Not every case can be a winner. In Oklahoma, District Judge Bryan Dixon has invalidated the state’s law requiring abortionists to show their patients ultrasound images and read them descriptions of their babies before performing abortions:
District Judge Bryan Dixon ruled the statute passed by the Oklahoma Legislature in 2010 is an unconstitutional special law, and is [sic] can’t be enforced because it addresses only patients, physicians and sonographers dealing with abortions without addressing other medical care.
In response, Oklahomans for Life Chairman Tony Lauinger points out that “abortion is different than any other medical procedure,” and therefore regulations on it shouldn’t necessarily have to be uniform with other procedures. Which seems like basic common sense – even similar medical procedures and conditions can have a wide range of differing nuances and circumstances, requiring different considerations. Why should a judge be able to keep Oklahoma from taking those differences into account?
In this case, the difference with abortion is as significant as it is obvious. Rarely do a doctor’s and a patient’s medical decisions so directly and irreversibly affect the well-being of a third party – the unborn baby – yet Dixon won’t tolerate giving that baby the slightest consideration.
Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights, said Wednesday’s ruling reflects a backlash against legislation she called hostile to women, their doctors and their rights.
‘The court has resoundingly affirmed what should not be a matter of controversy at all — that women have both a fundamental right to make their own choices about their reproductive health, and that government has no place in their decisions,’ Northup said.
As Ms. Northup knows perfectly well, the law in question has no effect whatsoever on any woman’s “right” to make any decision. A woman could watch the ultrasound video; listen to her baby’s heartbeat; and hear everything about his or her limbs, brainwaves, heartbeat, breathing, and survivability outside the womb – and it would still be perfectly legal for her to choose to abort anyway. She would face no legal restrictions or punishment whatsoever.
Does Ms. Northup have any appreciation of how extraordinary that is? Our society routinely throws people in prison for taking life with far less intent and forethought than that. The law currently allows people to commit intentional homicide against a certain segment of the population. Yet informing people of the plain fact that this is what they’re doing is too burdensome?
Believe me, I’d rather government have very little to do with micromanaging medical procedures. But the only reason we’re having this conversation at all is because judges like Bryan Dixon have perverted the law, allowing something entirely different to become falsely categorized under the heading of “health care.” I’d personally like nothing more than to extract abortion from medicine and return it to where it belongs – criminal justice – but before we can do that, we have to reverse decades of bad judicial precedent from judges like Bryan Dixon, who are determined to keep abortion legally misdiagnosed.