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Monday, December 21, 2009

Should Women Who Get Abortions Have Medical Details Posted Online?

There is a controversial case pending in Oklahoma that wants to stop a law passed in May requiring doctors to post information online about women who get abortions in OK, including her age, marital status, race and years of education. Opponents consider it an intrusion of women's privacy and a waste of taxpayers' money. 

STORY HIGHLIGHTS

* NEW: Oklahoma judge extends temporary restraining order on controversial abortion law
* NEW: Judge denies state's motion to dismiss case, putting measure on hold until February
* Law would post details online about every woman who gets an abortion in the state
* Lawmaker: "It's important public policy to stand on the side of sanctity of life."

(CNN) -- A judge in Oklahoma extended on Friday a temporary restraining order on a law that would post information online about women who get abortions in the state.

In extending the restraining order, Oklahoma County District Judge Daniel Owens denied the state's motion to dismiss the case, putting the measure on hold until a February 19 hearing.

Abortion rights supporters are extremely concerned about the intrusiveness of the questions, and fear that identities of women could be compromised, especially in small communities.

"It requires doctors to ask and submit answers to at least 37 intensely personal questions. There are details in those questions about rape, incest, abuse, relationship problems and emotional health," Stapleton said. "I think women can be identified."

  The article goes on to say that Senator Lamb, who cosponsored the law says:

legislators drafted the measure using portions of a Guttmacher study. "Some of this was gleaned from the Guttmacher Institute," he said. "It's not Draconian."

"If we collect this evidence, we can better treat, we can better counsel, we can better provide alternatives," Lamb said.

The law also bars women from seeking abortions solely because of the sex of the fetus, with fines up to $100,000 for doctors who "knowingly violate" it.

If the law does go forward, the state Department of Health is to have the Web site up and running by March 1, 2011. Doctors are to begin submitting completed questionnaires 30 days later.
Read more

As a pro-life Catholic, I tend to think this law is unnecessary, except for the portion blocking women from seeking abortions solely based on the sex of the fetus. However, why should doctors be required to post the information online? Though, it would make the information more accessible for others who want to learn about reasons why women get abortions and could help pro-life advocates determine ways to prevent unwanted pregnancies based on those answers, it does seem a bit of an invasion of privacy.

I believe if the information is taken voluntarily and women are given the chance to provide this information at their will the information would be just as useful and valuable. I do not see the need for the law requiring the online posting? Once this precedent is set, who's to say that other medical information won't be required to be posted online, which to my understanding is part of the pending health care reform legislation. The democrats who are supporting this claim that posting records online will make patient records easily transferable for patients and doctors, thus improving medical care. However, once again I find this type of legislation unnecessary and invasive, but could be done voluntarily.

Perhaps someone can better explain the reason for posting abortion and medical information online, as I don't see a reason for it to be mandatory? What are your thoughts on this law?



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