Weâ€™ve heard a lot of rhetoric the last couple of years about the importance of keeping government out of the sacred, private relationship between doctors and their patients.
It was all a bunch of bull-oney.
For instance, the Florida Legislature has now passed a bill that makes it illegal for doctors to ask patients whether they have guns in their home and whether those guns are stored correctly to keep them out of the hands of children. Itâ€™s a question that many pediatricians ask as part of their standard spiel, along with ensuring that poisons and medicines are kept out of childrenâ€™s reach and that swimming pools are monitored.
As Dr. Paul Robinson, a specialist in adolescent medicine, testified in vain to a Florida Senate committee:
â€œWhat if I have an adolescent whoâ€™s been bullied, whoâ€™s not suicidal? I donâ€™t think, under the current bill, Iâ€™m entitled to ask him if thereâ€™s a gun in the home, or if heâ€™s carried a gun to school, or if heâ€™s thinking of harming someone else with a gun.â€
Asking such questions would be against the law.
If you happen to believe that a doctor should not ask such questions, fine. You have the right to tell the physician that itâ€™s none of his or her business. You have the right to change doctors. But you cannot logically argue that it is governmentâ€™s place to dictate what can and cannot be said between patient and doctor. The fact that such gross intrusions into rights of privacy and free speech come from the allegedly small-government, pro-liberty right isnâ€™t at all surprising.
And then thereâ€™s Texas. This week, Gov. Rick Perry signed a bill into law that requires women seeking an abortion to first undergo a sonogram. The attending physician is required by law to â€œdescribe the fetus, noting the size and condition of limbs and organs.â€ In addition, the patient must then wait 24 hours after the sonogram is performed before undergoing the abortion. As one person noted, the bill does everything but require the woman to give the fetus a name and schedule its funeral.
â€œIndeed, this bill is designed to shame women, as if we are daft creatures unable to make personal, private medical decisions without the paternalistic oversight of legislators,â€ the head of a Texas pro-choice group noted.
Again, these are allegedly small-government conservatives, conservatives dedicated to keeping government out of our private affairs, especially in relationships such as those between a doctor and patient, dictating what must be said and what must not be said in the privacy of a doctorâ€™s office.
â€“ Jay Bookman