The Right Answer

Some people are educated beyond their level of intelligence.

I witnessed this first hand today at our state capitol. As it is in state capitols across the nation, bills were being presented on a variety of topics. I was fortunate enough to be in the health subcommittee meeting in which we were bombarded with bills on hospitalization, health care, elder abuse, intellectual and developmental disabilities, dentistry, medical occupations, chiropractic care, drug abuse, pharmacies, tax exemptions, prescription drugs, welfare, and abortion.

Regardless of what you may think, there is never a dull moment at your state capitol. One colleague has stated that a day at the capitol is well worth the price of parking and lunch when you consider the entertainment value. I imagine this is not restricted to any one state.

I was there to support some pro-life legislation and was well outnumbered by the Planned Parenthood lobby. However, the legislators sponsoring the bills came to win today and win they did! It’s a story that takes us back well over a decade, but currently, my state does not have an informed consent or waiting period law for women seeking an abortion. There is also no requirement that abortion clinics be inspected or licensed by the state health department. The PP advocates were there to make sure it stays that way. So were some of the legislators.

The sponsor of the bill calling for informed consent and waiting periods had his game on today. I’ve never heard a more logical, compassionate, and well informed presentation on this matter. He would not back down from his position that life begins at conception. He refused to call a baby by any other name, even when an opposing legislator insisted that the “fetus” was not viable outside the womb in the first trimester. And he did not succumb to the hardball line of questioning from one legislator. This pro-life legislator knew he was doing the right thing for women and the unborn and he came to win on their behalf.

This wasn’t easy. Another legislator who was clearly opposed to the bill had his A game today, too. Well, at least he did most of the time. Sometimes he was charging at windmills. This opposing legislator asked the question, to the sponsors of both bills, “Is the purpose of this bill to hinder a woman’s ability to have an abortion in any way?” Actually, that is a fair question. When he was told that was not the purpose, he asked what the purpose of the bill was. He was really trying to stand for what he believed was in the best interest of women who are seeking an abortion.

But then he lost it. After he had finished badgering his fellow legislator with a circular line of questioning, and losing more ground with each one, he finally asked the stupid question. When debating the matter of inspecting abortion facilities by the health department (which has not been done in this state for more than a decade due to a state supreme court ruling that ended this practice), the antagonistic legislator asked, “What do you expect the possible impact to be when the health department inspects these facilities?”

I’ll give you a moment to think about that.

People often take for granted that the health care facilities that they patronize are indeed inspected by someone somewhere. They assume, most often correctly, that the state health department or other licensing agent has inspected the facility (for cleanliness) as well as the practitioners and make certain that everyone in the facility is educated to perform their job adequately.  As previously expressed, however, this has not been the case for abortion facilities in this state for more than a decade.

So then, just what would one expect the possible impact to be when the health department inspects abortion facilities? Perhaps women who are seeking an abortion would know that the medical facility was actually required to be clean. Maybe women could rest assured that the staff in the room with them would be able to give them the very best care possible since they were required to be licensed to do their job. It might even prevent unnecessary medical emergencies that could result from either poorly cleaned instruments or someone performing a procedure for which they were not properly trained. It could even be possible that women in an abortion facility would be given the same respect by the state that Fido and Fluffy are given when they go to the veterinarian’s office since the vet’s is also inspected by the health department. In other words, we could expect that women in such a dire circumstance would be cared for well and treated with dignity.

I cannot possibly fathom ever having an abortion. It would not enter my mind. And I would certainly hope the same for my family members. However, if my niece were to end up in an abortion facility, I would like to at least know that it was clean and there was no chance of infection or long term complications due to mishandling instruments or an unskilled provider. Women in such a situation need our protection and our concern. In the end, they will need much more than that.

Even when you ask a dumb question, the answer might be a really smart one.

~Temerity Dowell

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