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Should Doctors Be Able to Lie to Patients? Arizona Republicans Say “Yes!”

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Sure, doctors lie, or at least fudge the truth; it’s often a very necessary part of their profession, for a doctor must be able to show confidence in front of gravely-ill patients or worried parents. But should a doctor be allowed to refrain from telling a pregnant woman about issues concerning the fetus simply because she might decide to have an abortion?

Arizona Republicans say “yes!”:

The Arizona Senate passed a bill Tuesday that will prohibit medical malpractice lawsuits against doctors who withhold information from a woman that could cause her to have an abortion.

The “wrongful birth, wrongful life” lawsuit legislation passed the Republican-controlled Senate 20-9 Tuesday, setting up a coming battle in the GOP-dominated Arizona House of Representatives. The legislation — which is currently law in nine states — is sponsored by a Republican senator with close ties to the conservative American Legislative Exchange Council. The approval comes as Kansas lawmakers consider similar legislation…

…Under the provisions of [the] bill, a doctor could not face a medical malpractice suit if the doctor withholds information from a mother about health issues facing a child that could cause her to have an abortion. In addition, a lawsuit could not be filed on the child’s behalf regarding a disability.

The rationale behind the bill is as follows:

The bill’s sponsor is Republican Nancy Barto of Phoenix. She says allowing the medical malpractice lawsuits endorses the idea that if a child is born with a disability, someone is to blame. Barto said the bill will still allow “true malpractice suits” to proceed. If the bill becomes law, Arizona would join nine states barring both “wrongful life” and “wrongful birth” lawsuits.

If a doctor informs a pregnant woman beforehand that there might be problems with the fetus, yes, the woman will look for someone to blame, and most women, in my experience, blame themselves whether or not it’s their fault. But in any case the Arizona House is allowing the doctor to lie to a pregnant mother about her fetus just to prevent the possibility of a malpractice lawsuit!

This is inexcusable; and this is precisely what happens when ideology is allowed to trump all other considerations to the point where a doctor would be allowed to lie, or at least deliberately withhold information, concerning the most important time of a woman’s life, her pregnancy. In other words, who cares about what happens to the rest of her life because she might have to care for a medically fragile, developmentally disabled child (which I have done for the past thirteen years)! Who cares about the cost not only to her life, but the life of her family, forced to bear this burden, and all too often the burden becomes too great for a marriage to bear? Who cares about the hundreds of thousands of state taxpayer dollars per year that that will be required for medical care for the entirety of that child’s life? All that really matters is that the possibility of a malpractice lawsuit was prevented.

But the key question is, what exactly has led the Republican party to the point where they would even consider such ludicrous legislation? Since the 1990’s, the Republicans have been playing a game with each other called “I’m more conservative than you!” As a result, their politicians have been forced to take positions that are polar opposites not only to ones previously held, but to constantly search for the next “Great Conservative Idea” that puts them further to the right than the other Republicans. This game is also what has led to legislation mandating state-mandated transvaginal ultrasounds for women wanting an abortion (Virginia, Pennsylvania, Alabama). This article provides a better overall picture of how widespread the anti-abortion legislative efforts are; they also include outlawing teaching of contraception in sex-education classes (Utah). Other pending new legislation around the country includes:

  • Preventing workplace discrimination against gun owners (Missouri). It’s okay in MO to discriminate against LGBT’s, but not against gun owners – I was not aware that there were any businesses that say “gun owners need not apply.
  • “Papers please” anti-illegal immigrant laws (Arizona, Georgia, Alabama, Texas, South Carolina).
  • Voter restriction laws (to prevent essentially non-existent voter fraud) which are proven to disenfranchise voters (Indiana, Georgia, Kansas, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Wisconsin).

The Republican presidential candidates themselves are not exempt from the requirement to play the I’m more conservative than you game:

  • There was applause at a Republican debate at the Texas execution record of Rick Perry (despite the fact that he likely ordered the execution of an innocent man). This is not an indictment against Perry who is no longer running, but against the Republican party who cheered, and who forced the candidates even further to the right;
  • Ron Paul has stated that he would have voted against the Civil Rights Act, and that businesses have a right to discriminate on basis of race, creed, color, and religion. Compare that to Missouri’s anti-gun-owner-discrimination legislation;
  • Newt Gingrich stated that child labor laws are “stupid,” that children should replace the unionized janitors at schools. “Bobby, you missed a spot on the floor, and you still didn’t wipe the toilets in the boys’ room” says the rich kid to the poor kid;
  • Rick Santorum apparently didn’t need to be driven any further to the right, given his opposition to abortion in all cases, including for rape and incest;

And that leaves us with Mitt Romney who, given his record, would be a very moderate Republican (indeed, in many ways more liberal than many Democrats including Obama), given that we really do have him (and the Heritage Foundation and Gingrich) to thank for Obamacare. But in his quest to win the GOP nomination, he has been forced to go far to the right since the decreased turnout in the GOP primary process has resulted in a much more conservative GOP electorate. He once stood for protection of workers, for access to health care by the poor, for women’s right to choose, and against anthropogenic climate change – but now he has taken the precise opposite of all these. This article provides a comprehensive comparison of his current positions to the ones he held before.

The Republican party is not stupid, they know America is growing ever more liberal. They can see the polls showing that even a majority of Republicans support gay rights and increased taxes on the wealthy and legislative efforts to increase access to contraception.

That last reference is the most telling, for it points out that:

Only 8 percent of Republicans and Independents think the government should support abstinence-only programs. A strong majority of Independents (76%) and Republicans (62%) believe the government should support comprehensive sex education programs that include information about abstinence, as well as information about contraception and sexually transmitted diseases.

Self-identified “strong” Republicans prefer comprehensive sex education over abstinence-only programs by a 56 percent to 14 percent margin.

Two-thirds (67%) of Republicans and Independents prefer a Senate candidate who favors teaching comprehensive sex education in public schools over a candidate who favors teaching abstinence-only.

Now compare the results of this poll to the legislation that Republicans are passing across the nation; it doesn’t match up, does it? But why do they do it? Look at the first phrase in that last quote: “Only 8 percent”. It’s that eight percent, and the Republican minority on the other issues, who are most likely to vote in the primaries and in the general election. They represent the furthest right of the right. It’s that minority of the Republican party who are forcing their politicians and their presidential candidates to take positions that the majority of Republicans simply do not want but, since they are Republicans, will vote for anyway.

America and the world are growing ever more liberal, that much is obvious. And the more liberal the world grows, the more threatened those on the right will feel. That is the root cause of their ever-further-to-the-right claims and political positions. I believe this trend will not abate until the Republican party suffers a true landslide defeat. It might happen this time, but I don’t think so. The time is not yet. It is coming, but not yet.

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About Glenn Contrarian

White. Male. Raised in the deepest of the Deep South. Retired Navy. Strong Christian. Proud Liberal. Thus, Contrarian!
  • Melda Page

    Thus women will no longer trust their doctors. What kind of Christians think this type of legislation is moral?

  • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/IanMayfield Dr Dreadful

    The end justifies the means, Melda. We’re talking about the sort of people who would, if they could, happily invade a country and slaughter every man, woman and child in it just to prevent one abortion.

  • Igor

    Good article, Glenn. Excellent insights.

    The minority Ruling Class in America still finds that Puritanism is a powerful tool for manipulating the peasantry (which includes me and thee, incidentally, despite any deluded notions of superiority we may cherish).

    Thus, they use *Sex* as a powerful tool for cowing the numerous members of the 99% while they allow themselves every variation of sexual indulgence.

    Of course, the easiest to intimidate are women, who must endure the most obvious evidence of their sinfulness and ungodliness by becoming pregnant.

    So it comes as no surprise that the loudly pro-god radical rightists that infest the highest levels of government think it’s just fine for doctors to lie to women so as to ensure that they will have to take the full measure of gods punishment upon them for their wickedness.