RMC Responds: Leave the Medicine to the Medical ExpertsPosted: June 21, 2013
This week the debate over a woman’s right to choose has been highlighted at both the federal and state levels. The Republican Majority for Choice denounced the passage of H.R. 1797 and in response one Facebook user, Debby, stated plainly that, “it’s not a matter of advocating wide spread abortion, it is a matter of not having the government telling me what I can do. Isn’t that what most people want? It is a matter of a woman’s choice.” Thank you, Debby, for your comment and for directing the discussion towards several incredibly important points. For this week’s RMC Responds, we want to get down to the facts surrounding abortion and relevant legislation.
H.R. 1797 has received a lot of national attention and it is important to understand exactly why this bill is so dangerous. We approach this discussion as we always do with an understanding that medical issues are never black and white, and that each individual much have the ability to determine their medical decisions based on expert advice from their own doctors. Having Congress, or any body of politicians, create strict black and white rules for the entire medical community is irresponsible and hinders a doctor’s ability to practice based on the best health options rather than on political and legal concerns. Currently, states have the right to limit abortion post viability and many have already done so – however, this bill attempts to circumvent the federal court rulings and apply a uniform standard that ignores science, constitutionality and the vital health concerns of women.
The women targeted by this bill are not, as many have insinuated, despicable people who simply decided to end their pregnancy; much to the contrary, most are the families who face heart-breaking decisions and medical risks. Only 2% of all abortions take place at this stage of a pregnancy, and the women faced with these difficult decisions do not do so light-heartedly. Often, abortions at this stage are the result of emergency medical situations in which continuing with a pregnancy would severely impair the woman’s health or are due to serious fetal health issues only detectable at an advanced stage in pregnancy. This week, Judy, a mother, shared the story of her abortion at 23 weeks with the New York Times in order to illustrate exactly why this medical decision must remain between a woman and her doctor. Her story is one of those painful decisions which perfectly illustrated why a one-size-fits-all law is unjustifiable and dangerous.
This bill, and others like it, are dangerous because they allow politicians to insert themselves between a woman and her doctor in a way that could very well jeopardize the patient’s health. Anti-choice abortion bans could limit doctors’ ability to provide an honest medical decisions, forcing them to choose between a patient’s health and criminal punishment. This is a position we should never be putting medical professionals in. At the state level, several bills have been introduced across the nation that would actually require doctors to lie to their patients, all because politicians assume that they should be making the decisions. In Ohio, for instance, doctors could be required to inform women that abortion can increase the risk for breast cancer, a claim that is unsubstantiated and has been denounced by all major cancer research institutions.
It is for all of these reasons that we find Debby’s comment so accurate; as small government conservatives, and as compassionate citizens, we firmly believe that the government should not be inserting itself in the private relationship between patients and their doctors. Medical professionals are the only ones qualified to be making such significant decisions, and only they should determine everything from the precise point of viability to the risk posed to a woman by a pregnancy.
Debby also speaks the truth when she says that we are not promoting widespread abortion. As we have stated many times before, no one is “pro-abortion.” And regardless of your personal beliefs, working toward a future with less abortions is where we can all find common ground. The way to do this, however, is not by outlawing medical procedures, but rather to go to the root of the problem. Hands down, the most important thing that our government and citizens can do to reduce the number of abortions is to make smart investments in education and contraception. Comprehensive sex-education- that includes but is not limited to abstinence- is critical for young adults across the nation, and especially for those who cannot learn the facts at home. Contraception, too, is an invaluable tool in preventing unwanted pregnancies. Misconceptions about emergency contraception or lack of knowledge about birth control only harms women and families.
By making smart choices today, we can improve the future of our country both socially and economically. Did you know that for every $1 spent on publicly funded family planning, $4 are saved in Medicaid expenses? Investing in preventive reproductive health services is the most effective- and cost-saving step we can take. Intelligent family planning benefits everyone and will reduce the number of abortions nationwide.
It is important that our politicians turn their attention to the things they can help fix: the economy, immigration, and other pressing issues. They should not, however, attempt to make incredibly important and personal decisions on behalf of American women, and repeated attempts to do so will hurt everyone in the long run.