Guest Opinions

Gov. Otter, please stop these bills that have no basis in science or medicine

Idaho State Capitol.
Idaho State Capitol.

Idaho legislators passed two disastrous anti-abortion bills that specifically target women and families and are a direct attack on Planned Parenthood. Our elected leaders decided to spend time and energy on drastic measures instead of advancing a proactive piece of legislation this session that would require insurance companies to cover 12 months of birth control at a time. It is worth noting that birth control has contributed to the lowest unintended pregnancy rate and abortion rate in 30 years.

Senate Bill 1243, the abortion reversal bill, requires medical providers to inform patients where to get information on how to reverse a medication abortion, a fictional procedure with no basis in science.

House Bill 638, the Abortion Complications Report Act, also passed and will require medical providers to report any medical complications that their patients may have following an abortion – anything from blood clots to breast cancer. A requirement that doesn’t exist for any other health condition. This bill requires reporting of many medical conditions that have no relationship to abortions at all – breast cancer, a missed ectopic pregnancy, unwillingness by the patient to come to follow-up appointments, or having the placenta covering the cervix in a future pregnancy.

In addition, women often do not report having had an abortion, so the data that medical providers could obtain may not be accurate. This bill has no basis in medicine and is a clear indication that our elected officials need to stop involving themselves in private medical decisions made between a patient and provider.

Gov. Butch Otter will soon decide whether to make legislation with no basis in science or medicine the law of the land in Idaho.

We expect more from our elected leaders. Greater access to birth control, like the “12 months bill,” would have decreased both unintended pregnancies and the number of abortions.

These complicated and unrealistic reporting requirements will undoubtedly be challenged in court, and the state will be forced to spend taxpayer dollars defending the decision.

What we are seeing in Idaho is part of a recent wave of restrictions on safe, legal abortion based on bad medicine that prevent doctors from providing medical care based on the best evidence available and their medical judgment.

We have seen attack after attack on reproductive rights and health over the past year. These attacks were and continue to be met by a powerful grass-roots response from women – the most powerful movement in this country. The fact remains, the majority of Americans believe abortion should remain safe and legal.

This is why, as a physician, I must express my opposition to legislation that does not support the health, rights and full equality of all people, including access to safe and legal abortion.

These are dangerous bills and demonstrate exactly why legislators need to leave the practice of medicine to medical professionals. In Idaho and across the country, women deserve the freedom and privacy to make the private decisions that are best for themselves and their families.

Dr. Martha Lund is the retired medical director of the Saint Alphonsus Obstetrics Hospitalist Group and co-founder of the Saint Alphonsus Women’s Gynecologic Health Group.