Friday, April 27, 2012

MMA sides with abortion industry

Two MCCL-supported bills recently passed by the Legislature (one has already been vetoed by Gov. Mark Dayton) would help ensure the health and safety of pregnant women. In a letter that was publicized yesterday, the Minnesota Medical Association (MMA) urges the governor to veto both bills, calling them "unnecessary restrictions on legal medical procedures."

This is very unfortunate. The MMA -- which is supposed to represent physicians across Minnesota -- is going out of its way to oppose commonsense safety requirements and to protect an unfettered abortion industry. And this is not the first time. The MMA actively opposed the Woman's Right to Know informed consent law, for example, which ensures that pregnant women are aware of basic facts before undergoing abortion.

One of the bills, vetoed yesterday by the governor, would require that abortion facilities be licensed to ensure minimal health standards and prevent the kind of dangerous practices uncovered elsewhere. The MMA says it "objected to a procedure-based approach to licensing." But the reason abortion centers are specified in the legislation is that they currently are effectively exempted (due to loopholes in the law) from the licensing requirements that govern other outpatient surgical centers. The bill simply corrects that gap in government oversight by treating abortion facilities (which perform common and invasive surgical procedures) the same as similar surgical centers. Regrettably, the MMA has sided with Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers who demand special treatment.

The second bill would require a physician to be physically present when prescribing the RU486 abortion drug, thus preventing "webcam abortions" in which RU486 is dispensed remotely after a conversation with the pregnant woman via videoconference. The MMA says: "Bill supporters have said that the legislation has been introduced ... to ensure a physician's presence in case the drug has an adverse effect on her [but] the greatest risk ... comes from sepsis and does not occur when the drug is initially taken but rather over the following two weeks." Actually, bill supporters argue that a doctor should be present to physically examine the woman for any risk factors prior to administering the chemical abortion. For instance, a life-threatening ectopic pregnancy can go undetected (and has, in at least two U.S. cases that resulted in death) because its symptoms mirror the expected side effects of RU486.

The MMA worries about the legislation's "implication for the use of telemedicine in Minnesota." But the bill's advocates have not criticized telemedicine itself or in general -- it can be and is used to extend legitimate health care to many people who need it. Administering RU486 via telemedicine is simply a misuse of this technology. RU486 is an elective abortion method, not health care; it does not treat any medical condition. And it carries serious risks to the health of women that are exacerbated when a doctor is not present.

The MMA complains that "these pieces of legislation inappropriately intrude on the practice of medicine in the state of Minnesota." They intrude on a largely profit-driven abortion industry by implementing certain safety requirements deemed important by the state Legislature, representing the people of Minnesota. That is the Legislature's business.