Poll Shows Americans Don’t Know Law on Whether Doctors Must Do Abortions
by Steven Ertelt
September 17, 2008
Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) — A new poll reveals most Americans don’t know what federal law says about whether doctors are required to do abortions or refer women who want them to someone who will. The poll comes as a national battle is ensuing over the Bush administration’s desire to enforce the law to protect physicians’ rights.
The Bush administration has proposed new regulations that would enforce laws preventing medical centers from forcing doctors to do abortions or refer for them.
Abortion advocates are leading a campaign against the proposal that would allow the current problems of medical centers flouting the law to continue.
To find out what the public knows about current law, the Christian Medical Association, a pro-life doctors group, had the Polling Company commission a survey.
The poll found just 38 percent of Americans knew that federal law says the doctor does not have to do the abortion or refer for it.
Some 4 percent of Americans thought federal law forced doctors to do abortions and another 38 percent believed federal statues don’t compel physicians to do the abortion but to refer to another doctor who will.
Another 16 percent admitted they didn’t know the answer and 4 percent didn’t answer the question entirely.
CMA CEO Dr. David Stevens told LifeNews.com that the polling results are a concern and said it explains why doctors and other medical professionals frequently face pressure to be involved in abortions.
"This widespread ignorance of civil rights protections helps explain why over 40 percent of our members report being pressured to violate their moral and ethical convictions in healthcare," he said.
"It also underscores the urgent need for the HHS regulation and to educate the public and medical community concerning civil rights in healthcare," he said.
Kellyanne Conway, the head of the Polling Company, told LifeNews.com, she agreed more education is needed.
"When read three possible descriptions regarding the legal obligations of a doctor when a patient requests an abortion, the clear majority of Americans surveyed revealed they did not have a firm grasp on the law," she said.
Stevens calls the protection of medical personnel a civil rights issue.
"Protecting the civil rights of healthcare professionals means we will continue to be able to adhere to time-tested ethical standards that protect patients, including the Hippocratic Oath," he said. "It’s ironic and alarming that many today would actually disregard civil rights and forbid physicians from following the Hippocratic Oath and other ethical standards that respect early human life."
"If physicians lose the freedom to follow conscience and ethical standards, patients lose the protections of those standards. Patients also will ultimately lose access to those physicians, who will be forced to choose other careers rather than violate ethical standards," he explained.
In response to a request for the federal law to be enforced better, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services proposed a regulation that would implement three federal civil rights laws protecting the right of healthcare professionals to follow conscientiously held ethical standards.
Related web sites:
Christian Medical Association – https://www.cmawashington.org
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