Texas Lawmakers Want It to Be Legal for Your Doctor to Lie to Women


Dumpster fire here, dumpster fire there

by Stephanie Kaloi, Content Manager

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The Texas Senate Committee on State Affairs just voted to make it legal for a doctor to neglect to tell a pregnant woman if her unborn child has major health concerns. In other words, they want it to be legal for your doctor to lie to you, to neglect to give you important information, to straight up just avoid discussing the health of the being you are growing in your very own body.

I don’t think where you fall on the issue of abortion is relevant here, so I’m not going to make this post about abortion. But I am about to make this paragraph about abortion. I am staunchly, firmly pro-choice in any and all situations. Furthermore, I am wildly insistent that women have the right to terminate a pregnancy that is dangerous, the right to terminate a pregnancy that is not viable, and the right to terminate a fetus that has a disability (severe or otherwise—dealbreakers are okay with me when it comes to pregnancy). Why am I bringing this up, though?

Because the people behind this vote are saying they’re doing this to “protect doctor’s rights and show respect to disabled children.” By children, I assume they also mean fetuses (though I would not personally say the two are the same thing). And the reason this reeeeeally sets me off? My kid has a disability. My kid has a disability, and I, when pregnant at the wildly adult age of twenty-three, repeatedly told my midwife that I didn’t want to know if there were any health concerns with our baby. And I meant it, because I was making a choice about my own child, and a choice about my own body.

And you know what? There were concerns. And about two years after his birthday, I spent a few days reading his many pages of medical records and found the spot where they knew a specific detail that directly caused his disability. But it was my choice not to find out. I was having that specific baby no matter what. We went into our pregnancy knowing that was the case, and it was our choice to make—much like it is the choice of other couples, of other women, to ask about medical conditions and disabilities and to decide to not carry a fetus to term based on that information. And that is okay. That is more than okay. That is their right.

This law, this vote, is not about respecting children who have disabilities. This is about erasing the right of women to information about a fetus who is growing inside their own bodies. This is about exerting male control over women, because these lawmakers can feel that control slipping, sliding away. They can feel it being forcibly wrested from their hands. They may have their candidate of choice in office, but the resistance is real. This is about exercising male domination over women, as often as they can, as long as they can.

The idea that these lawmakers would use the guise of respecting children with disabilities—pretending as though they respect children like the very awesome one I am raising—when they won’t even fund the healthcare of children with disabilities? No. Nah. Not here for it. Because you know who will be hardest hit? The same people who are ALWAYS hardest hit: low-income women and children, especially low-income women and children of color. Making it legal to NOT tell women they’re carrying children who will have severe disabilities, and making it legal to NOT give those women the option to abort, and stripping away the very healthcare that provides for these children (and in many cases allows them to live) after birth, and tearing away funding for social programs that help feed and clothe and house these children: TEXAS. YOU ARE A LIVING, BREATHING HYPOCRITICAL MONSTER. As Alex Zielinski wrote:

For many low-income women, the alternative—raising a severely disabled child in a state with few affordable health insurance options—would force them into poverty. This outcome, the bill’s opponents argue, would only worsen the child’s health outcomes. And the majority of the bill’s sponsors voted against state Medicaid expansion, a policy that would have made health insurance far more affordable for low-income families.

It’s also not just about abortion, or just about disabilities, or just about low-income families. This is also about access to medical care for pregnant mothers:

Not all of the bill’s opponents testified for the sake of abortion access. Rachel Tiddle, who unknowingly carried a fetus with severe abnormalities, said if she knew her fetus had severe health issues, she would have tried one of many experimental therapies to try and save her baby’s life. Instead, she gave birth to a stillborn baby.

“It’s not a doctor’s right to manipulate the family by lying, and it is not doctor’s right to decide whether an experimental therapy is worth trying,” Tiddle told the committee. “There is always chance, there is always hope.”

I know there are an awful lot of dumpster fires burning everywhere right now, but you guys? This one is worth paying attention to.


The Info:

Photo by Bri McDaniel Photography

Stephanie Kaloi

Stephanie is a photographer, writer, and Ravenclaw living in California with her family. She is super into reading, road trips, and adopting animals on a whim. Forewarning: all correspondence will probably include a lot of punctuation and emoji (!!! 😊 🎉 🎉).

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  • Doctors who currently lie to their patients, or will now thanks to TX making this legal, shouldn’t be doctors. What happened to “do no harm”? Not informing your patient about their health seems like a huge harm to me.

    Also, I’m SO TIRED of this assault on women and shame on the people behind this bill (or any other bills that try to restrict abortion access). I don’t know how they sleep at night.

    • Another Meg

      They sleep dreaming of teeny tiny fully formed fetuses that they seem to think pop into existence when a woman gets a positive pregnancy test. And of fallen women’s lives being ruined.

      So, peacefully.

  • Ashlah

    This makes me SO ANGRY. My husband and I are on the opposite end of you, Stephanie, in that, although we are low risk, we have opted for all the early genetic screening we could get. And the idea of a doctor deciding that we didn’t deserve to have the information determined by those tests? So, so incredibly infuriating and disturbing. It makes me sick to think about a doctor who would actually do this. Feeling very thankful right now for all of the medical providers we’ve interacted with so far. As you pointed out, this doesn’t only affect people who would choose to terminate, but anyone who would otherwise have access to medical care or early intervention that could make a life-changing difference. Unbelievable.

    • CMT

      Rage and frustration at the misogyny and hypocrisy of Old White Dude Lawmakers is pretty much all I feel these days. It’s stressing me out and also doesn’t feel very productive. I wish I knew better ways to channel it.

      • Sarah E

        Get Bullish has had some great work/life/resist balance content lately. I feel the same– very hard to focus, particularly when I work in a (progressive-minded) white male dominated industry.

      • Kalë

        Shameless plug – Indivisible Juneau is having its second meeting tonight from 5-6 at the IBEW Hall that’s across from Harborview/next to Harri’s plumbing. I’ll be working late and can’t make it tonight, but they are Making Things Happen (and is composed of mostly people my parents age, so I’m sure they would love to see some more young-er blood!).

    • BSM

      And you know what causes me to feel a whole new level of nausea about this? I bet there are PLENTY of doctors in Texas and around the country who are thrilled at the idea of a law like this being implemented.

      • idkmybffjill

        The one thing that comforts me about this is that I know an OBGyn personally in Texas who specializes in high risk pregnancies. She’s as livid about this as anyone and I know would never withhold that information from a pregnant woman. I’m so hopeful there are more doctors like her than not.

    • Amie Melnychuk

      We also choose to do the integrated prenatal screening, even though we were low risk, for both of our pregnancies. We wanted to be prepared if our child would be born with disability or was likely to show signs of one later on. We wanted to make sure we could have the support system in place should a situation occur.

      But to not disclose that, at all, is horrible.

    • BSM

      Unrelated: Ashlah, were you able to find out the sex of your baby relatively early on due to cffDNA testing? Or something else?

      • Ashlah

        You are correct, we did the NIPT through Progenity (at least I’m 99% sure cffDNA and NIPT refer to the same thing? So many acronyms!). We’re low risk, so we had to ask for it and it isn’t covered by our insurance. We had to call the Center for Genetics and Maternal Fetal Medicine at our local hospital, which is also where we did a Nuchal Translucency ultrasound. The doctor there basically paid lip service to the fact that low-risk couples don’t need to do it, but was also really supportive of people who wanted it anyway. Progenity was running a promotion at the time so that without insurance coverage, it still cost only $99 for both NIPT and carrier screening together.

        • BSM

          Thank you!

      • idkmybffjill

        Not Ashlah, but we were able to find out the sex at just over 11 weeks due to this genetic testing! It analyzes chromosomes, so they were able to tell us which ones were present (ours is a boy/had a y chromosome present).

        • BSM

          That’s exactly what I’ve read!

          1) So awesome, and 2) How crazy is it that this technology exists??

          If you don’t mind sharing, about how much was it? I’m assuming insurance doesn’t cover it?

          • idkmybffjill

            1) right? 2) Insane!!

            It was covered by insurance completely even though we’re very low risk (I’m 29, no family history of genetic disorders). The tests we used were MaterniT21 & Counsyl Carrier Screening. Each were a $20 copay, but I think were maybe $200 without insurance.

          • BSM

            Nice! I think we’re very low risk, as well (I’m 27 and no family history of genetic disorders; husband is 32 and same). We actually did the Counsyl screening as part of some preconception testing, and it was covered (for me… my husband on the other hand…), so hopefully the MaterniT21 will be too!

            Thanks for your help! It’s been amazing to have you and Ashlah a few weeks ahead of me as I wade through all the pregnancy stuff. And congrats on your baby boy!!

          • Hannah B

            materniT21 is realllll expensive if there’s no medical reason for doing the test (such as history, maternal age or an indicative quad screen) . Mine got done without preapproval from insurance since our quad screen came up “positive” for downs and our doc had to write a letter to justify the more expensive screen…in NY it was a few thousand dollars and did get eventually covered. (LO does not have Downs, despite her elevated chance for it, and I am thinking of foregoing quad screen next time unless there are physical indicators on the ultrasound).

          • BSM

            I think it must vary based on your location and insurance because it sounds like it *was* covered for @rachelbrownjohn:disqus. I also just estimated my cost on their website using my insurance info, and it looks like I’ll just be paying a copay, as well.

    • idkmybffjill

      Same here. We just got our genetic results (all is good, thank goodness), and were very low risk to begin with – but knowledge is power. I literally can’t imagine wondering if I could trust the results.

      • Ashlah

        Hooray for your good results!

        • idkmybffjill

          Same to you!! I feel so lucky to have had them even though we’re low risk. Feels so good to know the most possible (for us).

  • Essssss

    Can you add any actions we can take? Who do we call or who is gathering petition signatures, etc.? I know maybe that has the most impact for people in Texas, but help, next steps please!

  • Lawyerette510

    Thank you for writing about this really horrible law. If this is a preview of what will be coming in the Compact, I’m even more excited than I already was.

    The Texas legislature is such garbage. Thankfully it’s only in session every other year, because when it is, it spends most the time just fucking with everyone who’s not a middle-class and above straight, CIS, Christian, white man. That’s why most of my donations (other than those for IRC, ACLU, Planned Parenthood and SPLC) go to organizations working in Texas (like Battleground Texas, Annie’s List, Jane’s Due Process, and Texas Equal Access Fund). Both because of the number of people impacted when Texas passes these laws, and because it’s my home state. While I don’t live there now and very well may not again anytime soon, it is where I spent the first 22 years of my life and will always be “home” and part of my identity; so I want it to do better.

    • Wow the Legislature is only in session every other year? What happens when something comes up in an off-year that needs to be addressed?

      • CMT

        Off topic, I know, but I do find this interesting. They’re not the only state like this! And don’t even get me started on Nebraska’s unicameral “nonpartisan” legislature. http://www.ncsl.org/research/about-state-legislatures/annual-versus-biennial-legislative-sessions.aspx

        • I learned about Nebraska this year and I was so surprised! I’ve always lived in states with 2 chambers that meet annually, I had no idea there were different systems out there.

          • CMT

            Nebraska really throws a wrench in your research if you want to use party control of each legislative body as one of your variables.

          • emmers

            Yes, this is crazy news to me!

      • Lawyerette510

        Yeah, it’s only in odd years and for 140 days that they are scheduled to be in session. The governor can call a special session that lasts for up to 30 days. The governor and lt. governor have a lot of authority as well.

    • sofar

      We live here now and are about to buy a house here. And stuff like this is WHY we are doing so. We are going to own a piece of this state, vote our asses off and work with others who feel like us (and so many do) to oust these cretins from OUR state. :)

      So happy to hear you are donating to organizations working on the ground here. That is so amazing. I know so many former Texans who still identify as Texans (and brag about being Texans wherever they move) and then, when news like this hits, they say “Thank god I left and moved to a more progressive area.” That’s FINE to move (I’ve moved many times for many reasons), but my god, I wish people would put their money where their mouth is. And money for progressive causes goes a long way down here. :)

      • Lawyerette510

        I’m really glad y’all are there and digging in to do the work. There are so many good people who have moved to Texas and are engaging as well as people from there who continue to do the good work. A classmate and friend of mine from elementary school is running for local office as a liberal and it’s like “fuck yes!”

        I am one of those people who in many ways continued to identify as Texan, but like you, I get really annoyed with people who love identifying as Texan and then disassociate or talk about how they “had to” leave because of the right-wing aspect (and maybe have drunkly yelled in a very public setting at one such person, once).

        While I ended up moving from central Texas to the SF Bay Area, when I did it, I thought it was temporary and just for law school, and had every intention of returning to Texas and working to push for better. Ended up I fell in love with a Californian who really needs to live driving-distance the mountains to be happy.

        • sofar

          Can’t blame you for falling in love with your new surroundings! Such an awesome area you live in.

          I came to Texas because I fell in love with a Texan, so I know how it is. :)

          • Lawyerette510

            Your ending up in Texas makes me think of when Mr. Lawyerette and I were falling in love. He told one of his friends about me, and that friend (who had been married and divorced from a Texan) said “There are two things you need to know about Texans, they love to drink and they want to move home once they fall in love.”

            Mr. Lawyerette proceeded to briefly freak-out, and I told him that I understood his love for the mountains was greater than my love for Texas. That said, I think eventually we’ll end up closer to Texas, probably in New Mexico.

          • MC

            New Mexico has some AMAZING mountains and generally progressive laws! Best of the Southwest in my wholly unbiased opinion :)

          • Lawyerette510

            I share your opinion. I am totally in love with northern New Mexico.

  • Cellistec

    Thanks Stephanie for writing about this! I might not have heard about it otherwise.

    On a related note, when does The Compact go live? I see it in my FB feed and get excited every time there’s a new post. There’s going to be a freestanding website too, right?

    • Eenie

      August! Or at least that’s what Instagram keeps saying.

  • Katharine Parker

    This is a shameful attempt to undo not only the hard-won gains of the women’s health movement, but also the patients’ rights movement. Doctors and legislators should not have the right to decide what it is in a patient’s best interest to know. One of the basic principles of bioethics is respect for autonomy and the patient’s right to give informed consent to medical care. Not being told about serious health concerns over a fetus is not giving the patient informed consent.

  • Natalie

    SO much rage about this hypocrisy and jeopardizing of women’s health.

    I have a family practice doctor I like a lot (e.g., he’s been a fantastic travel doctor, with great tips that I didn’t know even though I travel to remote tropical locations regularly). But he was a “missionary doctor” (his words), and I fear that means he’s anti-choice. Which wouldn’t a big deal for me at a stage in my life where I’m going to be TTC soon, except that I fear he might lie to me the way these Texas lawmakers want to be legal. The fact that I worry I can’t trust my doctor is a huge problem. (My doctor has not acted in any way that makes me distrust him; it’s simply the fact that there’s a conservative push to allow doctors to lie to their patients about fetal health that has me concerned to stay with a doctor who might be anti-choice).

    • MDBethann

      While I’m not a doctor, I did engage in missionary work through my Lutheran church about 10 years ago; all faiths – liberal and conservative – engage in missionary work. I would hope that someone who has traveled abroad as a medical doctor to care for the poor would know better than to impose his religious beliefs on his patients.

      • Natalie

        Yes, for sure there are tons of liberal missionary doctors. And someone who spends decades of his life doing missionary medical work is likely a good person. I have no specific reason not to trust this doctor, and I like him. But the fact that I live in a very conservative state, and the fact that a tiny minority of doctors do lie to their patients for religious reasons, makes me nervous.

        • Perhaps if you asked him his views before you started trying to conceive, he’d let you know and you could be informed about whether you feel comfortable continuing with him or not?

  • E&J

    This is outrageous for all of the reasons stated by Stephanie. As someone who is currently pregnant I can’t imagine not trusting my doctor to be 100% honest with me 100% of the time. It would send my already anxious brain over the edge wondering what they were keeping from me.

    • idkmybffjill

      Thissss. There’s so much I’m trusting my doctor completely to interpret for me. I can’t look at a sonogram and know if things look okay or not… if I couldn’t trust my doctor, I honestly might consider moving to go somewhere I could trust them. I’m that anxious.

  • BSM

    Hell yes to everything you said, Stephanie, AND, just think about the unintended consequences of this.

    If a doctor can and will lie to his patient about her health and the health of her fetus, what incentive does she have to believe *anything* he says? How many women will ignore other prenatal advice or just skip going to the doctor altogether (OB or otherwise) if this becomes the norm? It would truly bring all prenatal care (and, imo, all healthcare) into question.

    • NolaJael

      Welp, that comment made me really sad. :(

    • Another Meg

      Prenatal healthcare is hard enough to figure out. My doctor is pretty much the only one I can trust because she’s also going to be in the delivery room with me. THIS IS THE WORST.

  • NolaJael

    This is terrifying on so many levels but here’s just one: THERE ARE OTHER DECISIONS BESIDES ABORTION THAT THIS DIRECTLY AFFECTS.

    What if a pregnant woman is considering changing jobs that might affect her quality of health insurance? Or buying a house that might be more or less accessible? Or considering moving further away from her social network for a life opportunity?

    All of these things could make raising a loved wanted child (who happens to have a disability) significantly more difficult, but as an adult woman she could be denied critical information to make life decisions about her body and her child under a paternalist, patronizing “doctor knows best” law. Absolutely terrifying.

    • Hannah Paige Woodard

      RIGHT?! This is the thing that drives me crazy about this. If you truly want to protect children with disabilities, you need to make as much health information available to their parents as possible, as early as possible. NOT LESS!

    • idkmybffjill

      This this this this this. Also it robs her and her family of the opportunity to prepare their home for a child that might have special needs. Or to make sure the hospital where she’s delivering is equipped! It’s crazyyyy.

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  • laddibugg

    I do not understand this…your healthcare provider can look you in the eye and say “Everything is fine” when everything’s not fine?

    • Natalie

      Exactly.

    • LadyJanee

      This is what I’m confused about – surely you don’t become a doctor and then willfully lie to your patient?? I know there are bad doctors out there but I was assuming that was just a few bad eggs in an otherwise good carton but this just seems to be madness. How could anyone have any faith in the health care system after this?

      • laddibugg

        I just simply cannot wrap my head around that. There were so many times when my OB said “Everything looks great with the baby”….how can you say that when it’s not true? Will doctors just say nothing?

        • LadyJanee

          Silence would at least alert you to the fact that you need to get a second opinion. I just don’t want to believe that doctors would seriously do this… although that could be my own ignorance and living within a completely different system.

  • Violet

    I’m confused… why would they then even bother with any kind of prenatal testing, ultrasounds, etc., if they’re just going to lie or omit results? Oh wait… so that they can still bill for it. Gotcha. Wow. Healthcare in America.

    • NolaJael

      But your doctor might not lie to you? But how would you know? Intuition? Just flipping crazy. And can they lie about lying? What if you ask your doctor directly if they would lie to in those circumstances before they come up? Is there any medical ethics rule covering that?

      • CMT

        There’s gotta be some ethics rules about this, right??! Is that just wishful thinking?

        • G.

          It violates the AMA’s code of ethics, specifically its principle to be honest. But law and ethics don’t necessarily go hand-in-hand, and unless the state licensing board is going to privilege ethics over state law, there’s no consequences for lying if the law goes into effect (it exists in other states already via legislation than bans “wrongful birth” lawsuits, that is, you can’t sue a doctor when a baby is born with X issue even if the dr. knew and didn’t disclose. https://rewire.news/article/2017/03/03/texas-could-join-states-allowing-doctors-lie-pregnant-people/).

      • Cellistec

        Clearly you just pair up one doctor who always lies and one who always tells the truth, and then you have to play them against each other, Labyrinth-style. Because we have the time and mental bandwidth for playing mind games with our doctors.

        • Violet

          Ooh ooh, I got it. OBs in progressive North Eastern states set up a pro bono service to receive faxed TX medical records and give a truthful response as to what they mean.

          • Cellistec

            Yes, and since no one uses fax machines anymore, how about you can take a cell phone photo of them and text them to a reliable OB? I mean, they’re your records, right? Are there rules against taking photos of your own records?

          • Violet

            I’m pretty sure (lawyers, challenge me) you can do what you want with your own protected health information. The response back would probably have to be HIPAA-compliant format, though. But it’s easy enough to encrypt an email.

          • Cellistec

            Ah, HIPAA may be tricky in this situation. But yeah, nothing that hasn’t been worked around before.

          • Mariah

            YOU are allowed to distribute your medical records however you want – you can hire a skywriter to transcribe them for the whole world if that floats your boat. HIPAA only governs what other people (like doctors, insurance companies, or employers) do with your medical records.

          • NolaJael

            But how would you know you *needed* a second opinion if your doc said everything was fine?!

          • Violet

            I’d just assume, if in Texas, my doc could be lying to me (therefore whatever they have to say becomes null), and fax my stuff over to a doctor across state lines. I’m kind of making this up as a possible solution; not literally saying that’s what I’d do.

          • Janet Hélène

            Actually medicine is one of the few areas where faxes are still widely used, although electronic medical records transmission is rising.

            And there are no rules against having access to your records – you can do with them what you will, they are technically your property

          • Sarah

            I travelled around 35 weeks pregnant and got a copy of my records, including the ultrasound measurements, etc no problem to carry with me in case of a problem.

        • VKD_Vee

          HA HA HA HA!

      • Violet

        This is the thing that’s blowing my mind- if I can’t be sure the results being told are the true results, then why get the test at all? So confused. How could they still recommend any kind of prenatal health care if it’s all suspect?

  • Amy March

    I feel so bad for all the women whose only hospital option is church run. I know not all doctors hold the beliefs of the bigger organization, and hospitals themselves can be more or less religious, I just find it so concerning to have a hospital with a faith background as your only choice.

    • anon

      Especially since not all religious hospitals mark themselves as such or disclose what their policies are in an accessible way.

      • Natalie

        Yup. My nearest hospital is “St. MaleName.” The website discloses absolutely nothing about religious affiliation. Maybe it’s not religiously affiliated, but maybe it is. I am having a damned difficult time figuring it out.

  • Kara

    I’ve lived in Texas all my life, and there are many things my state’s lawmakers have done that make me ashamed to call this state home–this being one of the many things.

    Actions:
    Donate to Planned Parenthood (Go to the Donate tab, choose “Specific Giving”, choose any of the 3 Texas options)
    Donate to ACLU

    Additional question I have about this:
    Would this mean doctors could avoid sharing potential living saving information if the mother is in danger, but the fetus has issues??? I mean, that could lead the mother to DYING.

  • Basketcase

    Another thing not mentioned here – for those women who find out there is something wrong, and have the chance to make that decision. If they keep the baby, they have advance warning to prepare themselves for what their future will hold.
    It’s one thing to find out at 20 weeks that your child may have X syndrome / disability, and will need Y treatment over the course of their life. Its another entirely to find that out at birth, potentially with a stillbirth!
    Different birthing situations are required for certain issues – our child HAD to be born at a tertiary hospital, rather than the birthing centre originally planned, due to risks associated with 2 vessel cord, because we needed extra monitoring and the option of very urgent c-section if things went off-kilter. I was glad to know this, as terrified as I also was of all the extra risks involved in carrying the pregancy.

    Another friend had a baby with a diaphragm hernia. A baby she carried to term and who is a wonderful 4 year old now. Again, finding out before birth meant there was a plan in place at birth that SHE was aware of and understanding the need for. If the doctors hadn’t told her, then demanded things for the birth? How confusing would that be? If they hadn’t told her, and the she had given birth at home because “everything is fine”, that baby would likely have died within hours of birth.

    • Violet

      I can just imagine the conversation:
      Pt: “I’m planning on a home birth.”
      Doc: “You’re really gonna wanna go to a hospital.”
      Pt: “Why?”
      Doc: “Oh… no reason…”

      • Grace

        Or worse: “Because I said so.”

    • MDBethann

      Can you imagine being either under anesthesia or just exhausted from delivery and having to make those sorts of life and death decisions about your newborn? I was in labor for only 10 hours (no drugs) and awake for 24 hours when my daughter was born. There was NO WAY either my husband or I could have made a decision about those sorts of things blind. I know people do it because of delivery complications and that things can happen, but it shouldn’t be a regular occurence.

      • Basketcase

        I was awake 36 hours, active labour 12 of that, early stages another 12 before that.
        I was shattered. Thankfully nothing major happened, but yeah, I already don’t remember how many people were in the room when the OB started pulling with foreceps to get stuck baby out of exhausted me.
        I cant imagine how bad it would have been to have discovered unexpected complications at that point.

        • Hannah B

          same!!!!!! vacuum not forceps but i couldn’t get out of the chair when they wheeled me to my room, let alone make decisions

    • Em

      This is super important. One of my oldest friends had a little girl with a congenital heart defect a couple of years ago. They found out fairly early on and from there were channelled into a whole lot of specialist appointments to prepare for her birth – there was a very detailed birth plan that needed to be developed because she needed to be rushed into surgery basically as soon as she was born. I can’t even begin to understand how that could happen with a law like this.

    • Eh

      My niece has a severe disability and it was partially discovered at the anatomy scan (partially because they found out that she had a severe disability but the type of disability wasn’t clearly). She had to be born at a tertiary hospital (instead of the community hospital near there house) and they had plans to immediately transfer my niece to a children’s hospital (which was next door). I am imagining how this conversation would have gone down if they lived in Texas and this law was passed.

  • Alice

    As a medically inclined person– a vet student–and, of course, as a woman and human, I am absolutely appalled by this. I would never even consider lying to an owner about a DOG’s health condition. I can only hope that, laws aside, the medical profession will have the integrity not to take advantage of this legislation. Just because you can do something, doesn’t mean you should.

    • My partner is a med student and we have a number of friends at various stages of medical training– and everyone we know is horrified by this shit coming out of the Texas legislature. This goes against so much training in ethics and informed consents and patients’ rights.

  • Emily

    Ok, so I just yelled “are you f*cking kidding me?!” Luckily, my office door is closed. I live in MI so I don’t think calling legislators will help–any suggestions on how to help stop this nonsense?

    • BSM

      Donate to organizations that are fighting this BS legislation and providing quality family planning services to people in Texas (and elsewhere).

      A good place to look are organizations that are Title X grantees, which means they are recipients of the only federal grant program dedicated solely to providing individuals with comprehensive family planning and related preventive health services. There is only ONE in the whole state of Texas, Women’s Health and Family Planning: https://www.whfpt.org/. A full directory of grantees can be found here: https://www.hhs.gov/opa/sites/default/files/title-x-directory-grantees.pdf

  • MDBethann

    The heck with whether or not to terminate the pregnancy (though every woman should have that option if she wants it). How in heaven’s name are families supposed to prepare for a child with a disability if their doctor knows while the woman is pregnant and doesn’t tell her? it has insurance repercussions, delivery repercussions, treatment implications, maybe even affect the ability of the woman or her partner to hold a job or care for other children. I’m 11 weeks pregnant with my 2nd child and I damn well want to know ASAP if there is something wrong with my fetus so my husband and I can make an informed decision about our family. We can’t do that if our doctors withhold information from us. Thank goodness I live in Maryland, but I have great empathy for Texas families.

    • Another Meg

      Maryland is a magical place. I live in Chicago and the closest clinic to terminate a pregnancy at 25 weeks (for, say, MEDICAL ISSUES) is in Maryland.

      • MDBethann

        Chicago’s closest place to terminate after 20 weeks is Maryland? That’s messed up.

        • Another Meg

          After 24 weeks, but still. I couldn’t believe it when they told me.

        • Amy March

          There are very few doctors who perform third trimester abortions.

          • MDBethann

            I understand that. I was just floored that a major city like Chicago didn’t have any providers like that. I mistakenly assumed that major cities, especially in more liberal states like Illinois, would have services like that available.

          • Em

            There’s a great (but incredibly emotionally draining) article by a woman based in NYC who had a late-term abortion in Colorado, I think (have just found it – here: http://jezebel.com/interview-with-a-woman-who-recently-had-an-abortion-at-1781972395). So major cities are not necessarily always where it’s at in terms of these services (but I agree it seems weird).

          • Eh

            Even in Canada where we have no abortion laws at all (the previous one was overturned by the supreme court in 1988 and no federal government will touch the subject) access to late term abortions is difficult. My friend found out at 21 weeks that her baby had severe medical issues and she was told that she had to make a decision immediately about terminating because few doctors in the major city we live in will do late term abortions and after 22 weeks it was going to be very difficult for her to find anyone to do the procedure.

      • anon

        What’s nuts is that even non-religious hospitals in MD face issues — an ob-gyn friend of mine who practices in MD has told me stories of nurses, anesthesiologists, and surgical techs getting in the way of late-term abortions via refusing to participate, even when the woman’s life was in danger. And this is in an excellent hospital in a state with relatively reasonable laws.

      • Angela Howard

        Shhhh… but CO has a clinic as well.

        • Another Meg

          TWO WHOLE CLINICS! Damn, our men (in charge) are spoiling us.

    • Sarah

      Yeah, NARAL gives MD an A rating. We’re fortunate..one of the drs in After Tiller is right in Germantown. I live literal seconds (like I can walk into DE from my driveway) from DE and very close to PA. The MFM unit in DE (closest one to me) basically said “yeah, if something is wrong here you’ll need to go to MD.”

    • Another Meg

      Also just AMEN to your whole comment. It’s not like everyone in the world is prepared to take care of a baby with a disability right off the bat. Some folks (like myself) would need time to prepare.

      • Heather

        Seriously! That has been my #1 argument. In trivial news, I just found out at 16.5 weeks that I’m having a (totally healthy) boy and need time to wrap my head around it- big life changes always benefit from advance notice!

  • Amy March

    This law says that women are less human than men. Women, and uniquely women, are too delicate, too emotional, to be told the truth about their bodies. This, to me, is the very heart of feminism.

    • Violet

      Oh, I think it shows how angry some men are that women can do something they cannot do. So they try to wedge themselves into the process wherever they can and wrest control away from women as much as possible. Maybe because we’re “too delicate,” but maybe because they’re drunk on jealous insecurity and unable to handle the one scenario where men don’t get the say.

  • Sarah

    when I saw these headlines I thought the issue was “just” about doctors lying about abortion risks, procedures, fetuses feeling pain, etc. This is off the wall crazy. And sad that I think lying about the other things is just now par for the course.

    • Angela Howard

      THIS.

  • gipsygrrl

    I’ve been reading about this issue this weekend, and I have to ask the legal folks around here: is this possible? Is this enforceable in any way? I mean, how would this not be in direct contradiction to the hippocratic oath? Among (hopefully) other things too that others have mentioned (HIPPA, I’m not sure what else). But I just can’t wrap my head around how a state could make it legally possible to withhold information like this. Think of the precedent it would set in every realm: if a doctor wanted to withhold information related to someone’s cancer prognosis because of their age, or WHATever… aren’t there (many) laws and ethics regulations in place to prevent this happening in the medical field? AREN’T THERE?!?

    • Amy March

      Sure it’s enforceable. You don’t tell me my fetus has a condition. I sue you for damages. You win, citing as your defense “the law says I can lie to you about this.” The Hippocratic Oath is a guideline, not a law.

      That being said, this will definitely face a constitutional challenge.

      • anon

        The way these laws work in other states is that they effectively bar patients from suing providers or hospitals for not disclosing the relevant info. Barring malpractice suits (“wrongful birth” in this case) gives patients very little room to maneuver. The law completely violates medical ethics, both the duty to be honest and the duty to provide informed consent, but medical ethics are not law. And without the ability to sue, there is little legal recourse.

        • BSM

          And malpractice suits are no walk in the park, even if you have ample evidence supporting your claim. I spent months pursuing a malpractice case for, what no fewer than 10 lawyers described as an “open and shut case,” to have none of them take my case because any money I received as a result of the ruling wouldn’t have been enough to cover the cost of going to trial.

          I cannot even imagine doing that kind of legwork with a newborn (potentially with unexpected disabilities) or in the light of having lost a child.

      • gipsygrrl

        I hear you. How would it face a constitutional challenge… what would the law be violating?

        • Amy March

          The same constitutional protections abortion restriction laws always implicate. States cannot place an “undue burden” on the ability to obtain an abortion. I’d expect this law, if enacted, will be challenged along the same lines as the Whole Women’s Health case last year.

    • Violet

      The Hippocratic Oath is not law, and HIPAA is about keeping protected health information secure and private when transferred between health care providers. Neither of those apply here.

      • gipsygrrl

        Thanks – do you think there’s anything that DOES apply here?

        • Violet

          Possibly informed consent? Though I agree with Amy March, advocates do best by going after “undue burden” when challenging the ridiculous things Texas throws at abortion (like making women pay for fetus funerals, that kind of thing).

    • AmandaBee

      They’ll get challenged on restricting access to an abortion, I’m sure. But they’ll argue that a woman still has access, technically, just not the knowledge that she might want one.

      I imagine HIPPA could come into play if the argument is that the law violates a woman’s right to access her own medical records. But HIPPA doesn’t require doctors to tell you on the spot about what your med records contain, and it could take 30 days to get your records, at which point some women may not longer be able to access abortion. I’m also sure Texas legislators will try to argue that fetal records aren’t the same as the mothers records, or some other bullshit.

  • Jessica

    At our monthly neighborhood meeting our local senator came to speak on the legislative agenda and made the point about making sure to communicate to the governor what you feel about any bill like this. The governors have veto power, and if they want to get elected they should be using their common sense instead of mob rule.

    I’m not saying Abbott is a totally reasonable person–I just had to google who the Texan governor was. But making sure all branches of government know it’s an unpopular bill is huge.

    • Lawyerette510

      You make a good point about communicating will all elected reps, including governors. That said, Abbott is a totally unreasonable person, especially about issues related to the rights of women or people who are trans or anyone not heterosexual.

  • Pingback: Texas Lawmakers Want It to Be Legal for Your Doctor to Lie to Women | Wedding Adviser()

  • Kelsey

    Beautifully written and articulated- thank you Stephanie!

  • idkmybffjill

    THIS MAKES ME SO WILDLY UPSET I CANNOT EVEN.

  • Gina

    I’m late to this party, but I’ve been thinking about this a lot and I really think this shouldn’t be surprising considering the current (and past) treatment of women in the OB field. I took a reproductive medical ethics class in law school that was cross-listed with the med school, and there is a dark, completely non-science-based side to obstetrics that would not be there if we were talking about men’s health care. And it’s not just birth in the 1950s, when women were tied to beds and drugged into forgetting everything. It’s today. You see it with doctors not asking for consent for giving episiotimies, or hospital policy “requiring” other non-evidence-based practices (staying in bed, standard IVs, forbidding women from eating, etc). There are a lot of things OBs do routinely that are NOT medically indicated and that can have long-term effects on the woman’s body, but we are supposed to trust that they know what’s best and not ask any questions. When in reality, they’re just doing it because they were trained to do it that way, often in direct contravention of current research and ACOG recommendations. I am not someone that is anti-medicine or anti-science in any way; my dad is a doctor and two of my siblings are in med school. I respect medicine immensely. But obstetrics is so far behind other fields of medicine in terms of following evidence-based practices and current research, and I really believe it is that way because it’s “just” women. We are left to bear the burdens of what happened, and told to be happy because we have a healthy baby, even if we feel violated and traumatized.

    This law is a huge step backwards, but it’s really not surprising. We already don’t give women options or autonomy over their bodies for their births. Why should we give it to them during pregnancy?

  • CommaChick

    Late but have to post: This has been a thing in Kansas for years, and the states that don’t allow patients to sue physicians for withholding information or lying are Arizona, Idaho, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, North Carolina, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, South Dakota and Utah.

  • Katy

    A little late to the discussion here. But woah, this is just nuts! There are so many reasons that this is wrong. As a future doctor myself, the idea of withholding information like this from a patient makes me feel sick. Difficult conversations and tough decisions are part of the job, and doctors should not be given the legal permission to avoid conversations that potentially have a HUGE impact on multiple lives. And lawmakers DEFINITELY should not be involved in this conversation AT ALL other than to say that patients have the legal right to access health information about THEIR OWN BODIES.

    Also, what if altering the course of prenatal care, such as administering medications, hormones or other treatments to the mother, greatly improves the health outcomes of the child? When I (hopefully) become pregnant someday, I sure as hell would want to do everything I can to ensure the best health possible for my child, disability or not. I wouldn’t be able to do that if my doctor was intentionally withholding information from me.

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