Friday, July 12, 2013

American Congress of OB/GYN Doctors Letter on Texas "Insidious" Abortion Legislation

These bills are as much about interfering with the practice of medicine and the relationship a patient has with her physician as they are about restricting women’s access to abortion. The fact is that these bills will not help protect the health of any woman in Texas. Instead, these bills will harm women’s health in very clear ways.  (ACOG 9 July Letter in Austin American Statesman)

As Republicans from the House to State Legislatures pass Draconian anti-abortion bills by whatever means necessary like in North Carolina attaching them to a motorcycle safety law, or in Texas bending the rules, or in WI signing the bill on a Sunday, or in Ohio attaching abortion restrictions to a budget bill, the War against Women by Republicans continues.  Now it looks to be a War that includes OB/GYN doctors as they have weighed in from the medical side on these draconian laws.

For years I tried to fit into the Pro-Life mold of the Republican Party.  I said the right things to stay a member in good standing but one day I reached the conclusion that it was not my place to tell another women what to do with her life.  Realized at that point I had been pro-choice for a long time.  I was a square peg trying to fit in a round hole and it didn't work.  Part of the reason it took me a long time to admit even to myself that I was pro-choice came from my own experience after my son was born over 30 years ago.  I had to be rushed back to the hospital with a severe, life threatening infection because the nurse had not given me the prescribed antibiotics.

In the room I was assigned they brought in a patient who in the middle of the night who was given a 'partial birth abortion.'  Heard the baby cry and then heard the doctor say "kill it" and then silence.   I was hysterical because I was facing a life threatening situation, might never see my son again, and here a doctor was killing a baby in the next bed.  Nurse came in and yelled at me to shut up along with the doctor performing the abortion.  Then the head nurse on the floor came in after I hit the call button numerous times and started screaming - she got me out of the room into a private room, called my OB doctor who arrived in about 20 minutes who gave me something to calm me down so I could sleep.  Next morning a minister showed up to talk to me about what had happened and shortly thereafter my daughter and my newborn son were brought to see me against the rules of the hospital, but my wonderful doctor was not taking NO for an answer.

Finally after my children's visit, the antibiotics started working, I started feeling better, and the danger of a rupture passed.  The nurse that had yelled at me to shut up came in my room, and I yelled at her to get out.  She started to say something just as my doctor walked in and he threw her out.  He went to the board to get her fired and the doctor suspended from privileges at the hospital.  My doctor took him to the County Medical Board to get his license suspended for a year.

It was a high risk facility and my doctor's office was in the hospital.  They were both part of the faculty of the Medical College for high risk pregnancy.  Before it was all finished the hospital fired four nurses and suspended one doctor, while permanently removing the privileges of doctor that had performed the 'partial birth' abortion from practicing at their hospital.   County Medical Board suspended his license for year.   Since this was done in a semi-private room, it did not meet the requirements of the hospital that all abortions be performed in an operating room.

Could have sued but I wasn't emotionally willing to go through the trauma of a lawsuit at the time.  The hospital awarded some damages and paid for my entire medical bill so the insurance company was extremely happy.  That is my personal reason for not supporting 'partial birth abortion' which is abhorrent to most people.  It affected my thinking for years about abortion, but then one day I realized what I had experienced was very rare and against the rules of the hospital.  That's the day I finally came to the conclusion that I actually am pro-choice because I don't walk in another women's shoes and while I might disagree with the choice, it is not up to me.  Being pro-choice is not being pro-abortion as the hard right likes to say but it is about giving women the option in a safe environment to make her own decision.

Personally believe the choice to terminate a pregnancy after 20 weeks is between a woman and her doctor not politicians.  Believe that 99.99% of doctors abide by their oath and would not terminate a pregnancy at over 20 weeks without a sound medical reason.  Doctors will do everything they can to save the life of the mother and the child but in rare instances they have to choose because of severe complications.  A doctor should have that right along with the mother without worrying about facing legal problems as long as all rules are followed to make the procedure safe.

Wholeheartedly agree that it is time these hard right politicians stayed out of the examining room and take their opinions on what is best for women and shove it.  I am sick and tired of the lectures and their belief they know what is best for women when they don't have a clue.  As far as I am concerned a vaginal probe required before a woman gets an abortion is the same as rape by mechanical object.

Today's hard right Neanderthal Republicans voting for these new rules which will take clinics away from women are the same ones who don't want to take care of children after they are born.  They want to take money away from prenatal care which is mandatory IMO and not provide medical care for the mother and the baby after the baby is born.  If the Mother is poor they want to cut the SNAP program drastically.   Planned Parenthood provides many services including cancer screening, birth control, and other women's services.  That is totally missed by the hard right social conservatives who run today's Republican Party.

Thanks to Politicususa for publishing the following American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) statement published as an advocacy ad in the July 9, 2013, print and online subscription editions of the Austin American Statesman:
All eyes are on Texas again this week as the fate of a far-reaching measure to restrict abortions and close many abortion facilities faces its last days of debate. Unlike almost any other issue, abortion generates strong feelings on all sides. This is true within our own organization, the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), and we respect that our 58,000 members have deeply held personal beliefs on this topic. 
While we can agree to disagree about abortion on ideological grounds, we must draw a hard line against insidious legislation that threatens women’s health like Texas HB2 (House Bill 2) and SB1 (Senate Bill 1). That’s why we’re speaking to the false and misleading underlying assumptions of this and other legislation like it: These bills are as much about interfering with the practice of medicine and the relationship a patient has with her physician as they are about restricting women’s access to abortion. The fact is that these bills will not help protect the health of any woman in Texas. Instead, these bills will harm women’s health in very clear ways. 
We’re setting the record straight, loudly and unequivocally, with these simple messages to all politicians: 
Get Out of Our Exam Rooms
Physicians from all specialties insist that there must be only two people in our exam rooms: the patient and the doctor. The sanctity of the patient-physician relationship is central to good medicine, a critical tenet embraced by ACOG and other medical societies such as the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Academy of Family Physicians, and the American College of Physicians. These organizations recently wrote in the New England Journal of Medicine:
“Legislators, regrettably, often propose new laws or regulations for political or other reasons unrelated to the scientific evidence and counter to the health care needs of patients. Legislative mandates to the practice of medicine do not allow for the infinite array of exceptions where the mandate may be unnecessary, inappropriate, or even harmful to an individual patient. …Lawmakers would also do well to remember that patient autonomy as well as individual needs, values, and preferences must be respected.”1 
Facts Are Important  
Facts are very important, especially when discussing the health of women and the American public. And a lot of “facts” are being asserted in this debate. Truth be told, the scientific underpinnings of this legislation are unsound. First, there’s the 20-week ban, which is based on the argument that a fetus can feel pain. Recent and rigorous scientific reviews have concluded that there is no evidence of fetal perception of pain until 29 weeks at the earliest2 (third trimester is 28-40 weeks).
These bills would also impose a number of requirements for abortion facilities that are touted as necessary to ensure the health of the woman, but are, in fact, unnecessary and unsupported by scientific evidence. These proposed requirements, concerning door width and other irrelevant issues, would only make it extremely difficult or impossible for most clinics, including clinics that primarily provide important non-abortion well-woman health care services such as mammograms and prenatal care to low-income women, to stay open. For example, the bills would require physicians who perform abortions to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles and allow abortions only in clinics that meet surgical clinic standards, imposing government regulations on abortion care that are much stricter than for colonoscopy and other similar low-risk procedures. The fact is that abortion is one of the safest medical procedures, with minimal—less than 0.5%—risk of major complications that might need hospital care. 
Women Can Make Their Own Medical Decisions Without State Interference
Texas women are renowned for their strength, courage, and smarts. Women across this nation are completely capable of making their own medical decisions with their physicians, as they make many other important decisions every day for themselves, their families, and their businesses. Women do not need—or want—any government to make medical decisions for them.
Women must have access to all needed health care—from mammograms to prenatal visits to reproductive care—based on scientific facts, not political ideology. ACOG opposes Texas HB2 and SB1, which jeopardize women’s health care and interfere with medical practice and the patient-physician relationship. Politicians are not elected to, nor should they, legislate the practice of medicine or step foot into our exam rooms.  
Jeanne A. Conry, MD, PhD President The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists Lisa M. Hollier, MD, MPH Chair, District XI (Texas) The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists

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