* d'Youville, Saint Marguerite
* Feindel, Dr. William Howard
* Hebb, Dr. Donald O.
* Hollenberg, Dr. Charles H.
* Huggins, Dr. Charles B.
* Mustard, Dr. J. Fraser

2001 Laureates

* Bradley, Dr. John E.
* Friesen, Dr. Henry
* Gallie, Dr. William E.
* Lougheed, Honorable Peter
* Montizambert, Dr. Frederick
* Scriver, Dr. Charles
* Teasdale-Corti, Dr. Lucille

2000 Laureates

* Belleau, Dr. Bernard
* Brown, Dr. G. Malcolm
* Evans, Dr. John
* Hirsh, Dr. Jack
* King, Dr. Lenora
* Sackett, Dr. David

1998 Laureates

* Barr, Dr. Murray
* Bethune, Dr. Norman
* Bondar, Dr. Roberta
* Douglas, Honorable Thomas C.
* Farquharson, Dr. Ray
* Fisher, Dr. C. Miller
* Fortier, Dr. Claude
* Gingras, Dr. Gustave
* Johns, Dr. Harold
* Lehmann, Dr. Heinz
* Menten, Dr. Maud

1997 Laureates

* Beer, Dr. Charles Thomas
* Bigelow, Dr. Wilfred Gordon
* Breault, Dr. Henri J.
* Grenfell, Dr. Wilfred Thomason
* Masson, Dr. Pierre
* Milner, Dr. Brenda
* Noble, Dr. Robert Laing
* Siminovitch, Dr. Louis

1995 Laureates

* Barnett, Dr. Henry J.M.
* Chown, Dr. Bruce
* Jasper, Dr. Herbert
* Leblond, Dr. Charles P.
* Mustard, Dr. William Thorton
* Salter, Dr. Robert Bruce
* Smith, Dr. Michael

1994 Laureates

* Abbott, Dr. Maude Elizabeth Seymour
* Banting, Dr. Frederick Grant
* Best, Dr. Charles Herbert
* Browne, Dr. John Symonds Lyon
* Collip, Dr. James Bertram
* Copp, Dr. Douglas Harold
* Drake, Dr. Charles George
* Genest, Dr. Jacques
* Osler, Sir William
* Penfield, Dr. Wilder Graves


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Florida Congressional race pits internist against family physician

In a campaign that has been coloured by debate over the Canadian healthcare system, two physicians are competing for Florida's 15th District seat in the US House of Representatives. Doug Trapp, of the American Medical Association newspaper, AMNews, has .

Dr Dave Weldon, an internist who trained in Buffalo, NY, is the two-term Republican incumbent (see here or for more details). Dr Stephen Blythe, a family doctor who trained in Portland, Maine and spent the early part of his career in Lubec, Maine, is running for the Democrats in the November 2008 Congressional election (see and ).

Dr Blythe not only practised near the Canadian border in Lubec, but actually treated patients on New Brunswick's Campobello Island nearby (famous for being the site of a Roosevelt summer home) and billed the Canadian government for his work there, reports AMNews. (NB: I suspect that Dr Blythe probably billed the government of New Brunswick for his work there, not the Canadian government. That's an immaterial point from the perspective of American readers, of course.)

Now, it seems, the unusual doctor versus doctor race may be decided by the two men's positions on Canadian-style universal healthcare, a model that Dr Blythe favours but Dr Weldon staunchly opposes. Florida's 15th is set to become a microcosm of the larger debate that's taking place across the United States as the 2008 elections draw nearer.

AMNews writes of Dr Blythe's opinion of Canada's healthcare system:

Dr. Blythe said that [when he practised in New Brunswick] he didn't see Canadian people having the problems accessing health care that Americans sometimes do. The Canadian single-payer system provides all residents with at least basic care. "Health care is a right. It's a fundamental right that shouldn't be denied to American citizens," he said.

If a single-payer model cannot be achieved here, Dr. Blythe would like to see reform of the existing system so there's true competition and choice. For example, while he can shop around for lower-cost imaging, such as CT scans, patients don't know how to find the best values in health care. This keeps medical costs higher than they should be and also makes health insurance more expensive, he said.

And of Dr Weldon's opinion of Canada's system:
Dr. Weldon... doesn't believe the government can provide care as well as the private sector. A single-payer system would lead to lower quality of care and waiting lists to see physicians, he said.

"We need to reinvigorate the health insurance market. We don't need more government running and intruding in health care delivery," Dr. Weldon said. Refundable tax credits, perhaps up to $5,000, for low-income individuals would help them buy private health insurance, he said.

Dr. Weldon, a member of a Republican political caucus that's writing a health reform plan, said it's very difficult to adopt major health system changes in Congress these days. "The potential in this political environment to institute radical reform is pretty remote," he said. It's more likely reform will happen incrementally.

Still, Dr. Weldon would like to end Medicaid and the State Children's Health Insurance Program and instead provide block grants to the states so they can create their own health programs.

Dr Weldon played a central role in the Terry Schiavo case of 2005, when the conservative members of the US government including Dr Weldon and Representative Bill Frist, also a physician, to prevent Ms Shiavo's husband from taking her off life support after years in a persistent vegetative state.

As of September 30, just before Dr Blythe's challenger for the Democratic nomination dropped out of the race, leaving him as the nominee, the race looked rather lopsided: Dr Weldon had raised $454,000 for his campaign, and Dr Blythe only $2,245.

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A lesson in medical poetry

In the current issue of the journal Chest, about, well, poetry in the first article of the journal's new "Pectoriloquy" section.

(I've saved you the time and looked it up for you: "Transmission of the voice sound through the pulmonary structures so that it is unusually audible on auscultation of the chest, indicating either consolidation of the lung parenchyma or the presence of a large cavity." From .)

Dr Zack, who practises in Medford, Massachusetts, writes about Dr William Carlos Williams, , as well as his own feelings on poetry:

What really matters in poetry (as is also true in medical interventions) is outcome. To continue the metaphor, specific materials and methods matter only as means to the end. Does the experience of reading the poem make a difference, reward the time spent, and create impact? If so, it is good poetry notwithstanding its form, rhythm, lyrical quality, and complexity.
His analysis is up for debate, but the real meat of the article is Dr Zack's delightfully bizarre "semiparody" of an entry to a poetry contest. I particularly like the bit about Paraguay.

Click "READ MORE" below to read his poem, or head over to .

Medical School

In med school first you listen,

then you imagine,

reducing yourself to scale.

Next you take a stab

at what’s wrong,

articulating a diagnosis.

And finally you treat.

After trying this on people

a few decades,

(successfully I might add),

I realized that in listening,

imagining, reducing scale,

diagnosing, treating,

I had been taught,

and had been practicing,

not just medicine,

but also poetry.

So I entered this contest

for the greatest poem.

My friend said be clever,

to win you must do a few things.

Never write about love,

at least don’t mention it as such,

change its identity to August corn

or herons in flight.

Use the words "shards" and "bone,"

avoid rhymes, use meter,

dialogue in taxi talk

and California speak.

I employed complex gerundives,

ornate adjectives, intricate adverbs.

My metaphors were gorgeous, poignant;

my conclusions profound.

But alas I lost.

Go back, he said,

you must try again.

Initial your first two names,

remove most vowels

from your last name,

tell them you’re from Paraguay.

Change the line endings and

tab the line starts to marginless

asymmetric anarchies.

Yet I lost again.

Perturbed, angry, rebuked,

I dashed off a note

to the committee

voicing my total frustration.

"What did they want?"

I implored. "Are there ever

successful poems?

How could one win?

It’s like trying to find a desert,"

I finished,

"by imagining an ocean and then taking away the water."

"Ah," their responding letter replied,

"That’s interesting."

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