It’s an interesting time to own a uterus in the United States. The debate between pro-choice and pro-life is as fierce as ever with a plethora of laws proposed and passed in recent months with the ability to have a colossal impact on the reproductive choices available to women and their families. Here are just a few of these pieces of legislature, both proposed and approved. Frightening.
“The Wrongful Birth Bill”
– The Bill: Senate Bill 1359, passed in Arizona in early March and headed for the state House, aims to exempt doctors from medical malpractice suits for effectively lying to their patients about the health of the foetus. If a doctor were of the opinion the pregnancy would be terminated after the patient learnt of a congenital abnormality, the doctor would be legally protected if they chose to withhold this information from the patient and her family. Oklahoma and Arizona are considering similar bills.
– The Debate: It’s pretty clear why people are outraged over this. For one it’s not the place of doctors to make this huge decision for their patients. Doctors are meant to allow their patients to make free and informed decisions about their health, not withhold information that could have life changing consequences. Withholding vital foetal health information goes against everything doctors are taught and prevents the family from effectively preparing for life with a child affected by a congenital condition if they were to choose to continue the pregnancy.
– The Facts: Preventing patient informed choice is medical malpractice, pure and simple. The most troubling thing about this proposed law is that politicians are enabling doctors to let their personal views come before their patients’ reproductive rights. They are enabling doctors to LIE.
– What this means for women: Under Senate Bill 1359, a women could carry her child for 9 months and deliver a child with a congenital abnormality after being reassured for the whole pregnancy her baby was healthy. Not only would this be a huge shock and could create trust issues with future doctors, it could be psychologically damaging to the mother, which could impact negatively on the care the disabled child would receive.
“The Foetal Pain Bill”
– The Bill: House Bill 954, passed in Georgia initially outlawed abortion after 20 weeks gestation under all circumstances, but has been revised to make an exception to ‘medically futile’ pregnancies and pregnancies dangerous to the mother’s health. No exceptions exist for rape or incest. Nebraska, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Alabama have similar ‘foetal pain’ restrictions and North Carolina restricts abortion after 20 weeks.
– The Debate: People are discussing the circumstances surrounding a ‘medically futile’ pregnancy and the conditions under which the abortion must be performed. There is also debate over what gestational age a foetus can experience pain, and the medical and psychological consequences of carrying an unwanted pregnancy. Dr. George Leach, an Emergency physician, gives his opinion here