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Legislative News
for Antipsychiatry Activists

Archive
2000

Parliament of Ireland debates safeguards for rights of mental patients
According to an article in an Irish newspaper, the Irish Parliament, which is called the Oireachtas, is debating the Mental Health Bill of 1999.  According to the article, current law "contains practically no safeguards for the rights of patients."  This bill, if passed, "will introduce, for the first time" a review of involuntary commitments within 28 days of the start of the commitment.  The bill also "proposes a Mental Health Commission to oversee psychiatric institutions and set standards for care.  ...  reports have hightlighted the deplorable conditions in which patients are treated."  The author of the article, Conor Power, is convenor of the Mental Health Working Group of the Irish Council for Civil Liberties.  He has provided us with a briefing paper about the proposed legislation.  He can be contacted at iccl@iol.ieConor Power, "Mental Health - a challenge for change," Metro Eireann, November 2000, p. 2.


Medicaid Intensive Community Mental Health Treatment Act of 2000 introduced in U.S. House of Representatives on October 26, 2000, would "provide States with the option of covering intensive community mental health treatment under the Medicaid Program."  See the Library of Congress web site for information on this bill.  Lora, an Antipsychiatry Coalition activist in Utah writes: "Please call your congressman right away and tell them to OPPOSE this bill!  It's a short bill (only 3 pages and reads easily) ... HR 5572 would implement in home psychiatric commitment and get Medicaid (taxpayers) to pay for it.  In order to be committed to his own home a person would have to be diagnosed mentally ill and meet the following criteria (the language in the bill is not clear and does not specify whether or not all 5 criteria would have to be met or just one.)  1- a- Have a history of repeated psychiatric hospitalization (who makes the determination of what repeated means- 3 times, 10 times?)  b- High users of emergency and inpatient hospital services (would that cover someone who has diabetes and goes to the emergency room often, or someone who has major kidney problems and spends time in the hospital? The language in the bill doesnĖt specify.)  2- Have been arrested repeated times for minor offenses (again what is repeated times, 3, 10? Walking your dog without a leash is a minor offense, jay walking is a minor offense, so is speeding.)  3- Not meeting the desired outcome from intensive mental health services or not having access to intensive mental health services (if the person doesn't act as expected after intensive mental health services or if the person can't get intensive mental health services, he or she falls under this standard.)  4- Cannot meet their own basic needs and live in substandard housing situations, including being homeless (ex: someone lives in a run-down home and can't afford to go to the dentist.)  5- someone who has used drugs for the last 12 months.  It is vital to understand that a label of mental illness never ever leaves someone's record and that because the psychiatric "experts" claim that mental illness is not curable once someone is under "treatment" they can be expected to be under treatment for the rest of their lives.  Someone who would be forced into this program would also lose their second amendment right forever."



Mental Health Early Intervention, Treatment and Prevention Act of 2000 introduced in United States Senate:
Introduced as S. 2639, the Mental Health Early Intervention, Treatment, and Prevention Act of 2000 has potential for worsening psychiatric oppression in America, as well as further federalizing areas of law that under the 10th Amendment should remaind the exclusive province of state law.  For example, if enacted, this bill will provide for "training" for teachers to identify individuals with mental illness, who will then be forced to accept whatever "treatment" is prescribed.  See the Bazelon web site for a detailed report on this bill.


Outpatient commitment bill passes in California Assembly but dies in Senate
AB1800, a bill to expand involuntary psychiatric commitment criteria, passed in the California Assembly with a vote of 53 to 16 on June 1, 2000.  The bill then died in the state senate, allegedly because of the opposition of State Senator John Burton, chairman of the Senate Rules Committee.  Sen. Burton opposed the bill on the ground that it threatened the right to liberty of the people of California.  His opposition to AB1800 has brought criticism by proponents of psychiatric oppression.  For example, an article by Charles Sosebee and Jonathan Stanley in the San Francisco Chronicle on July 6, 2000 titled "Sen. Burton's Actions Will Only Hurt the Mentally Ill" says:

Perhaps [Senator] Burton fails to recognize that mental illness is a medical disorder from which people can recover. Doomsayers, like Burton, claim this legislation would turn treatment into a reduction of civil rights. This is not so. It is treatment that enables people with mental illness to knowingly exercise their civil rights. There is nothing civil about California's current treatment laws, which have left thousands trapped by hallucinations, delusions and paranoia because they are too ill to know they need help. ... When people refuse treatment because of the effects of mental illness, California law forbids caring for them until it is too late. No matter what the basis for the objection, they cannot be treated until they pose a danger to themselves or others.  ... About half of the states no longer use this standard solely in determining when someone should be helped. These states consider factors such as being unaware of a need for treatment, or having a history of medication noncompliance or violence. But not California.
Similarly, an article in the Los Angeles Times, July 13, 2000, by Carla Jacobs titled "Why Sit By When We Can Help?" says:
Sen. John Burton revels in his reputation as a champion of civil rights and protector of the people. Yet as chair of the Senate Rules Committee, he has thrown the democratic process to the wind by refusing to allow a lifesaving bill, AB 1800, a fair hearing in front of the Senate. AB 1800, stalled in committee, would allow involuntary treatment of people with mental illness who are so terribly ill they cannot make rational choices themselves. In the late 1960s, the Lanterman-Petris-Short Act, California's involuntary treatment law, was passed. At the time, schizophrenia and bipolar disorder were not recognized as medical conditions. Instead, they were thought to be a "sane reaction to a insane society." Nowadays we know that schizophrenia and bipolar disorder are as medical in nature as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases. They are diseases of the brain that preclude some of their victims the privilege of exercising their civil liberties.
In other words, the proponents of AB1800 - who favor imprisonment (involuntary "hospitalization") of law-abiding people on the basis of arbitrary and unreliable psychiatric "diagnoses" - base their arguments on several false premises, among them the beliefs that it has been established that "mental illness" is a biological, physical disease and that psychiatry has bona-fide treatment for these supposed diseases.  They believe in the myth of mental illness - and the myth of therapy, and several corollary myths.  They overlook the fact that the current "dangerousness" commitment criteria allows anybody to be imprisoned (involuntarily "hospitalized") at any time, since future dangerousness or imminent harm to self or others can always be alleged and can never be disproved, however false, and that prediction of future behavior by supposed experts including psychiatrists is wildly inaccurate.  Predictions of violence by supposed experts such as psychiatrists prove to be wrong the majority of the time.  The supporters of AB1800 overlook the fact that all psychiatric treatment aside from simple conversation ("psychotherapy") is harmful, and that instead of enacting laws forcing people to accept psychiatric "treatment," legislators should enact laws protecting people from psychiatric "treatment."
      If you think psychiatry's supporters are right, read Does Mental Illness Exist?, Psychiatric Drugs: Cure or Quackery?, Unjustified Psychiatric Commitment in the U.S.A., and other articles found on this website.
      If you believe in liberty for all law-abiding people, and if you are perceptive enough to see how false are the arguments raised in support of expanding involuntary commitment criteria in California, write or call Senator Burton to express your appreciation for his support for human rights and his opposition to coercive psychiatry:

Sen. John Burton
State Capitol Room 205
Sacramento, CA 95814
Phone: (916) 445-1412

Also contact other members of the California Senate and ask them to oppose similar legislation in the future.  Refer them to this Antipsychiatry Coalition website.  Consider sending a copy of one or more articles from this website revealing the false assumptions that underlie AB1800.  See printing instructions.


Mental health parity enacted in Massachusetts
On May 2, 2000, Massachusetts Governor Paul Cellucci signed Senate Bill S2036 into law.  This new law provides, in part, that health insurance companies must "...provide mental health benefits on a nondiscriminatory basis to residents of the commonwealth and to all policyholders having a principal place of employment in the commonwealth for the diagnosis and treatment of the following biologically-based mental disorders, as described in the most recent edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of the American Psychiatric Association: (1) schizophrenia, (2) schizoaffective disorder, (3) major depressive disorder, (4) bipolar disorder, (5) paranoia and other psychotic disorders, (6) obsessive-compulsive disorder, (7) panic disorder, (8) delirium and dementia, (9) affective disorders, and (10) any biologically-based mental disorders appearing in said Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of the American Psychiatric Association that are scientifically recognized."  The bill also provides requires that health insurance companies "shall also provide benefits on a nondiscriminatory basis for children under the age of 19 for the diagnosis and treatment for mental, behavioral or emotional disorders on a nondiscriminatory basis, as described in the most recent edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of the American Psychiatric Association, which, while not biologically-based, substantially interfere with or substantially limit a child’s functioning and social interaction..." (underline added).
      Obviously, common sense and good judgment did not prevail here, because there is no such thing as a "biologically-based mental disorder"!!  As Elliot S. Valenstein, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus of Psychology and Neuroscience at the University of Michigan, says in his book Blaming the Brain: The TRUTH About Drugs and Mental Health: "Contrary to what is often claimed, no biochemical, anatomical, or functional signs have been found that reliably distinguish the brains of mental patients" (Free Press, New York, 1998, page 125).  By requiring coverage of anything that is now or may in the future be defined as a mental disorder in the American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, the Massachusetts Legislature and governor will force health insurance companies to pay for questionable "treatment" of all kinds of bogus mental illnesses.  As psychologist Margaret A. Hagen, Ph.D., says in her book Whores of the Court: The Fraud of Psychiatric Testimony and the Rape of American Justice: "The newest (1994) Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders provides the civil litigant with literally hundreds of possible disorders, each neatly laid out with the necessary symptoms.  It is hard to imagine that anyone could live in today's society and not be diagnosed with at least one of these many disorders" (HarperCollins, New York, 1997, page 250).  Are Massachusetts state legislators idiots?  Are they woefully misinformed and not carefully researching the laws they enact?  Have they been bought off by campaign contributions from the manufacturers of psychiatric drugs?  One can only wonder.
      See letters sent to Gov. Cellucci by antipsychiatry coalition activist Douglas A. Smith urging the governor to veto this bill and a reply from Marylou Sudders, Massachusetts Commissioner of Mental Health.
      Our pharmaceutical industry supported opposition, the National Alliance "for" the Mentally Ill (NAMI), has a web page showing which states do and do not have mental health parity laws.


Vermont enacts law to study use of electroshock "therapy" On May 2, 2000, the governor of Vermont signed House Bill 12 into law.  Click on these links to see the text and current status.  Whether this is a favorable or unfavorable development is unclear.  One activist advises that all those included in the group who will be studying the matter and reporting to the Legislature are pro-psychiatry groups - including the Vermont psychiatric survivors, who are allegedly led by a "treatment-junkie" mental patient.

Florida State Representative Nancy Argenziano, who was Chairperson of the Elder Affairs & Long Term Care Committee in the last session of the Legislature (2000), advised the proposal of Antipsychiatry Coalition activist Douglas A. Smith to amend the Florida Mental Health Act (Baker Act) to provide for an unqualified right to attend one's own commitment hearing and to provide for a right to trial by jury would be considered by her Committee in the 2001 session of the Florida Legislature.  However, in the 2001 session she is no longer chair or even a member of this committee.

Victory in Utah - again!!   In a letter dated 2 March 2000, we hear from Lora in Utah: "Our legislative session is over.  We killed 3 bills, psychological surveys of children, loosening of committment laws, and mental health parity.  What a fun year."  Again, thank you to Lora and the other activists in Utah for their continuing victories over the advocates of psychiatric oppression!

GOOD NEWS FROM VERMONT -- FORCED DRUGGING BILL OVERTURNED!  A judge in Vermont effectively overturned a law which had instituted outpatient forced psychiatric drugging, and made it far easier to forcibly drug people.  From Vermont, attorney Susan L. Aranoff stated this on Monday:

"On behalf of Vermont Protection and Advocacy, Inc., I am pleased to inform you that on December 30, 1999, Judge Mary Miles Teachout denied the State's Motion to vacate the J.L. consent judgment. The significance of this ruling cannot be overstated.  This decision effectively renders Act 114, (formerly known as "S.103") dead on arrival.  The only caveat is that the State may appeal this decision to the Vermont Supreme Court, where it could be overruled... [T]he Judge's ruling is a severe blow to the State's efforts to expand forced drugging into the community and to override the advance directives of people it deems to be mentally ll."

(The above is as reported in a January 2000 Support Coalition "Dendrite" mailing.)



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