Right to Know Versus Right to Withhold

In the debates over pre-abortion ultrasound bills, advocates often say such measures are vital to ensuring that women have all the relevant information. The argument is often based in part on the idea that abortion providers make money off of the procedures—and therefore may try to trick women into terminating their pregnancies. The reasoning also assumes that when deciding to have an abortion, a woman should know the physical details of the fetus, like how many fingers and toes have developed. That's why—in a messaging win for social conservatives—the pre-abortion sonogram requirement is often called a "Woman's Right to Know" legislation. 

But, Kansas Republicans may spoil all the fun. The state House is working on legislation that would allow doctors to withold information if it will help prevent an abortion, as well as requiring doctors to tell women that abortions increase odds of getting breast cancer—a theory many public health organizations reject. Forget right to know—the proposal promotes misinformation and distrust between doctors and patients. And that's hardly the only disturbing part of the bill, which ostensibly is meant to cut back access to abortions.

Huffington Post's John Celock has more details on the measure: 

The latest bill -- which is scheduled to be discussed by a legislative committee for a second time on Wednesday -- contains a number of provisions which would give the state one of the most sweeping anti-abortion laws in the nation. Among the provisions is one which would exempt doctors from malpractice suits if they withhold information -- in order to prevent an abortion -- that could have prevented a health problem for the mother or child. A wrongful death suit could be filed in the event of the death of the mother.

Other provisions include requiring women to hear the fetal heartbeat prior to an abortion, taking away tax credits for abortion providers and removing tax deductions for abortion-related insurance. The bill also requires that women be told that abortions would increase the risk of breast cancer, a controversial theory that the World Health Organization, the National Cancer Institute and gynecological groups in the United States and the United Kingdom have said is incorrect.

The bill was scheduled for discussion on Wednesday, but it looks like technical amendments have it stuck in committee a bit longer. But, Kansas' state House is among the most far right in the country and will likely pass the measure—the Senate, on the other hand, is up in the air. In the meantime, Celock reports that Kansas Governor Sam Brownback—a vehement social conservative—is friendly towards the bill. 

If passed, the bill would make it much harder to make the already dubious claim that the pro-life movement is all about giving women "the facts." 

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