SACRAMENTO, Calif. — California’s Assembly Bill 1030, designed to inform female patients about what to expect during pelvic examinations and enable them to identify illegal predatory behavior, sailed through the Assembly committees, the Assembly floor and the Senate committees unanimously — seemingly on its way to becoming law.
Then Planned Parenthood submitted a letter of opposition: The bill, introduced this spring, immediately stalled and, two weeks later, was ordered to the “inactive” file.
A.B. 1030 was written in the wake of last year’s allegations against Dr. George Tyndall, who worked as a gynecologist at the University of Southern California (USC) for almost 30 years. His former patients, many of whom were young students who had never had a gynecological exam before and did not know what a pelvic exam properly entails, said that he abused them while leading them to believe that his conduct was medically necessary.
“A.B. 1030 will empower patients by giving them much needed information,” the bill’s author, Majority Leader Ian Calderon, D-Whittier, said in an April press release. “I am thankful to my constituent Christy Leach who met with our office last year to share this bill idea. Given recent horrific incidents of abuse during these exams, it has become apparent that patients would benefit from advance information about what to expect during a gynecological pelvic exam.”
Leach is one of the more than 700 women who have reported being abused by Tyndall after allegations against him first became public last year. He was responsible for thousands of patients over the course of his career at the university and is currently charged with 29 felony charges relating to sexual assault. In June, USC agreed to pay $215 million to former patients of Tyndall to settle a class-action lawsuit they had filed.
A.B. 1030 would require the Medical Board of California, in coordination with the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), the California Medical Association (CMA) and the California Academy of Family Physicians (CAFP), to develop an informational pamphlet for patients undergoing pelvic examinations, outlining, among other things, what a pelvic exam is, how it is properly performed and the patient’s privacy expectations. The pamphlet would also include a phone number for the California Medical Board for the patient to report any perceived misconduct.
Before a patient’s first pelvic exam with a physician, the physician would be required to give the patient the pamphlet and collect the patient’s signature acknowledging receipt.
“By educating patients with information regarding how gynecological pelvic examination procedures should be properly performed, we can help women feel less vulnerable and prevent serious misconduct,” said the bill’s co-sponsor, Assemblywoman Cottie Petrie-Norris, D-Laguna Beach, in the same April press release.
The Signature Requirment
ACOG, CMA, CAFP and Dr. Joyce Sutedja, an OB-GYN resident at the University of California-Irvine Medical Center and a survivor of Tyndall’s abuse, opposed the signature requirement in the bill. At a June California Senate committee meeting, Sutedja testified that if she had signed for an informational pamphlet, as required by the bill, she would have felt responsible for not preventing the abuse and would have been less likely to report it. A representative from ACOG testified that the signature requirement is an unprecedented attempt to regulate patient-physician communication.
State Sen. Jerry Hill, D-San Mateo, a member of the committee, disputed that the signature requirement was unprecedented, noting that he had sponsored legislation last year that requires doctors who are placed on probation to notify patients of the probation and to have the patients sign a form that discloses certain facts about their probation and information on how to access additional details about why they were disciplined. Hill saw no problem with the signature requirement in A.B. 1030, although several senators asked whether it could be removed.
Assemblymembers Calderon and Petrie-Norris, presenting their bill to the committee, emphasized that the signature put responsibility on the physician, not on the patient. The bill passed the committee unanimously, as it did in all of its other votes, and in August the final committee sent the bill to the California Senate floor.
Then Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California, a political arm of the abortion giant, submitted a letter of opposition, saying that the bill would result in fewer patients coming to Planned Parenthood. It said that the bill “creates additional barriers for patients to access reproductive health care. ... Based on the number of gynecological exams Planned Parenthood conducts, we believe this requirement will increase the length of patient visits and thus unintentionally cause patient volume to decrease.”
Planned Parenthood’s letter also expressed concern that the signature would put the onus on the patient to ensure a proper exam.
“Appropriate medical practices are the responsibility of the institution and the clinicians; these medical professionals are responsible for ensuring there is no abuse taking place,” the letter said.
Planned Parenthood did not address what should be done when clinicians and institutions abdicate their responsibility.
‘Informed Consent’ Concerns?
Dr. Patrick Marmion, a OB-GYN who is an associate clinical professor at Washington State University’s Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine, contended there’s a different reason behind Planned Parenthood’s concern.
“Time is money, and anything that slows down client interaction hurts the bottom line,” Marmion told the Register.
Marmion said that Planned Parenthood is afraid of the larger trend of legislation governing what information must be conveyed to patients before a procedure -— perhaps including information that might deter a woman from going through with an abortion.
“Planned Parenthood does not want the state to mandate what it must tell a client about any medical procedure,” he said. “Allowing intrusion in this matter opens the door to more state-sponsored ‘informed consent’ regulations regarding abortion procedures.”
For example, Marmion, a supporter of A.B. 1030, said multiple other states have laws that require a physician to inform a woman about her unborn child’s development before performing an abortion.
“Information empowers clients to recognize and immediately respond to inappropriate provider behavior during an examination,” he said. “This will prevent sexual assault.”
Marmion thinks that Planned Parenthood is afraid of its patients being empowered to identify and report abuse. “Considering that the abortion industry has chosen to ignore the tens of thousands of women who have been mutilated and even killed by abortionists, it hardly should come as a surprise to anyone that ‘big abortion’ also chooses to ignore women who are sexually assaulted and raped by the same individuals so carefully protected within this flailing and deeply corrupt industry.”
History of Abusers
Planned Parenthood has had two former doctors make headlines for abuse of patients. For instance, Dr. Roger Ian Hardy, a former abortion doctor for Planned Parenthood in California and Massachusetts, surrendered his medical license amid allegations that he abused women at the fertility clinic where he also worked. And Dr. Carl Burpo, a former abortion doctor for Planned Parenthood in Illinois, was charged with six counts of assaulting patients, although the charges were dropped as part of a plea deal.
The abuse isn’t limited to patients. Pedro Elias, Planned Parenthood Mar Monte’s director of public affairs for almost 20 years ending last year, reportedly would force himself on colleagues.
“He flaunted his advocacy for women while sexually harassing and assaulting multiple women for years,” Sarah Hutchinson told the Fresno Bee. Dr. Timothy Liveright, a current abortion practitioner for several Planned Parenthood facilities in Pennsylvania, has also been accused of sexual assault by Planned Parenthood employees.
In the end, Planned Parenthood’s letter worked. The California Senate never voted on A.B. 1030. Instead, the bill was moved to the inactive file. A bill in the inactive file may later be made “active” again by the author. Spokesmen for Assemblymembers Calderon and Petrie-Norris did not respond to inquiries about the future of the bill.
Calderon has a 100% rating from Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California, and the cover slideshow on his official website includes a picture with a group of Planned Parenthood volunteers. Petrie-Norris is also endorsed by Planned Parenthood and in November was the featured speaker at an event for the political arm of Planned Parenthood of Orange and San Bernardino counties, where they described her as their “champion.”
Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California did not respond to requests for comment for this article.
Mary Rose Short writes from Southern California.