I am really glad I don’t live in Oklahoma. Not because it is right on Tornado Alley, but because the lawmakers have just passed the most misogynistic set of laws I can think of.
The two bills were originally vetoed by the State Governor. But then both the State House and Senate overrode the veto and passed the bills into law.
Here is a description of the two laws from the New York Times:
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.
The first law essentially tries emotional harassment and guilt-induction to get pregnant women to abandon their plans to have an abortion. This is bad enough, and in the case of rape/ incest victims who are already traumatized, completely callous.
But the second law is something you could never have imagined seeing in a Western, First World country. Basically, it says that if a woman goes for an ultrasound or amniocentesis (or any other test) and the doctor notices birth defects in the fetus but does not tell the mother because, gee, he/ she (the doctor) doesn’t like women having abortions, and the baby is subsequently born with a birth defect, the doctor is not responsible. No malpractice suit can be filed against him/ her.
The NY Times quotes the State Governor when he vetoed the bill, and I completely agree with him:
Mr. Henry said, “It is unconscionable to grant a physician legal protection to mislead or misinform pregnant women in an effort to impose his or her personal beliefs on a patient.”
But obviously, the lawmakers thought differently, for reasons best known to them. And now thousands of pregnant women are going to have ultrasounds and other tests which are as good as useless, because what’s the point when you don’t know if the doctor is going to hide information from you?
What happens if babies are born with Down’s Syndrome or some other disorder – will these lawmakers and the doctor take care of the baby all its life?
What about the emotional agony that the parents will suffer while binging up such a baby – will these lawmakers and the doctor share that agony? Will they recompense the parents for it? (Not that any amount will compensate them fully).
Will the lawmakers and the doctor pay the medical bills for all the treatments for this baby?
And what happens if the fetus poses a life-threatening danger to the mother – will such a doctor go unpunished if he does not inform the mother even then, because she may abort the fetus?
Can anyone tell me just what these lawmakers are thinking? Why is it becoming more and more accepted for people to superimpose their beliefs (religious or otherwise) on others?
A lawsuit has been filed against this law, of course, but for now, the law continues to be in force. The lawsuit has been filed by a New York based abortion-rights group.
But here’s my final question – this bill has been debated for many months; it’s not sudden. And lawmakers would not have overriden the veto if they weren’t sure their constituents would support them. So how much have the women of Oklahoma been protesting these provisions? Have they been writing to their representatives protesting the bill (now law) ?
It’s not even an issue which affects women alone. For too long, abortion has been seen as a women’s issue, and there can be some justification because the woman should have the ultimate say in abortion.
But when you get into the area of misinformation (or denial of information) on birth defects, this is not even just about abortion but about denial of medical care.
So what are the good people of Oklahoma – women and men – doing about these laws? How did they allow their lawmakers to pass such a law?