Friday, June 15, 2007

How a Bill Becomes a Law

This funny is attributed to W. Bruce Cameron (author of 8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter, basis for the sitcom of a similar name), but I can't locate it on his website:

The following steps trace the process by which a paternal proclamation becomes law in the Cameron household.

Step One:
The father of the house issues an executive order that all Saturday activities will be suspended until the garage is cleaned up.

Step Two:
The children form a committee and produce a report finding the order totally unconstitutional, because it violates the "Cruel and Unusual" clause.

Step Three:
The committee report is voided by paternal declaration.

Step Four:

The ruling is appealed under the "This is stupid nobody else has to do this kind of stuff" doctrine of the "Equal Protection" clause. Specific examples are cited of other children who are not cleaning their garages.

Step Five:
The "nobody else has to" doctrine is rejected as having no bearing on the case.

Step Six:
Each child petitions separately for the relief under the "why do I have to do it none of it is my junk" theory.

Step Seven:
The father rules that the individuals of the household are a family, that the junk in the garage belongs to the family, and that the family has the responsibility of cleaning it up.

Step Eight:
The children attempt to stay the executive order by evading subpoena.

Step Nine:
The father retrieves the children from their bedrooms and declares notice properly served.

Step 10:
The children plead pre-existing obligations that preempt the paternal proclamation. The oldest is due at the shopping centre, the middle child has to go to a soccer game, and the youngest is yeah me too.

Step 11:
Clarification is sought from the youngest on which of the two lame excuses is yeah me too: soccer game or the mall?

The youngest says the soccer game.

Step 13:
The father rules the soccer game cannot preempt the garage cleanup.

Step 14:
The youngest says I meant the mall.

Step 15:
The father rules the mall cannot preempt the garage cleanup.

Step 16:
The children pass a resolution that the father is the meanest man in the world.

Step 17:
The father agrees to accept the "meanest man" amendment and calls for an end to the debate.

Step 18:
The children submit an emergency appeal on the grounds that there might be mice living in the garage.

Step 19:
The father issues an executive decree that he has authority over all rodents and that there are no mice in the garage.

Step 20:
The children move for dismissal, claiming they are exempt because they have homework to do.

Step 21:
The father consults the official Cameron family calendar and determines there is another day left in the weekend in which homework can be done.

Step 22:
The children file a grievance with the Supreme Court of the house: their mother. A restraining order is sought prohibiting enforcement of the father's executive order on the grounds that he never listens, he is ruining our lives, he's mean, and if he really wants the garage cleaned up, why doesn't he do it himself?

Step 23:
A constitutional crisis is averted when the wife hands down a decision supporting the father's right to order the children to clean up the garage.

Step 24:
The children declare themselves no longer members of the family. As stateless persons, they are not subject to parental authority.

Step 25:
The father agrees to expedite the emigration of each child on the date they are of age. Until the parents are released by the laws of the locality from their obligations, however, the family members are stuck with each other. Meanwhile, the father identifies further sanctions to be imposed upon delay of compliance with his order, including suspension of telephone privileges.

Step 26:
The teenagers file a brief equating telephone cut-off with capital punishment.

Step 27:
The father further suspends all use of the family automobile until the garage is cleaned up enough to park the car in it.

Step 28:
The children petition for relief from further sanctions by agreeing to clean up the garage.

Thus, with these simple 28 steps, a bill moves through the checks and balances and becomes law.

It may not be the best system, but it's the only one we've got.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Midwifery Legal Update - Wyoming

Wyoming news sources are reporting that Midwife Susan Merrill of Cheyenne has been charged with involuntary manslaughter and practicing medicine without a license following the death of a newborn in April of 2006. The articles go on to state:
The practice of lay midwifery has been illegal in Wyoming since 2003. However, Wyoming does allow for the practice of midwifery by Certified Nurse Midwives, CNMs. CNMs are registered nurses who have advanced training and skill in care of women and newborns at birth. CNMs are licensed by the Wyoming State Board of Nursing and practice in homes and hospitals.

Gladys Breeden of the Wyoming State Department of Vital Statistics claims to be aware of 8 lay midwives who practice in the State of Wyoming and one certified nurse midwife who practices legally with a Wyoming License. The Department of Vital Statistics is responsible for the filing of birth certificates in Wyoming.
A 2005 bill to legalize direct-entry midwifery was defeated by the Wyoming legislature.

Although the article states that ms. Merrill was denied a court-appointed attorney, my sources inform me that she has now obtained representation.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Breastfeeding mother given parking ticket

Breastfeeding mother given parking ticket:
Breastfeeding support groups have condemned the actions of an attendant who fined a mother for parking in a restricted area to feed her child and then took photographs for proof.

The warden employed by a national car park management company confronted Jerricah Watson, 19, after she pulled into a permit holders-only bay in the Candle Lane area of Dundee to breastfeed her 14-week-old son Jaksyn.

Ms Watson pulled into the quiet street to get away from the city-centre traffic and said the warden initially said it was okay to feed her child. She said he then took photos and put a ticket on her car.

When she approached the attendant, from Birmingham-based Central Ticketing, which is responsible for policing the parking in the area, he said it was too late to withdraw the ticket. The penalty was for £85 or £60 if paid within two weeks.

"As I'm breastfeeding and therefore my son is fed on demand, I need to stop right away," she said.

"I feel with the government both locally and nationally trying to encourage mums to breastfeed that it was unfair of the man not to take that into account or even bother to ask me to move or give me a few minutes to feed my child."

The incident has alarmed breastfeeding support groups who believe more should be done by government to allow babies to be fed naturally.

Gillian McWhirter, a Scottish breastfeeding support group adviser, said: "This is a very unfortunate situation. There is enough of a problem getting mothers to breastfeed because they are embarrassed to do it in public. But to not just give this woman a ticket but take pictures of her while she was in the car, is quite shocking.

"These kind of situations encourage ignorance over the importance of breastfeeding, which scientific evidence shows decreases the rate of infant illness.

"It is a basic right for a child to receive nutrition and every mother knows that when baby cries, baby has to be fed."

Thyll Buchanan, a registered Scottish breastfeeding network supporter, added: "Young mothers need all the help and support they can to continue to breastfeed. It is safer to pull over and feed a crying baby than to try and continue driving under stressful conditions."

Central Ticketing said it would cancel the ticket if an investigation into the mother's complaint found her story to be true. Part of the inquiry would involve examining pictures taken by the parking attendant.

"We will see if this woman's story stacks up, because the warden would have taken photographs and she would have been in the vehicle," said the spokesman.

"We issue thousands of parking charges a week. Fifty per cent of people send in an appeal. You have to bear in mind of every 10 letters we receive seven or eight of these members of the public are telling lies. We are not saying this woman is. This will be investigated."

Figures released last month show that fewer Scottish mothers are opting to breastfeed despite numerous government campaigns promoting the health benefits.

Last year, only 44.2% of mothers were breastfeeding at the time of a health worker's first visit when the baby is about 10 days old while 36.6% were doing so after six to eight weeks. That compares with 45.1% and 37.2% respectively in 2005.
This incident occurred in Scotland, where anyone who interferes with breastfeeding can be fined up to £2,500 (nearly $5,000). Since Scotland is the first (known) jurisdiction to impose a fine for interfering with breastfeeding, the language of the law (.pdf) could be a model for other jurisdictions to follow:
1 Offence of preventing or stopping a child 5 from being fed milk
(1)Subject to subsection (2), it is an offence deliberately to prevent or stop a person in charge of a child from feeding milk to that child in a public place or on licensed premises.
(2) Subsection (1) does not apply if the child, at the material time, is not lawfully permitted to be in the public place or on the licensed premises otherwise than for the purpose of being fed milk.
(3) A person guilty of an offence under subsection (1) is liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding level 4 on the standard scale.
(4) In this section—
"child" means a person who has not yet attained the age of two years;
"feeding" includes—
(a) breastfeeding; and
(b) feeding from a bottle or other container;
"licensed premises" means premises licensed under—
(a) section 12 of the Theatres Act 1968 (c.54);
(b) Part II of the Licensing (Scotland) Act 1976 (c.66);
(c) Part II of the Civic Government (Scotland) Act 1982 (c.45); or
(d) section 1 of the Cinemas Act 1985 (c.13);
"milk" means breastmilk, cow’s milk or infant formula;
"public place" means any place to which, at the material time, the public or any section of the public has access, on payment or otherwise, as of right or by virtue of express or implied permission.
I'm not implying that the parking attendant violated the Scottish law, it just seemed like a good opportunity to blog about Scotland. I like the fact that the statue defines "public place". Although the definition of "public place" is probably well-defined in the case law of US states, the definition was not incorporated into most breastfeeding statues, leading to some confusion among the general public.