Legislature(2001 - 2002)

04/21/2001 11:22 AM HES

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
HB 112-ABORTION: INFORMED CONSENT; INFORMATION                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR DYSON  announced that the  last order of business  would be                                                               
HOUSE BILL NO. 112, "An  Act relating to information and services                                                               
available  to  pregnant women  and  other  persons; and  ensuring                                                               
informed consent before  an abortion may be  performed, except in                                                               
cases of medical emergency."                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Number 0218                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
SID HEIDERSDORF,  Alaskans for Life,  came forth and  stated that                                                               
[Alaskans  for Life]  supports HB  112 and  recognizes that  this                                                               
does not  restrict or limit abortion  in any way.   He said there                                                               
is the  objection of those  opposed to this  proposed legislation                                                               
of,  "Why single  out  abortion for  special  requirements?"   He                                                               
remarked that one of  the ways to answer that is  to ask, "Why is                                                               
abortion  the only  invasive medical  procedure for  which people                                                               
are not adequately informed?"  He stated:                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
     It is  well known that  abortion counseling is  a sham.                                                                    
     The generic consent  forms do not address  the issue of                                                                    
     the child  in the womb.   Many  of them do  not address                                                                    
     specific   problems   associated  with   the   abortion                                                                    
     procedure.   We are  not talking about  a tonsillectomy                                                                    
     or  some  simple,  little,  innocent  procedure;  we're                                                                    
     talking about  a procedure  which takes  the life  of a                                                                    
     child and,  consequently can years later  lead to pain,                                                                    
     regret,  depression, [and]  guilt.    The main  problem                                                                    
     associated with that  would be young girls  who are not                                                                    
     properly  informed and  they  discover  after the  fact                                                                    
     what  it was  that they  really did.  ... This  is what                                                                    
     leads  to an  awful lot  of the  post-abortion syndrome                                                                    
     that is seen in our country today.                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
     It  really is  a sad  commentary that  we even  have to                                                                    
     discuss  whether  or  not we  should  provide  adequate                                                                    
     information  -  complete  information  -  for  a  woman                                                                    
     contemplating an  abortion.  And  I think that  it's an                                                                    
     indication  of just  how far  askew we've  gone in  our                                                                    
     society in the efforts to  protect abortion in the eyes                                                                    
     of many  people.  You  will hear claims that  women are                                                                    
     already adequately informed.   If that's the case, then                                                                    
     there  should  be  no objection  to  this  legislation.                                                                    
     However,  anyone  who's  talked  to  women  who've  had                                                                    
     abortions  very   quickly  [discovers]   that  informed                                                                    
     consent is not at all a practice in abortion.                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
TAPE 01-49, SIDE A                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
SID HEIDERSDORF continued, stating:                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
     ...  [This  legislation]  is  for  those  who  are  not                                                                    
     adequately  informed.    If there  are  some  that  are                                                                    
     adequately informed, that's  good.  But I  will bet you                                                                    
     that   when  people   claim  that   they're  adequately                                                                    
     informed,  the one  central  issue  of abortion  [that]                                                                    
     will be ignored, or is ignored,  ... has to do with the                                                                    
     baby.  And the baby is  the reason that abortion is the                                                                    
     issue it is.  The baby  is the reason that women suffer                                                                    
     after the  fact, in terms of  the psychological impact.                                                                    
     I think it  is absolutely a necessity for  the woman to                                                                    
     be told  about the gestational age  and the development                                                                    
     of the baby in order for  anyone to claim that [she] is                                                                    
     adequately informed.                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
Number 0099                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
SID  HEIDERSDORF read  responses  from a  past  director of  four                                                               
abortion  clinics in  Texas,  who  had been  asked  what type  of                                                               
counseling was offered at the clinics:                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
     In  the clinics  I was  involved in,  we didn't  do any                                                                    
     real counseling.   We answered the  questions the women                                                                    
     asked  and tried  not to  rock the  boat.   We did  not                                                                    
     discuss any  alternatives to abortion unless  the women                                                                    
     forced us to.  Each woman  asks two questions:  Is it a                                                                    
     baby?    Our  response:     No,  it  is  a  product  of                                                                    
     conception, blood clot, or glob  of tissue.  The second                                                                    
     question:   Will  it hurt?   [Our  response]:   No, you                                                                    
     will  feel a  slight  cramping sensation.   Most  women                                                                    
     have had  the cramps and  lived through them,  so women                                                                    
     think  the procedure  must  not be  too  painful.   The                                                                    
     counselor does  try to determine  the reason  the woman                                                                    
     wants the abortion,  not so much to help as  to use the                                                                    
     fear to reinforce the abortion decision.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
SID HEIDERSDORF  stated that it  is almost  as if people  who are                                                               
opposed  to  this legislation  will  believe  the whole  abortion                                                               
edifice will collapse  if a woman changes her mind  when she gets                                                               
the  adequate   information.    He  remarked   that  the  present                                                               
definition in  the legislation of "informed  consent" talks about                                                               
a voluntary and knowing decision  to undergo a specific procedure                                                               
or  treatment, based  on the  following information  such as  the                                                               
description   of  the   proposed  treatment   or  procedure,   or                                                               
reasonably foreseeable complications.   He remarked that it seems                                                               
to him  that no  one can claim  to be informed  if this  does not                                                               
include the  gestational age  and the stage  of development.   He                                                               
said  he  thinks that  should  be  added  to this  definition  of                                                               
informed consent, because that is the crux of the problem.                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
SID HEIDERSDORF summarized  by stating that when it  comes to the                                                               
cost,  he  doesn't  think  the  Department  of  Health  &  Social                                                               
Services should  have to  spend a  lot of  money on  developing a                                                               
document.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
Number 0363                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
COLLEEN  MURPHY, M.D.,  Obstetrician-Gynecologist, testified  via                                                               
teleconference.    She  stated  that  counter  to  the  testimony                                                               
provided by  Mr. Heidersdorf, informed  consent does occur.   She                                                               
said  she  has  been  working   with  the  Alaska  State  Medical                                                               
Association  on  a  number  of legislative  bills  and  there  is                                                               
concern around the identification  of a single surgical procedure                                                               
requiring  such  elaborate  detail.     She  noted  that  she  is                                                               
currently  reviewing  her  medical malpractice  providers,  which                                                               
clearly ask about  the issue of termination of  pregnancy and the                                                               
provision  of  informed consent.    She  added that  her  current                                                               
estimates  range  from  $30,000  to $50,000  a  year  to  provide                                                               
obstetrician-gynecologist  services  in   Alaska.    The  medical                                                               
malpractice  situation in  the U.S.  and the  Medical Legal  Fund                                                               
currently treat  medical providers  very well.   She  stated that                                                               
she does not think it is  necessary for the committee to continue                                                               
its efforts to improve informed consent.                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR DYSON asked  if the Alaska [State]  Medical Association has                                                               
any standard procedures that delineate  the information a surgeon                                                               
or a physician is supposed to give to a patient.                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
DR. MURPHY  responded that that  is basically determined  by [the                                                               
doctor's]  specialty  organization.    The  American  College  of                                                               
Obstetrician-Gynecologist  does  have   information  on  informed                                                               
consent that doctors are advised  to follow.  Likewise, she said,                                                               
the   Medical  Insurance   Exchange   in   California  also   has                                                               
information on informed consent.                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
Number 0604                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  CISSNA  said  she  would like  to  know  what  is                                                               
required and what is said in the consent.                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
DR. MURPHY stated that providers  in every specialty are patient-                                                               
orientated, and that is why [most]  take on this profession.  She                                                               
added  that in  providing  informed consent  for this  particular                                                               
procedure,  each  patient is  asked  if  she has  considered  the                                                               
multiple options about continuing the pregnancy.                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
[HB 112 was held over.]                                                                                                         

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