by Steven Ertelt
March 15, 2008
Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) — The Bush administration has asked a national group for OBGYNs to not discriminate against pro-life doctors who don’t want to be involved in doing or promoting abortions. Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt opposes the new policy the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists is considering.
ACOG plans to review a policy on Monday that says all doctors, including those who are pro-life, should refer women to abortion centers.
The group has been criticized heavily for releasing the statement last year entitled "The Limits of Conscientious Refusal in Reproductive Medicine" that insists that doctors who object to doing abortions should refer patients to physicians who will do them.
ACOG also requests that pro-life doctors move their practices closer to abortion businesses so women can have a shorter drive to get an abortion when their physicians refuse to perform or refer for one.
One of the biggest problems with the policy is that the college’s board could adopt it and doing or promoting abortions could become formally linked to physician board certification. That could wind up making many pro-life obstetricians quit their jobs rather than be forced to do abortions.
Leavitt, in a letter on Friday provided to LifeNews.com, called on the college’s board to reject the policy and protect the conscience rights of physicians.
In a letter to American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology director Dr. Norman Grant, Leavitt said the policy "would force physicians to violate their conscience by referring patients for abortions or taking other objectionable actions, or risk losing their board certification.
"I am concerned that the actions taken by ACOG and ABOG could result in the denial or revocation of Board certification of a physician who — but for his or her refusal, for example, to refer a patient for an abortion — would be certified," Leavitt said.
"Additionally, threats to withhold or revoke board certification can cause serious economic harm to good practitioners," Leavitt wrote.
Secretary Leavitt also said he is concerned that government agencies that require board certification could take legal actions against pro-life physicians or put sanctions in place against them.
Those actions, prompted by the board’s adopting the policy and enforcement by ACOG and by certain federally-funded entities, would likely violate federal laws against discrimination, he said.
He concluded by asking the ABOG to not rely on the ACOG statement when making decisions about OBGYN certification.
"In the hope that compliance of entities with the obligations that accompany certain federal funds will not be jeopardized, it would be helpful if you could clarify that ABOG will not rely on the ACOG [report] when making determinations of whether to grant or revoke board certifications," he said.
As LifeNews.com reported on Friday, two leading groups for pro-life doctors have asked ACOG and ABOG to back down.