New Report Details Growing Threat of Politicians ‘Playing Doctor’

In a new report released last week, health and safety experts urged policymakers to consider the growing influence of US politicians in their electorate’s most personal and private spaces: exam rooms.

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Compiled by the National Partnership for Women and Families in collaboration with the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, the National Physicians Alliance (NPA) and the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), the report, entitled “Politics in the Exam Room: A Growing Threat”, details how political influence has adversely affected the management of healthcare in the United States by highlighting three critical areas of concern: toxic exposure, gun safety and reproductive health. Each organization examined the “politically-motivated” restrictions affecting their particular area of expertise, warning of the potentially dangerous consequences of recent legislation protecting the fracking industry, “gag rules” to prevent physicians from talking to their patients about gun safety and TRAP laws.

“Quality health care must be based on evidence,” said Debra L. Ness, president of the National Partnership for Women and Families. “Laws that put the words of politicians into the mouths of health care providers or mandate medically unnecessary procedures are outrageous and costly in every way.”

The report concludes with a short list of recommendations urging lawmakers to “reject or repeal” legislation that encroaches on the patient-provider relationship or requires physicians to defy ethical standards and practices. It also urges physicians and their patients to speak out in opposition of said policies which “undermine patient-centered care” and allow lawmakers to abuse their authority.

According to Ness, “the record number of abortion restrictions” affecting women’s access to reproductive healthcare alone is a call to action. Since 2010, more than 280 abortion restrictions have been adopted by states like Arizona, Ohio and Texas, forcing patients to undergo medically-unnecessary procedures, endure biased and misleading counseling and suffer delays in their care.

“This kind of ideological encroachment on medical care must end,” said Ness. “Women deserve ready access to high-quality, evidence-based health care, free of politics and ideology. It’s past time that politicians exit the exam room.”

Media resources: The National Partnership for Women and Families 10/14/15; Feminist Newswire;

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