Bill hampers doctor-patient honesty

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.