New York, NY (CFAM/LifeNews) — Frustrated by the persistence of shame attached to abortion, international abortion activists are employing stealth methods to recruit and train abortionists while scholars are attempting to stigmatize healthcare providers’ right to object on grounds of conscience.
“Abortion stigma is affected both by legislative initiatives that establish fetal personhood and gestational age limits and by discourses that influence cultural values,” write Dr. Allison Norris and her colleagues in a Women’s Health Issues article. “By constructing the fetus as a person and abortion as murder, anti-abortion forces argue that women or providers – or both – should be seen as murderers.”
One consequence of the prevailing negative view of abortion is the scarcity of doctors willing to perform them. The US-based abortion advocacy group Provide Access bemoans the fact that “training for physicians and nurses in abortion is severely lacking,” yet the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists reports that when abortion training is offered in medical schools, “participation is low.”
To bypass this ambivalence or outright rejection of abortion on the part of medical students, Provide Access offers training sessions to “help students develop their critical thinking, emotional intelligence, and cultural sensitivity.” “Miscarriage management” workshops are used to provide cover for de facto abortion training by using a medical device that suctions a baby out of her mother’s womb. “What does success look like for an abortion access organization working in a Catholic hospital?” boasts the Provide Access website: “A class of family medicine residents using manual vacuum aspirators (MVA) to evacuate the ‘uterus’ of a papaya.” The training uses a papaya to simulate a womb.
Leading the international effort to get abortion tools and training into the hands of doctors and other medical workers is Ipas, which was founded in the 1970s to promote MVA use around the world. Recognizing that many cultures view abortion negatively, Ipas developed “values clarification” activities to transform people’s attitudes toward abortion. According to the training materials, “unlike the traditional approach to values clarification, which does not posit any universal set of preferred values, the Ipas…toolkit [was] designed with an agenda: to move participants toward support, acceptance and advocacy for comprehensive abortion care and related sexual and reproductive health care and rights.”
For pro-abortion advocates, the battle does not end with convincing healthcare providers to commit abortions; they are also working to limit providers’ freedom to opt out. Norris and colleagues posit that “conscientious objection on religious grounds, by challenging the morality of abortion, may lead both to lack of training opportunities and to trainees refusing to be trained, further enhancing abortion stigma.”
For those pushing for abortion access, there is one area in which conscience protection should be allowed. In the New England Journal of Medicine, Dr. Lisa Harris writes, “The persistent failure to recognize abortion provision as ‘conscientious’ has resulted in laws that do not protect caregivers who are compelled by conscience to provide abortion services,” characterizing laws limiting abortion as a violation of the providers’ rights of conscience.
Harris adds, “whether or not abortion provision is ‘conscientious’ depends on what conscience is.”
LifeNews Note: Rebecca Oas writes for the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute. This article originally appeared in the pro-life group’s Friday Fax and is used with permission.