gabrielle giffords

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NPR: Giffords Breathing On Her Own

Rep. Gabrielle Giffords

Incredibly, Rep. Gabrielle Giffords is breathing on her own, NPR reports, quoting her doctors saying: “She has no right to look this good.”

Although Giffords has shown she can take her own breaths, Lemole said the doctors have left a breathing tube and respirator in place to protect her airways and minimize risks from complications such as pneumonia.

Her sedation is lighter than before. She is able to respond to simple commands. And as the sedation is lifted, it will allow doctors to assess her memory and thought processes.

Lemole was upbeat about Giffords’ prospects, though he cautioned that the course of her recovery remains fraught with uncertainty. “She has no right to look this good, but she does,” he said. “We have to play this according to her timeline not ours.”

And AP is now reporting that the bullet might have entered in the front of her head, not the back as previously stated.

After she was wounded last weekend, doctors said the bullet traveled the length of the left side of the congresswoman’s brain, entering the back of the skull and exiting the front.

At a briefing Tuesday, Dr. Peter Rhee said it now looks like she was probably shot in the front, with the bullet going out the back, although they can’t say for certain.

He said that’s based on consultations with two specialists who came to Tucson, Ariz.

Did Health Care Reform Help Turn the Political Vitriol Murderous?

U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords

The Arizona shooting raises many questions — about guns, about toxic politics, about fate. One is relevant to CommonHealth: Did the debate over health care reform help turn this country’s political conversation into something so ugly that it might spur a shooter to kill?
Just two data points on that:

From Sunday’s Globe:

William Delahunt, a Quincy Democrat who retired last month after four decades in public office, said risks are part of the job — but the nature of potential threats seemed to change in the summer of 2009 at town hall meetings held to discuss the health care reform legislation.
Anger over the bill reached a boiling point, and furious crowds confronted representatives, often shouting them down.
“For the first time, I sensed that there was a potential for physical danger with the anger,’’ Delahunt said yesterday. “ . . . But it was the intensity of it, and, really, the irrationality of it. People were so angry that they weren’t listening to the answers that they were demanding.’’

And this from columnist Tim Egan on nytimes.com:

Giffords had already felt a blunt edge of opponents’ rage — a window in her Tucson office was shattered after she voted to expand health care for other Americans.

and:

In my home state Washington, federal officials recently put away a 64-year-old man who threatened, in the most vile language, to kill Senator Patty Murray because she voted for health care reform. Imagine: kill her because she wanted to give fellow Americans a chance to get well. Why would a public policy change prompt a murder threat?

Readers, what’s your sense of the political ugliness around the health care debate? Is it unusual?