A coalition of organizations representing over 500 medical professionals in New York State and over 800 medical pro-life pregnancy centers nationwide co-sponsored a medical clinician statement of ethics protesting Cuomo’s abortion expansion act. Groups like the Christian Medical and Dental Association, the Commission for Reproductive Health Service Standards (CRHSS), Heartbeat International, the National Institute of Family and Life Advocates, CompassCare Pregnancy Services, the Coalition on Abortion/Breast Cancer, the National Black Pro-life Union, and the Jubilee Campaign’s Law of Life Project united in opposition to Cuomo’s program bill. Jim Harden, of CRHSS spearheaded the collaboration.
The collaboration opposes the abortion expansion legislation on ethical grounds claiming it is a classic example of politicians abusing the medical community to accomplish special interest agenda. Their ethics statement says the bill “tramples the rights and duty of medical professionals to manage the treatment of their patients according to their training and conscience.” Their statement begins by asserting that the purpose of medicine is the good health of a patient. Jim Harden head of the Commission for Reproductive Health Service Standards said, “The assumption is that this kind of legislation not only ignores the humanity of the pre-born child, as all OB/GYNs are trained to recognize, but also the individuality of women facing unplanned pregnancy. Bottom line, this bill treats women as a population block instead of respecting their unique, individual circumstances.” Making abortion a fundamental human right without conscience protections for providers could presumably force healthcare providers to refer all women for abortion thereby exacerbating an already tragic circumstance. Additionally this lack of conscience protections for healthcare providers who refuse to refer for abortions relegates the venerable medical profession to the status of a vending machine.
Harden went on to say that women generally consider abortion due to coercive pressures. The presence of coercive elements in any medical decision destroys the ability of the patient to act on her own free will. It is the role of the ethical medical clinician to insulate a woman from coercive pressure. Merely giving her an abortion or referring her for one represents the very opposite of professional medical ethics. So making abortion a fundamental human right ignores the fact that medical providers must be held accountable to treating each unplanned pregnancy as a unique ethical dilemma. Forcing the medical community via legislation to ignore the issues driving women to abortion, the most aggressive and risky treatment option, is something the medical community is trained to resist lest a woman is robbed of true autonomy while the clinician is asked to ignore the ethical concept of ‘doing no harm.’
Additionally, the collaboration is concerned the passage of this kind of legislation in New York sets a dangerous precedent removing a woman’s primary doctor from the situation and even allowing non-doctors to perform surgical abortions. This is just plain unthinkable to the medical profession. Harden again, “To distance a woman from the highest level of medical care, the physician, in the name of ‘Women’s Equality’ is not only disingenuous but downright unjust. Given recent abortion abuse cases like Gosnell, we should be raising the standard of care for women in situations characterized by coercive pressure like unplanned pregnancy.” The collaboration’s concern is that this bill would serve only to further exploit the difficult circumstances of women who otherwise feel like they are trapped. Beyond that, if a minor is considering abortion, this bill would all but ensure her parents are barred from involvement in the decision-making process. Harden explained, “This too is considered bad medicine as it has been a long-standing medical belief that parents are, except in extreme circumstances of abuse, essential to a child’s well-being.
It has been rumored that Cuomo is tweaking the explosive 10th point in his Women’s Equality Act by giving a nod to the rejection of the Federally banned late-term abortions. Curiously, the collaboration’s statement of ethics does not even mention anything about abortion types at late stages of pregnancy. It simply opposes government politicians trespassing in the field of the medical profession.