Archive for Saturday, June 9, 2012

State seeks to control women’s health

June 9, 2012


I grew up going to church. My father was a pastor and still preaches in the church, and I love listening to him give a sermon. But my religion does not and should not decide health policies for women in the entire state of Kansas, just as the Islamic religion should not interfere with my health care, or the beliefs of Judaism should not decide if I get chemotherapy. This is a country founded on freedom of religion to be practiced by me, in my church and in my personal life — not by my doctor during my gynecological exam.

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback and his Republican conservative allies want to make sure doctors in Kansas are not denied their right to freedom of religion when making decisions on women’s reproductive health — even if this requires lying to women or withholding information from women that could be detrimental to their health or possibly fatal. I wonder what these same politicians and doctors would do if their banks decided to apply their religious beliefs to these politicians’ and doctors’ personal money matters. Mark 10:21-27, 31 says, “Jesus looked steadily at him and loved him, and he said, ‘There is one thing you lack. Go and sell everything you own and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.’ But his face fell at these words and he went away sad, for he was a man of great wealth.”

I wonder what Brownback would do if his bank decided to divvy up his fortune and give it to those in the bank with more financial need. I have a feeling the need for this banker to be able to practice his religion would be quickly curtailed by the powers that be. Yet this kind of reasoning is being used by some conservative Republicans to decide issues on women’s health. Traveling down this slippery slope, your grocery store cashier would be allowed to judge if you are treating your body as a temple and reserve the right to refuse to sell you food if the cashier does not agree with your choices. Or your tax preparer, much like the banker, would be able to decide if you have too much money or pay too little in taxes based on the tax preparer’s religious beliefs. Your building contractor could decide to build you a more Amish style house than the showy ostentatious house you had paid and contracted for, based on your contractor’s religious beliefs.

Furthermore, if we allow one religion to be practiced on our bodies, then we should allow all religions to do the same. Buddhism, Wiccan, Judaism, Paganism, Islam and Muslim are just a few of the other faiths practiced in the United States. What happens when it comes to circumcising male babies? Should the baby’s doctor get to make the decision whether the baby is circumcised based on the doctor’s religious faith?

Interestingly, the Christian Brownback said he would sign a bill that would have made it legal for doctors to lie to patients. This particular bill passed the Kansas House but got held up in the Kansas Senate. The legislation would have mandated doctors tell women considering an abortion that there is a greater risk of breast cancer after having an abortion, even though studies have shown that no such link exists.

Brownback did sign into law the Health Care Right of Conscience Act. This bill allows doctors and pharmacists to refuse to administer any drug they “reasonably believe” might result in the termination of a pregnancy. A doctor could refuse to provide birth control or even chemotherapy to a pregnant cancer patient. Support of such policies makes me wonder how Brownback reconciles his Christian beliefs with his obvious disregard for women’s health.

I want to state that no one likes abortion. However, in the past laws didn’t stop abortion; they just made it deadly for women. If someone really was concerned about the pain of a fetus, I would think that person would know that making birth control available is an effective way to decrease the numbers of abortions. Yet this same party is making birth control less available and advocating abstinence-only programs in schools and districts while studies show that contraception is much more effective at bringing down teen pregnancy rates than abstinence programs. This contradiction should make all of us suspect that the real motive has little to do with truly reducing the number of abortions and everything to do with controlling women.

— Jill Cannon is a resident of Lawrence.


JayhawkFan1985 5 years, 11 months ago

Brownback is a theocrat. But only when it suits his political purposes, just like Bush lite...

jhawkinsf 5 years, 11 months ago

I too do not believe doctors should be lying to patients. Not about reproduction, not about cancer, not about any aspect of health care. If it violates a doctors religious beliefs, then an appropriate referral is the correct solution. That said, there has been much said about this problem yet little evidence that the problem actually exists. Has there been an epidemic of doctors lying to their patients, an epidemic that has gone unreported? Is there some secret society of anti-choice doctors out there conspiring to force women into having babies they don't want? I have no problem enacting laws against behaviors that we find reprehensible, even if those behaviors are rare indeed. And doctors lying to their patients is as reprehensible as it is rare.

jafs 5 years, 11 months ago

If the law is passed, then it won't be punishable for doctors to lie to their patients, thus it's very probable the behavior will increase.

As it stands now, one could sue and win the case if one found out a doctor lied to their patients.

jhawkinsf 5 years, 11 months ago

"thus it's very probable the behavior will increase". The assumption being that doctors would lie if it were not for the threat of being sued. Remove the threat of being sued, and they will lie and apparently, do so in great numbers.
I suspect that the fear is unfounded. I suspect in a state like Kansas, given it's relatively small population, that the numbers would be in the very low single digits per decade. We would be talking about someone who has such strong feelings in this matter that they would probably engage in that activity whether or not a law existed. BTW - would there be other topics where the argument is made that low frequency of occurrences doesn't warrant governmental remedies? Maybe we could "I.D." those topics and apply a consistent standard.

jafs 5 years, 11 months ago

You're mixing things up a bit.

Nobody's saying we need a new law preventing doctors from lying, since there's an epidemic of it now. That's the argument about voter fraud.

We'll see what happens - there are certainly plenty of right wing pro-life folks out there - I imagine a number of them are doctors.

Without the new law, there's no need for any government action - existing laws and professional guidelines cover the situation.

verity 5 years, 11 months ago

jhawkinsf, your argument is irrelevant.

The law should not force OR allow a doctor to lie to his patient. Whether this will be done only a few times or not at all is irrelevant. There should be no such law. Ever.

The very idea of such a law is extremely frightening to me as a woman. What if there was only one time it happened and you were the person being lied to? I'm pretty sure you would think that one time was one time too many.

Richard Heckler 5 years, 11 months ago

Birth Control = fewer abortions not political beliefs.

Planned Parenthood is being criminalized by Brownback supporters without without foundation which says to me this group of politicians should resign immediately. They are not able to provide leadership without interference of their "personal philosophy". Time to step down Sam Brownback and blind followers.

I also find it appalling that Sam Brownback seeks to replace Republicans who do not share his RINO positions. Gov Sam Brownback simply cannot be trusted with Kansas.

ivalueamerica 5 years, 11 months ago

are you suggesting that quoting Margaret Sanger, a knows racist, as some sort of connection with the modern though of not forcing women to breed against their will is somehow related, I can say without a doubt.

This is the stupidest argument you have ever tried to make and that is going pretty far as most of your arguments are pretty far right of stupid to begin with.

Really, it is time to grow up if you are going to play with the grown ups and if you are going to try and bring false witness, say things or make correlations that are blatantly lies, try to be less obvious because you really shame yourself in the process as it is going now.

ivalueamerica 5 years, 11 months ago

in other words, you know you are bearing false witness, but are going to keep doing so anyway.

You have no integrity.

It shows.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 11 months ago

Any doctor, pharmacist or other medical practitioner should inform clients up front of any course of treatment they will not perform because they contradict their moral beliefs. That way they wouldn't have to lie about why they aren't recommending a particular course of treatment, and patients could go find practitioners who provide the services they want and need before time is wasted for anyone.

whats_going_on 5 years, 11 months ago

I actually agree with this, is this all becomes law. The law is disgusting, don't get me wrong, but I think then they need to create a clause that states doctors have to disclose this information before they see a patient.

Pastor_Bedtime 5 years, 11 months ago

And what business is any of this of yours? Don't want an abortion ~ don't have one. An all-reaching nanny-state big government, micromanaging individual folks' private lives is clearly your agenda. No wonder you're a pariah within your party.

jhawkinsf 5 years, 11 months ago

BAA brings up two completely separate topics, abortion for the purposes of birth control and abortion for the purposed of gender selection. Is it your position that society does not have in interest in both scenarios? Or that it's interest or lack thereof is equal? Is it possible that society does not have an interest in one but does have an interest in the other?

Pastor_Bedtime 5 years, 11 months ago

Simply put, a woman holds sole dominion over her reproductive organs and capabilities. Her decisions or motivations related to such are of no concern to anyone but herself. End of story.

Katara 5 years, 11 months ago

You know what is really interesting?

The fact that one cannot find out the gender of their fetus until about 20 weeks along in the pregnancy. At that point, abortion is already restricted by current law.

The only way to find out gender prior to 20 weeks (which is the earliest time possible via sonogram and is completely dependent on whether the fetus is positioned so that the gender can be viewed) is to have more invasive procedures such as CVS or amniocentesis. Both of which are not normal prenatal screening tests and are used only for high risk pregnancies. Both of these procedures also have miscarriage risks.

Most health insurance companies also do not cover sonograms for the purpose of finding out the gender of the fetus and if a woman simply must find out whether it is a boy or girl (and sonograms are not always accurate in that area), she will have to pay out of pocket for it.

Pastor_Bedtime 5 years, 11 months ago

Yeah, I know, your repeated message to the moderates: snap to attention and follow our goose-stepping agenda, otherwise you're not Republican enough. Funny thing though, I remember the party before the bible-toting freak show parked their carpetbagging butts and claimed domination. You can control yourself, and perhaps the unfortunate women who you hold dominion over in your compound or whatever. But don't expect to exert that control over anyone else without a fight. And you fail to realize that one can hold distaste toward our current president and national government's situation at the very same time holding equal distaste toward the radical Christian faction of the Republican party at our state level. Our government has just as little business outlawing the big gulp as they have restricting reproductive freedom.

Cait McKnelly 5 years, 11 months ago

Neither exist, BAA. Abortion is done for contraception failure, not contraception. And abortion for gender selection isn't done in the US because gender of a fetus can't be fully determined until well after the pregnancy is too far along to abort anyway. As it stands, you can't even see a fetus on an external ultrasound until the fourth month, much less whether or not it has a penis. Even with that, you can't reliably tell gender until the fifth month and by then late term abortion laws have kicked in. There are some days I really, really wish you had a uterus. I think you would be singing a completely different tune. Or at least educating yourself about these things.

JayhawkFan1985 5 years, 11 months ago

Don't waste your breath arguing with people who believe they are morally superior to the rest of us because they believe in mythical beings like unicorns, fairies and supreme beings. The funny thing is people who think they are morally superior because of their faith will resort to lying if it serves their purposes.

Lisa Medsker 5 years, 11 months ago

I think he believes his superiority lies in not possessing a uterus.

I found this incredibly interesting: "Just against killing a fetus for reasons of birth control for those who choose to act irresponsibly. Birth control is widely available despite the left's bogus claims."

Based on previous posts, simply having a uterus, and having the audacity to have any kind of sex, denotes "acting irresponsibly". I wonder if he bases these claims on his own personal vast experience being a woman, and finding out that access to birth control is being threatened?

md 5 years, 11 months ago

You really need to do some research.

Katara 5 years, 11 months ago

Sonograms are not very reliable in terms of showing gender.

There are lots of cases where women plan everything for a certain gender (buying clothes, decorating nursery, etc.) and had to return everything because the sonogram was wrong.

Armstrong 5 years, 11 months ago

You kind of have to wonder. 4 years of college, medical school, residency and all of a sudden a docter finds out what I do is against my religion ? Really ? Or. Because of my religion I am going to become a doctor just so I can lie to as many females as possible about X because this is what I believe. Come on kids lets get real here

George Lippencott 5 years, 11 months ago

Nice piece but is it all that bad? Seems to me that we have a basic conflict of individual human rights 1. People should not be forced by the state to perform functions that they hold to be contrary to their basic religious beliefs 2. People should not be denied basic medical services by state edict.

It would seem to me that both can be accommodated. Service providers who have basic religious concerns should be able to post those concerns and act on them. Those who do not share those concerns should be able to seek medical care from providers with no such convictions – there should be plenty of providers in that set.

I believe our laws allow for that. IMHO we are making a problem where none exists!

jafs 5 years, 11 months ago

If all of the health care workers were required to post their beliefs, and the things they won't do prominently in their offices, you might be right. Personally, I think that should be mandatory, if any law like this one goes into effect.

Otherwise, there's plenty of room for a big problem.

And, the obvious incentive for providers not to post such statements is that they may lose patients because of it.

Katara 5 years, 11 months ago

Posting their beliefs would be very good, not only for the patient but also for the provider.

I would think that the provider would have a greater rate of compliance to their medical advice if they had patients who agreed with their beliefs.

jafs 5 years, 11 months ago

I hadn't thought of that - it's a good point.

verity 5 years, 11 months ago

"Personally, I think that should be mandatory [for a doctor to post their beliefs], if any law like this one goes into effect."

jafs, if a doctor is going to lie to his patient, do you think they are going to post that? With this law, they will have no liability, so what would be the point?

Furthermore, the law doesn't just allow them to lie/withhold information, it mandates that they lie---which is saying that women need to be protected from the truth---or they might decide to do something which the doctor doesn't approve of and which so far is legal.

What purpose would this law serve other than to poison the relationship between doctor and patient? I don't see how you can dress this law up in any fashion. And it would probably be found unconstitutional at great expense to the taxpayer.

It might only affect a few doctors, but that is irrelevant. It's poison.

George Lippencott 5 years, 11 months ago


People need to know that their provider will not provide so they can go elsewhere. Now I don't have the paranoia that there is a big plot but honesty goes a long way

verity 5 years, 11 months ago

From previous postings, I am led to believe that most of the posters on this thread are men. I may be wrong, but if you are you really don't understand the repugnance many women feel at men thinking they can decide these kinds of issues for a woman. Fortunately for me, I am past ever having to make these decisions. I was raised in the era when woman were gaining equal rights. It saddens me greatly to see that we are going backwards and the battle that we fought is having to be fought all over again.

In my opinion, Ms Cannon's article is well thought out and well written. She makes a fine point that other professions are not allowed to carry their religious beliefs into their job if it goes against doing their job. Why only in the medical field? Why only in situations that involve women?

Personally, I did not go into a field where I would be required to go against my principles in order to do my job. It's a choice we make.

Liberty275 5 years, 11 months ago

"but if you are you really don't understand the repugnance many women feel at men thinking they can decide these kinds of issues for a woman"

I find it repugnant that other humans think any aspect of my health is any of their business (excluding my doctor), and that they have any right to decide what I can and can't do with my body.

md 5 years, 11 months ago

Other jobs do not ask you murder people

notaubermime 5 years, 11 months ago

Owning Calidornia Condor feathers is illegal too. By your reasoning, that means that I shouldn't be able to throw away my fingernail clippings.

Then again, it could just be that comparing human health issues to endangered birds makes for bad analogies.

Katara 5 years, 11 months ago

Have you noticed that there is no health care legislation that tells a man what he is allowed to do with his penis or testicles?

That the Health Care Conscience Act does not apply to vasectomies? Those prevent pregnancies too.

How would men feel if their doctor lied to them about their prostrate cancer because it would lead to treatment that could possibly render them sterile or lose sexual function?

All of the legislation that has been proposed and actually passed is targeting only women and what women are allowed to do in terms of reproductive choices. There is no equivalent laws targeting men.

xclusive85 5 years, 11 months ago

Katara, I am not against abortion in certain instances. I don't think the vasectomy argument should be used in a debate about abortion. As you stated, vasectomies prevent pregnancies, but abortions end pregnancies. There is a stark difference there.

As for the rest of your post, bravo! It is right on.

jafs 5 years, 11 months ago

The HCCA applies to birth control that women get, but not vasectomies.

Both prevent pregnancy.

Katara 5 years, 11 months ago

The HCAA is more than health care providers refusing to provide abortion if it is against their religious beliefs. It covers birth control.

It also affects the quality of prenatal and postnatal care.

If a health care provider believes that a woman may opt for an abortion based on the potential outcome of that pregnancy then that healthcare provider can legally lie to that woman about the health of her fetus.

First, you have a healthcare provider making determinations for the woman and her fetus based on their own biases. Rather than providing accurate information, the healthcare provider makes the decision for the woman as to the outcome and the care for her pregnancy.

Second, without accurate information, the woman is unable to plan for a child who may have physical and developmental delays. This is unfair to her and her family and it makes it difficult to arrange quality care that may be needed after birth.

George Lippencott 5 years, 11 months ago

Personally, I did not go into a field where I would be required to go against my principles in order to do my job. It's a choice we make.


  1. If the changes are after the training does that make a difference?
  2. Do we reduce the number of doctors for all of us because a few might not be willing to perform certain procedures - especially when others can?

I am male and I would be just as resistant to anyone trying to tell me how to manage my health. Unfortunately that happens to me a lot these days (insurance companies, "death" panels, etc.)

If I don't like the answer I find another provider.

verity 5 years, 11 months ago

  1. If I recall correctly, abortion became legal in Kansas in 1970 or there abouts. I'm pretty sure birth control was legal before that. Any doctor trained before 1970 would be close to or past retirement age. It didn't seem to be a problem until just recently.

  2. I doubt it would reduce the number of doctors as there are only a certain limited number of positions open in medical schools. Nationally, in 2009, only about 42% of applicants were accepted into medical schools.

I ask again, "Why only in the medical field? Why only in situations that involve women?"

George Lippencott 5 years, 11 months ago

I can not answer that because I think it is a non -issue. I just do not see a problem with the few providers that might elect to limit procedures. The vast majority will not and therefore "what is the problem"???

George Lippencott 5 years, 11 months ago

Oh and they have been and remain legal and the ability to not provide a service has been there all along.

Liberty275 5 years, 11 months ago

Women's health? Try everyone's health. The state mandates seatbelts and forbids owners from deciding whether to allow smoking in their bar - because of health. The kook mayor of NYC won't let you buy a 32 ounce drink... because of health. Obama is trying to shove health insurance down everyone's throat.

The government wants to control women's health? Welcome to America where your nanny knows better than you do.

Katara 5 years, 11 months ago

Oh sure. Because we know that birth control never ever fails.

Cait McKnelly 5 years, 11 months ago

You have absolutely no understanding of the term "Immaculate conception". I suggest you research it. Here's a hint; it has nothing to do with the conception of Jesus.

Pastor_Bedtime 5 years, 11 months ago

...because, as you know, if you get pregnant, you become the chattel of the government, which certainly hasn't gotten anything wrong before. Can't have it both ways!

Cait McKnelly 5 years, 11 months ago

More like sticking your fingers in your ears and going "Lalalalalala".

brujablanco 5 years, 11 months ago

I think the problem here is the lack of someone special to make arti feel like a woman.

booyalab 5 years, 11 months ago

I don't know when women's health became synonymous with what women do with their reproductive organs.

Katara 5 years, 11 months ago

Do you know what a well woman checkup is?

booyalab 5 years, 11 months ago

Do you know what "Women's reproductive health" is? If reproduction is synonymous with health, then it's a redundant statement.

Cait McKnelly 5 years, 11 months ago

"I don't know when men's health became synonymous with what men do with their reproductive organs." Look at it that way. Those parts that determine gender (and thus reproduction) are synonymous with that named gender's health. Although there are some differences in the way women and men present heart attacks and some other small differences, the vast bulk of healthcare for people is the same whether male or female. Only in the reproductive organs are the gender differences so apparent and must be treated medically in two different ways. In the end, doing a prostate check on me would be just a bit useless since I don't have one.

booyalab 5 years, 11 months ago

'"I don't know when men's health became synonymous with what men do with their reproductive organs." Look at it that way' Why?

yourworstnightmare 5 years, 11 months ago

"Religious liberty" seems to be taken to mean the freedom to impose one's religious ideology and dogma on everyone else.

I guess whose religion has liberty all depends on bully tactics and power.

jafs 5 years, 11 months ago

That's a bit too simplistic

The difficult question is how and when one's exercise of religion should be curtailed, and why.

If I feel strongly about not performing abortions because of religious belief, should I be allowed not to?

What about if I feel strongly in the same way about providing contraception?

What about providing housing to gay/lesbian folks?

At some point, we have to make a choice between allowing a full expression of religious belief or protecting the rights of others in a different sphere - it's just not easy to determine how to make that choice, it seems to me.

Both sides seem to simplify the issue - religious folks want full freedom to discriminate, and anti-discrimination folks want to limit religion to church.

Cait McKnelly 5 years, 11 months ago

You can always do what our esteemed guvnor told women about getting contraception from their employer backed health insurance. "Get another job."

Cait McKnelly 5 years, 11 months ago

"...anti-discrimination folks want to limit religion to church." Which, if the First Amendment is taken to mean "freedom FROM religion" as much as "freedom TO religion", is exactly what the founders of this country intended.

yourworstnightmare 5 years, 11 months ago

I agree that no one should be forced to do things that go against their beliefs.

However, professions such as medicine, pharmacy, law, etc. come with a professional code of conduct and expectations.

If one does not want to perform abortions or provide contraception, do not become a doctor or pharmacist, as these are integral parts of training and professional responsibility of these professions.

If you do not want to rent to gays and lesbians, do not put your property up for rental under non-discrimination ordinances.

Most professions, medicine, law, pharmacy, have a code of ethics to serve everyone under the best medical practices. Imposing religion into this clashes with the professional code and denies some access to the best medical and pharmacy practices, which include abortion and contraception.

It would be like me becoming a preacher and then saying belief in god goes against my values.

verity 5 years, 11 months ago

This. Thank you for putting it so concisely.

Armstrong 5 years, 11 months ago

Or radicals that do things just to prove their point

notaubermime 5 years, 11 months ago

That is some sad religion that says it is okay to lie to people about issues affecting their health. Personally, I was brought up to believe that lying to people was wrong. Even more so when you are in a sensitive position of trust.

George Lippencott 5 years, 11 months ago


I note we have come back to the talking points – somebody is making war on woman. One more time

1 Nobody is making war on women (except the fundamentalists all over) 2 People have a constitutional right to their religious beliefs 3. The vast majority of medical providers and insurance companies support the currently understood scope of medical care for women 4. It is inconceivable that the few providers that may bow to their conscience as a result of new law (some already do not provide full service) will lead to anybody experiencing more than minor inconvenience.

The real issue is a bankrupt group of liberals trying to create a wedge issue by shrilly proclaiming a non-existent problem and blaming it on their political opponents – most of whom actually agree with our current system.

Why don’t you all go find a real problem that actually hurts people –like the disorganized condition of our social safety net that spends most of its resources on the middle class or our educational system that confuses pay for teachers for true progress in providing a better educational system?

Cait McKnelly 5 years, 11 months ago

"The real issue is a bankrupt group of liberals trying to create a wedge issue..." The rank BS stinketh. There's a lot more to this war then just reproductive rights. Let's talk about wage fairness, the VAWA, sanctioned rape by American corporations overseas and sanctioned rape of women in the military. None of this even touches reproductive rights. Keep it up, "Mister" Moderate, and I'll be forced to do another flippin' blog post in an effort to educate. Not that you'll listen.

George Lippencott 5 years, 11 months ago


So now its not just reproductive rights but "government" sanctioned rape??? Let us mix in a little unequal pay

It is really sad that we must fight these issues out along gender lines.

There are many men who do not get equal pay assuming that notion can actually be defined for a variety of reasons. Is Mr. Obama worth only a half million while Mr. Romney is worth hundreds of millions?? Are teachers worth only $50K while stock brokers make millions?

Of course there is the very real problem of due process in the military (and elsewhere) associated with rape and the chain of command. The simplistic notion of allowing reporting outside the chain does what for whom other than reflect a total lack of understanding of the military as an institution. Are we now advocating women’s advocates and all the confusion that will create? I thought women wanted to be part of the mission not change it all to conform to their needs?

Are there other issues??

You know life is not fair. It never has been and never will be. We should try to make it better but we do need to be adult about it.

How about we all agree to focus on the children. I have a very sour taste in my mouth in allowing the sperm donors to walk off and force the women and the rest of us to deal with the products of the relationship.

whats_going_on 5 years, 11 months ago

this is probably the best article I've ever read.

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