The Texas Senate Committee on State Affairs unanimously passed a bill on Monday that will allow doctors to lie to women about the health of their unborn babies. This bill will allow doctors to decide not to tell a woman if she is carrying a child with severe disabilities, especially if the physician thinks there is a possibility the woman might decide to have an abortion if she knew.
“It shouldn’t be the policy for the state of Texas to excuse doctors from lying to their patients,” said Blake Rocap, policy advisor for NARAL Pro-Choice Texas, when he testified in front of the committee. “That’s what this bill does.”
Those in support of Senate Bill 25 argue that it would protect the rights of doctors and disabled children. But opponents of the bill are calling bullsh*t.
“This bill places an unreasonable restriction on the constitutional right of a woman to make an informed decision about whether or not to have an abortion,” said Margaret Johnson when she testified before the committee on behalf of the Texas League of Women Voters. “SB 25 is a not-so-subtle way to give medical personnel the opportunity to impose religious beliefs on women.”
The bill, as currently drafted, would not only empower doctors to keep secrets from their patients about their own bodies, but would also entrust the government to make one of the most personal, private, and life-altering decisions for Texan woman: whether they should have an abortion.
Raising a child with severe disabilities is not to be taken lightly. The expenses alone can drive a low-income family into the poor house, especially in a state like Texas that voted against expanding Medicaid. But keeping this vital information from women also has other consequences. It takes away valuable time that could be spent preparing for the challenges ahead. It also means that treatment options will not be considered, as was the case with Rachel Tiddle.
Tiddle was unaware that the baby she was carrying had severe abnormalities. As a result, she didn’t have the chance to try experimental therapies that might have saved her baby’s life. Instead, she had a stillbirth.
“It’s not a doctor’s right to manipulate the family by lying, and it is not a doctor’s right to decide whether an experimental therapy is worth trying,” Tiddle told the committee. “There is always a chance. There is always hope.”
Sen. Brandon Creighton, who authored the bill, argues that doctors can still be sued for malpractice. However, Blake Rocap, policy advisor for NARAL Pro-Choice Texas and health care attorney, said point blank “that’s not how it works.” Instead of exploring this process with Rocap to find out how it actually works, the committee decided to ask a speaker from the Texas Conference of Catholic Bishops to weigh in. Naturally, he took Creighton’s side.
Tiddle then interrupted: “Can I ask a question? Don’t you think this creates a climate where doctors feel they have the right to impose their own moral beliefs?”
Not one person had an answer.
Feature image via Joe Raedle/Getty Images
April has studied political science, psychology, and philosophy. Back in the good old days she was a reporter for “old fashioned” print newspapers. In addition to news and politics, she also blogs about service dogs and disability advocacy. As a black woman with a disability, she is fed up with the right-wingers who would prefer that she and others like her didn’t exist.