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Kansas Anti-Choice Bill: Endangering Women and Making a Mockery of the Medical Profession

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May 11, 2012

When I first caught wind of the proposed House Bill 313, known by some as the “Pro-Life Protections Act,” others refer to it as the most draconian abortion bill in United States history I called my mom on the verge of a panic attack. My heart sank Sunday night when I heard it passed the house with an overwhelming 88-31 vote. Not only was it one of the most inclusive anti-choice, anti-women’s health care bill I had ever seen, it completely disregards the safety of women and makes a mockery of the medical profession. Despite the problems with taxation on abortion, allowing an embryo to have equal rights under the law, and other such ludicrous things, I am going to focus this commentary on how this bill could affect the future for health care providers in Kansas.

There are multiple portions of the bill that would greatly impact the practice of health care professionals. We will work our way up on a gradual scale of hypocrisies. We’ll begin with the portion that would require doctors to notify women of the increased chance of breast cancer that accompanies having an abortion. One of the more popular citations I’ve seen on the web cites a letter written to the British journal Lancet by unnamed “scientists” that dates back 26 years stating that “induced abortion before first term pregnancy increases the risk of breast cancer.” Have we not made great strides in cancer research since the 1980’s? Does anyone else find it odd that neither the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecologists or the American Cancer Society support this claim? Anyone? Using “research” nearly 30 years old at least parallels the anti-choice movements desire to roll back the clocks on women’s right to health care. Still not convinced? Let’s move on.

Next the bill proposes that doctors may withhold information to their patients if they believe it will prevent an abortion. This opens up a whole can of worms. First, let me get this off my chest… why would anyone EVER wanted to be treated by a doctor has permission to LIE to you about your health? If you’re okay with that, then you may as well get all your treatments from the internet. Why should any doctor bother going to school for 15+ years if they’re not going to feel comfortable acting in their patient’s best interest? Where do we draw the line with this clause? Could a doctor tell her that her baby has died in the womb? The fetus would need to be aborted at that point so it would not make the woman go into septic shock. Could doctors withhold information about an ectopic pregnancy that would possibly put her life in danger? Should women trust doctors who’ve had 15+ years of medical training or rather congressmen who might have taken a “sex-ed” class 40 years prior? I’ll let you think about that while we move on to another pressing issue.

As the Reproductive Justice Coordinator for the University of Kansas, every day I hear stories of these attacks on choice, so why did this one shake me so much more than all the others? Within this bill it would disallow residents of the Kansas University Medical Center to be taught how to perform an abortion and to learn the necessary life-saving procedures to take care of a spontaneous or self-induced miscarriage. Lawmakers have not come out directly banning this, they’ve loopholed the system by stating that tax payer dollars may not be used for abortion training by employees of the state, which include medical residents. First, this is an optional lesson that anyone may opt out of if their religion requires them to do so, secondly, no actual abortions are performed in the training of residents, and lastly, this all takes place in the state of Colorado. Without these necessary teachings, KUMC runs the risk of losing its OB/GYN accreditation, leaving no OBGYN training in the state, thereby jeopardizing my lifelong dream of becoming an OB/GYN and providing quality care to women.

All of these clauses directly violate the Physicians Oath that all doctors swear to upon completing medical school. The Oath states that “the health of [their] patient[s] will be [their] first consideration.” This bill would put politics above the care of women. Moving on, doctors shall “not permit considerations of religion…gender… or politics… to intervene between [their] duty and [their] patient.” Lastly, the oath encourages them to “maintain the utmost respect for human life; even under threat.” Strike one, two, and three – HB 313 is out! My jeopardy bells are ringing… oh wait, it must just be my ovaries crying. This bill would put doctors in an impossible position of having to choose between lying to their patients about their health and going against their Physicians Oath. Your move Kansas.

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