AUSTIN (August 7, 2012)--Texas medical groups are objecting to a proposed rule for the state Women's Health Program that would ban abortion counseling, calling it a "gag order" on doctors.
The Texas Medical Association and other groups complain that the proposed rule is so burdensome that doctors won't want to participate in the program, regardless of where they stand on abortion.
The rule bans doctors in the program from providing abortion counseling and extends to other doctors in their practice and patients who are not involved in the Women's Health Program.
It would bar the doctors from discussing elective abortions with patients even if patients were to ask about it, the TMA said.
Texas Medical Association President Dr. Michael Speer said it violates doctors' free speech rights.
“If the state indeed wants doctors to participate in the program, this is a step in the opposite direction,” Speer said.
The TMA says many doctors would leave the program if the rules were enacted because they would be forced “to choose between practicing medicine in accordance with the standard or care and medical ethics, or in accordance with a rule created to serve a political ideology.”
A spokeswoman for the Texas Health and Human Services Commission said officials would carefully review the objections raised by the TMA.