Politics Has No Place in Medicine

A year ago today, on April 18, 2007, the Supreme Court upheld a federal ban on an abortion procedure. The federal law doesn't use medical terminology, so it's difficult to define precisely what the law bans. But what is clear is that the law deliberately omitted an exception allowing doctors to act if a woman's health is in danger. As a consequence, doctors like me are barred from using certain medical techniques, even in cases when a woman's health is threatened and that procedure is the fastest and safest way to help her. Many physicians protested the Supreme Court ruling, arguing that it jeopardized women's health and would encourage politicians to meddle even further in reproductive medicine. As Job said in the Old Testament, that which we greatly feared is coming upon us.

Thirteen states are considering, or have passed, laws that mirror the federal abortion ban. Supporters claim they need identical state bans in order to prosecute cases at the local level. Here in Michigan, the Senate used the 35th anniversary of Roe v. Wade to pass a bill banning so-called "partial birth abortion." The proposed law is virtually identical to the federal legislation, down to the exclusion of a provision for women's health.

These policy changes are misguided. Every abortion restriction that follows this pattern creates a barrier between women and their doctors. If you were facing a grave medical situation, who would you want to determine your best course of treatment: your trusted physician, or a politician in Lansing?

In addition to bans on specific medical procedures, many politicians have used last year's Supreme Court ruling as an excuse to introduce laws that would make it extremely difficult for women to have an abortion. Several states are weighing legislation that would force doctors to perform unnecessary — and expensive — ultrasounds before an abortion. Other states want to require doctors to review every published study on abortion before performing one — even studies with no scientific merit. Many of these laws create strict legal penalties for doctors, which I fear will dissuade my fellow physicians from offering abortion care.

Supporters of these unnecessary regulations argue that increased restrictions make abortion safer. In reality, they prevent women from getting safe, legal healthcare. I became an abortion provider after working as an obstetrician/gynecologist for many years because I could see how essential this service was for many women. Last year I cared for a woman who had three serious health problems: kidney disease, a seizure disorder, and a history of blood clots. She was eight weeks pregnant and knew her health would not allow her to continue this pregnancy. When my patient's health is threatened by her pregnancy, I want to give her swift and effective treatment, not lead her into a quagmire of legal barriers and mandatory delays.

In 1973, the Supreme Court recognized the paramount need to protect women's health by allowing safe, legal abortions. For more than three decades, women's health remained a cornerstone of abortion rights. In the past year, we have seen just how essential that legal support was.

These are not abstract issues that affect only a handful of women. Every time politicians interfere in medical practice, they create a precedent for further meddling. Terri Schiavo's case shows that abortion is hardly the only medical issue politicians feel qualified to control. As a physician, I urge our legislators to make women's health and good medicine priorities here in Michigan. Let's learn from the poor decisions made one year ago, not repeat them in our state.

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  • invalid-0

    This type of thinking strikes me as entirely typical coming from the likes of you. Keep on whining while abortion is once again made illegal, slow as it is. And keep tissues handy when the Democrats get swept downriver this November. McCain won’t be promoting any pro-‘choice’ judges to the Supreme Court.

    Keep on whining, I love to hear it.

  • invalid-0

    your smack talk is;it is too much fun to resist.

    I feel it is OBAMA who will be walloping McCain like a tetherball. The myth of McCain’s title of “maverick moderate” will be torn to shreds in the general election. If he tries to bring up his “pro life” credentials, the Dems will make quite sure people know what an anti-choice extremist he really is.

  • invalid-0

    “Dems make sure people know what an anti-choice extremist…”

    It won’t matter. People knew this about Bush, too. Two terms, mate— two terms. For Bush. Of all people, despite everything, despite all the lame Democrats’ efforts. And now they have this dog and pony show going on. How many Democrats have you seen in office over the past forty years? The Democrats are inept, and it has to do with their whole way of thinking. It is so out of touch it is funny. Even with Bush as unpopular as he was last time, the results were soooo tight. And McCain is a war hero, to boot.

    Nope, the socialists won’t be winning here in America. I suspect a lot of disgruntled people will have to move elsewhere soon, it disgust at their country. I will breath a sigh of relief once the Obama & Hillary threat passes. I can’t even /believe/ the candidates they get to run. They’re even worse than the Republicans!

    Anyway, you will all see soon enough.

  • invalid-0

    If the Dems were so inept, why were Republicans running for cover with their tails between their legs after the 2006 Congressional elections? George Bush is the most unpopular (as well as the most incompetent) president ever, so McCain is just tying himself to the Titanic’s mast by embracing Dubya.
    Of course,exposing McCain will not be easy because the cluless MSM (mainstream media) keeps giving him a free pass by repeating the “moderate maverick” myth at every opportunity. But,there is a little something called the Internet where the tall tales can be debunked.

    No, socialists (conflating,again?) will not win. But neither will the anti-choice Republicans.

  • invalid-0

    Well, you fail to note how unpopular the Congress is with the public these days. People have been kicking themselves ever since they voted those nuts in. It’s in the news— the MSM— but really it is just obvious.

    See, in the circle you run with you are removed from some things. But let’s call this discussion off since it is fruitless. You will see what I am talking about in December. Basically, the country hates politicians, as they always have. But, unfortunately for people like you, this country has a little bit more of a problem with the Left than the Right. Carter doesn’t help. Clinton (Bill) doesn’t help. Lying Hillary doesn’t help. Pelosi doesn’t help. Gore doesn’t help, parading around like a sucker, trying to “save the world from itself”, in his mind. Kerry never helped. And, despite what you may be inclined to believe, Obama doesn’t help— and no, this has nothing to do with racism.

    You shall soon see. All I ask is that you remember me when you see the outcome. If I’m wrong, I invite you to rub my nose in it, if you run across me again. If I’m right, I’ll not rub your nose in it, but I shall thumb mine in your whole direction.

  • invalid-0

    Carter and Bill(Clinton) have to do with this? You are conflating socialists with Democrats,so that is YOUR problem.

    this country has a little bit more of a problem with the Left than the Right

    A myth. The Repubs are just better at lying and misrepresenting, it’s their strategy to win elections. It’s worked very well for them because no one in the MSM has the brass ones to call them on their dirty tactics. That job has fallen to the blogosphere, particularly the mighty Daily Kos.

    I’ll not rub your nose in it, but I shall thumb mine in your whole direction.

    You are such a child.

  • invalid-0

    You honestly don’t see what Carter and Bill Clinton have to do with this? Are you so foolish? You call me childish, and I agree that I can be, if you think humor is ‘childish’. But I think being a giant blind fool is much more harmful to a person than merely being childish and light-hearted.
    I’m laughing about this whole thing, and now I’m laughing at you. For you think socialists and Democrats are different things these days, and you don’t understand why I bring Clinton into this, or Carter. Because they’ve been in the news nonstop! Reminders to all of America not to elect another one of them! Carter & Hamas, Bill & his foggy memory, and for that matter his wife & her very foggy, senile memory, both caught in obvious, stupid lies every week almost. The notion that Republicans are the better liars! The audacity! They both lie, but the Democrats are just inept. They lie due to ego. They lie for totally different reasons most of the time, and I would say the Republicans are usually more defensible in the reasoning for their lies. Though, of course, not from the perspective of a left-wing radical like yourself, who perhaps thinks that the Republicans lie about the ‘fact’ that they created AIDS for black men…
    Don’t you read the news? Oh, that’s right- you don’t trust the news, you think its biased /in favor of the Right!/ Of all things. Have you ever switched on MSNBC and watched them drool and fantasize, stricken with Obama-lust? CNN is practically the same exact story. FOX, of course, is FOX, and obviously they are righties. But they are the only one. The fact that people like yourself see the MSM as right-wing shows how irrationally extreme you are when compared to the rest of the country.
    Just put your mindlessness aside for a moment, drop out of your engaging fantasy reality, and mark my words: all of you extremists are going to be greatly surprised in a few months when you have to pull your heads out of your Daily Kos— which you believe is much more popular than it actually is in America, since you are so far to the left, living in total a fantasy land— and see that America is not a country made up of anti-American socialist revolutionaries at all, but a country made up of folks who are inclined to believe in their country, inclined to have faith in it, as well as their religion, from which they prefer to take moral instruction instead of the government. Secularist wackos are not the norm, except within their own circles. That, my friend, is why you think someone like Obama could ever possibly win. Especially with Rev. Wright on his heels! This election is a comedy, a total farce. A satire on America that would be unbelievable if it weren’t so tragically true.
    Good bye, Democratic party! Thanks for nothing!

  • mellankelly1

    Well, you fail to note how unpopular the Congress is with the public these days. People have been kicking themselves ever since they voted those nuts in. It's in the news— the MSM— but really it is just obvious.

    Yes, many citizens are disappointed with the 110th congress.  I suppose its accomplishments haven't been satisfactory enough… merely raising the minimum wage, promoting stem cell research, cutting interest rates on student loans, investing in renewable energy, lowering prescription drug prices for seniors and legislating the strictest ethics rules in the history of Congress all while battling with Republicans simply isn't enough these days.  For example, the American people would prefer that in addition to these achievements that Congress could have somehow removed our men and women from this most unfavorable war in Iraq or perhaps lowered the cost of fuel (and our dependence on it). 

     Basically, the country hates politicians, as they always have. But, unfortunately for people like you, this country has a little bit more of a problem with the Left than the Right

    And what of the multiple instances of obstruction by the Republican minority … the alternative minimum tax fiasco comes to mind, wherein the Democrats repeatedly tried to get Senate Republicans to back a plan that would have paid for the cut by imposing new taxes (particularly on wealthy hedge fund managers) but the Republicans (along with Mr. Bush) refused.  By the way… by not offsetting the cost, the national debt will increase by $50 billion… way to go Republicans!!  This congress is so deeply divided and your attempt to package the Democrats as the "inept" party is ludicrous… it comes off as a desperate attempt to legitimize your crazy rantings.  You may have a point about the American people being tired of politics… but you're dead wrong when you generalize your statements to include your jaded views.

  • invalid-0

    that is the only explanation for this crazy rant equating Democrats with socialists, for wandering SO far off the subject of the article we are commenting on, for actually thinking I’m an “extremist” (that attempt to label me brought on a smile),et al.
    But I can’t laugh at you,because that would be too cruel. So I’ll just pity you instead.

  • http://infotick.com/blog/aakash/ invalid-0

    Doctors are not God. There is a need to tame doctors down…They do a lot of illegal stuff and whine unnecessarily. lol

  • invalid-0

    Examples, please, Aakash. Tell us what “stuff” you think doctors are doing that’s illegal, and give us examples of “unnecessary whining.”

    I’ve been seeing lots of gratuitous medical bashing over the last several years, which is disappointing. Most of us go into this career because we want to help people. If we didn’t, there are a helluva lot easier ways to make money.