It’s an old expression, “when you were just a glint in your daddy’s eye.” It means back before you were even conceived, when your male parent was hoping to get laid sometime soon. It is also, in the view of the Arizona legislature, when life begins for the pre-born.
Arizona’s new anti-abortion law has also been characterized as the “egg drop bill” but I would rather not associate it with Chinese soup, thank you very much. I would never be able to face the buffet table again or follow the directions for making fried rice.
The bill at issue defines the beginning of a pregnancy as “calculated from the first day of the last menstrual period of the pregnant woman.” Sorry, ladies, every single one of you who is menstruating, from the pre-teen who experienced menarch at 10 to the lady lucky (or unlucky depending on your perspective) enough not to have completed menopause at 65 is potentially preggers. According to this bill, life begins two to three weeks before the sperm meets the egg.
The bill prohibits all abortions after the 18th week of gestational age, and in defining gestational age at “first day of the last menstrual period” it cuts the window for an abortion by four to five weeks to an actual gestational age of 15 weeks. Most states cut off elective abortions at 20 weeks, the earliest point at which a premature baby is viable with advanced medical assistance. It is also, ironically, the point at which the Catholic Church determined that life begins before Pope Sixtus V decided to ban all birth control and abortions. The assault on post-20 week abortions is out of proportion with the facts. Only 1.5% of abortions are performed after the 20th week, and almost always for medical reasons. Only 3.8% of abortions are performed between the 16th and 20th week. We have laws covering abortions after the first trimester (13 weeks). These news laws are showboating.
Another law they have passed protects doctors from lawsuits if they fail to advise a pregnant woman of a problem that might cause her to seek an abortion. Hence, if a woman dies because a doctor doesn’t tell her that the pregnancy can kill her, her husband cannot sue the doctor. If a woman carries to term a severely deformed fetus that requires tens of thousands of dollars of medical care only to die within days or weeks, she cannot sue the doctor for the emotional stress or the financial ruin that pregnancy caused.
The third law mandates that school health classes only teach children that birth and adoption are the only options for unwanted pregnancies.
My concern here is with the second law. Others will fight out the gestational age and the school curriculum. Protecting doctors who lie to their patients is completely unacceptable on so many levels. That is what this law does. It protects doctors who violate their sacred oaths as physicians. It allows a doctor to decide who lives and who dies. It lets a doctor choose between the life of a mother and the life of a “pre-born baby” based on his own ideology. It removes one of the most important means patients have to protect themselves from carelessness or disregard for the patient’s rights.
All the ultrasound laws and waiting periods and counseling laws have been justified as being needed to assure that women make an informed choice about an abortion. This law is the opposite. It gives permission to doctors to deny a woman an informed choice.
If a doctor has to tell me that having back surgery involves being face down on the operating table and being face down while under anesthesia can, in very rare circumstances, cause blindness, this law breaks laws and professional standards and violates the agreements reached by doctors with their malpractice insurance provider. The law does not cover the nurses or technicians who also interact with a pregnant woman, leaving them open to dismissal by their employer if they disclose the information that he is withholding while allowing them to be the target of any malpractice suit that may occur. It exempts one profession in just one situation from the laws governing the practice of that profession, and in isolating that one situation, probably violates the Constitution the way other single-use laws do.
It is bad law and bad medicine.