Viewpoint: Montana medical students find ‘born-alive’ ballot measure ‘chilling’
As medical students wanting to practice medicine in Montana, it is chilling to see LR-131 on our ballot. This initiative would put medical workers at risk when they provide compassionate care for infants who are born too early to survive or have life-limiting birth defects.
We are likely to second guess our intention to practice medicine in Montana if we can be criminalized and prosecuted for providing medical care that is within the scope of our practice, and the best possible care for our patients’ needs.
Parents experiencing the death of their child are already having the worst day of their lives. They do not need further trauma. They need compassionate care and the ability to love their child in the last moments of their short life.
As medical students, when we begin our journey, we take the Hippocratic Oath. The most recent version by the American Medical Association, which we all now recite, states that “The physician shall respect the rights of patients, of colleagues and of other health professionals, and shall safeguard patients’ confidences within the constraints of the law.”
LR-131 directly targets the rights of patients and families. This bill does not make allowance for parents to refuse resuscitation. If a family gives birth to an infant that has a life threatening illness, parents should be allowed to choose if they would like to hold their baby in their arms.
As future physicians, it’s scary to think about coming back to practice in a state where patients can’t have the right to decide what is best for themselves and where the very trust that a provider-patient relationship is based on is at risk. We worry about the precedent this may be setting for other medical care. We urge you to vote NO on LR-131.
Anne Reimann-Moody is with the Montana chapter of the American Medical Student Association