Oklahoma to collect abortion information

This week Oral Roberts was called home, and now it appears there’s another big to-do going on in Oklahoma. 

CNN reports “A judge could determine Friday whether to allow an Oklahoma law to go forward that will post information online about women who get abortions in the state — an act critics say would be harassment and an invasion of privacy.”

At first glance one says, woah woah woah!  Back that buggy up, fella.  Well, okay…probably no one says that. 

The CNN article can be found at  http://www.cnn.com/2009/US/12/18/oklahoma.abortion/index.html

Doctors would have to fill out a 10-page questionnaire for every abortion performed, including asking the woman about her age, marital status, race and years of education.

The bills is being seen as PRO-pro-life and ANTI-pro-choice.  As an avid pro-choice supporter, I want to be on the “right” side, so I should get in line with former  state Rep. Wanda Jo Stapleton, who puts forth that “Nosy neighbors with some effort could identify or, even worse, misidentify these women who answer these questions.” Sure, invasion of privacy…that sounds bad and scary.

But as with all controversial subjects, my favoriate Bad Science slogan is very appropriate here: “I think you’ll find it’s a bit more complicated than that.”

The big question seems to be:  Does the governement have a right to ask these types of questions?  Should we require women to answer personal questions prior to receiving a medical operation, in this case, abortion? 

Well, what are we trying to accomplish by asking these questions?  I can think of three reasons we would adopt the extensive pre-abortion interview:

*The questions are mean to inform the doctor.  The woman’s health or the safety of the operation is impacted by the answers given to these questions.
*The questions are meant to inform the patient.
*The answers to the questions allow researchers to learn more about abortion, and possibly come to some conclusions about how to make abortion safer and, even more importantly, how to minimize the need for abortion. 

Let’s go through ’em:

The first bullet – If (big, doubtful if) the doctor needs the information to perform a safe operation, then this is a no-brainer: Collect the information or don’t do the operation. 

The second bullet – Obviously, this is an entirely different reason for asking detailed, invasive questions than the neutral reason of collecting information for statistical modeling.

Abortion is a big decision for a lot of women. I want women to have a ton of information before they make this decision for themselves. A woman who gets an abortion and then is tormented for the rest of her life, racked with guilt because she feels she made the wrong decision, has been harmed.  However,  if the questions are set up to instill guilt and are used as anti-choice propoganda, that’s shameful because it may lead a woman to make a medical decision that is not in her best interests, to make an emotional decision, rather than a logical one.  But asking a woman to consider the reasons for choosing abortion OR NOT, that’s responsible medical counseling.

The third bullet – Information, data…these are good things. It doesn’t matter what information or data is collected; different groups will try to manipulate it in different ways. But in order to have a chance of making informed, logical decisions – personal, medical, social and political – we have to first get our hands on the information.  And perhaps this information could be used to refresh or update our current body of knowledge; the last major design for this type of data collection was in 1969 by the CDC, according to CNN.

So let’s say the bill goes forward, the questions start getting asked and answered; Should we post this information on the internet? Yes!  Available, fast, cheap exchange of information; it’s a good thing.  As long as identifying information is removed, let the public sink our dirty little claws into it.  Opponents of the legislation say we either can’t or won’t remove enough identifying information to keep a woman safe and her privacy secure, but I don’t buy it.  In the land of HIPPA, where even my husband can’t get at my health records without a lot of help, patient privacy is sacrosanct.  Yes, Ms. Stapleton, even in small, rural communities.

To be clear: I’m not advocating for the bill, I’m advocating for data collection and information sharing as long as patient privacy is preserved.

I’m definately against *this* little gem that’s tucked inside the bill:   “The law also bars women from seeking abortions solely because of the sex of the fetus, with fines up to $100,000 for doctors who “knowingly violate” it”. 

Lovely.  So you can have an abortion, as long as it’s not for the wrong reasons?

All the other big talking in the article is just that.

I nominate Troy Newman, the head of the anti-abortion group Operation Rescue for BIGGEST DUMBASS COMMENT award

 “Naturally, the abortion industry wants to block this [bill], because they know the more information the mom has, the less likely she is to abort her baby,” Newman says.

Yes, Troy, that’s what it’s all about.

Dinkus.

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One Response to “Oklahoma to collect abortion information”

  1. Erin B. Says:

    That’s pretty fing screwed up any way you look it, I think. I agree with the collecting of information for scientific research purposes but why would this info need to be posted to an public webpage? And shouldn’t it come down to the patient’s choice on whether the information about them should be collected in the first place?

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