Should a 10-Year-Old Mentally Disabled Victim of Incestuous Rape Be Required to Carry a Fetus to Term?
When I talk to candidates who hold or express views opposed to women’s reproductive rights, one question that I almost always try to ask is whether the politician would require a woman who is raped to carry the fetus to term. It is surprising just how many will answer “yes”. Many, on the other hand, try to avoid the question by responding that the hypothetical is a red herring that never really happens.
Well, then, to those candidates, and to others who may be on the fence on certain aspects of the reproductive rights debate, I offer the following story from Saudi Arabia’s Al Riyadh Newspaper and I ask whether this is what you think America should look like:
The Saudi Royal Council of Healing Arts, the governing body that regulates the practice of medicine in the Kingdom, stripped the medical license of a doctor who refused to force a mentally-ill 10 year old to give birth.
The Kingdom’s sharia police filed a complaint against Dr. Mohammed al-Nusbari alleging that his exams were not thorough enough to support his medical conclusions and his follow-up care was inadequate because he did not recommend counseling or hospitalization after each procedure.
When hearing the case against Dr. al-Nusbari, the Council offered up their own expert to determine if any breach of the standard of care occurred. The witness insisted that in no cases is abortion a treatment that could be seen as beneficial to a patient’s mental health.
Dr. al-Nusbari will appeal the ruling. If he loses he will have his license permanently revoked.
Could you imagine if the type of anti-abortion worldview demonstrated in that article held sway here in America? Even if you’re against abortion in most cases, would a situation like this leave you uncomfortable?
Now, I’m going to let you in on a little secret. I lied to you earlier in this post. The story that I’ve reprinted (in fairly heavily edited form, though I haven’t changed the substance at all) wasn’t from Al Riyadh Newspaper. Nope. And these events didn’t take place in Saudi Arabia, either. Nope. The story comes from Kansas. You remember Kansas, don’t you? Dorothy and Toto? Right. That Kansas. I changed all of the names so that the article would be more believable.* Why? Because I wanted to lull you into a sense of the understandable. You’d probably expect repressive Saudi Arabia to treat people like this. That’s what governments run by religious extremists do, right? And I wanted you to think about how horrible this story was without putting up any sort of mental defenses first. After all, I suspect the anti-abortion folks are also pretty anti-anything when it comes to Saudi Arabia, Muslim society, or sharia law. But Americans … in Kansas?
So take a deep breath and think about this for a minute. In Kansas — not Saudi Arabia, mind you, but Kansas — a doctor may lose her license for allowing a mentally-ill 10-year old girl who was raped by her uncle to get an abortion. What kind of world — what kind of person — thinks that a mentally-ill 10-year old girl who was the victim of incestuous rape should be required to carry a fetus to term? Seriously.
If we continue to elect far-right, anti-abortion crusaders to our state legislatures, Indiana, like Kansas, may soon look like the Saudi Arabia or other religious societies that we hold in such contempt.
Oh, here is Dr. Neuhaus’ actual rebuttal to the charges against her:
“To even claim that isn’t medically necessary qualifies as gross incompetence,” said Neuhaus. “Someone’s 10 years old, and they were raped by their uncle and they understand that they’ve got a baby growing in their stomach and they don’t want that. You’re going to send this girl for a brain scan and some blood work and put her in a hospital?”
For more, please see the original story.
*The Saudi Royal Council of Healing Arts is, in reality, the Kansas State Board of Healing Arts. Dr. al-Nusbari was actually a woman, Dr. Ann Neuhaus. The “sharia police” are actually the anti-abortion group Operation Rescue.