Clere and Zoeller instrumental in Pence’s needle exchange turnaround.


I never hesitate to lob grenades when the GOP goes off the rails (see “Pence, Mike”), so lest we forget, two prominent Indiana Republicans from right here in Floyd County were instrumental in doing the right thing in Scott County.

HAYDEN: Conservatives changed Pence’s mind on needle exchange, by Maureen Hayden (CNHI)

 … Back in early March, as HIV numbers spiked in Scott County, Pence stopped state health officials from distributing “harm reduction” kits stocked with needle-cleaning supplies such as bleach, cotton, and alcohol wipes.

By the end of the month, conservative Republicans from communities near the HIV epicenter had convinced him that the situation was dire enough to set aside ideology.

They pushed him to take a first step — declaring a 30-day emergency that cleared the way for a limited exchange in Scott County wherein health officials could get clean needles into the hands of HIV-infected drug users.

Pence resisted.

House Public Health Committee Chairman Ed Clere, R-New Albany, wanted more. He filed a measure to let local health officials expand needle exchanges to other communities where IV drug use is fueling a fast rise in Hepatitis C — a blood-borne disease that often accompanies HIV.

Pence continued to resist.

To counter Pence’s argument that needle exchanges enable drug users — an argument echoed by prosecutors — Republican Attorney General Greg Zoeller went public with his support.

“I’m not going to have anybody put to death with HIV just because they’ve broken the law,” said Zoeller. By the time he made that statement, he had been lobbying both lawmakers and the governor’s staff to support Clere’s needle exchange bill.

Politically, Pence is a waste of human flesh. Kudos to Clere and Zoeller for being human. Every little bit helps, doesn’t it?