By Kathy Kneer, President & CEO of Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California and Ruth Haskins, MD, Obstetrician & Gynecologist
We strongly urge all women in California to join us and vote NO on Prop 46 – a measure on the November ballot that would reduce women’s access to much-needed health care.
Prop 46 will overturn key provisions of the Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act, or MICRA, which governs legal proceedings if someone is injured in a medical procedure. If Prop 46 passes, the changes will make it easier for lawyers to file medical liability lawsuits against doctors, hospitals and clinics.
The result? As a practicing OB/GYN, my concern is that more lawsuits and higher health care costs will make it more difficult and more expensive for pregnant women to get access to the medical care they need. And given the great demand for services at the 106 Planned Parenthood health centers in California, Prop 46 would severely curtail access for those women as well.
According to a 2012 survey from the American Congress of Obstetricians & Gynecologists, due to the high risk of medical malpractice lawsuits, 27 percent of obstetricians have limited the amount of high-risk patients they are willing to see, 8 percent have reduced the number of babies they deliver, and 6 percent have stopped practicing altogether.
Fortunately, in California, because of MICRA medical malpractice insurance costs for OBGYNs have remained affordable. In fact, in states without MICRA-like reforms, medical liability insurance costs for OBGYN’s are double and nearly triple the cost of California’s.
Every year, close to one million Californians trust Planned Parenthood to provide them with preventive and reproductive health care, including life-saving breast and cervical cancer screenings, birth control, STD testing and treatment. In fact, one in five American women has chosen Planned Parenthood for health care at least once in her life.
Eroding MICRA’s protections as Prop 46 seeks to do will make access to routine medical care more difficult, particularly women’s access to comprehensive, quality reproductive healthcare. Most problematic is the potentially devastating effect Prop. 46 will have on California’s growing population of lower income women and their babies, as well as those who live in rural areas.
That’s why the Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California, the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology, the American Association of University Women, and the American Society for Reproductive Medicine have joined a broad and bipartisan coalition of doctors, community health centers, hospitals, local governments, public safety, business and labor unions, education groups, community groups, and many others opposing Proposition 46 on the November 2014 ballot.
For the sake of women’s access to needed medical care, we strongly oppose Prop 46 – and urge you to vote NO.