In last night’s State of the Union address, President Bush acknowledged that patients and their doctors should have full control of their health care decisions:
[I]n all we do, we must remember that the best healthcare decisions are made not by government and insurance companies, but by patients and their doctors.
Despite his rhetoric, Bush signed into law the “Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act of 2003,” which is the first federal statute to tell doctors what specific methods they may and may not use when providing legal medical services — regardless of the patient’s condition or the doctor’s opinion about the safest course of treatment.
At the signing ceremony in Nov. 2003, Bush justified his support of the ban by citing the opinion of Congress: “As Congress has found, the practice is widely regarded within the medical profession as unnecessary, not only cruel to the child, but harmful to the mother, and a violation of medical ethics.”
But the nation’s leading group of professionals providing health care for women, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, disagrees. It opposes the law because the banned procedure is often the best option for women:
The intact variant of D&E; offers significant safety advantages over the non-intact method, including a reduced risk of catastrophic hemorrhage and life-threatening infection. These safety advantages are widely recognized by experts in the field of women’s health, authoritative medical texts, peer-reviewed studies, and the nation’s leading medical schools.
In other words, women sometimes need the procedure in order to protect their health and future fertility.
Bush has had the Department of Justice defend the law all the way to the Supreme Court. A decision is expected from the Court by this June.
Evidently, the President believes that patients and doctors make the best health care decisions — except for when the patient is a woman.