Skip to main content

Oklahoma Republicans: It's OK if doctors lie to women so they don't have abortions

I don't write about abortion very often because, well, it's not a subject I'm very partisan about. I'm instinctively uncomfortable with the procedure; I also suspect that women's liberties really are bound up (to some extent) in the freedom to decide whether to carry a pregnancy to term. There's lots I find sympathetic -- and reprehensible -- about both sides of the political debate, so I try to stay out of it as much as possible.

Still, a new law passed in Oklahoma to reduce abortions is really, really awful:

The second measure passed into law Tuesday protects doctors from malpractice suits if they decide not to inform the parents of a unborn baby that the fetus has birth defects. The intent of the bill is to prevent parents from later suing doctors who withhold information to try to influence them against having an abortion.

In other words, if your doctor doesn't want you to have an abortion, he can keep critical information about your fetus-baby's health from you on purpose -- and have the sanction of the state of Oklahoma in doing so. It's a huge interference in the doctor-patient relationship, and a hugely burdensome one at that.

Why burdensome?

For one thing: Women in Oklahoma have much less reason to trust their doctors now. The relationship between patients and doctors is more than a business transaction for services rendered; it involves the feelings and decisions of people at the most vulnerable points in their lives. That's why the doctor-patient relationship has been treated among society's most sacred -- right up there with client-attorney and priest-confessor. This action by Oklahoma Republicans erodes the foundation of that relationship: If you know your doctor has state sanction to lie to you (even if by omission) the only safe thing to do during a pregnancy is go to two, three or more doctors to ensure you're getting sound advice. Most women don't have the financial resources to do that. Once again, restrictions against abortion are really restrictions against abortion for poor women.

For another thing: A doctor's decision now can commit a family -- independent of their own choices in the matter -- to a lifetime of medical bills and hard work to support a child with birth defects. Don't get me wrong: I admire people like Sarah Palin who choose to carry a Down's Syndrome fetus to term. But such decisions are hugely burdensome and, yes, costly to the families that make them. Entering the delivery room without such knowledge -- when your doctor has that knowledge -- is an unconscionable burden on those parents.

Finally, there's the simple matter of the truth. Truth is important. Period.

Again, I understand why people can be virulently opposed to abortion. But sanctioning lies as a means of reducing abortion seems a twisted and corrupt way to achieve the goal. Oklahoma Republicans believe it's ok for your doctor to lie to you. That's simply awful.

UPDATE: Not to mention it's paternalistic in a way we simply don't allow in other phases of the doctor-patient relationship. There was a time doctors didn't tell you you had untreatable cancer because they wanted you to die with a minimum of fuss and worry. But those days are long gone. Except for women in Oklahoma.

Comments

Anonymous said…
Sounds to me like some smart doctors will only takes pregnant women on since then they won't have to pay any malpractice insurance - after all, in OK, they can do no wrong, no matter how unethical or negligent they are.
KhabaLox said…
This comment has been removed by the author.
KhabaLox said…
"some smart doctors will only takes pregnant women"

And they'll probably come up with some fancy name to make them sound special, like "obstetrician." ;)

Seriously though, I'm appalled by this law. I don't see any obvious constitutional issues (unfortunately), but OK should be ashamed of this end run around freedom of choice.

(Why do I have to enter the captcha if I'm signed in with my account? Am I doing something wrong?)

Popular posts from this blog

Yoga

I've been making some life changes lately — trying to use the time I have, now that I'm back in Kansas, to improve my health and lifestyle. Among the changes: More exercise. 30 minutes a day on the treadmill. Doesn't sound like a lot, but some is more than none, and I know from experience that getting overambitious early leads to failure. So. Thirty minutes a day.

One other thing: Yoga, a couple of times a week. It's nothing huge — a 15-minute flexibility routine downloaded from an iPhone app. But I've noticed that I'm increasingly limber.

Tonight, friends, I noticed a piece of trash on the floor. I bent over at the waist and picked it up, and threw it away.

Then I wept. I literally could not remember the last time I'd tried to pick something off the floor without grunting and bracing myself. I just did it.

Small victories, people. Small victories.

Liberals: We're overthinking this. Hillary didn't lose. This is what it should mean.

Interesting:
Nate Cohn of the New York Times estimates that when every vote is tallied, some 63.4 million Americans will have voted for Clinton and 61.2 million for Trump. That means Clinton will have turned out more supporters than any presidential candidate in history except for Obama in 2008 and 2012. And as David Wasserman of Cook Political Report notes, the total vote count—including third party votes—has already crossed 127 million, and will “easily beat” the 129 million total from 2012. The idea that voters stayed home in 2016 because they hated Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton is a myth. We already know the Electoral College can produce undemocratic results, but what we don't know is why — aside from how it serves entrenched interests — it benefits the American people to have their preference for national executive overturned because of archaic rules designed, in part, to protect the institution of slavery. 

A form of choosing the national leader that — as has happened in …

I'm not cutting off my pro-Trump friends

Here and there on Facebook, I've seen a few of my friends declare they no longer wish the friendship of Trump supporters — and vowing to cut them out of their social media lives entirely.

I'm not going to do that.

To cut ourselves off from people who have made what we think was a grievous error in their vote is to give up on persuading them, to give up on understanding why they voted, to give up on understanding them in any but the most cartoonish stereotypes.

As a matter of idealism, cutting off your pro-Trump friends is to give up on democracy. As a matter of tactics, cutting off your pro-Trump friends is to give up on ever again winning in a democratic process.

And as a long-term issues, confining ourselves to echo chambers is part of our national problem.

Don't get me wrong: I expect a Trumpian presidency is a disaster, particularly for people of color. And in total honesty: My own relationships have been tested by this campaign season. There's probably some damage…