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. 

public domain

Jerry Brown recently signed legislation legalizing physician-assisted suicide for patients at the end of life. When I recently talked with the FRIENDS of IPFW about my work on Advance Care Planning in Indiana, this issue came up.

Role of Religion in Pluralistic Society

Sep 15, 2015
Courtesy / Abraham Schwab

As we are now all too familiar, Kim Davis recently refused to provide marriage licenses because of her religious beliefs. Regardless of one’s view of her particular decision, her case raises a really important question about the role of religion in a society where more than a single religion is practiced.

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. 

Courtesy / Andrew Downs

The first presidential debate is scheduled for Aug. 6th on Fox News.  This might seem ridiculous given that the presidential election is 16 months away (for those planning ahead: it's Nov. 8, 2016). But keep two things in mind.

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.

Is Pence’s Reelection Bid in Trouble?

Jul 1, 2015
Courtesy / Andrew Downs

In June, Bellwether Research and Consulting released a poll examining Hoosiers' views of Gov. Mike Pence and some of his possible opponents in 2016.  The immediate reaction was that the reelection bid by Indiana Governor Mike Pence was in trouble. 

There were reasons to think this:

Courtesy / Abe Schwab

It turns out that 7 out of 10 surveyed individuals in the U.S. are unaware of the Supreme Court case (and eminent ruling on) King v. Burwell.

Measuring Success in Policy Not as Easy as it Seems

Jun 11, 2015
Courtesy / Andrew Downs

The Indiana General Assembly completed its work right at the mandated deadline of April 29th and most of the legislation that was passed will go into effect on July 1st.  While people might think of the legislative process as being over at this point, the public policy process is not.  An often forgotten part of the process is determining whether or not a policy has worked.

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.