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Coercion for doctors to come to California?

I described here a new law in Australia which has passed and which requires all doctors to provide referrals for abortions.

Now a possibly even more radical law has been introduced in California. It has not passed, and it is unclear what its chances are. Under this law, healthcare professionals are required (on pain of loss of license) to provide to all their patients information about abortion as a medical treatment available to them or else provide them with assistance in finding another medical worker who will do this. The law says, inter alia,

(e) Each physician and surgeon, nurse practitioner, and physician assistant described in subdivision (d) has an affirmative duty of reasonable disclosure to his or her patient of all available medical choices with respect to the patient's personal reproductive decisions.

As Wesley J. Smith points out, this is fairly ridiculous. Who doesn't know the bare fact that abortion is legal in California? I would further point out that this makes the wording ambiguous. What does it mean to "disclose" abortion as an "available medical choice"? It is pretty clear that it means speaking to the patient about abortion as a choice the patient should take seriously, not recommending against it, etc. I doubt that distributing a copy of The Silent Scream would be considered to satisfy the requirement to "provide information" about this "personal reproductive decision."

Imagine the weird climate this would create: A woman and her husband have been wanting to have a baby for a long time, and their doctor knows it. Finally, she gets pregnant and comes in, radiant, for her first pre-natal checkup. Would the doctor, the same doctor who has been providing fertility advice, have to give her a form to sign that says that she has been provided with "information" on "all treatment options for her reproductive decisions," including abortion? That's not going to go over well with the happy new mother.

This is not about information. This is about making sure that pro-life ob-gyns are drummed out of the profession. No honest person can doubt this. If the law passes, I hope it will be widely defied.

Comments (7)

If this got bad enough, in enough places, do you think from it a sort of black market in medical services could be born?

Very unlikely to happen. I suspect the pro-life ob-gyns wd. develop some sort of form they'd have you sign, none too happily, and leave it at that. Maybe it wd. say that they had "provided you with information on all available options." There wd. still be a difference between doctors, depending on whether they really favored abortion, but they'd all have to provide you, formally, with the same "information." It's going to be hard for the bad guys to dig out all informal differences between pro-life and pro-abortion doctors, though they will do their best.

Of course, the "all available options" is silly. It's not like they are all going to "affirmatively" tell you about acupuncture or something. We know which "available option" this is about, and in fact the preamble or whatever it is to the proposed law--which Smith links--makes this quite clear.

I would agree that the wording of the bill is very ambiguous, which does leave room for clever pro-life doctors to defeat the intent. Given this case, it might not pass unless it were amended with a specific reference to abortion and only limiting it to abortion. I just hope CA considers how many doctors will move their practices out of the state if this becomes law. CA cannot afford to lose a lot of those high-income taxpayers, LOL.

The preamble talks about abortion more specifically.

In New Zealand we deal with a wide-spread misconception that a similar law exists here too; the misconception is so widespread many pro-life doctors are not clear on it. When I was offered an abortion with my last child by my GP I expressed my objection to the offer very clearly and was told "I have to offer, its the law" to which I replied no it is not. I then informed my GP that if she thought killing my children was a legitimate option she would no longer be treating any of them. Sometimes fighting these things needs to be tackled at many levels.

I wonder though, does the bill define "reasonable disclosure"? (In New Zealand our bills have a definitions section not too far into the start where the limits of such vague statements are set out)

In the absence of a definition, the US equivalent of common law and standard interpretation would apply. Given the directive is qualified by respect to the patient's personal reproductive decisions one could argue that given it is common knowledge what the law is and that by ignorance of the law not being a defence one can legitimately assume as a rebuttable presumption that the average person is aware of the law then only when evidence was obvious that the contrary was the case, that a particular patient was not aware, did the obligation to inform arise.

From there one could argue that one had no basis for assuming that any patient was not aware.

Still, not a nice bill at all and as it goes through your legislative process I am sure there will be those who seek to tighten it up.

I worry about the Obama Healthcare Plan. Will it create negative reprocussions to my mothers life? How do the benefits outweigh the cons?

I am concerned about the Obama Healthcare Plan. Will it cause dehabilitating changes on my families life? Will the improvements counterbalance the cons?

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