Your Voices: Patient Safety Ordinance Harms Women


The St. Joseph County Council is currently debating Ordinance 69-14, the Patient Safety Bill, which proponents say will help provide better healthcare for women. If this is truly the purpose of the bill, one would think that medical practitioners in South Bend would offer their full-throated support.

The opposite is true.

Medical professionals, including the St. Joseph County Board of Health, have strongly come out against the ordinance. In the Board’s own words:

[T]he primary lack of support is based on the bill’s lack of clarity defining any public health valued proposition for the citizens of St. Joseph County. There is generally no support from the medical community for this ordinance. Nor, has there been presented any demonstrable, factual statistical data stating a need for these measures.

Healthcare professionals who have weighed in on this issue have said that they do not feel that the proposed ordinance would provide better or safer healthcare for women. In fact, it may decrease the quality of care that is being provided to the women and families in the greater South Bend area.

The lack of support from healthcare providers begs the question: what is the actual purpose of this ordinance?

The sponsor of the ordinance, Daniel Herbster, is not a medical practitioner and holds no medical degree. Herbster is, however, “strongly pro-life” and he has said that he “will seek to further a culture of life on the County Council whenever possible.” His own words call into question his true motives behind this proposed ordinance. Similar proposals have been used in other states to restrict access to abortion.

Abortion is an important component of comprehensive reproductive healthcare. Providing women with multifaceted contraceptive plans is not only good for women’s health but it is an important part of providing overall healthcare to families in Michiana. This ordinance will only stand in the way of medical providers giving their patients the safe and complete care that they are constitutionally entitled to receive.

This measure is not about women’s health and safety; it is about restricting access to abortion and as such should be defeated.

Your Voices is a series of guest editorials on issues of importance to our community and the nation. South Bend Voice does not necessarily agree with the views expressed.

About the Author: Libby Elmore is a Goshen resident and a student at Indiana University South Bend.

Image Credit: Dr. Farouk, flickr

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