Sunday, 12 March 2017

Texan Bill Undermines Female Intellect and Doctor-Patient Trust

Since the newly elected President Donald Trump came into power women's rights have been on a downward spiral across the USA. This week, while women all around the world marked International Women's Day, it was reported that Senators in Texan had other ideas for women's rights. Senator Brandon Creighton intends on introducing a bill which will permit doctors to withhold information about fetal deformities or disabilities from pregnant women, without the risk of being sued for withholding information from their patients. Shockingly, Blake Rocap, legislative director for NARAL Pro-Choice Texas stated that "we shouldn't have to stand up and say that it shouldn't be policy for the state of Texas to excuse doctors from lying to their patients, and that is what this bill does,"

There are so many reasons why this bill is unacceptable in the 21st century. Firstly, it is one step backwards for women's rights. Why should women's rights to autonomy be dictated by out of touch males hiding behind prehistoric religiously inspired policies? We all deserve the right to religious freedom, which should include not being subjected to religiously motivated policies & legislation. Everyone has the right to practice (or not practice) a religion of their choice. Nobody should be forced by the State into following religious customs, particularly when they could have such adverse effects on their future wellbeing. Allowing a couple to get excited about the birth of a child who is unlikely to survive is cruel. So is withholding information about potential disabilities, when the family need to decide whether they are in a position to cope. Yes, this may mean that a woman decides that a termination is right for her, or it could mean that she has time to learn to understand what support her and her future child may need. Removing both the right and responsibility from an expectant mother to make decisions is both patronising and disempowering. If the State can not trust women to make decisions about their own bodies and offspring, what hope do women have of achieving gender equality in the workplace, particularly during pregnancy?

I'm optimistic that most medical experts practice in medicine because they want to use their knowledge to both help and inform patients. A medical practitioner is responsible for providing a  patient with enough information to make informed decisions about their health and wellbeing. It is not their place to make moral judgements. If you don't believe in abortion and contraception then you should practice in another area of medicine to avoid a conflict of your personal moral opinions and professional responsibilities. Allowing a medical practitioners religious views to take precedence over a patient's is as unacceptable and inappropriate as allowing a solicitor in family law to obstruct a client's right to a divorce simply because they do not agree with divorce. You would expect the solicitor to practice in an alternative area of law if there was going to be a clear conflict of interest between their moral opinions and their client's rights to access justice. This should be the same response when a woman (or a man) is accessing medical services.

Doctor-patient trust is vital for building a positive relationship. Trust is central to the practice of healthcare and medical ethics, without it diagnosis and treatment would become problematic. The purpose of visiting a doctor is to maintain your wellbeing and to obtain a diagnosis when there are complications. Therefore, if this bill is implemented, what would be the point of expectant mothers visiting a doctor for check-ups during pregnancy if they were not being informed of potential fetal risks.

This bill sounds nearly as dangerous for the future of the Texas medical profession as it is for a woman's wellbeing. Therefore, I struggle to understand why any medical expert would consider supporting this bill. What is the purpose of having knowledge if you can not act on it or share it? The moment you intentionally start withholding information from patients they lose trust in you. This will lead to a lack of patient confidence and consequently, patients will avoid visiting their doctors until it is too late.

No comments:

Post a Comment