In many ways, limited government is an excellent conservative value. Most people will vociferously object to government interference into their private lives.
This certainly holds true when considering the doctor-patient relationship. And when it comes to reproductive health, many agree that private medical decisions should be made between a woman and her doctor.
Not a woman, her doctor, and the state of Arizona.
With Senate Bill 1394, our legislators are once again overstepping their bounds and intruding into our exam rooms, invading women’s privacy, and forcing their ideology into a space that should only be filled with compassionate health care.
SB1394 mandates new reporting requirements from a hospital or facility where a woman has an abortion. Specifically, a woman must report her reason for having the procedure. She would have to confide to the state whether her pregnancy was the result of rape or incest. She would have to admit whether she just chose not to have children at that time, or disclose difficult relationship issues, such as divorce, abuse, or extramarital affairs. Although the patient’s name would not be provided, demand for this information is meant to shame. This egregious intrusion of privacy is none of the state’s business. It is nobody’s business.
SB1394 also requires that any complication from an abortion procedure be reported to the Department of Health Services, despite the fact that only 0.05 percent of women have a complication, and despite the fact that no other complications for any procedures in any other specialty have to be reported to the state.
There are other unnecessary reporting demands too, such as disclosure of the physician’s specialty. This serves no purpose, as doctors are trusted to provide care within their scope of practice and training. In Arizona, these procedures are performed by board-certified physicians.
As obstetrician-gynecologists, we support evidence-based data collection and reporting of certain vital statistics to further public health interests. There are already robust abortion-reporting systems in place in Arizona. Above and beyond that, we have rigorous standards for health care providers and have regulations in place to ensure that medical care is provided safely and with state oversight.
Let’s be clear that this excess regulation and intrusion into the doctor-patient relationship serves no legitimate medical interests. This will not improve women’s health care, nor is that the point of this law. This bill is meant to throw obstacles into the path of women seeking an abortion, and to mire abortion providers down in exorbitant bureaucracy.
We respectfully want to remind our legislators that similar abortion laws have cost Arizona taxpayers a fortune. More than one million dollars has been spent in litigation, when over-reaching laws have been found unconstitutional and overturned.
The state of Arizona has already laid out a better path to decreasing the abortion rate – expansion of health care, and making excellent contraceptives available to more women. That is the patient-centered, evidence-based model we endorse, and one the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists would like to see duplicated in every state.
On behalf of the Arizona section of ACOG, we strongly encourage our legislators to vote no to SB1394. Our patients deserve the best possible care without the state lurking in our exam rooms.
— Katherine Glaser, MD, is chairwoman, Arizona section of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Julie Kwatra, MD, is legislative chairwoman, Arizona section of the American College
of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.
The views expressed in guest commentaries are those of the author and are not the views of the Arizona Capitol Times.