Diego Delso via Wikimedia Commons

Two weeks ago, the Indiana legislature passed House Bill 1337, which amends the Indiana Code and increases the regulation surrounding both abortion and miscarriages.


Public domain

Imagine that you get into a car accident today and you end up in the hospital, unable to make decisions for yourself. Who would make decisions for you? As I’ve written about before, if you haven’t formally assigned a surrogate decision-maker to make decisions for you, current Indiana statute (IC 36-16-1-5) turns it into a committee of your spouse, children, parents, and siblings.

Putting a Price on Quality of Life

Dec 18, 2015
Abraham Schwab, PhD

My uncle needs a new heart. His medical history is rich in detail, but the only thing that matters to us is that he needs a heart transplant. 

And he’s not sure he wants it. He doesn’t use the terminology I do, but he’s not sure his quality of life is worth it. He doesn’t seem to want to continue living like he has, and he’s not sure he wants to live like he would have to after the transplant. His judgment about his quality of life remains unsettled, but last I heard, he was leaning against getting the transplant. 


When infants are born very early - 22, 23, 24, or 25 weeks into a pregnancy rather than at the full term of 40 weeks - they face a future of extreme uncertainty. Many die within 12 hours. In order to survive, all require active, aggressive treatments for problems with their lungs, hearts, and other organ systems.

Of those born at 22 weeks, 95% die without leaving the hospital. At 23 weeks, 74% never leave. By 25 weeks, the percentages have flipped: 75% leave the hospital alive. 

The Failure of BMI as a Medical Metric

Aug 19, 2015

standard Body Mass Index (BMI) calculator puts LeBron James (6’8”, 250lbs) as close to being “obese" as he is to being “normal” weight. The use of BMI has also kept individuals known to have bulimia or anorexia nervosa from getting treatment because their BMI isn’t low enough.

These two examples demonstrate that BMI has limited value for determining a “healthy” weight. And I’m not the first to point this outNotEvenClose. But that’s not the end of the story. What, sense should we make of studies showing an increased risk of death for BMI-overweight individuals?  Obviously, we have to take seriously any robustly demonstrated correlation. So we should take these studies at face value and, when feasible, decrease our risk by aiming to lower our BMI. 

Annie E. Casey Foundation

Indiana is losing ground compared to other states when it comes to children’s overall well-being.  That’s according to new data from the Annie E Casey’s Foundation’s Kids Count report.  But the Indiana Youth Institute says the drop in rankings isn’t as bad as it sounds.

In the 2014 edition of Kids Count, Indiana ranked 27th in children’s overall well-being.  This year, that dropped to 32nd. 

William S.E. “Doc" Coleman and Getting Paid to Talk

Jul 15, 2015
Courtesy / Abraham Schwab

William S.E. “Doc” Coleman was a dynamic fixture. I did not know him particularly well, and leave the romantic remembrances of his long and illustrious life to others to mark and celebrate.

But I did know him a little. He did his best to direct me in my middling efforts as an actor at Drake University in the mid-1990s. His laugh and his knowing looks are easily remembered. But what strikes me most about his passing on July 8th is how different it was than it might have been even 10 or 15 years ago.

Courtesy / Indiana Senate Republicans

After two years of unsuccessfully putting into practice a law regulating midwives, the General Assembly enacted a follow-up bill aimed at finally making the system work.

Legislators crafted a law in 2013 to regulate midwives, including the requirement that, to legally practice, midwives must have a signed, written collaborative agreement with a doctor.  But the Professional Licensing Board – charged with fully developing midwife regulations – couldn’t find a doctor willing to sign an agreement, and gave up creating the midwifery license. 

Courtesy / Abraham Schwab

A lot has been made recently of the HIV cases in southeastern Indiana. Governor Mike Pence responded to the crisis by allowing the use of a needle exchange program in that part of Indiana. He then extended the needle exchange program because it appeared to be working.

Number of HIV Cases in Scott County Grows to 153

May 13, 2015
Courtesy / State of Indiana

Scott County is the epicenter of an ongoing HIV outbreak. Health officials have tracked down 153 new HIV cases just since December, the majority of which have been caused by injection drug use.

To combat the outbreak, Gov. Mike Pence authorized a temporary needle exchange in the county. Scott County officials are taking steps to legalize the exchange long-term.

Under new legislation passed just a couple weeks ago, any county in the state can go through a formal process to legalize exchanges. And Scott County has already gotten the ball rolling.