Senate Bill 1552 is on the Governor of Oklahoma’s desk. If signed into law abortion per se wouldn’t become illegal, it’s just if a doctor does one she or he would lose their medical license. There is an exception to save a mother’s life, but no rape exception.
If enacted this would be the most draconian abortion law in the country.
It’s terrifying on several grounds.
First of all doctors will stop doing abortions. No one’s malpractice insurance is going to fight to defend their license if “convicted” of performing an abortion. We all know what happens when women can’t get abortions, legal abortions stop but illegal ones continue. All abortion laws do is make abortion unsafe for women.
With no doctors able to perform abortions in a few years who exactly will be able to perform a life saving abortion at 21 weeks? I can tell you from experience those do happen and it’s a skill that has to be maintained. Say a woman has ruptured membranes and an infection, but isn’t going into labor. The fetus needs to be delivered to save her life, however, given her infection the drugs to bring on labor often don’t work. The procedure of choice is a D and E, except there will be no one left in Oklahoma who can do that because a D and E at 21 weeks is not a see one do one kind of procedure. The way a doctor gets good at doing the D and E’s that save women’s lives is by doing abortions. If this bill becomes law and it stands in Oklahoma women with infected uteruses from ruptured membranes will end up with hysterectomies, a riskier surgery that will leave them infertile, or they will die.
What also bothers me is that the Oklahoma State Medical Society (OSMA) only cared enough about this egregious interference into the practice of medicine that their statement about this bill is #6 on their recent legislative update. Yes, #6 below maintenance of certification and cigarette taxes. Here’s their tepid statement to their members:
As per the usual in Oklahoma politics, one of the more talked-about debates this session surrounded abortion. SB 1118 by Sen. Joseph Silk (R-Broken Bow) would have made anyone who destroys a human embryo or fetus guilty of first-degree murder. That bill was not heard in the Senate, but the author has vowed to keep pushing this legislation. An only slightly less onerous bill unfortunately is still alive. SB 1552 by Sen. Nathan Dahm (R-Broken Arrow) would strip the medical license of any physician who conducts an abortion. While the OSMA does not take a position on the legality of abortion, as long as it remains a legal act, we will oppose legislation that is designed to intimidate physicians or override their medical judgment.
Let’s let that sink in again. the OSMA doesn’t take a position on the “legality of abortion.” Wow, that might as well read, “If ladies are going to die from abortion could they please do it quietly at home so we don’t have to think about this nasty business.”
Contrast now with ACOG:
— ACOG Action (@ACOGAction) April 25, 2016
OSMA “onerous” and ACOG “gross interference.” Onerous is task you don’t want to do, like attend a meeting or think about the “dirty business” of abortion. Gross interference is what this bill is.
Here’s the full ACOG Statement:
Washington, DC – Mark S. DeFrancesco, MD, MBA, President of the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), today released the following statement:
“ACOG has long recognized that abortion is an essential component of health care for millions of women, and has opposed legislative inference into health decision-making. Many years ago, the United States Supreme Court decided that the state has no right to interfere with these decisions, as they are between a patient and her physician.
“Legislation that would revoke a physician’s medical license for performing abortion – a legal procedure that is an important part of health care for women – is gross interference in the delivery of care. A restriction this severe would clearly put women at risk; rather than safe, legal procedures, women in need of abortion would be forced to seek dangerous, even life-threatening means of ending their pregnancies.
“Legislation like this flies in the face of appropriate medical care. Health care decisions should be made jointly by patients and their trusted health care providers – not by politicians who lack medical training and who clearly do not have women’s best interests in mind.
“Doctors are committed to their patients, and do their best to keep them safe and healthy. They should not have to fear prosecution or political reprisals for simply giving women the care that they need.”
You know what’s missing? It’s not a joint statement with any Oklahoma physicians’ group, it’s just ACOG. When Texas was crafting similar bills to restrict abortion ACOG’s statement also included a statement from a Texas member:
“The Texas bills are a compilation of over-reaching measures to control when, where, and how a woman has an abortion,” said ACOG Texas District Chair Lisa M. Hollier, MD, MPH. “The bills are not based on sound science, despite our efforts to provide the legislature with the best available medical knowledge. The bills would erode women’s health by denying the women of Texas the benefits of well-researched, safe, and proven protocols.”
If you look at the Oklahoma Medical Society’s twitter feed as of this morning they have retweeted the article from the New York Times, but ACOG’s feed has several mentions with strong wording. In addition, the OSMA’s online ‘paper” from today featured on their twitter feed mentions nothing of the bill in the headlines or the lead stories (yes, they are a collection of other stories, but you think the New York Times piece would have been featured or any one of the many papers that have carried it). I’ve searched and the only statement from the OSMA that I can find the paragraph on their legislative update page and quotes to the Associated Press (see the New York Times article) calling the bill “unconstitutional.”
But take a closer look at the Associated Press piece, no physician from Oklahoma is quoted just counsel for the OSMA and Wes Glinsman, who appears to be OSMA staff and not a physician.
The OSMA couldn’t find one member willing to speak out, or better yet, issue a stronger statement collectively from physicians of Oklahoma? Do they just not see it as a major medical issue? Are they all pro-life but fine with women dying from whom abortions and sepsis at 22 week? If they are afraid of the impact on their practices?
All I know is the response from the OSMA is shameful and it seems from their statements they won’t even care when women end up bleeding to death from home abortions or from sepsis at 22 weeks with ruptured membranes because they don’t take a “position” on the “legality” of abortion. I guess if it becomes illegal it becomes illegal and tough luck for the women of Oklahoma.