The Law and My Uterus

Posted on March 22, 2012

Knitting my Way Through Blog, March 22, 2012 by Essie Bruell

The Government Free V-JJ Facebook siteis marshaling the efforts of hundreds of women who are knitting, crocheting and sewing lovely lady parts to send to legislators. The idea is to send that person one of his/her own to play with, so they will stay out of ours. You can’t fail to notice the unending stream of anti-women health legislation being passed. There’s everything from performing unnecessary ultrasounds and verbal warnings before pregnancy termination to instructing doctors to lie to their patients to refusing Planned Parenthood services with the consequence of cutting millions from a state health care budget.I write letters and circulate petitions but I needed a way to be more active on this issue, which has my blood boiling.  My lovely pink hand-knit uterus (a little lumpy to represent the family fibroids) is going to Senator Bob Corker. My letter below explains why:

Dear Bob,

You may be surprised to find the enclosed knitted uterus and fallopian tubes in your own mail, since you have not been a loud voice in support of attacking the health care rights of women.  I have selected you as recipient for two reasons.  First, you have been a consistent and vocal opponent of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Fiscal concerns aside, the Act markedly increases access to preventive care, reduces the availability and cost of health care for women, and adds accessibility for those with pre-existing conditions, all good things for Tennesseeans. Second, you have not spoken out against the rampant proliferation of medically unsupportable, intrusive, misogynistic attacks on women’s health care that are occurring with startling frequency in state and federal legislation. Surely, as a husband and father of two young women, you must dread the expansion of government into women’s personal medical matters, especially considering that in a different political atmosphere this may set precedent for the legislation of procedures or care measures that are just as objectionable to you as abortion currently is.

I appreciate your focus on issues that are of great concern to your constituents, especially fiscal responsibility and jobs creation.  I do hope you will, as one of the more practical, scientific-minded and reasonable men in your party, use your influence to effect a better attitude towards women’s health care in your colleagues.  The uterus is a reminder for you to do just that.


Essie Bruell, M.D.
Chattanooga, TN

Meanwhile, I am wondering where are the doctors? Aside from one anonymous soul who opened up in a blog interview 
on transv-ginal ultrasound, and a wonderful practitioner in Alabama who has drafted simple legislation to block these kinds of measures, I do not see or hear the expected outcry. We who are so vocal about our abuse at the hands of insurance companies are oddly quiet under the onslaught of this legislation. Where at least are the female doctors? Where is the army of Obstetrics & Gynecology doctors whose practices are solely to care for women? Where are the doctors with wives and daughters and nieces and grand-daughters, some of whom will most certainly be affected by these misogynist measures?  Do we not see that if we can’t reverse this legislation, we may be legislated out of existence? Think what a corps of physicians trained under the slippery slop of this legislation would be like.  In Tennessee we’re waiting for the Governor to sign a bill that will allow any teacher in public school to teach what he or she believes about science – Creationism, misinformation about health and family planning…how’s it going to be when similar legislation hits the public colleges and universities, and forms the basis of medical training?

Yes, I know.  It’s easy for me to talk, because I haven’t practiced in several years. I have systemic lupus (yes, primarily a disease of women) and I don’t have to live by the hard decisions.  But I fail to see what’s hard in sticking with the mandate WE trained with: to first, do no harm.  There is nothing more important than providing good medical care. We’ve got to pick up our pens and write the letters and sign the petitions and inform one another and be as perfect at civil disobedience as this legislation requires. We cannot let our patients down.