Friday, August 10, 2012

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.

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At Wednesday, August 22, 2012 3:48:00 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

The revocation of her license is not based on this one incident. She has performed over a dozen late term abortions claiming that the girls where all "mentally ill", but did not bother to have that confirmed by anyone, which is required by law. She use to be the one that gave Dr. Tiller his second opinions, so she knows that it was required. To take this story and spin it like this is despicable. The Left is getting almost as bad as the Right on manipulating stories like this. This does nobody any good. You get people all riled up about false accusations and make them look stupid to the rest of us. I'm not claiming that she was in the wrong here. Where she messed up was not following legal protocol. Nobody is claiming that it wasn't "medically necessary", just that she didn't follow proper procedure to prove that it was.

At Wednesday, August 22, 2012 4:04:00 PM , Blogger MSWallack said...

Interesting. At the time I wrote the post, I did an admittedly quick search and didn't find any additional information. Can you provide me with a link regarding the information that you've provided in your comment? If what I wrote is in error, I'd like to post a correction or clarification, as appropriate.

Nevertheless, I remain concerned about a legal regimen that could prevent an abortion for a mentally ill 10-year-old impregnanted through incest.

I did see that Kansas dropped its suit against Planned Parenthood after the State admitted that prosecutors had destroyed evidence that may have been exculpatory for Planned Parenthood.

At Wednesday, August 22, 2012 11:17:00 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said... It was an associated press article. I couldn't remember the exact site that I was on but this one is the same one I believe. I retract my "over a dozen" statement, it looks like they are looking at 11 to be specific. There is a big difference between abortion and "late term" abortion. The young girl will still have to give birth to the baby, dead or alive. That is why the laws require a "well documented" reason to terminate the pregnancy this late in the game. It has to be that the girl would suffer major emotional damage by continuing the pregnancy just one more day. This would be outside the emotional damage of being pregnant and giving birth as these are already going to happen. The laws in Kansas do provide for this if proper protocol is followed. Unfortunately, this doctor did not follow the procedure that she is legally required to follow. I do see that she is claiming that she didn't put these things in the file because the AG Phil Kline has been discussing ongoing cases on public television. This is not a good reason to disregard legal policy. He should get fired too. Both people are breaking the law because they feel they are just trying to do the right thing. We can't allow people to break the law based on their own moral beliefs. Its just too slippery of a slope. I do want to say that I probably came off a little too harsh on your story, it just seems in the past year or so that the media seems to spin things to the extreme one way or another.

At Thursday, August 23, 2012 10:21:00 AM , Blogger MSWallack said...

Thanks for the providing that link. It does put a different spin on the story. One thing that I did note was that the Yahoo story did not include reference to the testimony that "The witness insisted that in no cases is abortion a treatment that could be seen as beneficial to a patient’s mental health." I think that piece of "evidence" is also important to factor into the evidence put before the Board of Healing Arts.

I agree with you that we can't take laws into our own hands or ignore existing laws. But I am very troubled by the way that laws are being written that will have very specific consequences for certain people (whether in the form of abortion bills, voter ID laws, and so forth).

And don't worry about being harsh. I'm not exactly warm and cuddly myself. I do object to people calling me names or telling me that my facts are wrong but being unable or unwilling to support their claim. You, on the other hand, criticized my post but when asked, provided information supporting your criticism. And I hope that you'll appreciate that I have not endeavored to moderate (let alone delete) your comment. I have a point of view that I want to express and positions that I want to advocate, but I want to do so on the basis of facts and thus when opposing facts are presented it's only fair to be sure that they are also presented so that readers can reach their own conclusions on the issues.

At Thursday, August 23, 2012 10:28:00 AM , Blogger MSWallack said...

I also wanted to add a few quick thoughts to the specific issue of the 10-year-old girl in question. None of the articles that I've read provide much detail. But given that she was impregnated via incest and was mentally (ill or disabled? I've seen both), it is quite likely that nobody was really aware that she was pregnant until after (or even well after 20) weeks. And especially early in the pregnancy, it is also quite likely that the girl did not understand much, if any, of what was happening or what the implications or pregnancy or birth would be. But I guess that it's worth pointing out that I come from a faith tradition that is much more willing to allow a woman to terminate a pregnancy, even very late in the pregnancy, for health reasons, including the mental health of the mother.

At Saturday, August 25, 2012 12:59:00 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can appreciate your stand point. I do have to say that since my last post, I took the opportunity to look around your site. While I disagree with a lot of the viewpoints expressed, you express them in a way that is informed and thought out. I am not a republican, but there are a lot of things that I lean that way on. I really don't believe in abortion in almost any situation, but there are situations that really call for it. I think that the real issue that needs to be focused on is preventing unwanted pregnancies in the first place. I have bookmarked your site. I think it is always good to see well informed arguments from the other side. Unfortunately, most people, on both sides of the political spectrum, have no idea why they believe what they do on these topics. "Well Limbaugh says this, or So in So says that." Its good to keep myself in check. There are quite a few things that I completely agree with you on as well. Israel, Gay Marriage, First Amendment rights. My name is Brian by the way. I don't like posting online anonymously, I just don't have any of the accounts to log in with.

At Saturday, December 29, 2012 2:40:00 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I could care less what any law says. If it was my perfectly sane daughter with an IQ of 170 and the demeanor of a 20 year old- she would Still have the abortion.
And Uncle Sicko (brother or not) would either be in prison or rotting in a hole in the desert.



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