healthcare, War on Women, Women — November 11, 2015 at 8:50 am

Medical students and legislators push to keep politicians out of healthcare decisions


Lawmakers don’t belong in the exam room, especially when they’re legislating against safe, legal procedures.

Would you want a politician or special interest lobbyist standing in the exam room while you and your doctor discuss the best, safest medical care for you and your family? Of course not. But that’s exactly what some Michigan Republicans are trying to do, especially after this week’s vote by the Michigan House Criminal Justice Committee that advances bills to criminalize a safe, legal abortion procedure.

So concerned citizens and legislators are speaking out.

Following yesterday’s committee vote, I heard from Lindsey Flaquer, a first-year medical student at Michigan State University College of Human Medicine. She was at the November 10th committee meeting, because, she says, “If such bills as these continue to pass, Michigan physicians will be prohibited from providing their patients with the safest care possible in cases of medically indicated second trimester abortions. … Politics has no place in the physician-patient relationship.”

Flaquer says it was “disappointing to see all the males on the committee vote in favor” of House Bills 4833 and 4834, while the three women on the committee voted against it.

“It is evident that financial incentives stifle political responsibility to such an extent that power to make decisions is completely taken out of the hands of our representatives, thanks to the efforts of special interest groups such as Right To Life,” Flaquer says.

She had prepared testimony for the committee meeting, but no testimony was taken at this second hearing on the legislation. Flaquer gave me permission to share her testimony here:

House Bills 4833 and 4834 undermine and inhibit doctors from providing supreme standard of care for the women in our communities here in Michigan. It seems rather inappropriate for politicians that lack medical education to ban methods, deemed as medically standard protocols as noted by the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. As a medical student dedicated to my future patients and the future of medicine, I find it of extreme importance to oppose these bills. If passed, women will receive substandard care in the state of Michigan. This will lead to major repercussions including the loss of educated future physicians to states that have not enacted similar policies put in place by politicians lacking medical backgrounds. New practicing physicians will ask themselves, ‘why practice in a state that inhibits the optimal care that I can provide?’ If Michigan is interested in keeping the physicians educated in the state, bills 4833 and 4834 need to be opposed. These bills have strictly biased political agendas, which do not favor enhancement of medical care provided to Michigan residents. Vote wisely, for the future of medicine is at stake.

On the same day as the committee vote, Democratic State Representative Sarah Roberts introduced legislation to allow doctors to provide evidence-based, safe, and medically appropriate care to their patients without the risk of breaking the law.

Rep. Roberts had this to say in a release:

We have seen bills signed into law, and legislation under consideration now, making it difficult if not impossible for women to receive the medical care that they need, and that is why I am introducing this bill today. My bill will take politics out of the exam room, and allows doctors and their assistants to provide the most appropriate medical care their patients need.

Rep. Roberts’ bill will provide immunity to a doctor or medical professional who provides patient care that in the physician’s good faith medical judgement is in compliance with accepted, evidence-based medical practices or is medically appropriate for that patient.

In addition to HBs 4833 and 4834, right now a doctor can be fined up to $10,000 for billing for a necessary medical abortion procedure if it is not covered under a separate insurance rider — a rider that is not available for purchase by women who buy private health insurance in Michigan.

“What happens in a doctor’s office is between the doctor and the patient, and politicians should not interject themselves into that conversation” Roberts said. “My bill will ensure that no healthcare provider is forced to choose between following a political agenda and abiding by the ethical, professional and medical standards that they have vowed to uphold.”

[Image credit: via Flickr.]