Abortion Practitioner Upset at the Stigma Attached to It

Opinion   |   Gerard Nadal, Ph.D.   |   Sep 27, 2011   |   10:15AM   |   Washington, DC

Jill Stanek carries the following quote from the rabidly proabort website, RH Reality Check, on her blog. Below is the quote and my response left at Jill’s.

Professional obstacles cited by physicians [who perform abortions] included workplaces with an anti-abortion climate; the surprisingly widespread “no-abortion policies” that quietly exist in many private practices, HMOs, and hospitals across the country; the risk of being pigeonholed as just an abortion provider; and the risk of being ostracized by the local medical community and patient population. On a more personal level, some physicians worried that providing abortions would cause their families to suffer discrimination and even danger.

In addition, many providers are stigmatized by the very patients who come to them for abortions. Physicians who staff specialized abortion clinics report disheartening interactions with patients who ask “How do you do this on a regular basis?” or “Isn’t this really hard for you?” Even though these patients are willing to have abortions, they have absorbed society’s beliefs about abortion providers and convey that to their doctors.

Separation is a hallmark of any stigmatized practice, and the fact that 93% of abortions are now performed at specialized clinics is no accident….

While specialized abortion clinics are often able to cultivate a more positive environment for women in need of services, their complete separation from all other health-care facilities only perpetuates the idea that abortion is not a “normal” part of women’s reproductive health care.

~ Jennifer Coletti, RH Reality Check, September 22

Dear Jennifer,

The processes of becoming a board certified physician and a scientist are exactly the same in both time and effort, differing only in the scientist going to the lab and the physician doing rotations and residency with patients. In my case, 70% of the coursework was identical, so here’s some insight.

It begins with four years of tough undergraduate coursework including full-year courses in physics, general chemistry, organic chemistry, physical chemistry, calculus, biostatistics, general biology, anatomy and physiology, biochemistry, genetics, molecular biology, histology, etc…

Assuming the candidate has made it through all of that with good grades, there comes the Medical College Admission Test, which is akin to putting one’s head into a sausage grinder for 8 hours and hoping to do very well. At this point one is competing with the 30% who made it through pre-med alive.

After admission to medical school, there is a brutal two-year course of basic sciences classes. The pace and workload are so intense that most students EITHER go to class, or read the books. Most simply don’t have time for both.

Then comes the first part of their licensing exam, the USMLE, Part I.

Then comes the exhausting 3rd and 4th years rotations through the various hospital services and more endless hours of study.

Then comes part II of the USMLE.

After graduating with their doctorates, the new doctors enter internship and residency, which can last anywhere from three to seven years, depending on the specialty. Most states still permit the 36 hour shifts for resident physicians, which is exhausting. Somewhere early in that process they take Part III of the USMLE and become full-fledged physicians. After their residency training, candidates then sit for their board exams in the chosen specialty, usually a combination of written and oral.

By now, 12-15 years has elapsed since the first day of pre-med in undergrad.

Many will choose to go on for advanced training in a highly specialized area of medicine, requiring a two-year post-doctoral fellowship, with yet another certification exam.

Ph.D.’s go through a very similar process.

In all of that sacrifice of time, effort, and hundreds of thousands of dollars in training (and hundreds of thousands more of lost income while in medical/graduate school and residency), we all have a dream that sustains us. We have a vision of ourselves making some significant contribution to the world so that our time here was well spent. We typically have the dream of helping other human beings by relieving their pain and suffering.

Tearing babies to shreds violates every precept that sustains the overwhelming majority of us through all of that frustration and physical exhaustion for almost 20 years of our adult lives. Yes, we regard such practitioners of the Black Art as common butchers and treat them as lepers in the societies of doctors, whose sacred trust it is to uphold the highest standards of our fields of endeavor.

They are lepers and pariahs for good reason. They murder the innocent, the most fundamental violation of the Hippocratic Oath. They butcher women. They do not follow the standard of care in Obstetrics and Gynecology.

They are despised and loathed by us, and their stigma is as great as the betrayal of our collective sense of dignity and decency in the scientific and medical professions.

Efforts by proaborts to force legislation that would force abortion into hospitals will only stiffen the resistance of the medical community and make the alienation and isolation of the abortionist all the more acute. Until such time as they abandon the Black Art, their stigma and their isolation are well-deserved.

Absent any repentance, they are also a foretaste of their eternal condition.