Changing The Kansas Constitution

Talk about unconstitutionality! Having received a mental illness diagnosis is apparently a potential disqualification to vote in the state of Kansas. Mental health advocates are urging legislators there to place a proposal on the ballot to remove the mention of mental illness from a provision in the Kansas state Constitution.

As an article in the Lawrence Journal-World & 6News, Mental health advocates seek constitutional change, explains.

The Kansas Constitution states: “The legislature may, by law, exclude persons from voting because of mental illness or commitment to a jail or penal institution.”

Advocates for those with disabilities asked the Senate Judiciary Committee to adopt Senate Concurrent Resolution 1622, which would remove mental illness from the constitutional provision. The committee took the matter under consideration.

It is argued by some mental health advocates that it is wrong to treat the mentally ill the same way as you would treat felons who have had their voting rights taken away from them as punishment for violating the law.

Several committee members questioned whether people with mental illness who are legally committed to an institution could exercise the proper judgment to vote.

Many other committee members were more receptive to reason.

Although this legislation has never been enforced with regards to people baring psychiatric labels, its high time the law was changed to suit conditions existing in a free and open democratic society.

Judge Declares Mistrial In Brain-Harvesting Lawsuit

The first of more than a dozen lawsuits directed against the Stanley Institute for brain-harvesting has ended in mistrial.

The Stanley Medicial Research Institute was collecting the brains of people labeled mentally ill, and using those brains for research purposes. The SMRI had no interest in studying the brains of people who had not received some kind of psychiatric diagnosis.

As you can imagine, when its a question of who’s donating who’s brain, legitimacy issues can come into play.

According to an article published in Digital Magazine:

In his suit, filed in 2006 against the Stanley Medical Research Institute (SMRI) of Bethesda, Maryland, Ray Martin of Old Orchard Beach, claims that he gave permission for the lab to take some brain tissue from his son, who drowned when his boat sank, but that they took the entire brain. Martin testified that he would rather go through a jury trial than accept a financial settlement, to spare others from going through what he did.

As I stated, this is one down, and more than a dozen to go.

On its website, SMRI describes its work as specializing in research on schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. It has an extensive collection of brains, and makes tissue from them available to medical researchers. It defends its collection program, and says that all donors are fully informed of the process. The website goes on to explain that “reasonable compensation” is paid to agents who arrange for these donations.

Matthew St. Cyr, a former state funeral inspector, collected $1,000 each for nearly 100 brains sent to SMRI between 1999 and 2003, when the program was discontinued. Many of the families involved complained they had not been fully informed by St. Cyr. Some have already accepted out-of-court settlements.

The Stanley Institute is the same Institute behind the funding of the notorious Treatment Advocacy Center, a group that lobbies for more forced outpatient treatment.

What their ‘research’ may be ignoring is the extent to which any abnormalities found in the brains being ‘harvested’ might have been the result of psychiatric drugs given to treat the mental patients whose brains were extracted.

Hopefully this is not the beginning of a trend and some of these suits will manage to stick.