Forcing doctors to kill

Posted: Jun 07, 2002 12:00 AM
After three decades dominated by the rabid rhetoric of reproductive choice, the number of doctors choosing to perform abortions keeps shrinking. This is a significant cultural phenomenon, but don't look for the National Organization for Women or National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League (NARAL) to explore it truthfully anytime soon. The last thing feminists want to contemplate is how their crusading efforts to diversify medical schools might have actually backfired by resulting in more women doctors -- who take their commitment to protecting all human life seriously. The abortion forces blame political intimidation by their opponents for the decline. But maybe, just maybe, the abortionist shortage is occurring because a growing number of doctors have concluded that providing induced "therapeutic" abortion is a fundamental violation of their professional creed. The Hippocratic oath states clearly: "I will maintain the utmost respect for every human life from fertilization to natural death and reject abortion that deliberately takes a unique human life." Between 1992 and 1996, The Washington Post noted in a recent panicky editorial, the number of abortion providers in America declined by 14 percent. The downward trend has been ongoing for 20 years. Of roughly 2,000 doctors who now perform abortions nationwide, more than half are over 50 and closing in on retirement. The Post's analysis: "The greatest decrease was among doctors in private practice, who are less likely to perform abortions the younger they are; and hospitals, which, as they are bought by religious institutions and for-profit chains, increasingly prefer to avoid the controversies that abortion entails." In other words, the unencumbered exercise of religious liberty and the power of the free market have combined to reduce the number of willing abortion providers. Oh, how awful. To remedy this calamitous epidemic of new young doctors listening to their consciences (gasp), the abortion lobby has conjured a tidy solution: Infiltrate public training hospitals and
force future doctors to learn the bloody tools of the abortion trade. Ground Zero in this new abortion front is New York City, which trains one-seventh of the nation's doctors. The New York chapter of NARAL secured the support of liberal Republican Mayor Michael Bloomberg to use taxpayer-funded medical facilities as private recruitment camps. Beginning next month, abortion training for obstetrics and gynecology residents in New York's 11 public hospitals will become part of the compulsory curriculum, rather than an elective that trainees generally eschew. Ob-gyn residents will spend four to eight weeks in a full-time rotation on "family planning." Or rather, family reduction. The residents will learn the whole gamut of abortion methods, from chemical to surgical. As one online women's publication described it, fledgling doctors will be trained in new methods that "will move abortion from the operating room to a 'procedure room,' increasing the number of abortions that can be performed per day and decreasing delays for women who want abortions." Those who disagree with the abortion-training mandate must opt out by invoking a narrowly written conscience clause. Abortion activists make their headhunting agenda of coercion clear. "It is not enough for training to be available on an elective basis to overworked residents," the National Abortion Federation argues. "Programs need to set expectations of resident participation in routine abortion training so that trainees who exercise a conscience clause provision to opt out become the exception and not the rule." New York City is a trendsetter. NARAL is hoping that public hospitals across the country will follow its lead in using the power of government to force more doctors to accept abortion as a normal health care procedure. But there is absolutely no sound medical rationale for this new training mandate. It is a purely political hammer intended to bully residents into abandoning their ethical principles. The medical community has been right to recoil, and must continue to resist the radical abortionist stance that destroying life should be as integral to a doctor's mission as delivering it.