Bill Would Protect Doctors From Laws They Think Could Be Bad For Patients

Jun 23, 2014

Recent laws prescribe things that Ohio doctors must say or do when dealing with patients, especially in cases where abortions are being performed.

Some doctors say don’t like the government telling them how they should practice medicine.  There is a bill in the state legislature that would allow physicians to bypass those laws in some cases. Ohio Public Radio's Jo Ingles reports.

There’s a law on the books that mandates an ultrasound be performed prior to an abortion.  There’s another that tells doctors they must notify patients of the presence of a fetal heartbeat and of the statistical likelihood of the fetus being carried to term.  Those are just a couple of examples of laws that Democratic State Representative Kathleen Clyde says put doctors in positions where they might have to say or do something that is in direct conflict with what the physicians think is best for their patients.  So she’s proposing what she calls the “Doctor Patient Relationship Protection Act”.

Clyde – It would insure that no health care provider is forced to choose between following the law and abiding by ethical professional and medical standards. 

When some of the abortion bills were being considered, doctors from around the state came to the Ohio Statehouse to testify against them, and to rally in protest.

Chanting – We won’t go back

Dr. Grant Morrow was one of those physicians.  The Columbus area pediatrician says these new laws put doctors in a position of going against their best medical judgments.

Morrow – My question is how can doctors provide care that is safe, individualized and medically appropriate if we are told to ignore our ethical and established medical standards.  These laws tell doctors when they are in the room with a patient that he has to ignore what he knows is the right thing to do in many cases.

Morrow says he’s discouraged by the new laws….and further disappointed that backers of these new laws have been appointed to spots on the Ohio State Medical Board.  One of the members of that board that Morrow is talking about is Mike Gonadakis, the President of Ohio Right to Life.  Gonadakis responds to Morrow’s complaints this way:

Gonadakis – Well you know any doctor that’s licensed in the state of Ohio has the ability to lobby the legislature and if there’s a regulation they don’t like, to lobby the state board of medicine.  They all belong to the Ohio State Medical Association. If there are things and laws on the books right now that doctors don’t like, they should make their voices heard to change the law.  But fortunately, we have a great regulatory scheme in Ohio so the medical profession can thrive and balance that with patient protection.

Gonadakis says he opposes Representative Clyde’s proposed doctor patient relationship protection act.

Gonadakis – Why do pro choice politicians want to keep Ohio’s women in the dark about their babies and all of their health and legal options?  If Representative Clyde had it her way, there would be no laws protecting patients in the state of Ohio.  I guess she would prefer the wild west approach where doctors would do whatever they want or say whatever they want and be held unaccountable to the public.

Twenty two Ohio lawmakers have signed on to co-sponsor Clyde’s bill.  But all of them are Democrats.  And the Ohio legislature is controlled by Republicans.  So Clyde’s bill may not have viability right now.