Why don’t we, as a progressive community, introduce legislation that would make it a felony to give healthcare advice to a pregnant woman if the advisor is not a currently licensed healthcare professional? This legislative idea and article was inspired by and with thanks to Todd Stave, Voice of Choice. However, I would add that the legislative bill should read that is would be a felony to give healthcare advice to a pregnant woman if the advisor is not a currently licensed healthcare professional 1) with a recognized OB-GYN specialization and 2) employed within a state-licensed health care facility. The implications for this legislation are such that healthcare advice would mean that clergy, Options Centers volunteers and the protesting general public would be guilty of a felony if they provided any healthcare advice to a pregnant woman. This advice would include any information about the risks of abortion, options, cancer, or emotional distress. As a bill it would target people who hold signs or offer literature that offer dubious medical claims like “abortion is murder” or “abortion stops a beating heart” or claims that a fetus can feel pain. The reasoning behind this bill would be to protect pregnant women from false medical claims, charlatans who practice medicine without a license and unlicensed individuals posing as counselors who offer unscientific, non medical information whether in the confines of an office or outside on the sidewalk.
Consider, for a moment a particular scenario. Any doctor or nurse who stands on a sidewalk telling you that your obesity is a moral failure and an offense to God, would be immediately discounted as a foolish. It’s no different than unlicensed people “advising” with their quasi-medical counseling at pregnancy centers or on the outskirts of abortion clinics. There are quacks who attempt to counsel pregnant women and have the best intentions. Take for example the protester called Linebacker who wore an apron with a white person’s rendering of what he thought Jesus looked like but who added her own touch. She glued a fetal doll to her apron (see image below, to the right). Persuasive? NO, but it does make the point that what we’re dealing with here are folks who are six peas short of a casserole, a few clowns short a circus, a few bricks short a load. You get the point. So, let’s be honest.
They’re no better than the randy salesmen who try to sell snake oil or Lydia Pinkham’s elixir or who believe that holy water helps or that serpents cure in The Almighty Temple of the Baby Jesus.
It seems only judicious that the authority of doctors to practice medicine and the authority of nurses to practice nursing should remain within their relationships with women patients, within the exam room and not out on the street or in some hole-in-the-wall called pregnancy care. When corporate entities, religious cartels, state or the federal governments or the average anti abortion buffoon attempt to micromanage medical care, they should be in fear of breaking the law. Neither reliable, professional doctors nor nurses would work on the streets outside an abortion clinic or within some fake healthcare facility without risking their license. Only hookers, hoodlums and drunks work the streets. Why should the government or any professional certification organization qualify frauds or potential felons to provide medical information?
There is precedence here. Nurses are not allowed to suggest that a pregnant woman sip some wine to ease her Braxton Hick contractions without violating the parameters of their professional practice. Priests are not supposed to participate in political activities without losing the church’s 5013C status with the IRS. Legislators are not licensed to practice medicine. Dentists aren’t allowed to give immunizations. Pharmacists are not allowed to dispense medications without a prescription.
So in this era of excessive government interference in all things private, it makes perfect sense to expect that those who counsel pregnant women should have the appropriate, state-recognized medical credentials.