Jan. 23, 2007

Bush Fear-Mongering on Ob-Gyn Access in Last Year's State of the Union Belied by Facts

Statement of Joan Claybrook, President of Public Citizen

In tonight’s State of the Union address, be alert to anything the president might say about trying to limit citizen access to the courts. In his 2006 address, the president told the nation that lawsuits were driving doctors out of practice, causing a shortage of ob-gyns in 1,500 counties – an attempt to urge the Congress to enact medical liability reform. While his statistics may frighten women, Bush was wrong to link litigation with rural access to ob-gyns. The truth is that fewer and fewer counties every year are without an ob-gyn.

The president and health care industry lobbyists issue gloomy pronouncements suggesting that a “crisis” in medical malpractice litigation directly threatens women’s access to health care. But they are wrong. A Public Citizen analysis, released today, shows that the number of licensed ob-gyns has been growing, and the number of live births per ob-gyn has decreased. The analysis, which used data from the American Medical Association (AMA) and the U.S. Census Bureau, showed an increase in the number of ob-gyns in each of the states that the AMA labels as in a medical liability crisis.

Scare tactics should not be used to try to limit the rights of Americans harmed by medical malpractice to seek redress in the courts. We’ve learned that in previous State of the Union addresses, this president’s assertions are not always backed by facts. Let’s hope that this year, he levels with the American people.

To read the Public Citizen analysis and see how this particular claim by Bush does not survive closer scrutiny, click here.

###