Monday, September 20, 2004

Wisconsin, Part Deux

In our ongoing If You Are a Woman of Reproductive Age, Do You Really Exist? series, more news from Wisconsin.

To refresh your memory, Wisconsin is the state where, if you are a woman, pharmacists: 1) interrogate you about your reasons for using medication, 2) demand that your justifications of said use comply with their religious beliefs, 3) refuse to fill your prescription, 4) refuse to refer you to another pharmacist, 5) ignore requests to release your medical information to another pharmacist (one you, the patient, went out and found on your own), and 6) steal your prescription and refuse to give it back to you.

In Wisconsin, a refusal-to-treat bill (AB 67) passed with a majority of votes, in both the Assembly and the Senate:

[Bill AB 67] would go further than an existing law which allows health care professionals to opt out of participating in abortions and sterilization procedures, and it would extend the right to refuse into such arenas as embryonic stem cell research and end-of-life care.

The bill doesn't require physicians to refer patients to another doctor, and it would allow physicians to refuse to withdraw feeding tubes from a terminally ill patient even if that patient's advance-care directive or living will calls for them to be withdrawn.

"We are absolutely opposed to not following a patient's wishes," said Melanie G. Ramey, executive director of the Hospice Organization and Palliative Experts of Wisconsin.

If you are a patient in a coma, taking into account your (previously) expressed wishes is always expected. Moreover, your wishes are an accepted part of the process used to determine the medical care you receive.

In contrast, in certain circles [read politicians, religious special interest groups, bureaucrats] if you are a female patient of reproductive age, one of the walking-talking-thinking variety, just the mere mention of your needs and wishes causes tremors of indignation at your impertinence/callousness/vicious tendencies to oppress and discriminate against the morally righteous/disregard for your predestined role as a wife and mother/denigration of all that is pure and sacred. Your needs and wishes alone are never enough as the basis for decisions affecting your life and your health.

You can't simply *wish" or *need* to have proper health care. You have to be raped, or [preferably] at risk of imminent death. Only then (not always, mind you, but in most cases) will the politicians regulating your medical care take you, the patient, into account.

The article concludes:

One of the bill's chief opponents, state Rep. Terese Berceau, said that the bill's broad language could be interpreted in such a way that health care professionals could avoid performing an amniocentesis because there is a small chance of causing a miscarriage (somewhere between one in 200 and one in 400, according to the March of Dimes).

Supporters -- such as Barbara Lyons, executive director for Wisconsin Right to Life -- disagree, and say opponents are "looking at hypothetical situations that don't exist."

In April of this year, Gov. Jim Doyle vetoed the bill.

The legislative director of Wisconsin Right to Life Susan Armacost has this ominous warning for Gov. Doyle:

"We are going to be back with renewed vigor on this bill for next session," Armacost said. "There will be extreme pressure on the governor next time to do something about this."

Armacost said the bill will pass both houses again, adding there will be a louder outcry for the governor if he tries to veto it again.

We better start paying attention, or the Me, Me, Me crowd will soon legislate our health care out of existence.

For more information about refusal-to-treat laws in your State, go here (PDF, page 81).

(via Maya)


At 2:22 PM, Blogger Jennifer Gale said...

If a pharmacist did this to me because he insisted that he was following his moral principles, I would very gently ask him if his moral principles were more important than getting out of the pharmacy with his teeth unbroken. Just a gentle question, you understand.


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