Bill unnecessarily restricts women’s access to abortion

MAshley Fuller Monday was a sad day for the women of the state of Minnesota. Our state passed the first of a series of proposed bills designed to restrict and impede a woman’s right to make her own reproductive health choices.

Ladies, if you’re not insulted, you should be. This legislation doubts both our ability to make this decision on our own and our full understanding of the implications of the procedure. Women are not stupid; they know what abortion is.

We don’t need to have special help and extra time to fully grasp the meaning of the situation at hand. When women pick up the phone to make that appointment, they know what is going to happen at that clinic, and by the time they’ve actually made the appointment, the difficult decision is already made.

Twenty-four extra mandated hours will not change their minds but rather make it more frustrating for them to deal with the already difficult situation of an unwanted pregnancy.

The entire idea of a “woman’s right to know” is a completely unnecessary aspect of this bill. In the medical community there exists the government-mandated concept of “informed consent.” This means that prior to performing any medical procedure, including abortion, a doctor must obtain the patient’s consent after advising the patient of all the relevant information, risks and alternatives available to them. It seems that anti-choice lawmakers didn’t feel this was adequate enough information for us women, so they created this bill especially for us. Just because I’m female I didn’t think I needed to take the remedial informed consent class to access my constitutionally protected right to a legal abortion, but apparently Gov. Tim Pawlenty disagrees.

Not only is this decision condescending to women, but it is also incredibly violating with respect to the involvement of our government in physician affairs. As a first-year medical student at the University, I spend a good deal of time in class talking about the confidential and intimate relationship between a patient and a doctor. This relationship is not something that physicians take lightly, nor should they.

This bill allows the government of this state to walk into the doctor’s office and decide what we, as physicians, can and cannot say to our patients – about a procedure that is legal in this state and this country, nonetheless. I am not the only person in the medical community that feels uncomfortable about inviting the views of our government into our medical practices either. The American Medical Association, the American Medical Women’s Association and the American Public Health Association all oppose procedure-specific informed consent requirements that interfere with the doctor-patient relationship.

What it really comes down to is the fact that this law is simply another unnecessary way of restricting women’s access to abortion in this state. An extra session of informed consent and 24 hours is not going to make women reverse their decision. It is not going to tell them anything they don’t already know about the purpose of an abortion. It is a harassment tool utilized by the anti-abortion community to scare women into thinking that they really can’t make this decision on their own.

Pawlenty should be too busy worrying about important issues of the state than to have the time to make a health-care decision for me or to tell doctors how to practice medicine.

Ashley Fuller is a first-year medical student at the University. Send letters to the editor to [email protected]