Columns » Max Brantley

Who's harming women?

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Attorney General Leslie Rutledge is an Arkansas Republican. Thus, like the governor and the Republican-majority legislature, she intends to do everything she can to deny women comprehensive medical care, particularly abortion.

The legislature, with the governor's approval, adopted legislation from the anti-abortion playbook intended to make abortion de facto illegal in Arkansas. The law required an outdated drug protocol that was harmful to women who receive pills to induce miscarriages in the first eight weeks of pregnancies. It dictated unnecessary, expensive and discouraging return visits to doctors. It required an abortion provider to have a doctor on staff with hospital admitting privileges.

The doctor requirement was a real problem for Planned Parenthood, which provides pharmaceutical abortions at two clinics. It's an unnecessary and expensive requirement. A pharmaceutical abortion is safer than natural childbirth. But the threats and bullying of anti-abortionists and their political enablers make doctors fearful of associating with the brave people of Planned Parenthood.

Planned Parenthood sued to block the law. It won in district court. The judge said the Arkansas law amounted to an unconstitutional obstruction of a woman's right to an abortion. Rutledge will appeal this to the last negative court ruling because oppressing women is the widest plank in the Republican platform.

The latest outrage came in an appeals court legal filing by Rutledge. If women with abortion complications aren't treated at Planned Parenthood, they might seek help at an emergency room. The attorney general said, according to the Democrat-Gazette, this is a bad thing because "many women aren't forthright out of fear of being stigmatized."

Fear of being stigmatized?

These words come from a political party that libels women who seek abortion and the doctors who provide the legal service as murderers. It comes from an attorney general who has endeavored to learn names of women who receive Planned Parenthood services. It comes from an attorney general who wants to worm out names of doctors who might be sympathetic to the health provider's needs. It is from a political party that wanted to subject women to a dangerous drug regimen long abandoned by good doctors. It is from a politician who patronizingly thinks women must receive instruction about abortion, undergo fetal monitoring and endure other indignities to shame women who have thought long and hard and have good reason to decide to end a pregnancy.

The stigmatizing is being done by Leslie Rutledge and Co. Her legal pleading tacitly admits as much. It should cause shame to seek medical attention? That is precisely the aim of Rutledge and her running dogs.

Hypocrisy in the name of medicine is a hallmark of Republican politics. Republicans claimed to be interested in medical science the other day when Governor Hutchinson assembled some Asa-friendly doctors from establishment medical groups to oppose medical marijuana measures, despite the overwhelming support among physicians nationally for medicinal use of the plant. Dr. Janet Cathey, a Little Rock ob/gyn, observed sharply on Facebook:

"I am an MD who will no longer continue my membership in the Arkansas Medical Society. The AMS says they are against the legislation of medicine yet they have miserably FAILED to come against any of the bills that legislated medicine when it comes to women's healthcare! The hypocrisy is unconscionable."

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