My friends in the Indiana Legislature:
Interfering with doctor/patient relationships by requiring doctors to dispense untruths is our special privilege as radical right-wing Hoosiers and we have an extraordinary opportunity—a great teaching moment.
In the last session, we enacted an abortion law that requires physicians to advise their patients, orally and in writing, that objective scientific information exists that a fetus can feel pain at or before 20 weeks of post-fertilization age. Plain and simple—that is a lie. But why stop with this cruelly misleading scare tactic? Let’s require physicians to advise their patients that there is a link between abortion and prostate cancer, between abortion and measles—and tooth decay, between abortion and the loss of habitat of mountain gorillas.
Now that we have made the medical community our Stepford wives, let’s also force physicians to impart more of our agenda to their vulnerable and credulous patients. Let’s throw in a requirement that physicians instruct their patients that the world was formed in a matter of days just a few thousand years ago and that man walked with dinosaurs. Why pass up this teaching opportunity?
Forget the recent setback delivered by the U.S. District Court granting a preliminary injunction to this law just before its July 1, 2011, effective date in an opinion that declared, “the Court has been given no evidence to support the finding that within the scientific community even a minority view exists that contends pain perception is possible during the first trimester of pregnancy …” (No one need wonder why the ample resources at health providers in our own city, including obstetricians, were not asked to testify about a piece of legislation in their medical specialty).
It does not matter that according to Indiana statutes, objective scientific information is “data that have been reasonably derived from scientific literature and verified or supported by research in compliance with scientific methods” and, within this definition, no objective scientific information exists.
Restricting the abortion law is our prerogative. The state’s abortion laws are among the most restrictive in the nation. The legislation makes it illegal for women to have an abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy unless the woman’s life is at risk. It also requires women to obtain an ultrasound or sign a written refusal to do so and requires physicians to have admitting privileges at a hospital in the county or in a contiguous county to the county where the abortion is performed. That is the will of the Hoosier nation—so be it.
Both sides of the pro-life/pro-choice battle undoubtedly favor a requirement to provide a reasonable measure of education and an informed consent. Who cares that Indiana abortion law places an unreasonable and unconscionable burden upon educated and responsible health providers and goes beyond the boundaries of healthy debate. It makes no difference that the fetal pain warning requirement in the Indiana statute is disrespectful to women regardless of their viewpoint on the important pro-life/pro-choice issue.
The House version of the law was introduced by Mark Messmer. The fetal pain warning language was written by house Republican Sue Ellspermann. Messmer has a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering, and Ellspermann earned a doctorate in industrial engineering, which undoubtedly vests them both with the credentials to perpetuate this hoax.
We should require that either Messmer, Ellspermann or another qualified engineer be in the examining room when the physician advises the patient. If we are going to make it our business to tell physicians how to advise patients, we might as well require proper supervision.
Seize the moment. One day when moderate and sensible citizens wake up and vote us out of office, our chance to bend the truth in order to mold Indiana to our sacred beliefs will be just a sad memory.•
Maurer is a shareholder in IBJ Corp., which owns Indianapolis Business Journal. His column appears every other week. To comment on this column, send e-mail to email@example.com.