They say you can’t fix stupid. But in Utah, you can most certainly elect it. Last week, Governor Gary Herbert signed a bill that makes Utah the first state to require doctors to give anesthesia to women having an abortion at 20 weeks of pregnancy or later. The governor signed this law using the excuse he wants to "err on the side of caution" just in case everyone else is wrong and a fetus can feel pain. Perhaps he used one of Jason Chaffetz’s graphs to conclude this.
Herbert, who does not have a medical degree, (or apparently any appreciation for science), signed this bill in spite of numerous objections from the medical community.
Just one of the many OB/GYNs against this new law is Dr. Leah Torres, who recently wrote:
"Current high-quality research has shown that a fetus does not possess the part of the brain that can process pain until the third trimester. This is agreed upon across various medical specialties, including obstetrics/gynecology, pediatrics, neuroscience and anesthesiology. The bill that Herbert just signed into law, proposed by State Sen. Curt Bramble (an accountant), is not even based on our present-day understanding of fetal development. He may as well have signed a bill mandating doctors to use leaches while prohibiting the use of antibiotics in treating infections."
The fact is, general anesthesia is a risk. And requiring women to be knocked out for an abortion is kind of like mandating general anesthesia for a mammogram. There’s no reason for it. Requiring medically unnecessary general anesthesia for an abortion makes a low-risk procedure less safe and more expensive.
Governor Herbert’s spokesperson, Jon Cox, essentially admitted this law has nothing to do with science or reason, and everything to do with personal belief. "The governor is adamantly pro-life," he said.
Which is interesting considering he’s also pro-gun, anti-affordable healthcare and pro-death penalty. Judging by his beliefs around those issues I have a difficult time giving any weight to his "pro-life" claim. Perhaps "anti-woman" is a more accurate description.
National media outlets reacted to the law with a series of shaming headlines. A few examples include:
The Dangers of Utah’s Abortion Law — CNN
Why Utah’s Nonsensical New Abortion Bill Is So Bad For Women — Huffington Post
Here’s why doctors are dumbfounded by Utah’s new anti-abortion law — Vox
Utah’s Pseudoscientific Anti-Abortion Law Could Actually Kill Women — The Daily Beast
New Utah Law Mandates Anesthesia in Certain Abortions, Defying Medical Ethics — Slate
Let’s Discuss Utah’s Garbage New Abortion Law — Portland Mercury
Utah abortion providers puzzled by how to obey law fixing an imaginary problem –The Guardian
But hey, who cares what the national media thinks? It’s not like tourism is a big industry in Utah. And Utah businesses already have all the customers they need, right?
Let’s just call this law what it is: A willingness to endanger a woman’s life in an ill-fated attempt to circumvent the Supreme Court’s ruling. It’s an anti-choice bill created by men with no medical training, loosely disguised as a health measure.
At the end of the day, abortion is a right granted to women by the Supreme Court. You might not like it, you might not agree with it, but there’s an easy solution for that: Don’t have one. Abortion is legal. Politicians should not be spitting in the face of actual medical professionals just to make a point that they don’t agree with the law. Women have every right to a safe and legal abortion. And someone’s moral disagreement with a right does not give anyone permission to deny it.
I hope the governor has set aside a wad of taxpayer dollars for legal costs. The first woman that dies from medically unnecessary anesthesia will cost the state millions in a wrongful death lawsuit.
The idea that our lawmakers would knowingly put Utah women at a greater risk, against the advice and testimony of actual doctors, is more than embarrassing. It’s inexcusable. Gary Herbert is not a doctor. He has no business practicing medicine without a license.
Amy Roberts is a freelance writer, longtime Park City resident, and the proud owner of two rescued Dalmatians, Stanley and Willis. Follow her on Twitter @amycroberts.
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