I hope you can forgive the double exclamation points in the title, but I have learned of a tragic circumstance that effects each and every adolescent person in Michigan seeking medical care! Such restrictions of medical care have the potential of delaying surgery that is best performed early on and have the potential of harming not only women, but adolescents of both sexes!! (Sorry, but I thought it needed another double)!!
Let me lay out the problem. There is a certain procedure that is routinely performed on adolescents in this state, but legal and professional restrictions have made it darn near impossible to such a procedure done at all! Since it is done on so many of our young persons, it would stand to reason that we would eliminate all barriers to this important medical procedure, but it turns out that under the guise of "safety" and "informed consent", the restrictions are outrageous!
First, every specialist who performs this procedure in Mid-Michigan has admitting privileges at local hospitals. The medical board that covers these so-called "professionals" actually insist on this, under the reasoning that doctors should be able to handle emergency problems from their surgery patients themselves! This is clearly ridiculous! Also, offices in which this procedure are routinely performed are expected to adhere to standards similar to outpatient surgery centers, and are accredited every 5 years. The fact that these procedures cannot be done anywhere by anyone greatly restricts access to medical care for this safe surgery!
Second, adolescents under 18 are required by law to have their parent's consent before they have this procedure done. Can you believe that! Requiring a child to actually have their parent present is an insult to the privacy and decision making process of 14 year olds everywhere! Why can't we simply trust children to make their own decisions?
Third, for those adolescents who can actually get their parents to consent to the examination, let me describe the Draconian consultation! First, an imaging study is taken, and the poor child and parent are forced to see the result of the film and actually listen to the possible complications of the surgery! Then the "doctor" performs a physical exam and answers any question they have. What a waste of time and a barrier to care! Then there is an actual waiting period of at least 24 hours before the procedure is done!!
Lastly, for every patient who is somehow successful in weaving their way around the litany of regulations and barriers, the "doctor" actually charges a fee to this procedure done. I'm not kidding! Real money! This may be the worst restriction possible!
If you haven't figured it out, I'm not talking about abortion access. I'm talking about access to routine third molar surgery. These "restrictions" that I mention are dealt with every single day by my own patients, in the office where I practice. Yet the same type of standards, when applied to those adolescents seeking abortion care, are seen as some horrific barrier to care. The recent ruling about the restrictions in Texas makes this point.
The question is this: what is a more impactful event in the life of an adolescent, third molar removal or a surgical abortion? If we have standards and regulations for patient safety for those seeking wisdom teeth removal, why do we remove them for teens seeking abortion?