Sunday, July 21, 2013

They say you can never go home again.

Gee so it's been over two months since I posted. In that time, I visited my family in the US! Originally, I hadn't planned to visit because, well, first off, it's really frickin' expensive. Secondly, I knew I had a bit of other travel scheduled throughout the year, and wasn't really sure it was financially responsible to do all that plus a big US trip. But as the spring turned into summer (Irish summer, that is) I started to wonder if I wouldn't regret not making at least one visit home this year. Since July, August, and September travel plans were already made, I started to look for June deals. I thought, if I can find a flight for less than €500 round-trip, I'll do it! And as luck would have it, I found such a deal and our plans were hatched!

I thought while I was at it, I'd have a little fun, so I managed to keep our trip a secret and surprised everyone in my entire family by showing up unannounced! That part of the trip was fun and exciting, and it was so wonderful to see the looks on their faces when they realised they were looking at me and Mark in the flesh.

Unfortunately, a week before we left for the US, we received the terrible news that my Uncle Joe had passed away. It was obviously a huge blow to the entire family. However I felt blessed to be able to attend Joe's wake and funeral and pay my respects in person. That's the one thing that's most difficult when you move far away: you can't always physically be there during important moments. Joe had a nice send-off, and one of the most heartfelt eulogies I've ever heard by my cousin Joey, and I have to admit that it was nice to see my father's side of the family, many of whom I wouldn't have gotten to see.

Despite the fact that I was in New Hampshire for two weeks, of course I didn't get to see everyone that I wanted to see, especially my 92 year-old Aunt Mary, who lives in Cape Cod. We didn't spend any time in Boston, so there wasn't much carousing with Boston friends either. But I did get to spend some time with a few people who very kindly made the trip north!

It's strange, though. I have been wanting to write about my visit ever since I got back, but I'm not sure how to put it. I've been living in Ireland since the last few days of 2008. That's four and a half years. A lot happens in that time. Some of my 7 nieces and nephews, who were kids when I left, are now adults. People I saw all the time in my life back home only know about my new life through Facebook. When I think about it, I feel as though I've become rather obsolete! And the thing about Facebook is that it doesn't really paint a complete picture. Sure, you can post three times in a day, and people think they're keeping up with your life when it actuality you've just posted about waiting for the bus, the weather, and what you ate for lunch. And it works both ways.

When email was invented, I mourned the loss of real letters. Then it took the place of phone calls. But now I actually mourn the loss of emails! Because of Facebook, I hardly ever keep in touch with people by giving or receiving personalised messages. Sure, there's Skype. But I've got friends I've been saying, "Let's Skype soon!" to for literally years.

But here's where it gets difficult to explain. All of that is to be expected, and while it bums me out a little, I understand that it's a natural result of living far away from where I grew up. But what's a little more nuanced is how I feel about interacting with people in America who don't understand the culture where I have been living for the past four and a half years. To put it briefly: it's weird. I relate to life in America in a completely different way than before I left, for a multitude of reasons.

When I embarked on my move to Ireland, I naively thought it would kind of be like moving to a different part of North America -- that people would talk in a funny accent, the food would be a little different, and the big chain stores would be called something else. It's funny to think of it now, but I actually hadn't considered that Ireland has a completely different culture (and language, actually) which I am still learning more about every single day. It's not just the way people speak, or what time the shops close, or the practicalities of the weather, or the way people dress. It's so many things that I can't actually even describe it properly. Just like in America, Ireland's particular history, one filled with a lot of conflict, calamity, and colonialism, has informed the way people think and act. But the differences in those histories mean that there are huge differences in the culture. And I don't mean superficial differences, but deep ones that I've grown to appreciate. I've gotten used to the way things are done here. While I still get caught out and can feel like a foreigner, I also feel very comfortable here in the ways that matter most.

But going back to the US brings a bit of a culture shock. I don't really want to criticise or America-bash, or be all like, "I'm so cultured since I moved to Europe," because that's not it. It's that I'm not entirely comfortable there anymore. When I visit, it's not a comforting, "Ahhh...home!" feeling that I wish it were. Part of that stems from the fact that my childhood home is no longer in the family, and no one in my family lives in the town where I grew up, so the places I visit are literally not my home, and therefore I am slightly displaced. However, it's more than that. During my more recent visits to the US, I feel unsure of myself and how to relate to people, especially when they do things that I find culturally different to what I am used to here in Ireland.

So in a way, it feels a little like being caught between two worlds. I feel nearly as foreign in America as I do in Ireland. That's the ex-pat's lot, I suppose! The problem is describing how it feels, and what's more, describing it in specific scenarios to someone who has never been to Ireland, let alone lived here, and may not understand what I'm even talking about. Some things you actually have to see with your own eyes to believe or comprehend, whether that's in Ireland or in America. But at least my Irish friends have seen enough American television, movies, and news to have some inkling of cultural references, which makes it a little easier.

I'm happy I went, and Mark and I particularly loved being able to stay with my mother for the first time ever. She lives in a gorgeous part of the country, and we appreciated her hospitality, especially at the last minute! But next year, I hope friends and family visit Ireland and understand when I visit Norway instead of spending thousands of euros visiting "home".

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Open Letter to Regina Doherty, TD and member of Oireachtas Health Committee

Today's letter in the "Tell a Fine Gael TD" campaign is to Regina Doherty. She is a TD from Meath East and is also on the Oireachtas Committee for Health and Children.

Dear Ms. Doherty,

You've stated publicly that “the State should act” to legislate for abortion in cases where a woman's life is at risk and that you are “95% ready” to support a bill. I understand that there has been a lot of pressure coming at you from your party and from other interest groups to keep the status quo, and therefore I appreciate the courage it takes to oppose that pressure and do what you feel is right for women in Ireland.

As a member of the Oireachtas Committee on Health and Children, you are in a particularly influential position to ensure that the Heads of Bill achieves its objectives. In order for that to happen, some important changes need to be made.
First of all, we can all agree that “the unborn” is not a medical term and should not be used in legislation meant to supply guidance for medical intervention. Secondly, the Heads of Bill requires an excessive number of medical opinions in every single case. The time and logistics involved in obtaining so many medical professionals' verdicts will prohibit women from receiving timely medical care. In the case of risk to life from self-destruction, you have to be lucky enough to be somewhere registered by the Mental Health Commission where there happens to be an Ob/Gyn who can perform an abortion in addition to two psychiatrists. Do we even know how many such clinics exist in Ireland? The suicidal woman with mental illness is then faced with the degrading task of convincing three people of her suicidality. If one of them doesn't believe her, she will be forced to endure the appeals process of repeating the experience, and will have to wait two weeks. The process is designed to force these women into suicide or travel. If the woman doesn't have the means to travel, suicide it will likely be.

You seem to have compassion for X, Ms. Doherty, a girl who was impregnated by her rapist. Thousands of women are raped every year in Ireland, and approximately 7% of them become pregnant as a result. Women in these traumatic situations who become suicidal shouldn't have to beg for mercy from up to six doctors to be treated in Ireland. They deserve to be listened to, respected, and cared for.

The proposal that women who are found guilty of self-aborting in the country (as opposed to traveling) will result in nothing short of a witch hunt. Furthermore, a 14 year jail sentence reflects a serious anti-woman agenda considering that male rapists in Ireland are convicted at the rate of 1% and generally spend less than 7 years in jail. I understand that anti-abortion lawmakers want to send a clear message that they don't want abortion in Ireland, but at what cost? Many women, having self-induced a medical abortion (aka the “abortion pill”), will not pursue the necessary follow-up care for fear of prosecution. Incomplete abortions are rare, but they do occur. In those instances, lack of medical treatment can result in infertility and death.

In today's Irish Independent, Enda Kenny is reported to have said that “the bill affirms, rather than weakens, Ireland's general ban on abortion.” As it stands, he is correct. There are so many impediments in the bill that it will surely fail to protect the lives and rights of pregnant women. But that is surely not the intention set forth by the Oireachtas Health Committee and the rest of the Dail. At least, I hope not. The 92% of Irish people who want legislation on the X case ruling and the EU Court of Human Rights ruling are trusting you to act on our behalf. We hope you have the courage to stand against political pressure from your party and stand up for women in Ireland.

Angela Coraccio

Friday, May 10, 2013

Open Letter to Jerry Buttimer, TD

I was overwhelmed by the positive attention I received from yesterday's post, An Open Letter to Lucinda Creighton. Honestly I don't think I've ever received so much praise for anything I've written.

The letter was inspired by the Abortion Rights Campaign's "Tell a Fine Gael TD" campaign. Feel free to play along! All you have to do is write, email, tweet, ring, or stop by the office of the Fine Gael TD of the day and let them know your thoughts on why they should legislate for abortion.

Here's the latest installment in the series.

Open letter to Jerry Buttimer, TD and member of Oireachtas Committee on Health and Children

Dear Mr. Buttimer,

In your election video from 2011, you state that you would like to be part of a “government that will bring reform, that will create a more equitable, fairer, just Ireland.” I have to admit, it's refreshing to hear a politician to speak in terms of equity, and I think your life experiences have likely led you towards a deeper understanding of its importance in society.

You also seem to understand the need to recognise the ruling of the European Court of Human Rights in 2010 as a message to Ireland that its abortion laws are not in line with the European Convention on Human Rights. But more than that, you seem to understand why it matters, not just for Ireland's international image, but for its people. Forty-four of forty-seven EU countries have laws in place to provide legal abortion when a pregnant woman or girl's life or health is at risk. According to the Irish FamilyPlanning Association, “This approach is consistent with the key human right standard of proportionality which requires that laws and policies applied to regulate access to abortion cannot excessively interfere with women's rights to life, health, privacy, freedom from cruel and inhumane treatment and non-discrimination.”

In order for Ireland's people to enjoy your vision of “a fairer, just, equitable society where people matter and where everybody counts, and where the dignity and the importance of people is recognised,” the state must remove the obvious barriers to pregnant women's health that exist. After Savita Halappanavar's death, an elderly Irish woman was heard to say, “Sure, women have been dying that way for years and no one took any notice before.” Don't you think it's time we started caring about the many women who have died quietly without the publicity, who never got an inquest, because they didn't have access to abortion as medical treatment to save them?

I don't live in Cork, but I believe you when you say you feel you've “worked, listened, and acted” on the people's behalf. So I hope you continue to do so. The most recent Red C research poll reported that only 8% of the electorate were against legislating for abortion. If politics “is about representation,” as you claim, then I think you know what you need to do. The majority of the people have demanded legislation, and it's your duty to represent them in your endeavors.

You've also said that you hope for a debate where “all sides can have their voices heard.” So I trust that you will read the Abortion Rights Campaign's recommendations for changes to the proposed Bill that were submitted for your consideration. If your goal is truly to save women's lives and save them from cruel and inhumane treatment and non-discrimination, these changes are necessary.

Finally, you've remarked on the value of a sense of place and “how important home is.” But for thousands of women in Ireland, the laws of their home put them into terrible danger. It's up to you to follow through on your commitment to the people of Ireland by protecting pregnant women's health under the laws of the land.

Angela Coraccio

Thursday, May 9, 2013

An Open Letter to Lucinda Creighton

Open Letter to Lucida Creighton:

Dear Ms. Creighton,

As a non-national resident of Ireland, I do, as you recommend, reflect on the privilege I enjoy every day in this country, particularly as an educated caucasian woman with a loving husband. But when you use that collective "we," you assume that every woman in Ireland is like you. A short walk around Dublin will prove otherwise. Women in poverty, migrant women, asylum seekers, women in abusive relationships being controlled by their partners, and women too ill to travel live here too. Is it not the duty of us privileged people to ensure that they have the same access to their rights as we do?

You mention that we live in a "free" society here in Ireland while simultaneously trying to argue that women shouldn't be allowed to have bodily autonomy, which in my opinion is the most basic human right there is.

Furthermore, I am disappointed that you felt the need to claim you have "no respect" for the "hysterical" opinions of Olivia O'Leary in such a public manner, claiming her arguments are not rational. These are the exact ways in which patriarchy has been characterising women's opinions as invalid for centuries. To accuse another woman of hysteria rings of self-hatred and serves to give the world permission to dismiss vocal women, including yourself. How can you "respect the right of everyone to speak freely and honestly" immediately after you've just said you have no respect for someone else's honest opinion?

I myself have been trying to conceive a child for nearly two years. However, I would never allow my experiences with infertility colour my views on how other women view their pregnancies. Your implication that because some women can't become pregnant, women who are pregnant need to carry those pregnancies to term is slightly outrageous, particularly since adoption laws in Ireland are so restrictive. If a disabled person can't run, she doesn't demand that all able people should take up running.

But perhaps the most alarming statements in your blog are about late term abortions. You and I both know that the overwhelming number abortions happen in very early stages. I believe your misleading comment comparing late term abortions to premature births was meant to whip up people's emotions. I suppose that's what politicians do. But it doesn't reflect the rationality you claim to own. We're supposed to be talking about the current proposed bill, which is supposed to put into place measures to save a pregnant woman's life. Conjuring up images of baby killing helps no one. It only makes you look like you don't understand the issues. Have you even bothered to read the Heads of Bill?

Women should be guaranteed effective acces to their right to termination when there is a risk to their lives. Suicide is a real risk to a person's life. I don't know if you have ever suffered from mental health issues, or if you have ever known someone who has committed suicide, but I do, and I feel strongly that a suicidal woman would not survive the scrutiny outlined in this proposed Bill. If a woman, to avoid this exploitive evaluation process, doesn't have the "privilege" of traveling for an abortion, she effectively hasn't been guaranteed her right.

Furthermore, criminalising women who self-induce abortions is unacceptable because it would result in women in medical crisis being afraid of seeking medical attention for fear of prison time. Did you know that the average prison sentence for a rapist is 5 years? A woman who is impregnated by her rapist who takes the abortion pill (which, by the way, can only be taken in the earliest stages of pregnancy) could spend more than twice the time in jail as her rapist. So instead of "protecting life," the Bill puts the health and lives of women who have self-induced abortions dangerously at risk.

We all get the privilege you feel, Ms. Creighton. You have shouted it from the rooftops. But to claim that Ireland is serving all its population to the best of its ability is frankly a false claim and makes you sound like you don't recognise others' experiences of living here which are vastly different to your own. I wonder, how can you be a representative of the people if you don't even acknowledge their realities?

Angela Coraccio

Monday, May 6, 2013

A Brief History of Abortion in Ireland

This week, I've started to think if I never heard the word "abortion" again, I'd be a happy camper. I've been avoiding listening to the radio and watching television in an attempt to avoid the subject. Meanwhile, I've been spending most of my free time on the Abortion Rights Campaign. You might be wondering why. Well, Ireland's history with abortion is much much MUCH different than other countries.

For myself and for my readers, here's a quick and dirty recap of the history of abortion in Ireland:
  • The 1861 Offences Against The Person Act revised an earlier act of 1828 that made raping, assaulting, and killing a crime. They specifically include obtaining or helping someone to "procure a miscarriage", no matter what the reason.
For those of you who don't know your Irish history, Ireland was part of the United Kingdom then. So this law from 1861 was actually a British law. Then there was a war of independence, and the Irish Free State was created, followed by the creation of the Republic of Ireland in 1949. (I include this information because an embarrassing number of Americans slept through this bit of world history class. p.s. Northern Ireland is still part of the UK.) While the UK has repealed the Offences Against the Person Act of 1861 (abortion is legal in England, Scotland, and Wales up to 24 weeks), it's still on the books in Ireland, both north and south.
  • In 1983, abortion just wasn't illegal enough for Irish politicians, probably because it was becoming legal elsewhere, so they decided to amend the Irish Constitution so that it would never become legal in the future. "There won't be any Roe v. Wade nonsense in our country!" they said. And so the Eighth Amendment was passed. It meant that it was also illegal for a woman to travel to another country for an abortion. It was even against the law to tell a pregnant woman in Ireland where she could seek an abortion in another country.
  • Also in 1983, a woman named Sheila Hodgers was allegedly refused cancer treatment, even painkillers, because she was pregnant. Despite repeated requests for an abortion, she was refused. She went into premature labour; the baby died immediately. Hodgers died three days later.
  • 1992 saw the horrific Attorney General vs. X case in which the Supreme Court decided that a pregnant woman could have an abortion to save her life, including from suicide. But that didn't make abortion in any way available here for women. No guidelines were created. Abortion training for doctors was not implemented. And so in reality the ruling was kind of null. 
But the X case ruling really scared anti-choicers into thinking that even the 8th Amendment didn't restrict abortion enough. "What kind of malarky is suicide?" they said! "Anyone can say they're suicidal! That's not a real threat to a woman's life!"
  • In 1992, the anti-choicers tried to get more Constitutional amendments to exclude suicide as a threat to a woman's life by putting it out to vote in a referendum. The people of Ireland voted that suicide should not be excluded.
  • Also in 1992, the 13th and 14th Amendments to the Irish Constitution were passed. The former decreed that women could travel for abortions, and the latter made it legal to give information on abortion in other countries.
  • 2002, another attempt to exclude suicide in a referendum and increase penalties for helping a woman get an abortion, which failed. 
  • A woman, "D", with twins in 2001 learned that one of the foetuses had died in the womb and the other had Edwards Syndrome, which is almost always fatal. She travelled for an abortion, and in 2006 filed a case against Ireland with the European Court of Human Rights. It was dismissed because she didn't take it to the Irish High Court first.
  • 2005-2010: A, B, C vs. Ireland: Three women brought a case to the European Court of Human Rights. There's a lot of legal mumbo jumbo that I won't go into, but here's the gist:  A, B, and C were three women who had travelled for abortions. Each of them suffered from complications afterwards and received inadequate follow-up care in Ireland. Most of their claims were dismissed. But the EU Court of Human Rights found that Ireland had violated the European Convention on Human Rights by not putting anything in place where a woman who qualifies for a legal abortion can actually get one or even go about getting one. (Why is access to abortion a Human Rights issue? Explanation here.) 
You'd think that the ruling would have spurred the government into action to legislate on abortion in the case of the mother's life, but nope.
  • 2007: Miss D, a 17-year-old-girl whose foetus suffered from anencephaly (missing part of the brain, skull, scalp) wasn't allowed by the Health Service Executive to travel for an abortion. It went to the high court, and she won the right to travel.
  • An "expert group" was charged by the Irish government in January 2012 to make recommendations on "how to implement the judgement" in the A, B, C vs. Ireland case from 2010. The 14 men and women are general practitioners, psychiatrists, solicitors, Ob/Gyns, and other medical personel.
  • In June 2012, an Irish group (heavily funded from the US) named "Youth Defence" started a billboard, poster, and flyer campaign "Abortion tears her life apart," claiming that "there's always a better answer." 
  • October 2012: Savita Halappanavar, an Indian woman living in Ireland, miscarried in a Galway hospital. She repeatedly asked for a termination and was refused. By way of explanation, one of the midwives told her that Ireland is a Catholic country, therefore her pregnancy could not be terminated while the heartbeat was still present. She died a few days later from septicemia and organ failure.
  • TD Clare Daly proposed a bill called "Medical Treatment (Termination of Pregnancy in Case of Risk to Life of Pregnant Woman) Bill" in November 2012. It was defeated, 100 to 27.
  • November 2012: the "Expert" group's recommendations were published. They outlined four options: 1. Non-statutory guidelines, 2. Statutory guidelines, 3. Legislation, 4. Legislation plus regulations with the pros and cons of each.
  • An inquest of Ms. Halappanavar's death was held in April 2013, when it was decided that she died from "medical misadventure." 
  • May 2013: The "Heads"of a Bill called "Protection of Life" is published. It has to go through nine stages to become law. According to Taoiseach Enda Kenny, this won't change the law. According to everyone else, this will SO change the law. 
Let's look at the proposed Bill. Anti-choice people think it's terrible because it will supposedly "open the floodgates" of abortion, while pro-choice people think it's terrible because it criminalises abortion in Ireland even more than the 1861 Offences Against the Person Act did, and makes it so difficult to obtain a legal abortion, it won't make a difference to a great number of people to whom it applies.
  1. If you're ill, say from cancer, and being pregnant prevents you from getting treatment, and therefore could lead to your death, you may have a legal abortion if an Ob/Gyn and another doctor say it's ok.
  2. If you're about to die and it's time sensitive, one doctor can make the call.
  3. If you are about to die from "self-destruction" ie suicide, first off, you have to be lucky enough to be somewhere registered by the Mental Health Commission where there happens to be an Ob/Gyn who can perform an abortion AND TWO psychiatrists. If one of those three people doesn't think you're suicidal enough, have no fear, you soon will be. Because to appeal their decision, you have to be evaluated by another Ob/Gyn and two more psychiatrists. Oh, and that process takes two weeks, so good luck not jumping off a bridge.
  4. If you're found guilty of having obtained the abortion pill yourself, and having taken it in Ireland, you will face 14 years in prison. Think that's depressing? Get this: The average rape sentence in Ireland is 5-7 years. So if you are raped and get the abortion pill illegally, you could spend twice as long in jail as your rapist. 
Let's say a woman took the abortion pill and she's having complications. She's bleeding or she has signs of infection. But she's scared of being sent to jail for terminating her pregnancy. So she doesn't seek medical attention, or she lies to them. That woman may not receive the proper treatment. You can see how this bill that's supposed to protect life actually has the potential to do a lot of harm to women's health.

But great news, ladies! We can still travel! Well, not those of us who can't afford it. Or who asylum seekers who can't leave the country. Or undocumented citizens who can't leave. Or women in abusive relationships who are under the control of their partners. Or women who have no one to look after their children. 

So that's where we're at now. If you'd like to donate, get updates from, or get involved in the Abortion Rights Campaign, click HERE. If you'd like to contact your TD, click HERE for a handy tool to find out who your TDs are. And if you are anti-choice and have a comment to make, I don't mind saying that it won't be published, so don't waste your time.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Mater Hospital "Orthopaedic Bow Tie Study"

Today in "You couldn't make this stuff up"...

So as my readers and friends will know, a year ago I was hit by a car while cycling and broke my wrist. Since I use public healthcare, I have spent many a day in the Mater Hospital's Fracture Clinic, which bears a striking the seventh circle of hell. I will spare you the details.

However today in the clinic I noticed that three of the male consultants were wearing bow ties (aka "dickie bows"). I thought, "Jeez, the hipster bow tie thing has really gotten out of hand." But then when my number was finally called I was given two sheets of paper and asked to fill out a little survey. The first was about finding the new clinic, which recently changed buildings. But the second form must be seen to be believed. Lucky for you I kept it, scanned it, and present it to you, below:

The form explains that the Mater Hospital believes that they can reduce their wound infection rate by eliminating neck ties. A google search of "necktie wound infection rate" produces two viable results. One of them (produced by the NHS) states, "Even when doctors washed their hands after patient examination, they also frequently adjusted their neckties." So the geniuses at the Mater have decided, in their brilliance, to do away with them.

This could possibly be the first time when a bow tie has ever been considered a viable solution to a life or death problem. Here's the thing. Won't doctors still be adjusting their bow ties? If it were a big issue, wouldn't hospitals around the world have instituted a mandatory bow tie rule decades ago? Or are doctors dipping their neckties into people's wounds? I mean, isn't this what the white coats are for?

It appears that the Mater Hospital could be the first hospital on the planet to solve the great neck tie infection epidemic. 

But here's another thing. Check out the questions. "Have you seen the movie Skyfall?" In other words, "Can you be persuaded that bow ties are in fact sexy, and your doctor may jump out of the window wearing a jet pack at any moment in his quest to fight fractures?" 

Then you've got the three photos: Doctor A in just a dress shirt, Doctor B in a neck tie, and Doctor Who. The first question, "Which doctor appears the most professional?"is fair enough. But the second and third questions, "Which doctor would you like to fix your fracture?" and "Which doctor appears the most hygenic?" are a bit ridiculous, as if you're on the stretcher, and Doctor A approaches. "No no no!" you scream, "Not you! You look like a slob! Aren't you the receptionist?"
"I'm a fully trained medical doctor!" he replies.
"Get out of here, you vagabond! Don't touch me!" you hiss. Doctor B approaches. "I can fix that fracture," he proclaims.
"You? Are you trying to KILL me?," you cry. "Where's that filthy necktie been? I bet you wiped your ass with it not ten minutes ago. I can see the e. coli breeding from here!" Doctor B slinks away, mortified. That's when you spot Doctor C. "Finally! A professional!" you sigh, relieved. "Finally someone who understands HYGIENE!"

But perhaps the most ridiculous is the last question: "Which doctor appears the most honest?" I mean, everyone knows that people with bow ties never tell lies. In fact, I'm pretty sure it's a nursery rhyme of some sort. Think about everyone in your life that's ever lied to you. I bet they were either wearing no tie, or a neck tie. How many lies have you ever been told by a bow tie wearer? Ok, we won't count Winston Churchill and the Cat in the Hat.

Ironically, the doctor who met with me wasn't wearing a tie of any kind, or in fact a shirt. She wore a dress, and she was the most thorough, compassionate, and helpful doctor I've had in the twelve months that I've been going to the Mater Fracture Clinic. If they decide to do a survey about her, I will gladly fill it out.