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Other Views: When it comes to women's health, who should decide?

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Rep. Janis Ringhand
July 21, 2013
Think of the last time you saw a doctor. It might have been for a physical or to get something abnormal checked out. More than likely, you were sitting down with a physician you trust. If your last doctor's visit was anything like mine, you and your doctor talked about your health, any problems you were having and, depending on any recommendations, how best to improve your condition. This choice was left to you.
Now imagine the opposite. You visit your doctor, and the dialogue is one-sided. The doctor practically reads a script to you. You're then forced to undergo an invasive medical procedure that you neither want nor need, but it's required by law. All of this, just to receive basic medical care.
Of these two scenarios, which would you prefer?
While Scenario 1 is how it should be, unfortunately, Scenario 2 has become our reality. Last month, Republicans controlling the Legislature decided they know what's best for you—especially if you're a woman. They approved restrictive and overburdening legislation that rips decisions from the hands of you and your doctor.
Senate Bill 206 (2013 Wisconsin Act 37 after Gov. Walker signed it into law) forces a woman seeking an abortion to undergo an ultrasound. For a woman in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, a transvaginal ultrasound is the procedure that meets the law's requirements. It's important to note that this isn't medically necessary.
Furthermore, SB 206 requires a physician who performs an abortion to have admitting privileges in a hospital within 30 miles from the location where the abortion is performed. As a former member of a local hospital board, I'd like to point out two critical things. First, admitting privileges don't hasten a patient's care in an emergency. Current law requires clinics to have plans should patients require emergency care. Second, no other outpatient surgery facility requires physicians to have admitting privileges. In fact, there isn't another medical procedure in Wisconsin that has the same mandate.
The Wisconsin Academy of Family Physicians, the Wisconsin Hospital Association and the Wisconsin Medical Society all opposed SB 206. This is blatantly political legislation that attempts to close down clinics, restrict health care options and make it harder for women to receive the medical care they need. I've signed on to legislation that attempts to repeal this law.
We need to leave important decisions to the people who are going to be affected by them. One of the most frustrating things I've observed this session is the number of bills that have passed the Legislature that include state mandates and strip away local control.
When it comes to local issues, we need to trust our municipal and county governments to make the best decisions for their communities.
The same goes for health care. You and your physician—not a bunch of politicians—should make those decisions. Instead of this malarkey, we should be focused on creating jobs, educating our current and future workforces and growing our economy.
Rep. Janis Ringhand, D-Evansville, represents the 45th District in the state Assembly. Readers can contact her at 888-534-0045 or Rep.Ringhand@legis.wi.gov.


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