Back to the Future: Antichoice Activists and (Mis)Informed Consent
Elizabeth Nash is a Public Policy Associate in the Guttmacher Institute's Washington DC office.
It's only been about a month since the midterm election that brought significant prochoice victories, including the defeat of South Dakota's draconian abortion ban and the rejection of ballot initiatives in California and Oregon that would have required parental notification before a minor could obtain an abortion. And yet, it is already time to go back to work as antiabortion advocates are gearing up once again to continue restricting access to abortion services.
Stephanie Simon reported in the LA Times shortly after the election that one of the antichoice movement's primary goals will be to "expand or rewrite ‘informed consent' laws" - a favorite and perennial tactic. According to a recent analysis by the Guttmacher Institute, written counseling materials often contain medically inaccurate, out-of-date or biased information - violating a core tenet of the principles of informed consent.
Informed consent - the concept that individuals have a right to receive relevant, accurate and unbiased information prior to receiving medical care so they can make sound decisions regarding treatment - is a bedrock principle of medical ethics. Moreover, the obligation to provide such information is mandated by statute or case law in all 50 states.