I am amazed and terrified by many things from the American South because I am, of course, a cliché: I am a left-leaning, pro-choice woman who enjoys public-access television programming and locally-grown sprouts. So it's really no surprise that the latest legislative craze to sweep the South is concerning to me.
I'm talking about laws relating to "wrongful births." Wrongful births are what result when women are not given information (related to birth defects, possible complications, etc...) about their fetuses that might lead them to terminate the pregnancy. "Wrongful birth" is also one of the most abhorrent phrases and concepts I've encountered in quite some time, and Michelle Goldberg is right to question it. People going before a court to argue that their child's birth was wrong and something they'd have prevented if they'd only known do not tend to inspire sympathy, except for their wrongful child.
But, as Golberg also points out, that doesn't mean pro-life doctors should have the right to actively conceal disturbing facts from mothers-to-be. Because that's what a law being considered in Kansas and already in effect in Oklahoma would do - allow anti-abortion physicians to lie to patients with impunity. If you're afraid telling a mother her fetus, say, does not have a brain might cause her to consider abortion, you can simply not tell her and let her discover it for herself when the baby is born. And she has no right to complain, because you are protected by law.
What I don't understand is why these doctors should be allowed to deceive mothers only in cases involving medical complications. If you reduce this question to its essentials (keeping in mind that I'm not entirely sure what its essentials are and am probably hopelessly misrepresenting the whole thing), what you're left with is a doctor's right to keep from a patient information that would lead her to consider abortion. What if your patient is a left-leaning, PBS-loving defender of a woman's right to choose when it comes to her own reproductive system? That kind of woman doesn't necessarily consider abortion only when there are problems with her pregnancy; that kind of woman considers abortion because she wants to concentrate on her career, or because she's not economically secure, or because she doesn't ever want to be a mother.
If a doctor is allowed to conceal from a woman facts that might lead to an abortion, and such a woman might consider abortion just because she's discovered she's pregnant, then a doctor should legally be allowed to conceal from a woman the very fact that she's pregnant. He'd just have to be willing to spend a large part of the next nine months convincing her she's let herself go.
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