Everyone has a right to know 

If, as they say, a little knowledge is a dangerous thing, then Georgia lawmakers could be flirting with disaster over various "right to know" legislation.

Rep. Ben Bridges, R-Cleveland, was first out of the gate with his "Baby's Right to Know Act" - known by some wags as the "Whose Yer Daddy" bill - which would require hospitals to ask about the paternity of newborns delivered by unmarried mothers.

Then came the most recent version of the "Woman's Right to Know Act," a GOP-backed measure introduced in both the House and Senate that would impose new restrictions on women seeking abortions - and require clinics to read a state-authored script intended to scare or shame women into reconsidering the procedure.

And now, in an apparent response to criticism that the abortion bill implies women can't be trusted to make competent medical decisions regarding their own bodies, Sen. Casey Cagle, R-Gainesville, has introduced a little something for the guys. In what could be called the "Man's Right to Know Act," Cagle's bill would mandate that doctors tell men seeking prostate cancer treatment about the risks and potential outcomes of the procedure.

Pro-choice lobbyists theorize that the purpose of Cagle's bill is to sway uninformed legislators to vote for the "Woman's Right to Know" bill by showing that women aren't the only ones being required to sit through a medical consultation. In other words, what's good for the goose is good for the gander.

Of course, both bills seem to ignore Georgia's existing informed consent law, which already mandates that doctors must explain the risks and alternatives to any surgical procedure - including abortions. The primary objective of the "Woman's Right to Know Act" is to impose a 24-hour waiting period between consultation and abortion. (Interestingly, no such waiting period is suggested for prostate surgery.)

Additionally, the bill would redefine abortion to include using a "morning-after pill"; would require girls under 18 seeking abortions to be accompanied in person by a parent or guardian; and would subject abortion clinics and doctors to a deluge of new paperwork, with hefty fines if they don't meet filing deadlines.

One can only wonder which group the Legislature will next try to entitle with knowledge. Perhaps we'll soon see an "Adolescent's Right to Know" bill, informing Junior of the risks associated with losing his tonsils, Or "Rover's Right to Know Act," telling your spaniel how much he'll miss his balls.


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