Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Why Does Indiana Want to Make Doctors into Targets?

There's great news coming out of Louisiana that the emergency rules that could have caused a 30 day wait for an abortion, and later, still potentially shut down all of the clinics in the state, have been rescinded -- for now at least.

Indiana, too, has seen a massive overreach TRAP bill in their legislature this session, and like Louisiana some uproar has pulled some teeth from the bill, making it unlikely to immediately close every clinic in the state. But despite the changes, the bill still puts them all in danger by requiring every doctor who agrees to provide follow-up care on the rare case that there is a post-abortion complication have their name and contact information listed publicly.

Does this benefit the patients who might need them? Not really. Much as you don't suss out the info for any potential emergency room doctor you might need someday, if you need treatment you want immediate help, not a physician's credentials beforehand.

What it does do, however, is paint giant targets on these physicians' backs. That's exactly the point of the bill.

For the most part, we like to believe that we've left the days of abortion providers in physical danger behind us. Having ridden in a car with one on the way to the clinic one day, watching her casually brush aside her bullet proof vest to give me room on the seat next to her, I can say that for a number of them those days aren't as far distant as we like to believe.

However, whatever your belief about the physical danger providers and those associate with them may be in, there are many other ways to intimidate, harass and harm a physician. And there are extremist, anti-choice groups willing to engage in any of these tactics they think will lead to less abortions.

In Huntsville, Alabama, an anti-choice group announced plans to protest a hospital for continuing to employ a doctor who provides follow up care to doctors performing abortions in local clinics.

In a Chicago suburb, Dr. Cheryl Chastine was protested repeatedly at her private practice, which didn't provide terminations, as Pro-Life Action League sought to force her to stop providing abortions in Wichita.

A landlord in Maryland saw his 6th grade child protested at her school, as anti-choice activists tried to pressure him out of renting to Dr. Leroy Carhart.

The owner of Dr. Mila Means office was threatened with protests if he allowed the Wichita physician to perform first trimester abortions in her private practice. She later received a letter to her home address saying that anti-choice terrorists knew her car and she should check it for explosives.

Cleveland Right to Life has had a series of outrageous claims against one local doctor, urging their allies to contact her university to have the institution "end its collaboration" with her and the "abortion industry."

Survivors of the Abortion Holocaust take their abortion protests to the homes of doctors they consider "abortionists." Not offices. Homes.

One Mississippi physician lost his Medical Board appointment because he provided admitting privileges -- not abortions, just privileges -- at the only abortion clinic in the state.

Think this wouldn't happen in Indiana if doctors' contact information was made public? Missionaries to the Preborn already has activities in the state, and the team at Created Equal has Indiana ties. Protesting, harassing and intimidation is the lifeblood of extremist anti-abortion groups, and a list of doctors keeping abortion clinics legally functioning is a rich pool of potential subjects for future actions.

Harassing doctors who provide abortions is nothing new or revolutionary. But anti-choice groups know that unlike abortion providers, who have an unshakable commitment to ensuring access to safe, legal abortion, going for those who are on the peripheral of provision are far more vulnerable to pressure.

Don't let Indiana pass what is in essence a contact sheet for anti-choice extremists to apply financial and physical pressure, especially when all they are doing is providing follow up care under limited and rare conditions

Indiana, let them be doctors, not targets.