On Monday, the Pennsylvania House Health Committee fast-tracked a bizarre double-abortion-ban bill that would criminalize not only almost all abortion at 20 or more weeks in Pennsylvania, but also one of the most common and safe abortion procedures.
The House Health Committee also explicitly voted against hosting a public hearing in order to deprive medical experts of an opportunity to submit comments on House Bill 1948 (not to mention the women this bill may directly affect). On Wednesday, when the House of Representatives passed the bill on second consideration, they once again explicitly rejected a request to postpone the vote until expert medical opinion could be heard. When Rep. Dan Frankel suggested doctors should weigh in, his microphone was reportedly cut off.
Perhaps the lawmakers pushing this bill don’t want to hear from medical experts because they suspect medical experts tend to object to anti-science legislative efforts to interfere with the doctor-patient relationship.
On Wednesday, the Pennsylvania section of the American Association of the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologist (ACOG), a professional organization that represents more than 1300 physicians and partners in women’s health in the Commonwealth, sent a letter to lawmakers to expressing opposition to HB 1948:
“We strongly oppose governmental interference in the doctor-patient relationship and respectfully urge you to do the same.
Few relationships exist as personal as those between women and their OBGYNs. The relationship is compromised when a trusted physician is faced with the ethical decision to appropriately provide unbiased, scientifically-based care to a patient, which may conflict with state law.
Difficult medical decisions, especially those involving the complex medical circumstances that accompany the issues discussed in HB 1948, should be left to women and their expert medical providers, not governed.
Efforts to legislate and criminalize the practice of medicine sets a dangerous precedent. We urge you to join us in protecting the sanctity of the patient-physician relationship.”
The Pennsylvania Medical Society, the professional “voice of Pennsylvania’s physicians,” has also urged the Pennsylvania Legislature to reject HB 1948.
Lawmakers have successfully blocked medical experts from submitting testimony, but they can’t stop us from speaking up about the fact that we don’t believe Pennsylvania lawmakers should be practicing medicine.
We expect HB 1948 to head to the House floor for a full and final House vote on Monday.
The Women’s Law Project is the only public interest law center in Pennsylvania devoted to advancing the rights of women and girls.
Text: Tara Murtha