Saturday, January 23, 2016

Republican War on Women: Congress Wants to Publicly Identify Student Doctors Who Learn Abortion Procedures

This is the thirty-eighth in a series of articles on the subjects of women, abortion rights and the Republican Party. 

Republicans continue to say they don’t have to change their core principles, they only have to change the language they use to get their message out.  One perception they want to alter is the idea that they are running a “War on Women”.  Looking at the news over the past few years, I’d say the Republican Party has a long way to go on this subject.
  • Senator Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky): “Talk about a manufactured issue.  There is no issue.” 
  • RNC Chairman Reince Priebus:  “It’s a fiction.”
The Congressional Front

 Three separate House committees have investigated Planned Parenthood after heavily edited videos were released by mastermind Mark Crutcher this past summer.  All three committees concluded that no laws had been or were being broken.  I have lost count of the number of state investigations that have likewise failed to uncover anything illegal .  The House's latest "select" panel, however, continues to operate.

On December 17 and 18, shortly before Congress adjourned for their holiday vacation, that
Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN)
panel, led by Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), began demanding that several health care providers furnish them with the names of medical students, residents, and anyone else who may have been taught about or taken part in abortion procedures.  A second "request" was sent on January 6, just as Congress was returning to Washington.

These requests are worded in such a way as to make it a near certainty that healthcare providers will also be required to include not only information on medical personnel, but also highly sensitive medical information on any government employee who inquired about or who had an abortion.

The Democratic members of the House committee were not consulted or informed of this hunt for information and found out only after healthcare providers began asking them for explanations.  Not surprisingly, the panel's ranking Democrat, Representative Jan Schakowsky of Illinois was livid to find that Ms. Blackburn and her fellow Republicans had acted behind the backs of the Democrats on the committee.  This week, she and the other five Democrats sent a letter to Ms. Blackburn asking for an explanation and questioning the apparent change in the committee's focus.  

A federal judge recently prevented the balance of the bogus videos constructed by the Center for Medical Progress that began the Republican frenzy against Planned Parenthood from being released.  (Despite the flag-waving from the right and with no evidence of wrong-doing, the organization retained its federal funding in the new budget.)  The judge made a very limited exception and allowed Congress access to the videos, assuming that members of that august body would act responsibly.  Unfortunately, the judge over-estimated the trustworthiness of the members' staffers, one of whom leaked some of the footage and then defended his actions by saying he was "morally compelled" to leak them.

what eye thynk:  If orders from a federal judge can't keep a lid on information, how long do you think it will be before some staffer feels "morally compelled" to share the names of government employees who have had an abortion with some love-a-fetus nutcase or pseudo-journalist?  Considering the rash of violence Planned Parenthood clinics suffered following the release of those bogus videos, how long do you think it will be before someone with a gun goes looking for the women who have done nothing more than exercise their legal right?  

And speaking of rights, what right does Marsha Blackburn have to view any woman's medical records?  And what right does Marsha Blackburn have to view medical students' records or to judge their course choices?  

And what does any of this have to do with the Planned Parenthood videos Ms. Blackburn's committee is supposed to be investigating? Not a whit!

I have discussed how it is necessary for doctors to learn how to safely perform an abortion--not just to safely end an unwanted pregnancy, but for other frequent medical reasons like the treatment of uterine polyps, fibroid tumors, endometriosis, even uterine cancer. All these exclusively female medical conditions are treated with the most common of gynecological surgical procedures: a D&C, which uses techniques identical to abortion.   Mr. Crutcher may be proud of his attempts to frighten medical students--"there's a hell of a price to pay"-- but efforts like his and the intrusive activities of Congresswoman Marshal Blackburn and her fellow right-wing committee members are not protecting women's health, they are endangering it.

The Republican War on Women is "fiction?"


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