Tuesday 24 April 2012

When Legislators Practise Medicine

I'm going to a dermatologist this afternoon to get my various bumps and spots looked at. And there's a thingy on my collar bone I want removed. I know what it is -- a spot of unpleasantly named bother called senile keratosis. The doc will blast it with liquid nitrogen and it will burn, then itch for a few days, then fall off.

Let's say there's a pill instead that will accomplish the same thing.

I go to the doctor (walk, streetcar, subway, more walk) to get the pill. Doc inspects, measures, tells me what to expect, answers questions. He also ensures I wasn't 'coerced' into wanting the thingy gone. I sign forms. Then I'm told to come back in 24 hours to get the pill.

Next day, I walk, streetcar, subway, more walk back. The same doctor has to see me to give me the pill. He gives me the pill and watches me take it.

Then 12 to 18 days later, I have to come back to get it checked out by the same doctor again.

If the doc does not follow this rigamarole, he or she can be charged with a felony, pay a fine of $10,000 and/or spend three-and-half years in jail.

Ridiculous, yes?

But this is what happens when legislators meddle in health care. It is what will happen now in Wisconsin when a woman wants a medical abortion.

RH Reality Check talked to a doc in Wisconsin about this new law. He said: 'If we follow the FDA rules and follow protocol, we would violate this law. And we have no ability to defend ourselves.'
By making failure to follow the new law a felony, Act 217 has made it nearly impossible for doctors to defend themselves legally without considerable expense. Although a doctor would be covered for potential malpractice under malpractice insurance, he or she would need to pay all court fees out of pocket if charged with a felony, as the insurance would not cover it.  "What we do would be 'defensible,' but we'd have to pay to defend it."

Dr. Broekhuizen is nearly certain that the law is unenforceable, and too vague to not be enjoined.  But who as a doctor wants to put his or her career in jeopardy, as well as shoulder the entirety of the legal costs, just to test it out? It's that unwillingness that anti-choice legislators are capitalizing on with their regulations, and it's one that doctors and pro-choice advocates didn't really expect to see. "We were a little naive," he admitted.
And how about the patients? Three visits, three round-trip expenses, loss of pay, childcare costs, etc., etc., etc.

So Planned Parenthood abruptly suspended performing medical abortions in the state.
By suspending medical abortions, Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin has taken a bill that was signed quietly, quickly, and right before a major holiday as an attempt to pass it mostly unnoticed, and turned it into a huge public policy debate over who should be creating medical protocol -- the FDA or the state legislature. 

Calling Act 217 a set of "minimum safety standards" for patient care and ending the potential for "tele-med" abortions, anti-choice legislators likely assumed the bill would go into effect without fanfare, Dr. Broekhuizen surmised. Then later, an "overzealous prosecutor" could charge a doctor based off of one of the vague, legally-ambiguous points in the law, putting medical abortion availability for the entire state at risk.

But instead, Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin has acted first. Perhaps anti-choice politicians were a little naive, as well.

Thursday, Canada's legislators are going to debate whether the Criminal Code definition of 'human being' should be extended to include fetuses.

What could possibly go wrong with that?

The Radical Handmaids have some ideas.


JJ said...

Outstanding post, fern hill. W00T!

Anonymous said...

This really is scary. Yes, Wisconsin is known for cheese & toilet manufacturing, but they are a northern state that historically fields competitive NCAA hockey teams (the women Badgers once again made the frozen four this year) plus they have a community owned NFL team in Green Bay. Gov Scott Wanker has never seen a penny he didn't want nailed down yet these fetus fetishists are keen to throw fiscal responsibility under the bus as long as women's basic human rights also get tossed. I just don't get it. The majority of people in Wisconsin are not socially regressive nutters. Yet, the fetus fetshists are gaining traction. If it can happen in Wisconsin, it can happen in Canada. That's why Woodworth & his 312 "debate" wank is dangerous and must be stopped.


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