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Lauren Reichelt
Lauren Reichelt is the director of Health and Human Services for Rio Arriba County in Northern New Mexico, and blogs on health care issues for ePluribus Media and Daily Kos as TheFatLadySings.

Why the ACA is the Most Important Women’s Civil Rights Bill Since the 19th Amendment


by: on July 18th, 2012 | 1 Comment »

In the last year, attempts have been made in the US House of Representatives and the state of Arizona to defund Planned Parenthood. “Personhood bills” have been introduced in the same time frame in Virginia, Oklahoma, Mississippi and Colorado seeking to ban both birth control and abortion. Bills were also recently introduced in Georgia and Tennessee to criminalize miscarriage, potentially making it a capital offense. And who can forget Virginia’s effort to force medically unnecessary vaginal ultrasounds on females with the temerity to seek medical care?

The ACA may be the most important piece of civil rights legislation effecting women since we gained the right to vote in 1920.

Sadly, the value of the ACA to women remains America’s best kept secret.


Why Republicans Are Loaded for Medi-Bear


by: on May 19th, 2012 | 2 Comments »

Crossposted from the Rio Arriba Community Health Council Blog.

To the average American working outside of health administration, the anti-Medicare crusade waged during the primary by the always entertaining but rarely sensible crop of Republican presidential wannabes made absolutely no sense. Why would any competent candidate want to campaign against a program beloved by one of America’s most reliable voting blocks?

Why not just amputate your own head?

Apparently, the wing of the Party that uses money and media to manipulate election results has rediscovered the time-worn political maxim (at least, until the general election) that you don’t win elections by loudly proclaiming your intent to rob voters’ of retirement security. Mr. Romney dropped the subject the instant he became the latest Hair Apparent.

But don’t worry. Be happy.

If Republicans and their corporate funders retake the White House and Senate, they’ll load their helicopters and assault rifles once again for Medi-Bear.


Anonymous’ Attack on Drug Cartel Benefits Youth in my Community


by: on October 31st, 2011 | 1 Comment »

The Houston Chronicle reports that the ubiquitous hacktivist (dis)organization Anonymous is celebrating Halloween by threatening to expose the members of Zetas, one of the most powerful drug cartels in Mexico.

My little county, Rio Arriba, in northern New Mexico, has long been overrun by drugs because of this cartel. The guys on the left are not drug kingpins. They are ranchers. And they are seriously put out with the cartels.

Rio Arriba County suffers the highest heroin and polydrug overdose death rates in the US. A few months ago, a beautiful local mountain lake was befouled when a plane flying low to avoid being detected by radar crashed into it, spewing cocaine, fuel, and bodyparts into the water. Nobody knows who was in the plane.

Our rural Hispanic and Native American youth are being systematically plied with drugs by Mexican and Californian gangs to entice them to become mules. We have watched our teen drinking rate creep upward. Children as young as 12 are now addicted to heroin.

I couldn’t be happier that Anonymous has taken on the cartel. However, I wonder if bloggers everywhere will suddenly find themselves targets in a new kind of war. I know how quickly those kinds of wars can sneak up on you.

CROSS-POSTED AT Native American Netroots


Meet Mr. G: A Greedy, Grasping Schoolteacher


by: on April 8th, 2011 | 10 Comments »

Mr G.

Meet Mr. G. He’s been teaching high school in Santa Fe for twenty years.

You might ask,”Is that a neck brace he’s wearing?”

Now that you mentioned it, yes. Mr. G. is wearing a neck brace.

This is the story of how, after an excruciating year of teaching, Mr. G. discovered he’d been standing at the blackboard with multiple neck fractures.

And stage 4 cancer.

He kept teaching until he was unable to stand on his feet.


Women and Menstruation in Torah


by: on March 24th, 2011 | 3 Comments »

One week after Jews all over the world nosh on Haman’s hat, dress in kooky costumes and party until we no longer recognize the difference between the ancient Persian equivalents of Hitler and Einstein, our preparation for Passover begins. On Shabbat Parah we study the enigmatic commandment to purify ourselves from contact with the dead through the sacrifice of a young, unblemished, red cow.

In many ways, this reading seems to continue the comedic inversions and paradoxes of Purim, the Jewish Mardi Gras. But surprise and delight at our continued presence on earth gives way to thoughtful reflection on emancipation from slavery and the attendant new-found responsibility we incur as a nation of free citizens. Observance takes a serious turn. Passover swings into view.

Parshat Parah is a pivotal passage. Why does this turning point in an overwhelmingly patriarchal text appear to revolve around menstruation?


Why I Had an Abortion and Why I Published an Editorial


by: on March 8th, 2011 | 5 Comments »

This Sunday, I published an editorial in the Albuquerque Journal North explaining why I terminated a pregnancy at 16. I was inspired by Democratic Representatives Gwen Moore (WI) and Jackie Speier (CA) who stood up on the House floor in the middle of an assault on Planned Parenthood and the definition of rape and described their own decisions to end a pregnancy.

I intend to mail a photocopy of my editorial to the Congresswomen.

I hope every woman who has ever faced this decision will do the same. If we refuse to be intimidated or shamed, then we can’t be intimidated or shamed.

My public response, which appeared in the Journal North on March 6th follows below the jump. (Sorry, I can’t link because I don’t have a paid subscription to the Journal online).


River Found a Kidney and I Get to Keep Mine!


by: on March 1st, 2011 | 3 Comments »

On Thursday, February 17, I received one of the best phone calls of my life.

I wondered who was calling me from the (306) area code. Where was that anyway?

“It’s mrghhtbfxr,” said the voice on the other end of the line.

“Who?” I asked.

“mrghhtbfxr!” repeated the voice excitedly.


It’s River! I’ve found a kidney!” Kitsap River is a Daily Kos blogger. I had been trying to give her a kidney.

I was so happy for River. But I was also so happy for me!

After a year of tests, I had just been confirmed as a match. I was mustering my courage for a SERIOUS TALK with the husband and kids.

Saved by the bell! Now I could keep my kidney without feeling guilty.


The Valentine’s Day That Never Was


by: on February 14th, 2011 | 5 Comments »

I always think about Timmy around Valentine’s Day. He was my first boyfriend, or he would have been had he not gotten his head bashed in with a bat.

Tim came into my life late one night through my bedroom window. We were twelve. Tim, like my ten year-old brother, was short, blond and scrappy. He often sported contusions from schoolyard rumbles or his mother’s fists. Tim fought with everyone other than his Mom. He resembled an elf with poor tree-climbing skills: pointy ears, pointy chin, bumps, scrapes and wide blue eyes.

My brother, Billy, had unlocked my window for Tim, who was his best friend, but then had forgotten to tell me. I slept directly beside the window; my two younger sisters snoozed away in a bed across the room.

I was dreaming that a monkey was sitting on the sill. I woke up fully when Tim’s foot slipped and kicked my head.

“What do you think you’re you doing?” I demanded.

“It’s me…Tim,” he answered as if that explained everything. “I didn’t mean to wake you up. I was looking for your brother.”

“Maybe you should consider entering through the door, Batman,” I snarled.


Where’s the Heat? Rio Arribans Grill NM Gov Over Gas


by: on February 8th, 2011 | 2 Comments »

For most of the country, last week’s winter storm is old news. But for residents of Rio Arriba County, one of the nation’s top gas-producing counties, last week’s storm has not passed. Residents of Rio Arriba County remain without natural gas for cooking and heating in frigid weather nearly a week later.

And another Arctic front is on its way.

Last night, the Board of Rio Arriba County Commissioners summoned Governor Susana Martinez to explain the debacle. My video of the event is shown below.


Senator Bingaman Dishes on Health Care Reform


by: on January 28th, 2011 | 2 Comments »

Far from being a “job-killing health care law,” the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is one of the largest job creation bills New Mexico has seen since the days of Franklin Roosevelt. PPACA also contains a number of common sense insurance reforms that take effect immediately. In the exclusive video below, Senator Jeff Bingaman describes some of the most important reforms and what they mean for New Mexico. (Ironically, he was suffering from a cold when I interviewed him.)

Please feel free to share this video with friends who want to know how they will benefit from PPACA