Pri∙va∙cy (n) – the quality or state of being apart from company or observation;
seclusion; freedom from unauthorized intrusion
As a country, we seem to be struggling with this concept. We fought to achieve it in a bloody war 236 years ago. We fought to extend it to women and minorities mere generations ago. But now, in republican controlled state houses from coast to coast, legislators are fighting to insert government into hospitals and clinics; they are attempting to authorize their intrusion.
This Wednesday, March 21, the Tennessee legislature will be debating House Bill 3808, inappropriately named the Life Defense Act of 2012. The goal is to publish detailed data on abortion providers and the women who seek their services.
Publish. As in make publically available. By county. No matter how small the county.
This data is already collected; that isn’t new. Any woman seeking abortion services fills out a detailed questionnaire which the Department of Health aggregates by region to protect the privacy of all involved. Reducing the data to individual counties and then publishing it would make identifying the women seeking this legal procedure rather simple in rural areas.
Does Tennessee not have a copy of Roe v. Wade? The whole reason abortion was legalized was privacy. From the decision:
State criminal abortion laws, like those involved here, that except from criminality only a life-saving procedure on the mother’s behalf…violate the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, which protects against state action the right to privacy, including a woman’s qualified right to terminate her pregnancy.
If women have the right to privately have abortions, what exactly does the Tennessee legislature think it’s doing? That is, aside from standing in stark opposition to patient confidentiality laws which require physicians to “keep their patients’ confidences,” according to the American Medical Association.
So, if House Bill 3808 were to pass, every abortion provider in the state would have to choose which laws to break and which to uphold. Do they adhere to the new publish-all-the-data-for-no-discernible-reason law or do they adhere to patient confidentiality laws that are based on our Constitution?
And as if it weren’t enough that the Tennessee legislature is about to debate violating our founding document, the publish-the-data law would decimate an even older and more widely held tradition.
The Hippocratic Oath, which has been a part of civilization since the 5th century B.C., is often pared down to “first do no harm.” Following the “I do solemnly vow, to that which I value and hold most dear” are a list of values all involved in the medical profession are expected to uphold.
Of the eleven subsets, the most vitally important are the seventh:
“That whatsoever I shall see or hear of the lives of my patients that is not fitting to be spoken, I will keep in confidence;”
and the tenth:
“That above all else I will serve the highest interests of my patients through the practice of my science and my art;”
Essentially, the Hippocratic Oath has for more than two millennia assured the sick and in need that their doctors and nurses would not only heal them, but protect them. Asking people who have committed their lives to caring for their fellow man to violate this most sacred of oaths is unconscionable.
Not to mention dangerous.
The counties where this will allow anti-choice advocates to identify every doctor performing abortions as well as the clinic or hospital at which the procedures are done are not known for their tolerance and understanding. They’re known websites and fliers with detailed descriptions of abortion providers with crosshairs over their faces.
Inevitably, making an already heroically dangerous job even more risky would drive a segment of abortion providers to abandon that part of their practices. And there it is. The real reason this law is being debated: restricting access to a vital service which has saved the lives of countless women.
No doubt, the individual elected officials advocating for this heinous bill would consider themselves “pro-life.” So in the name of life, they would endanger lives.
If you find this position at all hypocritical; if you find requiring physicians to violate their oaths offensive; if you think the right of all citizens to their privacy should be upheld above all else, contact the Tennessee legislators.
Let them know what you think, respectfully and with passion.
If you found this post informative, entertaining, helpful, etc. you can subscribe to the Katie Speak Mailer which has all my posts, Tawkers live chats, radio segments and activism info. You can also click SUPPORT to keep me speaking and follow me on Facebook and twitter. Thanks!
Categories: Finding My Voice