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Church State Issues

I won't lie to patients, even if the law tells me to

Apr 2, 2015

Arizona Republic

Dr. David Russell 4:37 p.m. MST April 1, 2015

One on One: Columnists trade jabs over a standoff in the U.S. Senate that is poised to derail bipartisan legislation.

Republicans and Gov. Doug Ducey claim they support less intrusion into our private lives. However, they pass and support SB 1318, a direct assault on my personal freedom and how I practice medicine.

In 50 years of treating women and children I have never lied to a patient. This legislation demands I tell them that there is a drug to reverse the effects of the "abortion pill," which is false. It would be malpractice to do so.

I will refuse to tell women this lie. I do not know how the law could be enforced due to patient privacy rules.

— Dr. David A. Russell, Peoria


When is an abortion bill like a duck? (Think: Quacks)

EJ Montini, The Republic | 12:34 p.m. MST April 1, 2015

Gov. Doug Ducey signed an anti-abortion bill that supposedly prevents taxpayer money from being used on abortions and requires Arizona doctors to tell patients about a virtually untested procedure that is meant to reverse abortions.

The first part is unnecessary, since the law already keeps taxpayer money from being used. The second part is unproven, questioned by many doctors, and succinctly described by Democratic Senate Minority Leader Katie Hobbs as "junk science" and "quack medicine."

That doesn't matter in politics, however, a profession filled with quacks.

Gov. Ducey explained why he signed the bill to the people Phoenix's 3TV, saying, "Well what we talked about was the issue that we had to clarify within the law about taxpayer dollars being used for abortions. The provision on reverse abortions was slipped into a larger bill blocking patients from buying abortion coverage through ObamaCare. That was the major component of the bill and that was what was signed, the rest was more information, part of informed consent."

Then again, The Arizona Republic did an extensive fact-check on the bill and found the claims about protecting taxpayer dollars unsupported and unnecessary. The report reads in part: "The federal government prohibits insurance companies from using public funding to cover elective abortions. The segregation of funds is intended to guarantee that funds for abortion coverage are sourced from premiums, separate from federal funds. There is no evidence that taxpayer funds have been illegally used to cover abortion in Arizona."

Still, the Republicans who control the Legislature passed the law and the governor signed it. Perhaps because he is beholding to Cathi Herrod and her Center for Arizona Policy, which pushed the measure.

And also because some members of the legislature want to maintain there status as anti-abortion warriors. Even if, in this instance, they're firing blanks when it comes to taxpayer money and potentially are harming patients.

Among the national experts weighing in on the issue was Dr. David A. Grimes, former Chief of the Abortion Surveillance Branch at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a researcher and author of the book, "Every Third Woman in America: How Legal Abortion Transformed Our Nation." Grimes heard about the Arizona bill and issued a statement saying i part, "This is another example of politicians practicing medicine without a license."

Hypocrisy, another form of bad medicine, also involves quackery.

The sponsor of Arizona's new law was Republican Sen. Nancy Barto. Because of her bill the state government, with no credible studies to back it up, is telling doctors what they must say to patients. And yet, on her website supposedly anti-big government Barto wrote:

"Patients and their doctors are better suited to decide their health care than an unaccountable central government."


Or should I say, quack, quack.


Ducey: bring on the 'voodoo' anti-abortion medicine

Laurie Roberts, The Republic | 11:53 a.m. MST April 1, 2015

You've heard of doctor's orders?

Comes now Ducey's orders, which apparently take precedence in Arizona's exam rooms.

Gov. Doug Ducey this week signed a bill ordering doctors to practice what a pair of medical experts are calling "voodoo medicine".

Ducey on Monday signed Senate Bill 1318, ordering that henceforth doctors must tell women that drug-induced abortions might be reversible.

And henceforth the state Department of Health Services must become a referral service, directing women to doctors who claim they can do what there is no science proving they can do.

Never mind that no other state in the nation requires such a thing.

Or that a pair of actual Arizona physicians -- experts in the field who likely know a bit more about it than Ducey and the Center for Arizona Policy's Cathi Herrod -- say it's a bad and possibly dangerous idea.

Those doctors are no match for Herrod.

Herrod is Arizona's general in the war against abortion, constantly on the lookout for new and ever more creative ways to make lives miserable for women who choose to terminate their pregnancies. What she says, goes with the politicians who lead us.

Who can forget her law that banned most abortions after 20 weeks? (Tossed out. Courts said Arizona can't deny a woman an abortion "at any point prior to viability.")

Or her law that stripped funding from doctors and clinics that perform abortions. (Tossed out. You can't refuse Medicaid reimbursements for contraceptives and cancer screenings just because a doctor or clinic also performs abortions.)

Or her law that barred women from taking RU-486 after the seventh week of pregnancy, even though doctors use it through the ninth week. Because it's so much better to force a woman to go through invasive surgery. (Tossed out. An "an undue burden on a woman's right to an abortion.")

The inspiration for Herrod's latest scheme comes from Dr. George Delgado, a San Diego doctor who says he has saved a number of pregnancies for women who changed their minds after taking the first of two abortion-inducing drugs.

In December 2012, Delgado published an article in the Annals of Pharmacotherapy, announcing that four out of the six women in his study who got progesterone shots after taking the first drugs (mifepristone) were able to save their pregnancies.

He has since claimed to have documented 87 cases where a woman gave birth to a healthy child.

That's good enough for Herrod and thus for Ducey and the Arizona Legislature.

It is not, however, nearly good enough for the Food and Drug Admininstration or for medical science. Or for most doctors, who note that the pregnancies likely continued because Delgado's patients didn't finish the two-drug process.

"Women's healthcare should be practiced by experts in the field and standards should be dictated by our national college. Medical care should not be decided by legislators, and certainly not by the special interest groups who pushed this legislation,"

"It is blatantly wrong for the State of Arizona to force doctors to counsel their patients about voodoo medicine, and wrong for the Department of Health Services to sanction these practices by publishing this information on their website. The rare woman who does regret her choice should not have to be subjected to unproven doses of an unnecessary hormone."

Except, now, in Arizona.

A delighted Herrod posted a twitter pic of Ducey signing her bill, saying that it "ensures women are told about the Abortion Pill Reversal & protects taxpayers."

Protects taxpayers?

I doubt it'll protect taxpayers if one of the state-referred voodoo docs produces unintended side effects in a patient. (That one's going to leave a mark on the public's purse.)

Presumably, Herrod is talking about the portion of the bill that bars women who get their insurance on the federal health care exchange from buying extra insurance to cover abortion.

Of course, the bill doesn't really protect taxpayers because federal law already bars the use of taxpayer money for abortion.

More likely, this bill will cost taxpayers a bundle, as we inevitably head to court to defend a bad abortion bill.

Again, that is.