What About The Doctors' Rights?

In the overwhelming tide of anti-choice legislation (honestly, don't these people have ANYTHING else to do?), we've seen a trend of being focused on legislating what goes on in the exam room, what words are exchanged between doctor and patient, what specific techniques the doctor has to use.  As Melissa over at Shakesville has pointed out a few times, these "state-sanctioned rape" bills (laws mandating transvaginal ultrasound prior to abortion) not only enforce a requirement of coerced penetration on the patient, they require that the doctor administer said non-consensual penetration.  In essence, they victimize the doctor as well as the patient, by coercing them both to engage in an act of penetration to which neither has the option of not consenting to.

We've also recently seen a rise in striking-back bills - ones that declare "sperm persons", ones that would require a person seeking medication for erectile dysfunction have a variety of invasive medical tests before receiving care, etc.

So here's a fun one that combines those two angles:  A doctor in Alabama has crafted a piece of legislation that would declare that the physician's judgment and medical necessity supersede any legislation requiring specific procedures or services.  Here's the text:
No physician or health care provider licensed to practice in the State of Alabama shall be forced by state or local regulatory authority to perform any medical service or component of medical service if the service or component of service is not medically necessary or would be harmful to the patient and the patient does not desire the medical service. The right to practice within the scope of a medical license supersedes any existing or future legislative act.
It's basically the good twin to the "conscience clause" bills that allow people working in healthcare (often including not only the doctors themselves, but everyone from the intake and discharge nurses, to the person who cleans the room or preps instruments or fills prescriptions in any way even tenuously related to abortion or end-of-pregnancy care) to refuse to participate in any level of the abortion process.  If they're allowed to refuse to do certain medical procedures because of their conscience - and even, in many cases, allowed to refuse to refer for those services - why shouldn't doctors of a different ethical bent be allowed to refuse to do other medical procedures that they find offensive?  I think this is a fantastic idea, and every state plus the federal government ought to have one.  And if they vote it down, we should play "zombie bill" with it and keep bringing it back over and over until it passes.  ^_^

I wasn't able to find bill-tracking information for it.  RH Reality Check said that it was offered as an amendment which was voted down after only 10 minutes of debate, but also said to check the legislative calendar for the Judiciary Committee to see when it comes up, so I'm unclear on the status.  (If anyone knows more, please let me know in comments.)

Also, I found this sentence at the end of the RHRC piece to be hilarious in a lolsobby sort of way:
...action is needed to protect the rights of [people] seeking reproductive health care in statehouses across the country.
I know "in statehouses across the country" is meant to modify "action is needed", but I'm cracking up at how the proximity to "seeking reproductive health care" implies that they are seeking reproductive health care in statehouses across the nation.  Well, shit - if this trend keeps up, it may well be the only way to *get* reproductive health care.  You'll have to petition your representative for a permission slip.


CaitieCat said...

Gar, I wish Disqus would figure out how to work around that stupid blogspot redirect thing.  "witchwords.blogspot.ca" is just...odd.

Also, good post, and good point. The most encouraging thing about the recent crisis in women's health publicly in the US is that a lot of women who've not been politically engaged in fighting for our rights, are now doing so, even some who had previously fought for the other side!  Which is pretty cool.  Women united can never be divided, as the protest chant says.  :)

Sonneillon said...

It was nice on Shakesville today to see links to articles by doctors who are trying to rally their peers to engage in civil disobedience against this.

Jadelyn said...

...how did my brain totally forget that I am also a blogspot blog that runs Disqus for commenting, despite seeing notes at Shakesville about it?  Oy.  Yeah I might put a comment in to Disqus just to see if they're working on a fix or anything yet.  I wonder why Blogger suddenly decided to start using country-specific meta-domains (or whatever the hell they're called), anyway?  Dammit Google, stop breaking things!

Anywho.  I agree it's been nice to see a lot of people getting more involved as the true antichoice agenda has abruptly been made quite clear.  Although there is the curmudgeonly part of my brain that is saying "...we have been screaming at the top of our lungs about how they won't be satisfied with banning late-term abortion, or even abortion at all, and you wouldn't listen until now they have had all kinds of time to chip away at our rights!"  *sigh*  Shush, self.  Just be glad people are sitting up and taking notice, no matter how long it took anyone to get here.  

I can already see it - the Republicans are going to have an even more stark gender gap in the November elections than usual, and they're still just not going to understand (or they'll pretend not to understand) *why*...

Jadelyn said...

Yes, it was!  Unfortunately, I worry that the net result of such civil disobedience would simply be that the few remaining health care professionals we *could* rely on, will no longer be able to help us after having been stripped of their license.  Like the doctor in Kansas who provided second opinions to Dr. Tiller, but was deliberately vague in her record-keeping in order to protect patients' privacy against the state AG's regular fishing expeditions, and who is now having to appeal to the state board or some such because of it.

I mean, it's an awesome idea, and I'm probably being overly pessimistic here, but I worry that the gain wouldn't be worth the cost. :-/

CaitieCat said...

 Pandagon made this very same point this morning - that this "civil disobedience" isn't really.  First, CD must be public to be effective, that's one of the first things Gandhi laid out in describing how CD should work.  It has no capacity to inspire if it's not public, and the inspiration of others to join the movement in its peaceful protest is a key strategy of CD.

Also, as you say, anti-choicers would LOVE to see this happen.  It takes me about ten seconds to find a scenario to stop every abortion provider in the US who would do this: an anti-choice woman who is pregnant makes an appointment at the clinic they suspect is using "CD".  The doctor doesn't do the ultrasound.  Before proceeding, the woman changes her mind, leaving the clinic.

And reports to the police how the doctor broke the law.

Bye-bye licence, and they can repeat it every single place ever, without ever placing a "baby" (what we call in the real world an "embryo" and later "fetus") in danger.   :/

It's a bit counterintuitive, but this would be a potential disaster for women seeking abortion.

Sonneillon said...

I hate that you're right.  I guess I was thinking that if enough health care professionals could get on board, maybe they wouldn't be able to strip them all of licenses without gutting the system entirely and causing a huge backlash.  Except... that's basically what they've done to Planned Parenthood and the backlash hasn't given them pause.  So yeah.  ;;_;;

Jadelyn said...

And on top of that, Lila Rose/Live Action would have a fucking field day doing their little "sting" operations and releasing videos of how *shady* and *unethical* abortion providers really are, refusing to follow the law and give *real information* to the innocent wimmenz they are trying to mislead for profit.

Or something equally spun and annoying.  

Jadelyn said...

I don't blame you for being excited by the idea - any idea for *concrete action* and resistance starts to sound good when you've been on the defensive for so long.  :-/

CaitieCat said...

Yeah, gotta beware that massive abortion-industrial complex, with its enormous nationwide smalltown net of providers who do hundreds each a month in the unrestricted love-in that is abortion in the US, completely unmolested by anyone for their endless murdering.

Or, y'know, something from reality.


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