Opinion / Kevin, M.D.

Lawmakers Don't Care for Patients. Doctors Do.

4 min read
And we must respond with force
On September 1, Texas Senate Bill 8 went into effect. While the law's stated goal is to severely limit a woman's constitutional right to an abortion in Texas, it also designates private citizens to sue not just abortion providers, but anyone "aiding and abetting" a woman seeking to obtain an abortion after 6 weeks of gestation. If such a lawsuit is successful, the party bringing the suit can collect a $10,000 "reward" from the state.

The law clearly seeks to intimidate anyone trying to seek or perform an abortion. However, it also has the effect of interfering with regular physicians doing their job. Primary care physicians routinely counsel patients about reproductive health. If a vigilante decided that one of us was "aiding and abetting" a patient seeking an abortion, we could be in the crosshairs as well.

It is for this reason that the law egregiously interferes with the sacred patient-physician relationship, and "places bounties on physicians and healthcare workers simply for delivering care," as correctly noted by Gerald Harmon, MD, president of the American Medical Association. The Texas Medical Association, traditionally a conservative organization, also correctly noted that SB 8 "will be precedent-setting and could normalize vigilante interference in the patient-physician relationship in other complex, controversial medical or ethical situations."

As physicians, we cannot stand quietly by. Already, state legislatures in other conservative states are looking to follow Texas's lead. We've stared down death and disability during the COVID-19 pandemic, and we cannot let cynical politicians frighten us now. Our oath and medical code of ethics command that we provide the most evidence-based and compassionate care to our patients and communities. This means fighting both for what our patients need to lead their healthiest lives and what we need to be able to provide that care to them.

So, what can we do? First, we need to give the best care for our patients.…
Joanna Bisgrove, MD
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