Let me begin by stating VERY clearly: I am NOT writing about abortion. (In other words, this post is NOT about: the validity of abortion as a medical procedure, the morality of providing abortions, the morality of seeking an abortion, political parties, Roe v. Wade, fetal pain, Planned Parenthood, Cecile Richards, the Affordable Care Act, or any other tangent that one could conceive of.) I am writing about Texas SB 1 and HB 2 on this blog because legislation is relevant to medical students, premedical students, and physicians—because political issues like this are central in the practice of medicine. You will be asked to take sides on countless subjects throughout your career. You will face very uncomfortable decisions. However, your opinion on abortion is not required at the moment.
Right now, you’re only being asked to consider the following question:
Who or what should determine the manner in which you practice medicine?
I personally am not asking you; SB 1 and HB 2 are demanding that you to consider this issue. If you don’t come up with an answer, you’re responding that anything or anyone is free to determine how you practice medicine… I doubt you actually feel that way.
The issue at hand is the fact that SB 1 and HB 2, as written, interfere with the practice of medicine and patient-physician relationships in the state of Texas.
The Texas Medical Association, which I am a member of, is by no means liberal. (If you have any knowledge of TMA, you know that I’m understating, if anything.) However, TMA felt compelled to write a letter in opposition to SB 5/HB 60 (now SB 1/HB 2), stating:
“TMA’s diverse physician members practice in all fields of medical specialization. Our member physicians fall on both sides of any debate on abortion. Our concerns with Senate Bill 5 and House Bill 60 are not based on any position on abortion. Rather, our concerns are with legislative intrusion into the patient-physician relationship and the details of the practice of medicine, and with a legislatively created standard of care.”
TMA does not comment (nor will I) on the practice of abortion, but adamantly opposes the prescriptive nature of the bills and the detrimental effects it would have on the patient-physician relationship.
The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) also wrote in strong opposition to the bills and placed an advocacy advertisement in The Austin American-Statesman today (July 9, 2013). ACOG agrees with TMA’s stance, writing: "Politicians are not elected to, nor should they, legislate the practice of medicine or step foot into our exam rooms."
I do have more to say about the effect of these bills women’s health (as does ACOG), but I’d like to stick to this topic for the time being. I believe everyone in the medical community can agree with this well-put statement by the TMA:
“…this legislation sets a dangerous precedent of the legislature prescribing the details of the practice of medicine. These are determinations to be made by the medical community and science, not by the legislature.”
As always, please feel free to leave comments or email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org. I welcome open discussion!
Please note, however, that I will NOT tolerate any form of abuse on this blog. I will delete (and potentially report) any comments that are derogatory, insulting, misleading, or threatening.