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Pro-choice Lobbyists Target Medical Misinformation Bill Choice Lobby Day Report

Pro-choice Lobbyists Target Medical Misinformation Bill Choice Lobby Day Report image
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Th Supremo Court has invalkJated so-callad "Informad consent" and "wattlng portod" laws...on tho grounds that much of tho Information requlrod Is designad not to inform the woman's consent, but rather to persuade her to wlthhold It attogether" Over 200 representatives of pro-choice groups across Michigan visited the offices of state legislators in Lansing on May 8 to oppose state Senate Bill 141, the "Informed Consent AbortionBill."Theobjectiveof the Michigan Alliance forChoice Lobby Day was to demónstrate to state legislators that the constituents for choice are a large body of voters committed to the protection of abortion rights and who believe that Senate Bill 141 will not benefit women. The bilí, proposed by Sen. Jack Welborn (R), chairman of the Family Law, Criminal Law and Corrections Committee, requires physicians to give certain information to all women seeking an abortion. The physician must also secure the patient's signature on a standardized consent form 24-hours prior to when the surgical procedure is to be performed. Pro-choice lobbyists say they do not oppose true informed consent, the practice followed by the Michigan medical community, but they do oppose mandated "selective" information for women seeking an abortion. In addition, the mandatory waiting period, inserted in the bill to afford "a woman, in light of the information provided by the physician, an opportunity tp reflect on her decisión and to seek counsel of family and friends in making her decisión" (S.B. 14 1 , Legislative in tent section (H) ii), is opposed because it is seen as a barrier to women who accrue other costs, (travel, absence from employment, child care) contingent on time when seeking an abortion. The Supreme Court has invalidated socalled "informed consent" and "waiting period" laws passed in both Ohio and Pennsylvania (1983, 1986) on the grounds that much of the information required is designed not to inform the woman 's consent, but rather to persuade her to withhold it altogether" (Thornburgh v American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (AMCOG), 1986). S.B. 141 provides women with a list of adverse effects of abortion, yet it does not offer any such list about the risks of pregnancy and childbirth. In addition, the Court found that the law would "compound the problem of medical attendence, increase the patiënt ' s anxiety, and intrude upon the physician's exercise of proper professional judgment." The Michigan State Medical Society (MS MS), states in a letter addressed to Senator Jack Welborn'scommittee, "that the requirement of providing pictures of a fetus to the patiënt may have a chilling effect on the patiënt ' s right to an abortion. We believe this legislation to be unnecessary and places further restriction on the current practice of medicine in Michigan" (April 30,1991). MSMS also rejectsS..B. 141 becauseofthestraightjacket it places upon physicians in theirresponsibility to best treat and counsel patients. Rep. Mary Brown (D), a 14-year crusader for the pro-choice movement emphasized to the lobbyists that the time is now to organize and pressure state representatives to oppose legislation that would set the precedent S.B. 141 does by further restricting a woman's ability to obtain an abortion. Rep. Brown and individual leaders of the organizing bodies of the Michigan Alliance for Choice Lobby Day emphasized that abortion rights will be systematically dismantled if state and federal representatives are not made to recognize the strong majority which supports the protection of abortion rights. Organizations participating in the Michigan Alliance for Choice Lobby Day were Planned Parenthood Affiliates of Michigan, Michigan Abortion Rights Action League, Washtenaw County Pro-Choice Affiliation, Michigan Abortion Rights Action League, NOW, League of Women Voters, Upper Península Coalition for Choice, ACLU and other organizations throughout the state. Editors Note: At press time the May 28 vote on S.B. 141 had been postponed. It was rumored that physicians were pressuring state representatives to reconsider their positions. Legislators know that if passed, S .B . 1 4 1 will result in an expensive lawsuit in state or federal courts.


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