We all visit the doctor with the same expectation -- that we'll receive high-quality, scientifically-accurate information and care. That's because the physician-patient privilege is a right of all citizens as a result of the constitutional privacy protections in the Bill of Rights. Licensed health care professionals should be allowed to provide this care to their patients without the intrusion of lawmakers, but this privilege is being trampled in Ohio.
Recently, a legislative committee heard testimony on legislation to prohibit public and private insurance companies from covering some common forms of birth control (HB 351-Rep. John Becker). The bill defines these restricted services as "drugs or devices used to prevent the implantation of a fertilized ovum," which includes Intrauterine Devices (IUDs) and emergency contraception.
The bill also prohibits insurers from covering almost all abortions -- even when the life of the mother is at risk, or in cases of rape and incest.
The bill is, at best, extreme and out-of-touch with Ohio families.
As fathers of daughters and brothers of a combined 16 sisters, we cannot imagine working in a state where women do not have access to safe and affordable health care or the opportunity to plan for their families -- especially when faced with the horrors of rape or incest.
Had Rep. Becker done any scientific research, or consulted with just one physician, he would have found that -- contrary to his personal opinion -- birth control and emergency contraception do not "cause abortion." In fact, IUDs are considered one of the safest and most effective forms of birth control.
And, as our colleague Rep. Alicia Reece (D-Cincinnati) pointed out during committee, limiting access to birth control disproportionally hurts lower income women and their families.
HB 351 is yet another example of lawmakers with absolutely no medical training attempting to restrict access to health coverage because of their personal views. Ohio women's health ends up being put at risk.
In this sputtering economy, lawmakers should work to find ways to improve Ohioans' lives, not complicate difficult decisions or increase costs for working families. But, over the past three years, we have watched our colleagues at the Statehouse do just that.
It is time to stop introducing harmful legislation. It is time to stop forcing one ideology onto all Ohioans and interfering with the physician patient relationship. It is time to stop disrespecting the women of Ohio by implying they cannot make the best decisions for themselves and their families.
Bob Hagan and John Patrick Carney are Ohio state representatives.