Wednesday, August 29

:: A Fine Idea

To defeat anti-choice legislation, attach a rider making the state financially responsible to the women who are influenced by it.

By now, all state legislatures have considered bills designed to pressure pregnant women to not have abortions.

I’m not talking about provisions that remove obstacles for women who want to carry a pregnancy to term, such as improved health services, maternity and paternity leave, subsidized child care and other forms of public assistance, and better enforcement of child support orders.

I mean the anti-choice legislation designed to hector, guilt-trip or scare women away from abortion by means of government-scripted lectures, waiting periods, misinformation about physical and psychological consequences (the bogus “abortion causes breast cancer” claim; “post-abortion trauma syndrome”) and tax-payer funding for fake “crisis pregnancy centers.”

The usual strategy for defeating this legislation is to fight it head-on with arguments based in fact and ethical reasoning. Alongside that, I suggest another tactic that I think would be effective. It occurred to me after reading the following article:

Woman awarded damages for pregnancy

28 August 2007

THE HAGUE – The IJsselland Hospital in Capelle aan den IJssel has been ordered to pay damages of EUR 400,000 to a mother who was incorrectly informed about her fertility.

This has emerged from a ruling by the appeal court in The Hague. The court upheld a ruling from a lower court in this case.

The gynaecologist had told the woman she could no longer become pregnant. The woman subsequently became pregnant with twins, who are now 13 years old. The hospital is being required to contribute to the costs of raising the children.

In the early 1990s, the woman, 37 at the time, and her husband asked the now-retired gynaecologist if the woman could still become pregnant. After an examination the woman was assured that she could not become pregnant.

Not long after the woman did in fact conceive. The family already had three children at that point. As a result of the pregnancy the woman had to leave her job.

The hospital and gynaecologist have always denied that they failed to alert the woman to the risks of a pregnancy. The court said that the dossier indicates the opposite.

The court also rejected the hospital's argument that no damage would have been caused had the woman opted for an abortion at the time.

Hospitals have been ordered to pay damages in previous cases involving failed sterilisations. This is the first time that damages have been awarded for the birth of a child after the administration of inaccurate advice on birth control.

There you have it.

Every bill that seeks to impede access to abortion by funding fake crisis pregnancy centers, spreading false information through advertising or state mandated lectures or impeding access through waiting periods should carry a rider making the state financially responsible for any pregnancies brought to term that result from these efforts.

Its only fair, isn’t it? If a woman goes to a taxpayer-supported crisis pregnancy center and they tell her that if she has an abortion she will get breast cancer (false), and she decides not to have an abortion only to find out later that she was lied to, the crisis pregnancy center and the state that funds it should be held accountable for the resulting expense of raising the child.

Physicians who give bad information to their patients are already subject to malpractice lawsuits; if the government wants to play doctor, it should face the same risks. And tobacco companies have been ordered to pay damages to people with lung cancer who claim they were influenced by misleading cigarette advertising. Efforts to penalize the purveyors of junk food for influencing people to become obese are stirring around out there.

Once proposed, the rider could be used in a public relations context to refocus the debate on what it really means for the state to “support life.” If attached, it would be an effective poison pill and would give wavering electeds cover for voting against the legislation.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Utter brilliance. AV.