Sunday, May 02, 2010

Full Disclosure, When Ideologically Convenient

Kathleen Parker, apparently conflicted about abortion rights, wrote in her syndicated column, dated May 2, 2010 but online earlier

Such considerations recently have taken the form of legislation in several states where lawmakers want women considering an abortion first to view an ultrasound. Oklahoma passed a law a few days ago that would require women to have an ultrasound, though, contrary to early reports, they are not required to view the images. They would have to hear the doctor's description of the images on the screen under the law.

Florida passed its own legislation Friday, and Louisiana is considering a similar bill....

I can't muster outrage over what can be viewed as both medically pragmatic and morally defensible.

A well-informed patient should always be our route to safe and legal. Is it unacceptable that a life-preserving decision might result from greater knowledge?

Sounds so reasonable, does it not? Provide greater information to the pregnant woman- which, you would guess (or would, if your were Kathleen Parker) was the motivation behind the recently-enacted law in Oklahoma.

Guess again. There is this from The New York Times:

The Oklahoma Legislature voted Tuesday to override the governor’s vetoes of two abortion measures, one of which requires women to undergo an ultrasound and listen to a detailed description of the fetus before getting an abortion.

Though other states have passed similar measures requiring women to have ultrasounds, Oklahoma’s law goes further, mandating that a doctor or technician set up the monitor so the woman can see it and describe the heart, limbs and organs of the fetus. No exceptions are made for rape and incest victims.

A second measure passed into law on Tuesday prevents women who have had a disabled baby from suing a doctor for withholding information about birth defects while the child was in the womb.

Failing to make an exception for rape and incest victims is a little harsh and insensitive, obviously. Or a lot harsh and insensitive. Still, compassion for the patient never has been a hallmark of the abortion prohibition crowd, so it's only being consistent.

But an additional measure "prevents women who have had a disabled baby from suing a doctor for withholding information about birth defects"? Would that be "providing greater information to the pregnant woman," as Parker would term it?

No, that would be incentive to withhold information from pregnant women.

If you're completely against extending to a woman the choice of abortion, it may make sense to mislead and intimidate her on the way to the heavy hand of government controlling her body. But can we avoid being disingenuous? Let's not pretend that we're doing anything other than steering the woman toward an unwanted birth, especially claiming something so noble as, in Sullivan's words, letting "pregnant women also know what their healthy fetuses look like before they hit delete."

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