County Commissioners embrace abortion rights

In a shocking development at the Tuesday, Oct. 10, session of the Sarasota County Commission, the commissioners passed a resolution on a 4-1 vote citing the United States and Florida Constitutions as grounds for declaring the county’s independence from any laws of the United States and the State of Florida which regulate the practices of medicine and pharmaceutics, insofar as they interfere with the rights of patients to inform and guide that practice on an individual basis.

Citing the Fourth Amendment (protection against unreasonable search and seizure) and Fifth Amendment (deprivation of due process) to the U.S. Constitution, and Article 1, Section 2 (life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness), and Article 1, Section 23 (right to privacy and noninterference of the government), of the Florida Constitution, the resolution concludes that every citizen of Florida has the inalienable right, among others enumerated, to a “sacrosanct relationship between patient and medical professionals.” This was further elaborated as “[m]edical professionals and patients have the right to use any and all legally available medications and/or therapies, on or off label, without refusal, reprisal or punishment. No legal, standard or alternative treatments should be denied or restricted by any third party.”

With the Florida Supreme Court still undecided on whether the constitutional right to privacy and freedom from government interference conflicts with legislative efforts to outlaw abortion in this state, the action of the County Commission is seen as a clear step in asserting that nothing should interfere with that “sacrosanct relationship between patient and medical professionals.” Perhaps anticipating the eventual ruling of the high court favoring the state, the commissioners want it known where they stand on the question of a woman’s right to choose. This is a laudable action benefiting every woman in the county. The commissioners’ action is even more profound, given that Republicans largely have been in lockstep in opposition to a woman’s right to choose, and this sets the commissioners apart from their Republican colleagues on this controversial issue.

Of course, the cynics amongst us might claim that the commissioners intended no such thing. They might cynically counter that the commissioners were striking a blow for a return to medieval barber/surgeons as medical practitioners, instead of those with fancy medical degrees from so-called “accredited” medical schools who insist on employing scientifically proven therapies and treatments. Cynics might contend that the commissioners instead wanted to do away with science and empirical evidence as a basis for medical treatment, relying instead on such time-tested practices as bloodletting and leeching, trepanation (the practice of boring holes in the patient’s skull so that the evil spirits could escape), animal dung poultices, consuming elixirs made from ground human remains, arsenic for headaches, drinking urine to whiten teeth or — our favorite — applying a hot iron to hemorrhoids.

Cynics might further claim the resolution was intended to prescribe laxatives for brain tumors or Ben-Gay for tonsillitis. They might insist the resolution allows lepers to work as restaurant servers, tuberculosis sufferers to work as massage therapists, or those with syphilis or hepatitis to give blood. Those cynics could claim that the commissioners were distancing themselves from the need for health departments, epidemiology research, vaccines or quarantines.

But only days after four malefactors from Manatee County were sentenced to federal prison for selling industrial bleach as an oral cure for diseases, we cannot accept the cynical view that four of our county commissioners (with the exception of Commissioner Mark Smith, who opposed the resolution on the grounds that no input was solicited from the medical community beforehand) would be revealed as craven political hacks more intent on currying favor with the fascist aspirations of a disgraced former member of the Trump administration and his moonstruck minions, than protecting the health and welfare of the citizens of Sarasota County.

Such a possibility simply beggars belief.


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