August 12, 2009

By Louis Avallone

It was Shakespeare, in 1611, that may have been the first to write about how politics can make strange bedfellows. Well, pull back the covers and get tucked in, because if you happen to oppose the Obama healthcare initiative and are also pro-life, you may soon find yourself in bed with abortion rights proponents. In fact, you should both may even be sleeping on the same side of the bed. How? I’ll explain.

During the 1960s, the U.S. Supreme Court created the right to privacy, through a series of cases. This right to privacy, between a woman and her doctor, was pivotal in the Roe. v. Wade decision in 1973, which of course, legalized abortion. According to the U.S. Supreme Court, the right to privacy is guaranteed by the due process clause of the 14th Amendment.

With that principle established and laid down in Roe, every American is afforded the constitutional protection to make their own healthcare decisions, with the consultation of their doctor, of course. Constitutionally, then, according to the precedent of Roe, your medical decisions must be made, by you, free of judicial, legislative, or political, influence, pressure, or other encumbrance.

Now stay with me. The fundamental, underlying premise of Obama’s healthcare initiative turns this principle upside down. In other words, now the federal government WILL manage the decision-making process of what kind of medical care is provided to you, and every patient, for that matter. Ultimately, the medical care you receive will be based more on the decision of a bureaucrat, than a collaboration between you and your doctor – weakening the sanctity of the doctor-patient relationship – if this healthcare plan becomes law.

If allowing a bureaucrat to make your healthcare decisions, or limit the healthcare that your children or parents may require, is problematic for you, then here is where you and abortion rights proponents should be on the same page, championing the virtues of preserving the doctor-patient relationship. You see, in 1992, the U.S. Supreme Court explained, in Planned Parenthood v. Casey, in referring to the significance of the doctor-patient relationship, that “these matters, involving the most intimate and personal choices a person may make in a lifetime, choices central to personal dignity and autonomy, are central to the liberty protected by the Fourteenth Amendment. At the heart of liberty is the right to define one’s own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and the mystery of human life.”

What could be more central to “personal dignity and autonomy” than a patient’s choice to preserve or extend life itself? If the 14th Amendment protects the right to privacy, with regards to access to abortion, how can the 14th Amendment selectively be ignored to then allow the federal government to grant, deny, or otherwise burden our access to other medical procedures, regardless of our age, the likelihood of success, or the costliness of the procedure?

But the government will certainly try. Obama said so himself. He explained that sometimes the government may decide, for you and your doctor, that some treatments, may not be effective and that “(m)aybe you’re better off not having the surgery, but taking the painkiller.” That maybe true, but how is this government decision, to keep grandma from getting the kidney transplant she needs, for example, any different than the government denying any woman access to abortion, which the 14th amendment would not allow to begin with? It isn’t.

Wouldn’t this mean that a lawsuit could be filed against the federal government every time the government declines, or otherwise delays access to, a medical procedure for any of us? Would this not be the same violation of the constitutional protections offered by the 14th Amendment for abortions?

In court case after court case, the 14th Amendment has been the pro-choice crowd’s battle cry. When a New York law threatened to limit access to contraceptives, Planned Parenthood of New York spoke out, saying such laws “are dangerous to women’s health because they interfere with the doctor-patient relationship and ignore a woman’s medical needs and decisions.” And when a Florida law was proposed to require doctors to perform ultrasounds prior to any abortion, Planned Parenthood of Florida objected, saying that it violates the “doctor-patient relationship”.

But still these abortions rights proponents are hypocritically silent on the Obama healthcare initiative. The 14th Amendment argument is their “bread and butter”. It is what they rely upon, through the sanctity of the doctor-patient relationship, to ensure that a woman’s right to choose an abortion is a decision made between her and her doctor, without the government in the middle. That’s why it seems hypocritical for these proponents to stand idly by, even as Obama-care would allow the government to interfere in EVERY healthcare decision between every woman (as well as every man and child) and their doctor.

I suppose the pro-choice crowd is willing to sacrifice their own principles, even much of the constitutional protection afforded their cause, in order to please Obama. It looks like the rest of the country may not be so concerned, however. A Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll, taken late last month, indicated that 42% of Americans now call the healthcare initiative “a bad idea”. This rushed and ill-conceived healthcare initiative is obviously suffering from declining health itself.

The Constitutional protection of the doctor-patient relationship can legally defeat this disastrous and dangerous healthcare initiative, which appears to be neither about health nor care. But now you see why those abortion rights proponents could be in bed together with those that oppose Obama-care. Surprisingly, though, the abortion rights proponents aren’t. So far, they’ve just chosen to sleep out on the sofa instead. I’d like to say that this is just as well for the rest of us…but this issue is more than about one’s politics or religion…it’s a matter of life or death, if anyone in Congress would bother to read the bill.


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