This is a feminist issue because... abortion.


Oklahoma just passed an abortion law which I find extremely disturbing. It has several parts:

1. Anyone who goes into a clinic to get an abortion, including victims of rape and incest, need to watch an ultrasound of their baby and hear a description of the fetus.
2. Women cannot sue doctors who misinform them about the health of their fetus.

This is shocking to me. No one WANTS an abortion, and no one makes the decision to get an abortion lightly. So people who go to get an abortion in Oklahoma may not be deterred by seeing a picture of their fetus, but they will certainly be emotionally harmed. It's much more difficult to come to terms with "killing" a baby if you can see a picture of it. While it's unlikely to deter women from actually getting a baby, it does inflict a lot of emotional pain and suffering on them. People don't get abortions because they think its fun - they get them because they are in a position in their life when having a baby is not a good idea. Making them go through a strenuous emotional ordeal seems like a dangerous subversion of the hippocratic oath.

Additionally, I think it is totally unacceptable to make it illegal to sue a doctor who misinforms you about the health of a fetus. This demonstrates a fundamental lack of respect for women's knowledge and choices - how can you make an educated, informed choice about whether or not to have an abortion if you don't have reliable information about the health of the baby? If the baby is going to be born with some horrible genetic condition that makes its death inevitable, I definitely think women should be aware that their baby is not going to live long - imagine the emotional devestation of going through the process of preparing for a child and then realizing that your baby has only a little while to live - and your doctor knew this all along. I can think of very few things that would be more difficult to deal with than that.

Fundamentally, I think this law incentivizes fraud and emotional damage, and I think it makes it impossible for women to have a real "choice" concerning abortion - how can they make an educated decision about their body and their future without trustworthy advice from their doctors? Abortion is a moral and religious issue - it should never, ever be made into a medical issue. Doctors are necessary to keep us healthy and safe. We should be able to trust them.


  1. While I agree with your assertion that these aspects of a new law are horrible and problematic, I can't help but wonder how to word safeguards to maintain the importance and gravity of the situation without being insensitive. Victims of rape or incest should not be forced to go through more emotional trauma that would surely be induced by listening to an ultrasound, but how do we ensure that the person about to undergo this procedure is absolutely sure that they believe they are making the right decision for themselves? Abortion is a sensitive issue, and it is hard to discuss it without bringing in moral judgment, so how do we develop language that is realistic but sensitive?

    What made me most concerned was the fact that women are not allowed to sue their doctors for misinforming them about the health of their fetus. Again, this is a circumstance where language must be developed that is realistic but sensitive. If a child has a condition where death is imminent and inevitable, then that should be a consideration for the mother. However, how do we regulate the moral judgment doctors place- yes, they abide by ethics and must make every effort to separate their moral judgment from their medical judgment, but the argument can be made: if a life is going to be short, is it any less worth living? I think you meant to refer to extreme cases where death was imminent and inevitable, but there is no way of knowing for sure how quickly death will occur. This is why a doctor may advise a woman to carry to term- on the chance that the baby will be resilient. However, a woman should be fully informed, no matter the circumstances- it is her body.

    As you said, women should be fully informed of the health of their fetus. What we should consider is how to transform the language used to better facilitate understanding while remaining sensitive.

  2. There is no doubt in my mind that this is a feminist issue. It intrigues me how despite the fact that rape is such a faceted issue, stipulations like these seem to narrow it down to simply good and bad, or right and wrong. As you said, no one likes getting abortions - the choice to get one is always going to be difficult, and while I do understand that it is necessary to educate the mothers of what their choices are, this goes a step too far. According to the Huffington Post, "the law requires doctors to use a vaginal probe, which provides a clearer picture of the fetus than a regular ultrasound, and to describe the fetus in detail, including its dimensions, whether arms, legs and internal organs are visible and whether there is cardiac activity. The law also requires doctors to turn a screen depicting the ultrasound images toward the woman so she can view them." In circumstances where the mother feels that abortion is not only the right option, but her only option, this extra guilt trip provides unnecessary baggage and strain to the mother.

    Another interesting side of this issue is whether or not this infringes upon the doctors' rights. Under this law, all physicians are required to undergo this procedure. Again, the Huffington Post states that "the Center for Reproductive Rights has said the law forces a woman to hear information that may not be relevant to her medical care and could interfere with the physician-patient relationship by compelling doctors to deliver unwanted speech."

  3. I have long since been bothered by legislation concerning abortion and this only furthers my frustration with the issue. Making it illegal for a woman to sue a doctor for misinforming her, is absurd. We have legislation and regulations in place to prevent ad companies from flat out lying to people in their advertisements. This opens up many unsettling issues associated with doctors lying to their patients. The one that disturbs me the most is a religious doctor who would misinform their patient for their own religious reasons. Essentially, it is legalizing disobeying the Hippocratic Oath. This violates something we value very much, the trust of our doctors. We trust doctors to give us all of the information that is supported by facts, not their own personal opinion. Religion has no place in the abortion debate or any debate regarding other citizen’s rights. Abortion is a choice as you point out and it is not taken lightly by the person seeking an abortion, the personal opinion and feelings of a doctor on the issue have no place in the examination room.

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This page contains a single entry by Tamar published on May 2, 2010 9:53 PM.

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