Target: Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett
Goal: Repeal the law restricting the information doctors can share with their patients regarding exposure to toxic chemicals used by the natural gas industry.
A new law in Pennsylvania threatens the trust inherent in the relationship between physician and patient. In response to intense pressure as a result of heavy lobbying from the natural gas industry, Pennsylvania legislators have placed a gag order on doctors in order to keep them from sharing information about the toxic chemicals used in the hydraulic fracturing (fracking) process with the public and their patients.
Fracking is the controversial practice of injecting chemical laden water at high pressure into loose oil shale up to 10,000 feet underground in order to force natural gas deposits to the surface. The chemicals used in the process, which include benzene and toluene, contaminate ground water reserves and wells that tens of thousands of people living on and around the Marcellus Shale deposit use daily. They are known to cause serious illnesses such as cancer, as well as a range of medical problems including eye irritation, headaches and trouble breathing.
An amendment buried within a law passed recently in Pennsylvania allows gas companies to withhold information on the specifics of the chemical compounds used in the process from inquiring physicians. They may however, decide to provide the information if a physician makes a request. If these doctors are given the specifics of the chemicals at all, they are forbidden from communicating that information to the public or their individual patients, even if they are suffering from exposure to the very same chemicals used by the gas companies. Even more egregious, physicians are barred from sharing the information with other medical specialists in order to facilitate treatment.
This law interferes with the sacrosanct relationship between doctors and their patients that is crucial to public health and safety. It handicaps doctors who are trying to provide the best possible care for their patients in light of the threat of heavy leaching of dangerous chemicals into the water resources of homes across western Pennsylvania.
By signing the petition below, you will help urge Governor Tom Corbett to consider the welfare of the people of Pennsylvania over the interests of natural gas companies and repeal the amendment gagging physicians from communicating this vital information with their patients and the public.
Dear Governor Corbett,
The people of Pennsylvania have a reasonable expectation of trust and accountability in their personal relationships with their physicians. What’s more, they have a reasonable expectation that their government will not pass laws that actively interrupt a doctor’s ability to provide honest health assessments and the most expedient care possible to their patients.
The recently passed Title 52 oil and gas law with its amendment placing a gag order on doctors in the interest of protecting the natural gas industry violates those reasonable expectations. The people of Pennsylvania have a right to hear from their doctors what chemicals they are being exposed to as a result of the fracking process and what threat to their health those chemicals may cause.
Please restore the full ability of physicians to treat their patients in a way that respects the integrity spelled out in the Hippocratic Oath. Please repeal the amendment gagging Pennsylvania’s physicians.
[Your Name Here]