BY ELI RESHEF, M.D. | Published: December 16, 2012 (The Oklahoman)
In April, the Oklahoma Supreme Court unanimously rejected an effort to put “personhood” on the ballot. This proposition would have defined a fertilized human egg as a person. On Dec. 4, the court dealt a double blow to anti-abortion activists by unanimously ruling that two new state laws are unconstitutional. One would have required a woman to have an ultrasound at least one hour before getting an abortion; the other would have restricted the off-label use of certain abortion-inducing drugs.
The passage of personhood in Oklahoma would have compromised advanced fertility treatments and certain forms of contraception. The restriction of abortion-inducing drugs would have denied valuable, nonabortion-related medical treatment such as assistance in labor and delivery and in the treatment of miscarriages. The ultrasound bill is simply gross interference in doctor-patient relationship.
An alarming pattern has evolved in the battle to restrict abortion: Impassioned legislators present restrictive bills that often overwhelmingly pass the House and the Senate, only to be shot down by the courts. This often-futile process saps the energy and credibility out of the legislative process and detracts from its real priorities to better the lives of Oklahomans.
To make matters worse, our attorney general’s determination to promote a partisan political agenda by stubbornly trying to challenge unanimous Oklahoma Supreme Court decisions regarding personhood and abortion further reduces the credibility of our judicial process.
“Our office is dedicated to fighting corruption, protecting Oklahoma’s vulnerable citizens and advocating excellence in the administration of the law, justice and protecting the interests of the great state of Oklahoma and its citizens,” said Attorney General Scott Pruitt. “There is overwhelming evidence that the off-label use of abortion-inducing drugs leads to serious infections and death for many healthy, unsuspecting women.”
Seriously? Where did Pruitt get this bogus medical information? Medical evidence, readily available to any researcher or lay person, clearly refutes these claims.
Regardless of where one stands on the hotly contested issue of abortion, civility, decency and common sense must guide the process. Civility and decency obligate legislators to consider any unintended consequences of bills they present. Common sense dictates that bills must be studied before they’re introduced and that consulting with medical science must be a prerequisite for introducing a health-related bill.
The Oklahoma State Medical Association and Oklahoma Osteopathic Association are merely a phone call away for any legislator who wishes to better the lives of Oklahomans. Consulting with a constitutional lawyer should also be a prerequisite for the introduction of sensitive bills to avoid the waste of resources and the ill will produced by bills with little or no legal substance.
Rather than practice medicine without a license or ignore the law, elected officials would serve the state better by consulting with the medical and legal professions when sensitive medical and legal issues are at stake, especially abortion. They owe it to their constituents.
Reshef practices medicine in Oklahoma City and is medical director at the Integris Bennett Fertility Institute.