Josh told me I was crazy when I wrote back in January that abortion providers (and those who support abortion rights) should "conscience clause" arguments on their head---by arguing that laws requiring doctors to perform invasive ultrasounds, describe the results of those ultrasounds, and provide inaccurate medical information before performing abortions violate doctors' First Amendment right to obey their personal moral compass.
After all, if pharmacists, doctors, and even employers should be allowed to refuse to provide birth control or other services based on their personal beliefs, shouldn't doctors who don't believe in subjecting women to unnecessary medical procedures and providing inaccurate information (such as the lie the abortion causes cancer) have the same right to follow their own conscience?
Well, today, a judge in Oklahoma struck down that state's mandatory ultrasound law on related grounds, ruling that the requirement that doctors perform and ultrasound and describe the results to a woman seeking an abortion violates doctors' First Amendment right to free speech (along with a whole bunch of other rights).
The plaintiffs in the suit claimed that the law was a whole mess of rights violations — by forcing doctors to read text composed by lawmakers, it violated medical professionals' free speech. By imposing pain in the ass legal requirements on a procedure only used by women, the law was sexually discriminatory. And treating one medical procedure differently than other legal medical procedures, the law unfairly singled out doctors who provided abortions. A judge agreed.
In related news, the Washington Post reports today that restrictions on abortion are dying in state legislatures across the country, from Idaho (where legislators wanted to force women to get pre-abortion sonograms) to Georgia (which would have banned all abortions after 20 weeks' gestation.
And President Obama had a message of support for Planned Parenthood---although he failed to acknowledge that the group is an important abortion provider (for the one in three US women who will get an abortion in her lifetime), and framed Planned Parenthood's female clients in terms of their relationships to men, calling them "mothers, daughters, sisters, and wives." Would "half of this country" have been insufficient?