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Health and Medicine

Democrats push a doctor-patient bill
Anti-abortion advocates call it a Wild West approach

Jo Ingles
Abortion rights advocates descended on the Statehouse to protest strict new limits on abortions.
Courtesy of File photo
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Recent state laws prescribe things Ohio doctors must say or do when dealing with patients, especially in cases where abortions are being performed. Some doctors say don’t like the government telling them how they should practice medicine. And as Ohio Public Radio’s Jo Ingles reports, there’s a bill in the state Legislature that would allow physicians to bypass those laws in some cases.

LISTEN: Ingles on Clyde's bill

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A new law mandates an ultrasound be performed before an abortion.  Another orders doctors to notify patients of the presence of a fetal heartbeat and of the statistical likelihood of the fetus being carried to term.

Those are a few examples of laws that Democratic State Rep. Kathleen Clyde says put doctors in positions where they might have to say or do something that directly conflicts with what the physicians think is best for their patients.

Following the law or medical standards?
So she’s proposing what she calls the “Doctor Patient Relationship Protection Act”.

“It would ensure that no health-care provider is forced to choose between following the law and abiding by ethical professional and medical standards. 

When some of the abortion bills were being considered, doctors from around the Ohio came to the Statehouse to testify against them, and to rally in protest.

Dr. Grant Morrow was one of those physicians.  The Columbus-area pediatrician says the new laws put doctors in a position of going against their best medical judgments.

“My question is, ‘How can doctors provide care that is safe, individualized and medically appropriate if we are told to ignore our ethical and established medical standards. These laws tell doctors when they are in the room with a patient that he has to ignore what he knows is the right thing to do in many cases.”

Morrow says he’s discouraged by the new laws, and further disappointed that backers of these new laws have been appointed to spots on the Ohio State Medical Board. One of the members that Morrow is talking about is Mike Gonadakis, the president of Ohio Right to Life.

Anyone can be heard
Gonadakis responds that “any doctor who’s licensed in the state of Ohio has the ability to lobby the legislature, and if there’s a regulation they don’t like, to lobby the state board of medicine.” 

“If there are things and laws on the books right now that doctors don’t like, they should make their voices heard to change the law.  But fortunately, we have a great regulatory scheme in Ohio, so the medical profession can thrive and balance that with patient protection.”

‘Wild West’ approach
Gonadakis opposes Clyde’s proposed doctor-patient relationship protection act.

“Why do pro-choice politicians want to keep Ohio’s women in the dark about their babies and all of their health and legal options?  If Rep. Clyde had it her way, there would be no laws protecting patients in the state of Ohio. I guess she would prefer the Wild West approach, where doctors would do whatever they want or say whatever they want and be held unaccountable to the public.”

Twenty-two Ohio lawmakers have signed on to co-sponsor Clyde’s bill. All are Democrats, and the Ohio Legislature is controlled by Republicans.


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