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January 19, 1978 - Image 4

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Michigan Daily, 1978-01-19

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Page 4-Thursday, January 19, 1978-The Michigan Daily
Eighvi"-Eight)Years ofEditorial Freedom
420 Maynard St., Ann Arbor, MI 48109
Vol. LXXXVIII, No. 90 News Phone: 764-0552
Edited and moanged by students at the University of Michigan
W Y
Weneed-a student Ilobby

D ORM RATES CLIMB.
Tuition soars.
The University slashes programs
while the state treasury rakes in a
record surplus.
These are three separate cases
which spell out the same old story -
students get the shaft.
But in the face of these and other af-
fronts, all we do is grumble as we pull
out our check books and line up like
lemmings to sell our financial souls to
the University.
We acquiesce to unreasonably high
costs and diminishing quality of our
education. We sit back and take it.
WE do, but some students at other
universities have gotten smart.
University students in Colorado and
New York State found they could have a
real impact on state higher education
policies by setting up statewide student.
lobbies. They found legislators willing
to listen when student representatives
spoke of all the voters back on campus
interested in what their representatives,
were doing for students.
What about Michigan college stu-
dents? Our state system includes over a
hundred thousand potential votes to

back up the words of student advocates
in Lansing.
There are two missing ingredients -
awareness and organization. Univer-
sity students all around the state need
to become aware of their common prob-
lems and interested in seeking common
solutions to them.
But without common organization,
students will fail to reach their goals.
If, however, students in Ann Arbor,
East Lansing, Kalamazoo, Ypsilanti,
Mt. Pleasant, Marquette and Big
Rapids pool their resources and create
an advocacy office in our state capitol,
many representatives will start listen-
ing.
Groups as diverse as teachers and
steel corporations have learned the
lesson Michigan students have yet to
comprehend - unity means strength.
If we fail to heed the experience of
students in New York and Colorado,
and the experience of hundreds of other
interest groups, we will continue to get
the short end of the budgetary stick.
As one earthy and street-wise gym
teacher used to tell his charges, it's
time to start using our brains and stop
sitting on them.

Should n
the right
By SUSAN ABRAM S making t
Pacific News Service
Do mental patients chech their What
constitutional rights at the feet on pa
hospital door? Do people whose ted chem
ability to reason is doubted still *'Does
have the right to refuse treat- preclude
ment when no emergency exists? treatmen
Should psychiatrists be the sole compatibl
arbiters of what is ina patient's
"best interest," or do patients THE
themselves have a stake in where th
determining that? Simply put, were ke
does the law outside a mental stand six
hospital apply inside as well? and feat
These are among key questions
being raised in a landmark civil
rights trial now underway in U.S.
District Court in Boston. The
case, known as Rogers v. Okin,
began December 8 and is expec-
tedr to last through February. A
non-jury trial, it is presided over
by federal judge Joseph Tauro.
Rogers v. Okin is the nation's
first class action suit on the right
of mental patients to refuse
treatment-now the cornerstone
of a nationwide movement on
mental patient's rights. Brought
by seven present and former
patients at Boston State Hospital
(Rubie Rogers is a patient,'
Robert Okin is the state com-
missioner of Mental Health), the
suit charges 15 doctors with
having forcibly medicated or
secluded patients in non-
emergencies during 1974 and part
of 1975, violating both state law
and their constitutional rights.
DESCRIBING SUCH practices
as "assault and battery" and
"false imprisonment," the plain- dow witl
tiffs seek damages of $1.2 million continua
and the permanent extension of plactic-c
an injunction (in effect since floor, no
April 30, 1975) prohibiting such as stink
practices. The scan
While state laws vary on the are allo
rights of mental patients, Rogers patients
v. Okin should set important material
precedents for defining the con- The mi
stitutional rights of mental powerfu
patients nationally. If, for exam- that con
ple, the outcome affirms the ment at
rights of mental patients to nationw
refuse treatment, it would point to
radically alter the traditional "reduci
relationship between doctor and "re-est
patient in which patients have lit- thought
tle or no recognized role in note the
determining treatment. ts, incl
Richard Cole, Robert Burdick jerking
and Clyde Bergstresser, attor- concentr
neys for the plaintiffs, plan to in- ficulty i
troduce many issues of broad the
aplicability, some of them quite dyskine
new. Among them are: vous sy
" Does the use of mind-altering brain-
drugs violate the First Amen- In his
dment by interfering with the court,
right to formulate as well as ex- General
press ideas? Does it violate the heads t
right to privacy? that any
* Is involunttary treatment not medicat
only possibly unconstitutuional against
but anti-therapeutic as well? emerger
Does it work against the feelings violent
of independence and self-respect the plai
that treatment should foster as ting thei
preparation for patients retur- a knife
ning to the community? patients
* Is assaultive behavior, for Under
which patient are restrained, said, ac
sometimes caused by the hospital might s
atmosphere? Is hospitalization themsel

he patients sicker?
is the psychological ef-
atients of forcing unwan-
icals into their bodies?
the right to treatment
the right to refuse
t, or are the two rights
Ae?
SECLUSION rooms
e plaintiffs charge they
pt in non-emergencies
x-by-12 feet, are locked
ure a mesh-covered win-

that a patient was going out of
control. Staff had to intervene
quickly. Schultz askd the court to
keep in mind that alternatives to
medication and seclusion were
not always available.
Working "under very trying
conditions," handling patients
who were "the most acutely
psychotic in the Massachusetts
mental hospital system," the
doctors, according to Schultz, not
only managed to cope but did, in
fact, help many of the plaintiffs to

tentalpatients have
to refuse treatment

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CANC " WA

h a bare lightbult left on
illy. They contain only a
overed mattress on the
toilet, and are described
ing of urine and feces.
ntily clad or nude patients
wed no contact with other
no reading or other
s, no exercise.
nedications at issue are
l anti-psychotic drugs
stitute the major treat-
many mental hospitals
ide. While advocates
their effectiveness in
ng anxiety" and
ablishing organized
processes," opponents
many possible side effec-
uding blurred vision,
of the limbs, inability to
ate, drowsiness and dif-
n swallowing. Some, as in
condition tardive
sia-a disease of the ner-
stem that damages the
may be irreversible.
opening statement to the
Assistant Attorney
Stephen Schultz (who
he defense team) denied
of the doctors had either
ed or secluded patients
their will except in
ncies. He cited numerous
incidents on the part of
ntiffs, ranging from set-
mselves on fire to holding
to tie throats of other
the circumstances, he
tions (like shouting) that
seem quite harmless in
ves were, in fact, a sign

improve.
In Boston, where one in-
stitutionalized mental patien-
tkilled a doctor in 1973, and where
busing tensions led to an in-
crease in admissions, Schultz
suggested that the doctors
"should be commended" rather
than criticized.
The defense has also taken the
position (in pre-trial memoran-
da) that many involuntary
patients "cannot acknowledge
their need for treatment, and
frequently desire subconsciously
the very medication and treat-
ment they outwardly reject."
They conclude that no con-
stitutional right exists to refuse
medication in a state mental
hospital.
SCHULTZ AND his colleagues
are later expected to emphasize
what they allege have been the
disastrous effects on patients of
the current ban on non-
emergency forcible treatment:
those who refuse are denied
treatment they need and other
patients are in danger from
them; physicians are unable to
carry out their "legal obligations
to treat;" staff is demoralized
and tension runs high.
In a friend-of-the-court brief,
Harvard Law School professor
Alan Stone contended that drug
treatments had vastly improved
conditions in the nation's mental
hospitals and that legal activists
supporting the rights of mental-
'patients to refuse treatment
"have raised all sorts of com-
plicated legal questions" that

have helped lead to "payoffs and
terror" at Boston State Hospital.
But Robert Plotkin, attorney
for the Mental Health Law
Project in Eashington, D.C.,
which is assisting the plaintiffs,
contends that "we are not talking
about totally elinimating drugs in
mental health treatment; we are
talking about controlling a long
list of well documented abuses
against mental patients. Treating
patients like human beings will
nbot interfere with mrental
health treatment, it would
enhance it."
Early testimony has focused on
Donna Hunt, who spent more
than 2,000 hours in seclusion
during a 16-month period. Her at-
torneys charge she was frequen-
tly medicated against her will as
"punishment for 'undesirable'
behavior or speech and as part of
a behavior modification treat-
ment plan."
MILDLY RETARDED, the 16-
year-old patient, although never
diagnosed as "psychotic", was
placed on an adult psychotic
ward where staff lacked
training in the treatment of the
retarded.
A key witness has been Dr.
John_ Szylk, a second-year
resident psychiatrist directly
responsibnle for Hunt's treat-
ment. Under examination by her
attorneys he conceded that:
+ He had no training in the use
of seclusion or anti-psychotic
drugs on theretarded. Yet he had
never sought consultation with
experts, including one available
within the same hospital.
* He had never read Hunt's en-
tire record, including reports by
his immediate predecessor that
she showed symptoms of tardive
dyskinesia from the drug
Mellaril. Szylk continued the
dosages.
Dr. Szylk defended his com-
petence, nevertheless, "to for-
mulate a treatment program" for
a retarded adolescent. He stated
that "he could not have conceived
of a better treatment program"
for Hunt even if more resources
had been available.
State law authorized seclusion
only where there is "the oc-
currence of or serious threat of
extreme violence, personal in-
jury, or attempted suicide."
Hunt was ofter secluded for
refusing to stay in her room,
swallowing flip tops from soda
cans or scatching her arms with
them. While Szylk asserted such
actions indicated Hunt was either
out of control or suicidal, the
other early witnesses called
(aides or psychologists sym-
pathetic to the plaintiffs) conten-
ded that Hunt's bizzare actions
grew out of her desperate need
for attention and personal sup-
port.
Susan Abrams has. corered
mental halth issues for a
rariety of publications in-
cluding the Boston Phoenix.
A THIRD and frequently
overlooked reason why teens
ignore birth control is that many
actually want to have children.
(According to a recent survey,
more teen mothers than ever
want to keep their babies.)
For many the teen years are
frightening ones-the world looks
huge, cruel, and incomprehen-
sible; jobs are hard to find.

Having a child gives many teens
a sense of personal dignity, a
place in the limelight, someone to
love and hold power over in a
world where they feel powerless.
Thus the key to reducing the
teen birth rate, many experts
contend, is to develop new
programs that more directly
touch teens' lives.
A few privately funded
programs have attempted to do
just that-with highly favorable
results.
In 1969 a public health student
at the University of North
Carolina designed a condom
mass distribution program "to
operate largely outside the of-
ficial channels of the health,
welfare and poverty agency."
Besides the local VD clinic, con-
doms were distributed for free by
high school drop-outs and by local
merchants whose stores were
teen hang-outs.
THE PROJECT distributed an

t

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IComfe to IinhereA

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ON 'w O'A a'w'iw

A dangerous precedent

T HE JUSTICE DEPARTMENT is
asking the Supreme Court to grant
police the power to make surprise sear-
ches of newspaper offices for evidence
in criminal cases.
We find the brief filed by the De-1
partment to be repressive and danger-
ous to the role of an unfettered press in
a free society.
It is the reasoning of the Justice De-'
partment that requiring the police to
get both search warrants and sub-
poenaes would remove all element of
surprise from the searches. The De-
partment feels the police should only
have to seek search warrants before en-
tering a newspaper office.
The effect of the position would be to
dissuade confidential informants from
talking to reporters. A ruling by the
Court friendly to the Department's po-
sition would thus diminish the effect of
shield laws that many states have adop-

also be eliminating newspapers' right
to privacy. Confidential informants
who are often essential in compiling
facts on a number of important stories
will be far less likely to speak to the
press.-
Getting a subpoena is not an undue
hardship for any law enforcement ag-
ency. 1yIany judges have been roused
out of their beds to sign subpoenas. It is
easily done.
But what is not easily done is getting
sources who fear reprisals from police
to talk to reporters. This task, import-
ant to newspapers role as watchdog,
would become even more difficult in the
subpoena requirement was eliminated.
Enabling police to make sneak at-
tacks on newspapers is a privilege that
would be subject to abuse.
We hope that the Court will see the
department's position for what it is - a
dangerous infringement of the rights of
a free nress

By MICHAEL CASTLEMAN
Pacific News Service
An estimated 11 million
teenagers'are sexually active in
the U.S. today. Studies show that
more than half of them used no
contraception the last time they
had intercourse.
And while the overall birth rate
continues to decline in the U.S.,
the birth rate among teenagers is
raising steadily-with the most
dramatic increases among
mothers 13 and under.
Teen mothers have more
children, m o r e premature
children, more miscarriages and
more stillbirths than non-teen
mothers. They have higher rates
of death during shildbirth and
infant death during the first year
then older mothers. Their suicide
rate among teen mothers is ten
times the national average.
Teen mothers tend to drop out
of high school and survive on
welfare. They rarely develop
marketable job skills, and
children who raise children are
involved in an inordinate amount
of child abuse and neglect.
HOPING TO combat this
"epidemic of p r em a t u r e
pregnancy across the U.S., the
federal Department of Health,
Education and Welfare (HEW)
plans to ask Congress for $200

Pregnant teens

traception," says a department
official in San Francisco. "There
is no question about the agency's
long-term commitment to the
reduction of teen birth and VD
rated."
And Congress is expected to go
along because federal funds are
no longer available for Medicated
abortions, which were dispropor-
tionately used by teens. The
federal emphasis is shifting to
teen contracention.
But how effective will the new
HEW campaign be in combatting
teen pregnancies?
MANY INFORMED observers,
includind several HEW con-
sultants, contend that unless
HEW goes beyond stpndard ap-
proaches to reaching
teens-clinics and school-based
educational programs-then
more money won't make that
much difference.
"Although clinics contribute
the major source of birth control
for teens, they are not reaching
large numbers of sexually active
teens, nor are they reaching them
soon enough," said a 1975 report

ta, San Francisco-Oakland and
Seattle, discovered that 94 per
cent of those teens were sexually
experienced before they visited
the clinics, and that 75 per cent
had been sexually active for at
least one year before first
reaching the clinics.
One-third of the girls had
already been pregnant. (The
average age of puberty for girls
in the U.S. has dropped to 12-and
is decreasing.)
USRA'S FINDINGS were
echoed by the respected Johns
Hopkins research team of Drs.
Kantner and Zelnick, who recen-
tly reported that among teens
there is a "pattern of having sex,
becoming pregnant, and then
going on to use birth control."
How, then, could federal money
better be used to reduce the teen
birth rate?
First, it is important to look at
why so many teenagers do not
use birth control.
ONE REASON is that the fear
of pregnancy is no longer the
deterrent it used to be. Fifteen
years ago, pregnant girls would

need HEW's

help

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