The majority in Rounds [the case that declared the law constitutional] dismissed the First Amendment argument by focusing on the statute's inclusion of a definition of "human being" as "an individual living member of the species of Homo sapiens, including the unborn human being during the entire embryonic and fetal ages from fertilization to full gestation."1 The reference to this definition, the court found, makes the description of the fetus as "a whole, separate, unique, living human being" a biologic, rather than ideological, one.This is because the description of a human embryo or human fetus as an individual living member of the species homo sapiens is completely true, accurate, and scientifically verifiable. Using the term human being in that context is accurate, and is biological. I'm starting to wonder what the problem is.
But although state legislatures have substantial discretion to define terms used in their laws, they cannot merely use the iteration of definitions to cloak religious, philosophical, or metaphysical language in statutory garments and call it "scientific" or "biologic."Read that last sentence slowly. Despite the fact that the statute clarifies exactly what it means by a human being, and truthfully states it is a human being that is killed during an abortion, the author seems to believe that the term is really some form of cloaking device for religious (!), philosophical, and metaphysical language! How dare we use scientific truths to cloak our religious ideology and foist it on unsuspecting young abortion patients! Believers of all sorts need to take of the "statutory garments" off of any scientific term we use, regardless of their truth, to reveal the religious or ideological underpinnings.
As a side note, I am a follower of Jesus Christ and an oral and maxillofacial surgeon. Should I be concerned about any cloaked religious meanings when I use the term "third molar teeth" in my consent form? Just asking.
Proof of cloaked meaing in true scientific terms? This should be good...
We should worry about cloaked ideology because any term can have different meaings based on context. First, I believe this is wrong. I am unsure of any context in which the basic meaning of "human being" as a member of our species would be incorrect. Granted that some may have used the term inaccurately in the past, but that doesn't make it incorrect to use in any context as long as the term corresponds to an organism of our species.
The dissent in Rounds noted that "human being" has no specific scientific or medical meaning and that its meaning varies with the context. Although it may refer to purely biologic characteristics, especially when distinguishing humans from other species, "it also may be a value judgment, indicating entitlement to the moral or political rights shared by all persons."2 Post notes that the question of "whether the fetus is a human being is thus understood by all sides to the abortion controversy to be an essentially contested moral proposition."4 In its abortion cases, the Supreme Court has shied away from making value judgments related to the term "human being," when life begins, or whether the fetus is a "human life." The Eighth Circuit's position that the use of the definition resolves the ideology question is overly simplistic, at best.
Secondly lets consider the context in which the term human being is used. It is used in the context of an informed consent discussion. In other words, the context is a doctor stating "this is the thing that I need your permission to cut apart and suctioned out of your body." Why should the accurate biological description of the "thing" be inappropriate?
I could go on further but lets move on a bit...
Before I continue let my explain the informed consent process for wisdom teeth surgery, one that most would agree is a far easier decision to make than whether or not to have an abortion. The patient views a flash presentation showing the risks of the surgery, complete with drawn pictures of impacted teeth, the nerve in the jaw, etc. They have to press a button that they understand each aspect before they click to the next one. The have the opporunity to ask questions both to me and in the flash demonstration at any time, and these questions are documented and written in the chart. They then read a detailed 1 page consent form describing all of the risks of surgery and anesthesia (including death) and initial every paragraph. This is not optional - third molar surgery is an elective procedure. I don't know one surgeron that would be willing to cut something out of a patient without the patient knowing what the procedure entails.
The requirement that women sign each page of the disclosure document allows them no latitude to decide for themselves how much or little detail they wish to have about the procedure. The requirements of certification and for writing and recording of questions and answers in the medical record will have a chilling effect on open discussions between physicians and patients and are likely to "compel a woman to conform her speech to the state's chosen messages."2
So why should it be different for something as potentially life changing as an elective abortion? Regardless of your position on whether abortion should be legal, shouldn't a patient seeking abortion be given the most accurate information possible, or should we claim that they cannot handle the truth and should be protected from knowing what they are consenting to? I think enough of women to believe that they can handle the truth. I wish the rest of the medical establishment did also.