Medical Students Weigh Being Next Generation of Abortion Practitioners

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   May 22, 2007   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Medical Students Weigh Being Next Generation of Abortion Practitioners Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
May 22
, 2007

Denver, CO ( — Taking the life of one patient and likely hurting the other isn’t the idea most medical students have in mind when they’re thinking of a specialty or career after college. But for some pro-abortion students, becoming an abortion practitioner is not only an option, but, they feel, an obligation because of declining numbers.

Plastic surgeons are often looked down upon by the rest of the medical community but there are more than three times as many people doing cosmetic surgeries as there are abortion practitioners.

That’s how frowned upon the profession is within the medical world — and the number is on the decline.

The Alan Guttmacher Institute, the research arm of Planned Parenthood — the nations largest abortion business — estimates that there are about 1,800 abortion practitioners in the United States.

But the number has fallen about 37 percent from 1982 to 2000 for a variety of reasons.

Most abortion practitioners are older and retiring, many come from the bottom ranks of medical school and have had run ints with state health departments over botched abortions or health violations, others have converted to a pro-life position.

Looking at the equation from the pro-abortion side, groups like Medical Students for Choice say the decline is the result of stepped up protests against abortion practitioners at both the abortion centers as well as their homes.

And abortion advocacy groups say the decline has been caused by more state regulations on abortion facilities to ensure that women’s health is better protected and to reduce the number of abortions.

But two students at the very liberal University of Colorado in Boulder say they’re likely going to enter the field.

Fourth year medical student Megan Lederer, who is 30, told the Los Angeles Times that she’s being drawn into considering becoming an abortion practitioner because of horror stories groups like NARAL still perpetuate about women dying from illegal abortions before Roe v. Wade.

Never mind that women still die from abortion despite its legality and that the abortion advocates at the time cooked the books.

Dr. Bernard Nathanson, NARAL’s co-founder before Roe was handed down in 1973, admits his group lied about the number of women who died from illegal abortions when testifying before the Supreme Court in 1972.

"We spoke of 5,000 – 10,000 deaths a year," he has said previously. "I confess that I knew the figures were totally false [but] it was a useful figure, widely accepted, so why go out of our way to correct it with honest statistics?"

Still, Lederer admits she’s drawn to the grisly practice because abortion is an act of defiance — a way to thumb her nose at a society that is increasingly pro-life.

"It’s like when your big brother says you can’t do something," Lederer said. "That just makes you want to do it even more."

If she becomes an abortion practitioner, her decision would be particularly ironic as her father is a pediatrician. But the woman’s studies major whose mom bought her a book on Gloria Steinem says she may be needed to do abortions for the next generation of women.

"Who’s going to do this when they leave? Someone has to," Lederer told the Times. "I feel in my heart of hearts that it’s the right thing to do."

She attended a recent MFC conference with abortion practitioner and other medical students and was amazed that people who could otherwise be respected physicians could make a profit and career in the abortion business.

Meanwhile, third-year medical student Lysie Cirona, told the Times that her possible decision to devote her medical career to taking the lives of unborn children is a backlash at the Supreme Court’s recent ruling upholding the federal ban on partial-birth abortions.

"It wasn’t on my radar screen" a year ago, Cirona told the newspaper, but now she envisions herself flying to states like Nebraska or North Dakota to do abortions because large portions of the state don’t have abortion centers.

Cirona’s roommate, Michelle Cleeves, told the Los Angeles paper that she’s drawn to becoming an abortion practitioner because doing simple things to promote abortion — voting for candidates or putting a bumper sticker on her car — are no longer enough.

"It doesn’t matter what you believe if you don’t back it up with action," she said. "The right to abortion doesn’t mean anything if women don’t have access."

But access is what abortion advocates desire most — not just in terms of the number of abortion centers but the number of medical school programs where doing an abortion is part of the curriculum.

Lois Backus, executive director of Medical Students for Choice, says that just 20 out of 400 family practice residencies include abortion training. It appears likely that the number will have a direct correlation with the number of abortion practitioners in the future.