There’s an interesting piece from Wesley Smith at NR today:
The medical and bioethics establishments and the international abortion lobby want to drive pro-life and Hippocratic Oath–believing doctors, midwives, and nurses out of medicine. One authoritarian tactic is to obliterate “medical conscience,” e.g., the civil right to refuse participation in legal medical procedures to which one has a religious or moral objection.
This assault on religious freedom has already commenced. Increasingly strident calls have been published in medical and bioethics journals urging that MDs be forced to perform abortions when asked, or if unwilling, to procure an abortionist for the patient — already the law in Victoria, Australia.
The only doctors qualified to perform abortions are Ob/Gyns, a specialty that has become overwhelmingly female during my career.
(Not surprisingly, the NPR piece considers racial diversity more important than sexual diversity, but I wander.)
This is not a new issue. In 1982 I chose my residency, not at a Catholic hospital, with the proviso that I would not be obligated to do abortions. Two years later when a chief resident objected, I took extra time in the clinic to make up for other residents doing the cases. While on residency, faculties in two large New England cities in 1989-94, we allowed potential residents to choose to do or not do abortions; most chose not, with zero repercussions.
Not everyone can choose “no.” There are some abortions that need to be done, I can recall eight such cases in a thirty-year career. Invasive cancer, sepsis, leukemia, that sort of thing. So someone in every community needs to have experience in doing abortions. It’s not pretty, but true. Abortions past nine weeks are surprisingly fraught with hazard to the pregnant woman as well as lethal to the fetus and require technical expertise. Your local primary care doctor can’t do them safely.
I don’t see how you could force a doctor to do abortions by any means other than as a prerequisite of licensure or of institutional credentialing. The last thing you would want in the OR is a doctor who was coerced or held at gunpoint to do a procedure to which he objects and with which he is uncomfortable.
In my work, I now and then encounter patients who request services that I cannot in good conscience provide. When this happens I do not get on a soapbox, I don’t always tell patients of my conscientious objection. I quietly and politely demur and suggest another doctor for them. I believe it is my job to serve the patient, not the patient’s job to meet the needs of my soul.