• Rosalind Kaplan, MD

Is a Politician Your Doctor?

By Rosalind Kaplan, MD

What do covid-19, abortion, and transgender care have in common?

This is not a trick question. Sure, they all have some effect on the human body, so that's a correct answer, but there's something else beyond that: All three are all hot-button issues in politics, and the political arena is the wrong venue for them.

I just finished reading a STATnews.com article that discusses recent legislation related to covid in Tennessee, North Dakota and multiple other states that takes medical care for covid out of the hands of those trained to provide such care and puts it in the hands of politicians. Legislation includes a law prohibiting the state medical licensing board from taking action against those who prescribe or dispense inappropriate medications for covid 19, and another forcing the licensing board to delete its policy warning doctors against providing misinformation. Other such legislation proposes making ivermectin and hydroxychloroquine,

drugs which have been shown to be useless against covid 19 and which may have harmful side effects) available over the counter or by 'standing order' for patients with covid-19.

How crazy is that? A bunch of politicians have made themselves in charge of decisions they are clearly unqualified to make.

Medicine may be an art in the way that doctors interact with their patients, but it is also a discipline based on medical evidence, and practiced by people who have extensive knowledge about this evidence. Licensing boards, the FDA, and other professional organizations have been put in place to ensure best practices. These entities are not perfect; they make mistakes. Evidence changes with further study. But physicians and medical boards are not flying blind. Good physicians acquire the information they need to handle medical issues, and are trained to interpret it and use it.

Would you want your governor to perform surgery on you? Would you let your state representative evaluate your blood test results and prescribe medication based on their interpretation? (If your governor or state representative happens to be a PRACTICING physician, perhaps the answer would be yes, but generally?)

Why would ANYONE want this to happen?

It's happening in the name of 'freedom'. There are people out there who believe that their 'rights' are being violated by those who want to base medical decisions on medical evidence. The spread of misinformation by people who want 'freedom' pours fuel on the fire, creating a situation where large numbers of people are forgoing proven prevention and treatment in favor of useless and possibly harmful 'therapy'--leading to serious illness and, in some cases, death.

Now, how am I tying this to abortion and transgender care? Well, first, it seems pretty clear that a lot of the same people who want 'freedom' in their covid care want to deny other people freedom in their sexual and reproductive care.

Governor Abbot of Texas has prioritized investigation of parents who allow their children to access gender-affirming medical treatment, and to prosecute them for child abuse.

In Texas and Florida, among other states, access to RU-486, the medical abortion pill, as well as surgical abortion is being severely limited, even in cases of rape and incest.

In both situations, the denial of these medical interventions will lead to physical and psychological harm in many cases, and to death in some. There is EVIDENCE showing this to be true. The whole point is, these are MEDICAL INTERVENTIONS, prescribed by and performed by medical professionals, as part of patient care. Decisions about these interventions should be made by a doctor and a patient, NOT by elected officials.

I wouldn't ask my hairdresser to fix my plumbing. I wouldn't suggest that anyone hire me to

prepare their taxes, as I know nothing about accounting. Having politicians make medical treatment decisions is the same thing, but now it's a matter of life and death.

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