Christian Doctors Respond to Abortion Poll, Say Conscience Clause Needed

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Feb 9, 2007   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Christian Doctors Respond to Abortion Poll, Say Conscience Clause Needed Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
February 9
, 2007

Washington, DC ( — A national organization for Christian doctors is responding to a survey in the New England Journal of Medicine showing 52 percent said they oppose abortion and others wouldn’t refer women considering an abortion to a place that does them.

The group says the poll shows the need for conscience clause legislation that protects the right of physicians to not be forced to be involved in medical practices that violates their moral or religious beliefs.

The poll, sponsored by the University of Chicago found some physicians believe it is appropriate to withhold information about abortion on moral grounds.

Dr. David Stevens, the head of the the Christian Medical Association says the study "suggests that many physicians may still feel pressured to violate their own ethical integrity by referring patients to other doctors who will perform morally objectionable practices."

"We need laws that protect physicians’ rights of conscience, and we need education to encourage doctors to stand firm on strong moral and ethical principles," he said.

Stevens said that doctors have the right to stand firm on ethical medical practices by not only refraining from engaging in the practice but from referring people to doctors that do the objectionable procedures so they’re not a party to them.

"If it is morally wrong to perform an abortion or euthanasia, it is morally wrong to facilitate abortion or euthanasia with a referral," he said.

Instead of forcing physicians to participate directly or indirectly in abortion, euthanasia or other practices, Dr. Al Weir, who directs outreach for CMA, says medical schools should be doing more to help budding physicians uphold high standards.

"Patients would be alarmed to discover that many medical schools have quietly stopped administering oaths in which doctors profess to upholding the Hippocratic standards that protect patients," he explained.

"Many medical students today are taught that there are no moral absolutes, and that a doctor’s role basically is to accommodate whatever the patient wants," Weir added.

The study found 14 percent of those surveyed do not believe they are required to tell a patient about all treatment options when it comes to morally objectionable procedures such as abortion.

And 29 percent of physicians say they do not feel they must refer someone to another doctor for a treatment they oppose or were undecided.

Doctors who described themselves as strong Christians, whether Protestant or Catholic, were more likely to refuse a referral or more information about morally objectionable procedures like abortion.

Some 1,820 practicing U.S. family doctors and specialists chose randomly from a database were mailed a survey and 63 percent of them responded.