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Oklahoma: Where Doctors Lie

8:00 PM EDT on April 29, 2010

The Oklahoma legislature is bipolar. In one day, they overturned two vetoes by Brad Henry related to bills favored by anti-abortion groups. One demanded that doctors give pregnant women every ounce of information available so that they can make, as advocates for the bill suggest, "an informed decision." On the other hand, the second bill provides immunity to doctors who intentionally hide information from their patients.

Makes sense, right?

Yesterday, Patrick wrote about the more famous of the two new laws. That one requires a woman to submit to an ultrasound before they are allowed to have an abortion. The twist here is that it isn't just any ultrasound, as the other states who have enacted similar requirements have done, but a transvaginal ultrasound. You see, the typical uninvasive wand to the belly is not very clear in the early stages. Of course, the zygote is not very clear at that point. Even with the slightly better view, the vast majority of women who are seeking to terminate their pregnancies are going to see a blob that kind of looks like it blinks.

In the meantime, the woman has to have a long, rigid dildo-like apparatus shoved in her moneymaker. Well, described in this manner it doesn't sound that bad, but I have a source who has needed many ultrasounds done this way, and she insists it is not a fun experience.

The second bill is largely ignored because it has nothing to do with any phallically shaped devices used like a threat of torture to convince unfit mothers to become mothers. It is, in my opinion, an even more egregious law.

House bill 2656 provides immunity to doctors who fail to inform patients that their unborn child will be born with defects. Really? That seems, to me, to be the definition of malpractice. This law says that a doctor can be fully aware of a medical condition, and because he or she fears that the patient may use the information to seek medical treatment that the doctor is morally opposed to, hide that data from their patient. 

Imagine for a second that your doctor belonged to one of those Christian denominations that believes blood transfusions are an abomination to God.  That doctor finds out you have leukemia, but because they think you might choose to prolong your life by undergoing a procedure the doctor is morally opposed to, he keeps this a secret.  You'd be kind of pissed, but unlike Oklahoma obstetricians, at least you would be able to take action against that physician.

This law is awful on so many levels, the least of which being that doctors swear an oath to "do no harm." Even if the pregnant woman is also morally opposed to abortion and would never consider the procedure, knowing something is wrong with their unborn child is about as important of information as one can find out. I can understand the doctor playing along with a patient's desire to be surprised by the gender at birth, but intentionally hiding that the kid may need a lifetime of expensive treatment and an overwhelming change in the parent's lifestyle is criminal. That is something the parents need to prepare for as soon as possible, yet the Oklahoma legislature is willing, no eager, to protect doctors who use their freedom of choice to reduce the likelihood of a patient using theirs.

And just think, next year when Brad Henry is no longer the governor, crap legislation like this is going to go into effect with a rubber stamp at the Capitol.

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