In the continual spread of assaults on women’s reproductive freedom in the wake of the 2010 tea party movement, another state, Idaho, is legislating women receive unnecessary and invasive medical procedures prior to obtaining abortion.

This is part of an unprecedented effort at the state level to restrict reproductive rights, and in 2011 a record number of these measures have passed.

And it won’t stop here, as we’ve seen in Georgia, they are trying to pass a law to force women to carry all 20 week gestations to term, even if the fetus is dead. And if you think that’s creepy, Georgia isn’t the first to do it, such laws have succeeded in Nebraska, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Oklahoma,Alabama and Utah.

John Scalzi has a guest post from a physician asking “where’s the outrage?”. Well it’s right here. Scalzi’s poster is suggesting that civil disobedience should follow, but I’m worried that that might be the excuse these states are looking for to shut down clinics and effectively ban all abortion within a state. While I agree the situation is untenable, and is requiring physicians to engage in unethical practice I worry that violating the law is just what the zealots are waiting for. But maybe this needs to happen. We need a test case in front of the courts that asks the question, “can legislatures dictate medical practice in conflict with medical ethics, and without medical justification?” I think the answer would be no, and should be no. Physicians shouldn’t be taking orders from the state on what they do in the examining room. Physician autonomy, ethical practice, reproductive freedoms, and the whole doctor-patient relationship are on the line here. Physicians are here to treat patients, not to serve as tools of the state, against our patients’ interests, to score political points for zealots.

Comments

  1. #1 D. C. Sessions
    March 21, 2012

    Someone please explain to me how a dead fetus can progress to term?

    While they’re at it, and since the objective seems to be punishment of “illicit” sex, how about prohibitions on treatment of STDs? Let those primary syphilis cases go tertiary — it’s God’s will!

  2. #2 Eric Lund
    March 21, 2012

    since the objective seems to be punishment of “illicit” sex

    The double standard is at work here. The objective is the punishment of “illicit” sex by females. Males are still allowed to get it however they can (as long as the partner is female). So STDs will still be treated, at least in males. At least, that’s what I think is the mindset. Notice that nobody is seriously pushing to outlaw insurance coverage of Viagra (there have been a few tongue-in-cheek bills filed).

  3. #3 John Common
    March 21, 2012

    Isn’t this just a form of Sharia Law?

  4. #4 becca
    March 21, 2012

    I think the civil disobedience suggestion is correct.
    But it should probably be noted that the essence of civil disobedience isn’t usually to win the court case to prove what you were doing wasn’t actually illegal. The point is to get the law changed, or even to act according to your conscience even if society (or the lawmakers) disagrees with you. Are there doctors willing to go to jail over this? Because if so, that’s the doctor I want as a patient.

  5. #5 MarkH
    March 21, 2012

    I’d be happy to go to jail over this issue, however, not being a OB/Gyn or in one of these states this would be unlikely to come up. My concern though, is not for the individual physicians who I think are dedicated enough that they would be happy to throw down and take on the state. My worry is that breaking the law will create the excuse necessary to close the clinic and effectively end access to necessary medical care.

    With the Texas planned-parenthood funding debacle they’ve already shown that they will sacrifice general reproductive medical care, std screening, contraceptive and family-planning services, and cancer screening for poor women for the sake of winning political points. While I see the need for confrontation over this, the problem is the meantime thousands of women are being deprived routine medical care. Everybody loses in these scenarios.

  6. #6 D. C. Sessions
    March 21, 2012

    My worry is that breaking the law will create the excuse necessary to close the clinic and effectively end access to necessary medical care.

    In other words, they’re holding poor women hostage for political warfare.

    Is there any realistic prospect that acquiescing to their demands would actually keep the hostages safe?

  7. #7 Lee Carter
    March 21, 2012

    Perhaps they should make murder (abortion) illegal than we will not have any more problems like this.

  8. #8 Richard Simons
    March 21, 2012

    Lee Carter: I gather you equate abortion to murder. Even if you do, how do you justify requiring a woman to carry a dead fetus to term?

    Another solution, of course, would be to allow individual women to decide whether or not they consider getting an abortion would be akin to murder, but perhaps you consider women to have a tenuous grasp on morality.

  9. #9 Left_Wing_Fox
    March 22, 2012

    Lee Carter: Are you against the Death penalty?

    Because it sounds like you’re in favour of life imprisonment for roughly a third of all women in the United States for 1st degree murder.

  10. #10 Pseudonym
    March 22, 2012

    I’m not American, so perhaps I don’t understand the situation in the US. Nonetheless, could part of the problem be the very framing of the issue as “reproductive freedom” or “choice”?

    Most other developed nations don’t have the same “abortion debate”. Most other developed nations have a public health care system. I don’t think that’s a coincidence. When the public insurer foots the bill, pregnancy termination tends to be seen as an issue of public health and informed consent.

    Indeed, even in the US, Roe v. Wade was actually decided on the grounds of medical privacy, not “choice” or “reproductive freedom”.

    Just a suggestion.

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