Truth in Medicine Act

 

Summary: The Truth in Medicine Act would require that no government healthcare agency, or any organization that receives government healthcare funding, shall endorse any of five specific lies about abortion: that it raises the risk of developing breast cancer, that it raises the risk of infertility, that it raises the risk of negative emotional or mental health problems, that most women regret having an abortion, or that abortion is more dangerous than the average medical procedure.

Background Summary

It is a prime tactic of the anti-abortion movement to deceive women and misrepresent medical facts about abortion. Their misrepresentations are neither inadvertent nor infrequent. Instead they are, in fact, talking points disseminated by the movement’s national leadership. All Americans have a First Amendment right to say what they want, truthful or not, but it is unconscionable for those who represent themselves as health care authorities to lie about medical facts.

Most of the 2,500 Crisis Pregnancy Centers (CPCs) across the United States are in business to deceive women who are seeking all-options medical care. According to a report by the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Government Reform Minority Staff, Crisis Pregnancy Centers (also called “pregnancy resource centers”) “are virtually always pro-life organizations whose goal is to persuade teenagers and women with unplanned pregnancies to choose motherhood or adoption.” That report found: “the vast majority” of CPCs investigated “provided information about the risks of abortion that was false or misleading. In many cases, this information was grossly inaccurate or distorted.” Other reports have similar conclusions 

Five lies are particularly common:

1)      That having an abortion can raise a woman’s risk of developing breast cancer. But in fact, this claim has been refuted by a meta-analysis by the American Cancer Society, which also cited medical journal articles; by a workshop called by the National Cancer Institute; and by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

2)      That having an abortion can increase a woman’s risk of infertility. But in fact, a Guttmacher Institute survey of scientific studies found that abortion poses “virtually no long-term risks of future fertility-related problems such as infertility…”. And as the medical director of Physicians for Reproductive Health explains, this myth is based upon long-outdated data.

3)      That having an abortion can increase a woman’s risk of negative emotional or mental health problems or increase her risk of suicide ideation. But in fact, an American Psychological Association Task Force found there is no such evidence. The same conclusion was reached by the Medical Royal Colleges, a comprehensive study in the New England Journal of Medicine, and an analysis by the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health.

4)      That most women regret having an abortion. But in fact, a recent peer-reviewed study found that nearly all women having an abortion believed they had made the right decision. Another study by the University of California, San Francisco found the same result; actually, it is women who are denied an abortion who feel more regret and anger, and less relief and happiness.

5)      That abortion is more dangerous or poses greater health risks than the average medical procedure. But in fact, the Centers for Disease Control found that legal abortion is significantly safer than childbirth, and a study in the American Journal of Public Health reported that first-trimester abortion is one of the safest medical procedures in America.


Model Legislation

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE

This Act shall be called the “Truth in Medicine Act.”

SECTION 2. FINDINGS AND PURPOSE

(A) FINDINGS—The legislature finds that:

1)      Pregnant women require medically-accurate and relevant information in order to make sound and informed health care decisions.

2)      Too many individuals and entities, while representing themselves as healthcare professionals or advisors, assert medically-false information in an attempt to stigmatize abortion. [Bill drafting note: Place local examples in the findings.]

3)      Lying to a woman about the effects of abortion hinders her ability to make an informed decision and may delay an abortion when time could be an important factor.

4)      Citizens have an undeniable right to say what they want, truthful or not, but it is unconscionable for government to financially support the expression of information by medical professionals or advisors that is represented as medically accurate when that information is demonstrably false.

(B) PURPOSE—This law is enacted to ensure that government healthcare agencies and government-funded healthcare entities do not provide pregnant women with medically inaccurate information about abortion.   

SECTION 3. TRUTH IN REPRODUCTIVE HEALTHCARE

After section XXX, the following new section XXX shall be inserted:

(A) DEFINITIONS—In this section:

1)      “Abortion” means any medical treatment intended to induce the termination of a pregnancy except for the purpose of producing a live birth.

2)      “Healthcare advisor” means a person who is not licensed under federal, state or local law to provide medical or health care services to patients but who represents himself or herself as an advisor or authority on matters of medicine or health care.

3)      “Medical professional” means a person who is licensed under federal, state or local law to provide medical or health care services to patients.

4)      “State” means the state and every county, city, town, municipal corporation, quasi-municipal corporation, and public institution, including colleges and hospitals, in the state.

(B) MEDICALLY INACCURATE INFORMATION FROM GOVERNMENT AGENCIES—No agency of the state which delivers healthcare services, or any employee of such agency while in the course of his or her employment and while representing himself or herself as a medical professional or healthcare advisor, shall distribute oral or written information asserting any of the following or direct anyone else to distribute such information:

1)      That having an abortion can raise a woman’s risk of developing breast cancer;

2)      That having an abortion can increase a woman’s risk of infertility;

3)      That having an abortion can increase a woman’s risk of negative emotional or mental health problems or increase her risk of suicide ideation;

4)      That most women regret having an abortion; or

5)      That abortion is more dangerous or poses greater health risks than the average medical procedure.

(C) MEDICALLY INACCURATE INFORMATION FROM ENTITIES THAT RECEIVE GOVERNMENT FUNDING

1)      No organization that has a contract with or receives any type of grant or subsidy from the state to deliver healthcare services, or any employee or volunteer of such organization while in the course of his or her work for the organization and while representing himself or herself as a medical professional or healthcare advisor, shall distribute oral or written information asserting any of the following or direct anyone else to distribute such information:

a)      That having an abortion can raise the risk of developing breast cancer;

b)      That having an abortion can increase a woman’s risk of infertility;

c)      That having an abortion can increase a woman’s risk of negative emotional or mental health problems or increase her risk of suicide ideation;

d)      That most women regret having an abortion; or

e)      That abortion is more dangerous or poses greater health risks than the average medical procedure.

2)      If an organization violates subsection 1, the Attorney General [and/or insert another official] shall provide the organization with reasonable notice of noncompliance, which informs the organization that it is subject to becoming ineligible for state healthcare funding if it does not correct the violation.

3)      If an organization violates subsection 1 and continues its violation after receiving notice of noncompliance, the Controller [and/or insert another official] shall ensure that all government healthcare funding to that organization is immediately suspended and that organization is deemed ineligible for state healthcare funding for five years subsequent.

SECTION 4. REPEAL

The following sections are hereby repealed: [list existing provisions inconsistent with this Act].

SECTION 5. SEVERABILITY

The provisions of this Act shall be severable, and if any phrase, clause, sentence or provision is declared to be invalid or is preempted by federal law or regulation, the validity of the remainder of this Act shall not be affected.

SECTION 6. EFFECTIVE DATE 

This Act shall take effect on XXXX 1, 2016.

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