I recently read that Indiana’s legislative overlords are taking time out from their attacks on women and trans children, and deigning to address an actual issue–the health of Hoosier citizens.
I haven’t been following those health measures, and to be honest, I lack the background to properly evaluate them in any case, so I thought I’d pose a question to my new research assistant, otherwise known as ChatGPT.
Here’s what I asked:
Please locate Indiana’s relative performance in health related areas, especially drug and alcohol abuse rates, infant mortality, smoking statistics, suicides, life expectancy, and other wellness markers like mental health.
Here’s what I got:
Sure, here is some information on Indiana’s relative performance in health-related areas:
Drug and alcohol abuse rates: According to data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), Indiana has higher than average rates of substance abuse, particularly with regard to prescription pain relievers and synthetic opioids. In 2019, Indiana had the 9th highest rate of drug overdose deaths in the United States, with a rate of 27.5 deaths per 100,000 population.
Infant mortality: Indiana has one of the highest rates of infant mortality in the country, with a rate of 6.8 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2019. This is higher than the national average of 5.6 deaths per 1,000 live births.
Smoking statistics: Indiana has one of the highest rates of smoking in the United States, with an adult smoking rate of 21.1% in 2019. This is higher than the national average of 14.0%.
Suicides: Indiana has an above-average rate of suicide, with a rate of 16.9 deaths per 100,000 population in 2019. This is higher than the national average of 13.9 deaths per 100,000 population.
Life expectancy: Indiana’s life expectancy is slightly lower than the national average, at 76.7 years in 2019 compared to the national average of 77.3 years.
Mental health: Indiana has lower than average rates of mental health care access and high rates of mental illness. According to Mental Health America’s 2021 report, Indiana ranks 45th out of all states and the District of Columbia in terms of overall access to mental health care. Additionally, Indiana has the 5th highest rate of adult mental illness in the United States.
It’s worth noting that these rankings and statistics are subject to change over time and may vary depending on the specific sources and data used.
You might think that–given the sad state of Hoosiers’ health–healthcare might take priority over efforts to stymie DEI investing and destroy the state’s public schools–but of course, this is Indiana….Even a superficial look at General Assembly priorities is enough to demonstrate lawmakers’ utter disregard for public health.
In the wake of Dobbs, Indiana lawmakers couldn’t wait to ban abortion–despite overwhelming evidence that reproductive care–including abortion–is an essential element of women’s healthcare.
Then, of course, there’s the legislature’s ongoing love affair with guns, despite polling showing that a majority of Hoosiers (including a majority of NRA members) support additional regulation.
Perhaps the most direct evidence of our legislature’s lack of concern for the health of their constituents was this session’s mean-spirited denial of appropriate health care to trans children. I went back to ChatGPT for an explanation of the health consequences involved.
Denying appropriate medical care to transgender young people can have serious medical and emotional consequences. Here are some of the potential outcomes:
Delayed or absent puberty: Transgender young people who are denied appropriate medical care may not undergo puberty at the same time as their peers, or may not undergo puberty at all. This can lead to social isolation, low self-esteem, and feelings of dysphoria.
Increased risk of mental health problems: Transgender young people who are denied appropriate medical care may experience depression, anxiety, and other mental health problems as a result of the distress caused by their physical dysphoria.
Increased risk of suicide: Studies have shown that transgender young people who are denied appropriate medical care have a higher risk of suicidal ideation and suicide attempts.
Increased risk of physical health problems: Transgender young people who are denied appropriate medical care may be at increased risk of physical health problems related to their gender dysphoria, such as urinary tract infections or other complications from avoiding the use of restrooms that do not match their gender identity.
Reduced life expectancy: Transgender people who are denied appropriate medical care may have reduced life expectancy due to the physical and mental health problems they experience as a result of their gender dysphoria.
Overall, denying appropriate medical care to transgender young people can have serious and potentially life-threatening consequences. It is important for healthcare providers and society as a whole to recognize and respect the healthcare needs of transgender youth, and to provide them with the necessary medical care and support to live healthy and fulfilling lives.
Our legislative culture warriors don’t care.