Medical Societies Oppose Proposal to Protect Doctors From Forced Abortions

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Sep 25, 2008   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Medical Societies Oppose Proposal to Protect Doctors From Forced Abortions

by Steven Ertelt Editor
September 25
, 2008

Washington, DC ( — On the last day the public can submit comments to the Department of Health and Human Services about a proposal to protect doctors from being forced to do abortions, two medical societies have come out in opposition. They include the American Psychiatric Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics.

The Bush administration has learned that three existing civil rights laws that offer conscience protections for doctors, medical personnel and hospitals, have not been followed or fully enforced.

The health department has proposed a new rule to enforce the laws by requiring employers to certify in writing that they are not discriminating against medical staff who refuse to participate in abortions.

In what pro-life advocates view as an apparent abrogation of their responsibilities to represent medical professionals, the two medical societies issued comments opposing the rule.

“Implementation of this regulation would effectively allow health care providers’ personal beliefs to override patients’ right to full disclosure of accurate information and available health care resources,” the associations claim.

The groups said that medical professionals are required to inform patients of their treatment options — indicating they may support the right of medical personnel to opt out of doing abortions but believe they must be forced to inform women how to get an abortion.

They noted the existing laws that protect medical professionals, but said nothing of the lack of enforcement of them.

HHS spokeswoman Christina Pearson told the Associated Press she’s not sure what will happen after the open public comment period closes.

"We have an open comment period, so I’m unable to comment on what will happen beyond here," she said.

Pro-abortion groups have also opposed the rule, claiming that it would prevent women from getting access to birth control and contraception.

The rule never worked that way and HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt adjusted it to make sure that was the case.

“If the Department of Health and Human Services issues a regulation on this matter, it will aim at one thing, protecting the right of conscience of those who practice medicine,” he wrote last month.

Opponents have blitzed HHS with well over a hundred thousand e-mails and pro-life groups are urging pro-life advocates to send last-minute emails to [email protected] to support the HHS conscience rights regulation by today’s deadline.

The Christian Medical Association, which supports the rule, has talked about why it is needed.

"The regulation would implement 35 years of civil rights laws passed by Congress to protect health-care professionals from discrimination, coercion and job loss for adhering to life-affirming ethical standards. The regulation would simply disallow forcing professionals to perform elective abortions and other procedures that violate millennia of medical ethics codes," the group says.

ACTION: Contact the medical societies with your complaints about their opposition to protecting medical professionals. Contact the American Psychiatric Association at [email protected] or 1-888-35-PSYCH. Contact the American Academy of Pediatrics by going to

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