“With 80 percent of clinical trials failing to meet recruitment deadlines in the West, major drug companies are today conducting half or more of their trials outside the major markets, often in countries–like Nigeria–with poor human rights records and weak regulatory infrastructures. Pfizer’s Nigeria trial is unusually sensational and high profile, but its bending of the rules may be more the rule than the exception.” – Sonia Shah, author of The Body Hunters
“It is clear from the evidence presented in this book that the pharmaceutical industry does a biased job of disseminating evidence – to be surprised by this would be absurd – whether it is through advertising, drug reps, ghostwriting, hiding data, bribing people, or running educational programmes for doctors.” ― Ben Goldacre, Bad Pharma: How Drug Companies Mislead Doctors and Harm Patients
The entire mess of questioning one vaccination – HPV, human papilloma virus vaccine known as Gardasil produced by Merck, and, Cervarix from GlaxoSmithKline’s labs – has opened up more than a Pandora’s Box for me. A viper pit I have been dumped into. I am facing a Medusa of sorts, a monster I already battled in other arenas, but I never thought I’d be up against it as a social worker for foster youth.
For four and a half decades, I have witnessed up close the Medusa of Disaster Capitalism and the Unfettered Military Industrial Complex as a reporter in the Southwest USA and throughout Mexico and Central America.
Today, that mythical Medusa’s many snakes as hair strands is most troublesome: I call it the Military-Surveillance-Fossil Fuel-Penal-Medicine-Financial-Education-Media-Pharma-Digital Industrial Complex. It’s turned into an all-encompassing monster.
That reality is a given for many of us who question authority, who see a world better served as non-hierarchical, non-patriarchal and earth/ecosystems/cultures focused. The reader can go to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights or something like the Earth Charter and get a sense of how millions of us have not only a yearning for something more just than the current global financial Medusa running things, but we’ve worked for that social-earth-economic justice hard and long.
Fear of Advocating for Clients
One of the rights we hold as self-evident, supposedly held as a God-given American tenet, is the unrestricted ability for any person to find work to both help the person survive in this pay-as-we-go society and to, in some cases, help a person achieve some sort of self-worth and dignity.
The careers I have had include college instructor/faculty, newspaper journalist, community organizer and social worker. My work in the past seven years includes working with adults with severe developmental disabilities; with adults in a memory care facility as their educator and outings lead. I’ve worked to help adults in a sheltered workshop find competitive employment; I have worked with clients deemed homeless/addicts/felons to gain skills, services and employment on their road to recovery-reentry-resuscitating.
I was working a pretty cool job most recently as a social worker/case manager for an independent living program, a suite of services set up nationally for foster youth, 16 to 21 years of age, mainly to get them to finish high school and go onto college or trade school. My gifts as teacher, outdoor educator, world traveler, communicator, and creative soul aided me in making deep and profound connections to youth who have seen the underbelly of life and face many challenges tied to the disconnected nature of living sometimes in dozens of foster care homes. Exposure to drug use, pornography, drug dealing, violence, sexual assault and criminal acts are just some of the histories of these youth.
I worked hands on with youth one-on-one and in groups. I got to take them on outings like surfing in the Pacific and a four-day conference at a private university. I had some level of independence and developed great relationships with other professionals in state, county, city public sector jobs and with foster parents and the youth. The job also afforded me decent training in all sorts of areas, including trauma-informed care and motivational interviewing.
Sex Ed and Me
I came face-to-face, though, with the inner workings of Planned Parenthood, as in my first intersection with PP while training to be a facilitator for one five-hour curriculum attempting to get youth to understand the high risks associated with alcohol use and unprotected sex.
The specific training I had taken as part of my job description was focused on case managers becoming trainers, titled Sexual Health and Adolescent Risk Prevention (SHARP). My former employers, Lifeworks Northwest, a 46-year-old non-profit, receives thousands of dollars from Planned Parenthood each year to allow PP to utilize our caseloads, youth, 16 to 21, characterized as high risk for homelessness, dropping out of school, substance abuse, pregnancy and contracting an STI, sexually transmitted infection:
“The goal of the Healthy Youth Collaborative is to reach youth by bringing evidence-based teen pregnancy prevention programs to scale. To achieve this goal, Planned Parenthood implements Healthy Youth Collaborative programming within each community, in four different settings including schools (middle and high school), health centers, community-based organizations, and juvenile justice facilities. A curriculum has been chosen so that there is an appropriate evidence-based program for each of these settings.”
I’m all for protecting youth and having myriad of ways to incite responsibility through education and modeling. What I found from the training was a bizarrely out-of-touch with current youth culture Planned Parenthood. I found the insistence to follow their curriculum word for word both interfering and hobbling. I also found a lot of condescension, and what I have seen in my many years working in educational circles: both a dumb-downing and infantilizing of many important aspects of a training or course.
While I have always supported the mission to help youth not face unwanted pregnancies, to have strong information and tools tied to sexual health and sexuality, and a place to obtain services for either preventing or curing STI’s/STD’s, I have also worked on the frontlines in El Paso as a volunteer escort for anyone seeking services at that Planned Parenthood. Those Saturday episodes found me face-to-face with angry, picket-bearing extremists who wanted to harass the women we were escorting in for family planning services. I even facilitated media workshops to that same Planned Parenthood on how to handle rough and pervasive anti-Planned Parenthood characters like those in the 1980s and ‘90s making headlines not only in the El Paso Times where I also worked but Time Magazine and the NYT.
Ironic, now, that just one month ago, I was in a PP second training, this time at the Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest, and I was summarily not only banned from finishing the two-day course, Fundamentals of Sex, but I was then put on administrative leave in Portland by my former employer and then fired ten days later. I’ve pretty much exhausted the scenario tied to that banishment and termination here at Hormones Matter and other venues in the blog sphere.
I had no ax to grind with Planned Parenthood concerning training us – case managers — on how to communicate sex ed to youth. I expected to get through 16 hours of training with flying colors and a three-hour road trip back to Portland.
That did not happen, and Planned Parenthood – four trainers and two supervisors – contacted my employer to not only ban me from the second day of training, but fraudulently stated that I was against Western medicine, was untrainable related to the subject matter, and was a disruption to the learning environment for the other 39 students.
There wasn’t even a kernel of truth to what they stated to my former employer on Oct. 15; however, during my termination meeting Oct. 26, the HR director stated that “the trainers with Planned Parenthood stated you voiced your disagreement with vaccines.” The only voicing I did was anonymously, on paper, about Gardasil. Not vaccines in general.
The relationship between non-profits working with vulnerable youth, including homeless youngsters, and Planned Parenthood is more than just cooperative or symbiotic. My case exposes the fact Planned Parenthood’s falsehoods concerning my participation at a training led directly to my termination.
While I am currently receiving unemployment benefits after the Oregon State adjudicator contacted both my former employer and myself, and here are the findings below, I am really vulnerable on the job market because of the short duration as a case manager (six months) with Lifeworks Northwest when I was really committed for years on this job. The first thing coming to mind for prospective employers is “why such a short tenure with your previous employer?”
You ARE allowed benefits on this claim . . . .
Findings: You were employed by Lifeworks NW until Oct. 26, 2017 when you were fired because you received too many complaints about being unprofessional, confrontational and argumentative. This was not a willful or wantonly negligent disregard of the employer’s interest because there was no policy or rule violation. You deny the accusations of being a disruption to a training that occurred on October 16, 2017. Employer failed to respond to additional attempts to retrieve information.
Legal Conclusion: You were fired but not for misconduct connected with work.
They Say Follow the Money – How about Follow the Compassion!
Writing these articles does bring things into perspective, but anyone with a decent amount of psychological grounding will note that this journalistic process also opens up repeatedly the ludicrousness and trauma tied to what happened to me – wrongful termination without any due process.
I’ve used up my three “free” psychologist visits through the company’s EAP, employee assistance program. I’ve also reached out to a national legal firm on the viability of pursuing a case against Lifeworks Northwest but specifically Planned Parenthood.
I am disenchanted with the characterizations of me as unprofessional, confrontational and argumentative, since I was one of three males at a training with 45 total people, and also, I am working in a field – social services – predominately staffed and managed by females.
Given that, though, I still am following the money:
The 2015-16 budget from Lifeworks Northwest shows some of the money trail, i.e. revenue –
SERVICES BY CLIENT — $24,280,894
PUBLIC GRANTS & CONTRACTS — $16,645,143
CONTRIBUTIONS — $830,512
OTHER REVENUE — $220,952
The money coming from Planned Parenthood to my former employer — which is money Planned Parenthood receives in the form of federal grant money largely from the Health and Human Services adolescent division – is significant in that Lifeworks NW has dozens of programs, and the Independent Living Program is relatively small so any funding coming into that program is significant.
What’s troubling is that I broke no policy, did not act bizarrely or unprofessionally, and did not engage in argumentative or combative behavior at the Planned Parenthood training, as the Oregon Employment Department’s findings belay –
“This was not a willful or wantonly negligent disregard of the employer’s interest because there was no policy or rule violation.”
The precipitating factor for Planned Parenthood essentially informing my employer that I was not trainable and that I was incapable of imparting sound, evidence-based sex ed information to my clients, was a handwritten suggestion/inquiry solicited by the trainers (stated by them to stay anonymous) after each of the seven modules. One of my two notes was a deep skepticism about one of Planned Parenthood’s money makers – the HPV vaccine, manufactured as Gardasil by Merck. I imparted disappointment that Planned Parenthood trainers were not even aware of or concerned about the negative press around Gardasil.
I never mentioned any disregard for the sex ed training, nor did I state I would not allow my clients to pursue getting any contraceptive or vaccine.
It was clear that the training was all about Planned Parenthood’s word on everything or the highway.
I am not a big fan of any forced (or group-think) hyper rah-rah-rah of any organization, or what I am now calling the “ich liebe dich Planned Parenthood uber alles in der Welt … I love you Planned Parenthood above anything else in the world” syndrome.
Of note, in my six months working with 40 youth, I was asked more than just occasionally about the safety of IUDs, birth control pills, the transdermal patch, Depo-Provera and once, the Gardasil series of vaccines. I encouraged those youth to check out the Planned Parenthood site and to use Google to find out if there were any large forums commenting on those products so my youth would have more information to make an informed choice.
Planned Parenthood never gave me a chance to meet with the three trainers and two supervisors to discuss their concerns. And, after the banishment, my former employer never sought testimony from me concerning my beliefs about contraception and abortion, nor did they solicit comments from two fellow case managers who were at the training with me to determine my participation and commentary at the training.
If the reader looks at the $16.6 million in public grants and contracts the Lifeworks non-profit received last year, ipso facto this large Portland non-profit depends significantly on money coming from the state, county, and US taxpayer in the form of Planned Parenthood.
It’s All About Language, Narrative Framing, Intent
“What, really, is a word? In its written form, it’s a great many things. It is a symbol. A representation of individual phonics that, when assembled in such a sequence, produces a gestalt. Rearrange the letters corresponding to those sounds, and you’ve eliminated or transformed that symbol. A word is an idea. Not simply a representation of an idea, but an idea in itself. The idea that what we think can not only be thought, not only expressed verbally, but also textually, a physical marking of the presence of thought — the evidence of its spatial existence.” — Daniel Choudhury, What’s Your Word Worth?
Before I go further, a quick glossary of terms should be inserted to help the reader see the context from which I am writing this third part of a series I could thumbnail title as “ My Run-in with Gardasil, Planned Parenthood, and a Culture of No Questions Asked – A Firing Story!”
Sacrosanct – An adjective is defined as anything (principle, place or routine) regarded as too important or valuable to be interfered with.
Antivaxxer – A derogatory term used by industry to describe individuals who question vaccine safety or efficacy; typically parents of children injured by vaccines.
Planned Parenthood – A noun defined as a nonprofit organization that does research into and gives advice on contraception, family planning, and reproductive problems.
Big Pharma – A noun defined as large pharmaceutical companies (= companies producing medical drugs), especially when these are seen as having a powerful and bad influence.
Whistleblower – A noun defined as a person who tells someone in authority about something illegal that is happening, esp. in a business or government.
Of course, I could insert the Urban Dictionary’s definitions of these items, and I certainly could link profoundly to various narratives around the mission, vision, and history of Planned Parenthood, what I would call the good, the bad and the ugly of its roots in the 1920’s with Margaret Sanger, a slew of eugenicists, and its oddly racist backers of contraception and sterilization. Sanger founded the American Birth Control League in 1921, and 21 years later changed its name to Planned Parenthood.
Note that I am now in dangerous territory for many readers – the sacrosanct right to seek contraceptive and abortion services. In some ways, I have crossed that line in the sand by criticizing that Sacred Cow in the minds of many, Planned Parenthood.
I am really just attacking the malfeasance and unethical behavior and then treatment of me as a human being in the context of a Planned Parenthood training. I didn’t even get out of the gate, so to speak, with an adult, robust, discussion about the HPV, cervical cancer, the vaccine and its risks.
Almost everything now that I written about Big Pharma-GSK-Merck-HPV Vaccine-Planned Parenthood came AFTER I was fired on the word of Planned Parenthood staff.
Like this doozy – the 2017 Lasker Awards (sort of dubbed the US Nobel Prize) was given to Planned Parenthood and the developers of the HPV vaccine September of this year:
The winners “are being honored for their work in basic and clinical medical research and in public service,” Claire Pomeroy, MD, president of the Albert and Mary Lasker Foundation, said at a teleconference today.
Douglas R. Lowy, MD, and John T. Schiller, PhD, both from the National Cancer Institute, Rockville, Maryland, won the Lasker-DeBakey Clinical Medical Research Award for a major advance that improves the lives of many thousands of people. Their research centers on the development of HPV vaccines that prevent cervical cancer and other tumors caused by HPVs.
Planned Parenthood won the Lasker-Bloomberg Public Service Award for providing vital health services and reproductive care to millions of women for more than 100 years.
The Lasker-Bloomberg Public Service Award comes with a $250,000 award for each winner. Planned Parenthood in 2012 received 45 percent of its revenues from government health services grants and reimbursements. Now that’s around 35 percent of their revenue stream. In addition, in 2012, 16 percent of revenues were tied to non-medical programs.
From 1939 to 1942 Margaret Sanger was part of the Birth Control Federation of America alongside Mary Lasker and Clarence Gamble in the Negro Project, an effort to deliver birth control to poor black people.
I know my research into Big Pharma’s duplicitous, double-dealing and dangerous schemes is not as risky as throwing down criticism of Planned Parenthood. At Hormones Matter, maybe the idea of questioning Gardasil and Cervarix or even the birth control pill, especially by a white male, also is not dangerous territory.
The reality of how suspect, dangerous and medically unnecessary the HPV vaccine is also puts me into a league of its own vis-à-vis the antivaxxer campaigners, a title I have never adopted or will adopt. I never expected this pebble into the pond – my superficial questioning a vaccine – to turn into a tsunami-like rippling effect in my life.
Vaccines, Science, Anti-Science, Marketing, Propaganda, Resistance to Business as Usual a la Big Pharma
Interestingly, during my research, I came across a story out this February about a meteorologist who questioned the safety of vaccine schedules and chemical ingredients being fired, and hit with the Scarlet Letter, A, as an Antivaxxer.
Did WGBH News hire a science reporter who doesn’t believe in science?
That’s the question being asked by some employees of the PBS affiliate after learning that Mish Michaels, a former meteorologist at WBZ-TV who has been outspoken in her controversial belief that vaccines cause autism, had been hired as the station’s new science reporter.
Among those who wondered whether Michaels was right for the job was Jim Braude, host of WGBH News’s “Greater Boston,” for which Michaels was supposed to report stories. We’re told that Braude this week raised his concerns with station bosses, including WGBH News GM Phil Redo and “Greater Boston” executive producer Bob Dumas, and they have since changed their minds.
“The decision was made that [Michaels] is not a good fit for ‘Greater Boston’ and she won’t be working there, Braude stated.
Most of the 240 comments on the Boston Globe website that carried the news were stinging like this one:
Vaccines work because of herd immunity. Everything has risks and benefits and with vaccines the benefit outweighs the risk. What gets me is the antivaxxies lost in the world of narcissistic oblivion who decide they don’t want to take the small risk of vaccinating their kids and mooch off the herd immunity that everyone else created by vaccinating their own kids. If everyone opted out we would all have measles mumps and small pox.
Vaccines should be required for school entry no exceptions. Or home school your kids.
or this one:
Through work over the last thirty years I’ve made friends across the United States. A few are anti-vaxxers. They constantly share anti-vaxxer posts on Facebook. Over the last couple of years I’ve noted how they have started attacking the “herd” theory and even attacking flu shots.
Most of them are quite religious. Several are right-wing evangelical Christians. They are generally anti-science.
During a FB discussion, one wrote to me how I “chose Science over God.” I didn’t realize there was a choice.
You can’t reason with them. Facts don’t matter. They’ve told me—-Tests can be faked. The CDC is a profit center. It’s about money, not safety. The government is helping big pharma. The government is covering it up.
And so on.
I fear under the current administration, this quackery will grow worse.
Using one giant latex brush, then, by questioning the safety of Gardasil at a Planned Parenthood training, I am now being painted with that same broad stroke into the same corner as the anti-evolution, anti-science “quacks or loonies” or whatever pejorative is the flavor of the digital hour.
Talk of the herd effect is now parlayed into the “rule of the mob,” as everyone, including mainstream and progressive media, attack anyone who dares question Gardasil or the MMR — all the scientists and researchers making a connection with vaccinations like HPV to physical (and brain specific) injuries are vilified. Or the fact that Merck has paid out millions of dollars (and we don’t have all the dollars tied to really how much Merck is shelling out because of courts awarding damages are tied to non-disclosure provisos) gets swept under the rug as “nuisance lawsuits”?
Yet, the story of HPV vaccine and injuries and deaths keeps coming around: Japan pulls Gardasil off the shelves three years ago. A lawsuit, class action, followed this move:
Lawyer Masumi Minaguchi, a representative from the planned lawsuit’s defense team, told a news conference in Tokyo the victims will file the suit sometime after June against the central government, GlaxoSmithKlien PLC, the maker of Cervarix, and Merck Sharp & Dohme Corp., the maker of Gardsil, at four district courts in Tokyo, Nagoya, Osaka and Fukuoka.
“The victims wish to live a peaceful life and prevent further suffering by finding out the truth (about the vaccine side effects),” Minaguchi added.
She said the defense team will seek additional plaintiffs to join the lawsuit by holding seminars in April and May. Currently, 12 plaintiffs are taking part in the suit, according to Minaguchi.
Saitama Prefecture resident Nanami Sakai, who plans to be one of the plaintiffs, was one of four to attend the news conference. The 21-year-old, who was given Cervarix twice in 2011, said she did not receive information about the pros and cons of the vaccine before receiving the injections.
“I’d like to know why I was left scarred by the vaccine, why I was not able to receive proper treatment right away and why my situation was not adequately conveyed to the state,” Sakai said.
Sitting in a wheelchair, Sakai said she has numbness in the right side of her body, back and around her chest.
And what about in Colombia, and the injured, dead and lawsuits there tied to HPV vaccine?
Lloyd Phillips, an American researcher of infectious diseases and genetics, has studied the adverse effects of Gardasil for five years. His work has revealed how Gardasil works differently in different people. He has documented related and biologically plausible mechanisms of action which could cause the many serious and life-threatening side effects which are being reported by girls and young women around the world after receiving the HPV vaccine.
In Colombia we have a potential crisis of major proportions resulting from the use of Gardasil because it is “free and compulsory” by “Law of the Republic”. It is assumed that this HPV vaccine is effective when used to combat cervical cancer, which can be caused by human papilloma virus. However, this vaccine has been hotly debated internationally for allegedly being dangerous and ineffective. It is currently being administered in Colombia without obtaining informed consent from young girls and their parents as to the potential and unknown risks of use.
Is the Ending Full-Circle Back to Bad Pharma and Big Non-profits?
So where does the next installment — part four — go now after not getting to the two big definitions left in my glossary – Big Pharma and Whistleblower? There are literally thousands of documents out there from researchers and scientists and whistleblowers on just what is happening to the human population tied to the vaccine for HPV, let alone those other mandatory childhood vaccinations we are supposed to get for our children before they turn three.
Listening to hours of radio shows on the blog-sphere, and viewing hours of interviews and documentaries on the internet and Netflix, I may sound jaded or exhausted, but alas, I am not. The only way through this is to keep up some hope that change is possible, whether as a climate-environment activist or social worker. Writing is just one rung in the ladder helping me and I hope you, kind reader, get above the miasma and smoke and mirrors our Western For-Profit Medical Industrial Complex has deployed with their endless billions for lobbying and marketing and subterfuge and obfuscation.
Keep reading until Part Four comes out.
“No one should approach the temple of science with the soul of a money changer.” — Thomas Browne
“Big Pharma needs sick people to prosper. Patients, not healthy people, are their customers. If everybody was cured of a particular illness or disease, pharmaceutical companies would lose 100% of their profits on the products they sell for that ailment. What all this means is because modern medicine is so heavily intertwined with the financial profits culture, it’s a sickness industry more than it is a health industry.” ― James Morcan, The Orphan Conspiracies: 29 Conspiracy Theories from The Orphan Trilogy
HPV Vaccine Debate — Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell
Gardasil Scandal Brewing in Colombia
Four Year Analysis of Adverse Reactions to Gardasil
In The Know w/ Lloyd W. Phillips (he starts talking at 10:53 into the interview)
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