Pacific Sunday News
Abortion is statistically much safer for a woman than carrying her pregnancy to term, according to Dr. Tom Shieh, who sent a letter to the governor, stating the recently passed “informed consent” abortion bill could actually persuade women to have an abortion.
Shieh, a gynecologist and obstetrician, says he is pro-life and supports the bill’s intent, to decrease the number of abortions.
But he said one section of the bill, which requires the physician to tell the woman “the medical risks associated with carrying the child to term,” could defeat the bill’s purpose.
A woman is 14 times likelier to die if she carries her pregnancy to term than if she gets an abortion, Shieh said Friday in a letter to Gov. Eddie Calvo.
Calvo introduced the informed consent bill early last year, and he called this week’s special session to have lawmakers act on it.
“You have to tell the patient it’s riskier to carry a baby to term,” Shieh said, citing a February 2012 study published by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. “That’s national data we cannot refute.”
Lawmakers during session passed the “Women’s Reproductive Health Information Act of 2012” by a vote of 11-4. As of yesterday, Calvo had yet to act on the measure.
The bill requires a 24-hour waiting period before a woman can get an abortion, and requires the doctor to keep a document certifying that the woman was given information about alternatives to abortion and about the risks of the procedure.
Shieh said “good doctors” already practice informed consent.
He said if doctors are required by law to spell out the many risks associated with pregnancy, the island’s abortion rate might increase, not decrease.
“The bill, with that section in there, becomes pro-abortion,” Shieh said. “I don’t think these guys know what they’re doing.”
In his letter to the governor, Shieh wrote, “We do not want to have a section of this legislation push (women) towards abortion, as I have pointed out here.”
Sen. Dennis Rodriguez, chairman of the legislative health committee, which worked on the bill, said he would have “serious misgivings about omitting salient facts in order to influence a particular decision by the woman. After all, I always considered this legislation to be about truly providing women with important information before moving forward with their decision, regardless of what it may be.”
With respect to Shieh’s concerns about the bill leading to more abortions, Rodriguez said the same report cited by Shieh also states the mortality rate related to childbirth is “extraordinarily low” — about 8.8 deaths per 100,000 live births.
“Thus, I do not think that the relative maternal mortality rates noted by Dr. Shieh are likely to encourage women to have abortions,” Rodriguez said.