Accepted medical ethics requires doctors and nurses to let patients know any risks associated with their treatment. Doctors should, for instance, let you know if a surgery can make you prone to blood clots, or if you won’t be able to lift anything more than 10 pounds for a while. A patient deserves to know how risky his quadruple bypass surgery is.
Doctors communicate these risks face to face and in language the patient (hopefully) can understand. This is called informed consent. Anything less than full disclosure could cause us to find a new physician immediately. We deserve to know the risks and side effects.
Informed consent applies to abortion. In 1998, a law was passed in Kentucky requiring abortion providers to inform women of the medical risks associated with the procedure, medical alternatives to abortion, and the probable age of the fetus. Abortion providers must also let women know financial assistance is available for prenatal care and labor and delivery, and that the father of the child is required to pay child support. All of this information must be given to the woman in an “individual, private setting.”
Some studies reveal post-abortive women have higher rates of mortality, suicide, and mental illness, so the medical risks of abortion extend beyond the medication and devices used on the day of the procedure. Therefore, informed consent is especially important when a woman undergoes a procedure that is so emotionally and physically invasive.
But the pro-choice movement wants to sidestep common sense. Today, abortion providers in Kentucky check the informed consent box by having women listen to a pre-recorded message over the phone from the comfort of their own homes. They have devised a way to abide by the letter of the law by ditching the spirit of the law. There is apparently no way to verify that a woman actually listened to it or understood it.
This pre-recorded message is, I believe, an attempt to hide from the horrific reality that is about to ensue. Who wants to look someone in the eye when you’re about to do something wrong?
Enter Senate Bill 4. This legislation clarifies that abortion providers must speak face to face with patients in the same room. The Kentucky Senate passed the bill this week, 32-5, and it’s now before the House. Last year the House failed to take up the same bill.
I hope the House takes a different approach this session. If it feels the need to appeal to social conservatives in view of upcoming elections (or if it just wants to protect the lives of unborn babies), SB 4 is a good place to start.
This is a pro-woman bill.
How can it be controversial to empower a woman with more information? Do we really want couples to have an abortion without knowing about other options? Doesn’t it seem fair to remind women in desperate situations that fathers are legally responsible to care for the child?
The typical pro-choice response about all things pro-life is: “We don’t want to get between a woman and her doctor.” This line masquerades as if the pro-choice side has the utmost concern for medical professionalism. But their amateurish methods reveal their true goal: to do whatever it takes so that those involved do not have to face the reality that a human being is about to die.
Rick Hardison is the pastor of Great Crossing Baptist Church in Georgetown. He is married to Staci, and they have two children.