Free-Floating Hostility

Friday, December 19, 2008

Dear Congresswoman Baldwin,

As part of its continuing efforts to leave the nation in smoldering ruin, the Bush Administration has passed a rule insuring the "right of conscience" for medical service providers. If I'm reading it correctly, it means that your doctor, nurse or pharmacist can deny you treatments they find objectionable. I assume we're talking about abortion and contraception (though I still hold out hope they're talking about penile implants). I expect the Obama Administration to roll this back as quickly as possible.

I'm more interested in a law in South Dakota, which requires doctors to read a state-mandated script to women seeking an abortion. Doctors at the state's one clinic are required to tell women that the procedure "will terminate the life of a whole, separate, unique living human being." Further:
Under the law, doctors must say that the woman has "an existing relationship" with the fetus that is protected by the U.S. Constitution and that "her existing constitutional rights with regards to that relationship will be terminated." Also, the doctor is required to say that "abortion increases the risk of suicide ideation and suicide."
Now the last part of that statement is demonstrably false. And the rest seems just unintelligible. Presumably they passed this law because they think women in South Dakota are just too stupid to understand what an abortion is. I mean, given how easy it is to get an abortion in South Dakota -- one Planned Parenthood Clinic in a state of 77,000 square miles -- its easy to see how a woman could just stumble in the door.

I'm stunned that this is constitutional, especially the part requiring doctors to lie their patients. But it raises a question: if a state can force doctors to say things they don't believe in, can they force other citizens to do the same? Can I write to my representative requesting she craft a law requiring people making economic layoffs to read a script explaining, "This company is committing legally protected economic violence to you and your family. Under other economic systems, including socialism and communism, there are fewer economic layoffs. By the way I made >last year and may receive a bonus for cutting your position." Then they'd have the option to sing the Internationale, though that wouldn't be required.

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