Bill hampers doctor-patient honesty

March 26, 2012


The Kansas House is poised to pass legislation that would undermine the trust that is essential in relationships between doctors and patients. House Bill 2598 would force doctors to lie in some circumstances and allow them to lie in other circumstances.

HB 2598 forces doctors to lie by mandating that before an abortion they must give the woman a written “description of risks related to the proposed abortion method, including risk of premature birth in future pregnancies, risk of breast cancer and risks to the woman’s reproductive health.”

There is no scientific basis for these alleged risks.

Over the past two decades, dozens of studies in the medical literature show there is no link between abortions and either complications in future pregnancies or breast cancer. Yet legislators and organizations working to take from women the right to make decisions about their reproductive health continue to lie about these risks. Now they want to force doctors to be complicit in those lies.

HB 2598 not only would force doctors to lie, it would also protect a doctor who fails to reveal to parents that a fetus has a severe or life-threatening abnormality.

Thus, a doctor who discovers as the result of testing that a fetus has Tay-Sachs, a genetic degenerative disease that causes unrelenting deterioration of mental and physical abilities usually resulting in death by the age of four, could decide to withhold that information from the parents, and the parents could not do anything about it. Think of the family in that circumstance. Had they been provided information about the disease they could learn about the implications and make an informed decision. That decision might be to abort the fetus, but it also might be to prepare to care for a child who will be in such a medically fragile condition.

Under HB 2598, a doctor who opposes abortion could deliberately withhold the information from the family, robbing them of their right to make what should be a deeply personal decision, and that doctor would not suffer any consequences.

Some of us may be uncomfortable with abortion, but we can all agree that honesty in the relationship between doctors and patients is the best policy. HB 2598 is both dishonest and promotes dishonesty; the Kansas Senate should reject it.

Gary Brunk is the executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Kansas and Western Missouri and a Lawrence resident.


Ragingbear 6 years, 2 months ago

Any doctor that does this practice, or even supports this bill is unworthy of their license. That they would, for any reason, violate the fundamental principle of the Hippocratic Oath is just flabbergasting.

jhawkinsf 6 years, 2 months ago

Just wondering if this is anything like the illegal immigrants voting issue? Similar in that the problem occurs very, very infrequently.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 2 months ago

Except that in the case of illegal immigrants voting, no one is harmed. Not so in the case of doctors lying to patients.

jhawkinsf 6 years, 2 months ago

I seem to recall having a discussion with you a while back, yesterday in fact, where you seemed to indicate that the integrity of elections was so important that laws could be bent or even ignored in order to achieve that goal. Now you seem to be saying that the integrity of elections is not so important.
It seems to me that laws should be implemented that would protect women from doctors lying to them. Laws should not be passed that would exempt lying doctors from civil prosecution, even though the instances would appear to be very, very rare. And laws seeking to protect the integrity of elections should be passed, even if the threat to that integrity is very, very rare. It seems to me that being in favor of one and not the other reflects either an inconsistent philosophy or is downright hypocritical.

pace 6 years, 2 months ago

Will the gop only make doctors lie to women or will there be lies to guys?

jhwkchick09 6 years, 2 months ago

Doesn't this bill allow physicians to ignore the Hippocratic oath? My understanding is that "first do no harm" is a physicians primary objective and any physician willing to do possible emotional harm to a woman, solely based on the physicians beliefs, violates this oath.

P Allen Macfarlane 6 years, 2 months ago

Amazing! None of the usual conservative critics are commenting on this piece.

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