Thursday, June 30, 2011

The Road to Hell

Last Friday Judge Tanya Walton Pratt ruled that Indiana cannot defund Planned Parenthood and also suspended part of the recently-passed law that stated that doctors must tell patients that fetuses (at any gestational age) feel pain. Judge Walton Pratt has temporarily upheld the part of the law that said doctors are required to tell patients "life begins at fertilization".

The Indy Star became curious, after the ruling, about just how much input doctors had when it came to drafting the legislation & its subsequent passage. They found what they call "startling answers". Though I'm not particularly startled myself.
Doctors were not entirely shut out of the legislative process. The Indiana State Medical Association chose to pass up its chance to publicly weigh in on the abortion bill and took no position on it. And doctors did have some influence on the bill. After hearing testimony from an oncologist with the IU Simon Cancer Center, lawmakers removed a provision requiring doctors to tell patients that abortion is linked to breast cancer.

The Star found strong evidence, however, that medical considerations were secondary at best. In interviews last week, the lawmaker who drafted the fetal-pain clause admitted she had consulted no scientific studies.
Of course she didn't! Rep. Sue Ellspermann (R-Ferdinand) who wrote the fetal pain bit said outright that she did not consult any doctors, scientific studies, or scientists. She said that "she had seen video footage 'of the baby (in the womb) shying away from the needle'" and THAT was all the proof she needed. Who needs accurate scientific information when drafting legislation that affects an untold number of women? Not Indiana! And WAY TO GO Indiana State Medical Association. Nice of you to sit this one out. Really.

There is, of course, more:
Since the law took effect six weeks ago, The Star has learned, doctors at IU and Wishard hospitals stopped offering to terminate pregnancies for about 70 patients, including many with complications that put the patient's health at serious risk or where there was no possibility the fetus would survive. The IU School of Medicine's faculty practice determined that its doctors had to take that step to comply with the law, despite the fact that the law exempts hospitals.

The IU doctors are part of a private practice not technically employed by the hospitals, and therefore they do not fit under the language of the exemption.

These doctors -- and likely many others -- had to choose from a limited range of treatment options or send patients out of state for terminations after the law took effect May 10.

The law was aimed at cutting off Medicaid funding to Planned Parenthood of Indiana. But the IU doctors feared that if they continued to terminate pregnancies -- even in cases where it was medically advisable -- they would also lose the ability to treat Medicaid clients, who make up a substantial portion of their cases.


Elizabeth Ferries-Rowe, chief of obstetrics and gynecology for Wishard, said in a letter to The Star that the legislature and Daniels had "tied the hands of physicians attempting to provide medically appropriate, evidence-based care in the setting of routine obstetrics and gynecology" in "a politically motivated move to de-fund Planned Parenthood."

Ferries-Rowe, who described herself as a Catholic, said Wishard continued treating women in mortal danger, such as those suffering from ectopic pregnancies -- when a fertilized egg implants outside the uterus.

But she said she would be unable to terminate the pregnancy of a woman whose amniotic membranes had ruptured at 16 weeks with complete loss of fluid. Under those circumstances, Ferries-Rowe said in an interview, the baby would likely be born so early that it wouldn't survive, and a woman who chose not to terminate the pregnancy would run the risk of sepsis, which can cause permanent organ damage, loss of limbs, brain damage or death.

She said no IU School of Medicine doctor was able to give a patient the option of abortion even in the case of congenital fetal anomaly incompatible with life -- in other words, zero chance of survival.

The consequences of the defunding law were particularly significant for IU School of Medicine doctors because they treat women with high-risk pregnancies who have been referred by other health providers across the state.
The Family and Social Services Administration is "taking steps" to clarify the hospital exemption but it will take months. Those months are time that women DO NOT HAVE.

When made aware of these consequences, Sen. Scott Schneider (who wrote the defunding amendment) said:
"This was not the intent."
This. Was. Not. The. Intent. I'm sure you, Sen. Schneider, thought you had "good intentions" when coming up with that dreadful legislation (though I profoundly disagree). Well, you know what they say about good intentions, don't you? The road to hell--but you aren't the one being forced to walk down the road you created now are you?