Monday, August 8, 2016

Hiding abortion information = unaccountable government

This story is interesting. For a couple of reasons: Mount Sinai Hospital’s refusal to eliminate one fetus from twin pregnancy triggers human rights battle

First of all, the story is about a woman who was refused an abortion on one of the two unborn twins she was carrying. Also known as a fetal reduction. Because she was refused, she hired lawyer Amir Attaran to file a complaint to the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal, alleging discrimination on the basis of sex and family status. The woman wanted to see the policy of Mt. Sinai hospital:
"In an odd twist to the story, a recently prepared written policy on the issue — replacing the unwritten one followed at the time of the woman’s pregnancy last year — indicates the hospital has indeed reversed its position [on refusing the abortion].
"The policy — obtained by Attaran under Freedom of Information laws after hospital lawyers refused to divulge it — says elective fetal reduction is “ethically complex and divides many people,” but that patient autonomy should be given primacy in the area."
My radar immediately went up. How could Attaran obtain the policy from the hospital--a policy that is clearly about abortion--when all abortion related information in Ontario is excluded by the Freedom of Information and Privacy Act? So I checked with Mr. Attaran, and he confirmed for me that he did indeed obtain the information through an access to information request.

(As an aside, I contacted the hospital myself six days ago and asked them how this could happen. The hospital never responded to me.)

Second, so why was a lawyer able to get information, when I, a pro-life person, would not be able to get the same information? Because you may recall that I can no longer obtain access to abortion information from hospitals/government in Ontario. I don't know if Mr. Attaran is pro-choice or not, but I'm pretty sure the woman who hired him is pro-choice (clue: she had an abortion).

Third, this is a good example of pro-choice people also wanting to hold their hospitals/government to being open, transparent and accountable. Just like pro-life people want their hospitals/government to be open, transparent and accountable.

(Mind you if this woman and her lawyer were refused the information, I'm pretty sure the media would have been falling all over themselves with this story in a much broader way. After all, she was refused an abortion--the horror.)

Finally, guess how many fetal reductions there were in 2010? Seventy seven (77). Guess how many fetal reductions were done in 2011? We don't know. How many were done in 2012? We don't know. How many were done in 2013? We don't know. How many were done in 2014? We don't know. How many were done in 2015? We don't know.

Have fetal reductions gone up? Have they gone down? We have no idea. That's what happens when we allow our government to hide abortion information from us. Well, from some of us anyway.

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