Do No Harm 5/4/22

Politics with Richard Bleil

Texas has become infamous for passing one of the most restrictive abortion law in the US, and finding a novel way to circumvent the US Constitutional Law in doing so.  First, the law does not criminalize abortions, but instead makes it a civil violation with hefty fines, including medical personnel involved in the procedure, and extends to women crossing state lines to find a clinic.  This does not make an exception for cases of rape, incest or medically necessary procedures to save the life of the woman, includes “morning after” pills and extends to women crossing the state border to have the procedure elsewhere.  As a result, clinics in Texas have stopped this medical procedure, forcing women who are desperate to find alternatives.  To be fair, abortions are still legal if they are within approximately the first six weeks of pregnancy, or before a “fetal heartbeat” can be detected.  Most women do not even know that they are pregnant in the first six weeks, so unless they want to start a monthly regiment of taking pregnancy termination drugs there is usually no way to get the procedure when it’s needed.

The danger of laws such as this are the dangers of self-treatment.  A few days ago, a story came out of Texas about a twenty-six-year-old who was so desperate to abort her fetus that she performed a self-induced abortion.  The story did not explain the circumstances that led her to this desire, so anybody that would judge her are doing so with an incomplete picture.  The attempt did not go well, and she required medical attention to clean up the damage caused because proper clinical and medical options were not available to her.  She was then arrested for murder.

The murder charges were eventually dropped as the police overstepped their authority.  Abortions this early are, as I said above, not criminal activities, but civil violations.  I’m sure she’s still facing the fine for having an abortion, although how they will prove it was done with a detectable fetal heartbeat I do not know. 

The biggest problem with this story is how she was turned in.  It wasn’t the father, friends, or family, but rather she was turned in by the medical personnel where she went for help.  They never specified in the story who, exactly, it was, that is to say if it was the doctor, a nurse, staff or so on, but it was hospital staff that informed authorities. 

Things are just getting worse in Texas, and it’s important to note that there are other states that now have legislation based on this Texas model, and still more looking into doing the same.  In essence, these restrictions are making proper medical care for women inaccessible, creating a situation where women may, and now have, need to attempt to self-abort.  As if that’s not dangerous and bad enough, now women have to worry about going for help if the procedure does not work well out of fear of her own medical personnel turning her in. 

What ever happened to the oath, “first, do no harm”?  Many church-affiliated hospitals have refused to perform abortion even on ectopic pregnancies, which almost always fail, are always excessively painful, and often threaten the life of the mother on their own belief that the fetus dies naturally is more important than the life of the woman.  Treatment for women is becoming harder to find because of these laws, including Planned Parenthood clinics despite the fact that abortions are only a very small portion of the services they provide.  Now, women will be afraid to get treatment out of fear that their doctor will violate their vows of confidentiality and turn them in. 

To me, these new restrictive laws do violate others.  Doctors, by law, are not allowed to divulge patient information, and yet with the Texas law, doctors are liable if they don’t turn their patients in.  These laws are being written and pushed by the extreme conservative Christian right, and the Republicans they have elected.  One of the first things anybody talks about when it comes to candidates is their religious affiliation, and if they attend church.  What ever happened to separation of church and state?

I’m very upset with these laws, and the ever-eroded rights of women, but the reality is that these laws are written by the politicians the people of Texas (and nationally) put into office.  Those who vote for extreme conservatives, and those who did not vote against them, are all to blame.  We need to start taking our civil duties to heart and vote these extremist conservatives out of office.  Loss of civil rights is not so much because of those who vote them in as it is those who fail to vote them out.

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