In a recent commentary made by Quartz reporter Annalisa Merelli on the issue of abortions and the physicians that refuse to perform them misses the whole point of free choice and liberal society.
Annalisa Merelli stated obstetricians that refuse to perform abortion procedures should change their specialty, the same way a soldier that refuses to fight should not be in the army. Unfortunately, her comparison as well as her logic is also flawed and here is why.
Medicine is about saving a life, healing the ill and improving the quality of life through medical procedures. In 99% of the cases, abortion is not an ailment, it is a psychological perspective of a person’s desire to be a parent which is not a disorder, it is the freedom of choice of a woman’s desire to become a mother or not. When we consider this approach and the freedom of decision as a basis for a liberal and non-biased society, then the same rules should apply to every individual. This means, that if a physician is uncomfortable with abortion, for whatever reason, they have the freedom of choice to refuse such an action. Since there are many ob-gyn physicians, the procedure of abortion can be performed in many clinics.
The religious aspect of abortion is debatable in modern society, where Catholics view abortion as a sin, but it is not the only religion that does not condone abortion unless it is for medical reasons. Here is a list of religions that negatively view abortion.
- Christianity: Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, and Evangelical Protestants
- Judaism: Ultra-Orthodox
Mixed View of Choice
- Christian: Protestant, Methodist Church, United Church of Christ, and the Evangelical Lutheran Church
- Judaism: secular
- Unitarian Universalism
- Judaism: Reform, Reconstructionist, and Conservative
Freedom of Choice is Unrestricted
The religion of a physician has an impact on their decisions, and when Quartz reporter Annalisa Merelli states that “The ability to perform an abortion is paramount in the practice of gynecology.” This statement is absolutely false and based on personal perception of abortion and not on fact or logic.
Abortions, like any other procedure, are split into two categories, life threating due to medical issues that most religions agree to perform since it means saving the mothers life, and chosen abortions, where a mother decides that a perfectly normal pregnancy is not wanted due to personal reasons.
The idea that a physician must be forced to take an action that is not life threatening, and is considered to be part of their domain is ridiculous, and goes against the very principles of “choice”. If a woman can be given the “choice” to have an abortion, then a physician should be given the “choice” to refuse to perform abortions.
There are unusual circumstances around abortion rights in the US, including the Catholic Church’s zealous stance against abortions, going to levels where an entire US Catholic healthcare system decided against offering an emergency abortion procedure in its hospital, and still advocates from performing any abortion procedures in its 550 hospitals and clinics. Source: https://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/853374
In recent years, ever since Pope Francis was elected, the stance on emergency life-threatening abortion procedures were re-considered, taking into account the status of the fetus and the mother. Catholic Ethical and Religious Directives prohibit abortion but allow operations, treatments and medications for a pregnant woman to treat a “proportionately serious pathological condition,” even if doing so cause the unintentional death of the child. Source:http://www.mlive.com/news/muskegon/index.ssf/2013/12/catholic_bishops_call_baseless.html
Abortion Statistics in the US
Now for some statistics, less than 1% of all abortions are due to life-threatening situations, and 94% of all abortions happen within the first 12 weeks of pregnancy and are by choice, not life-threatening.
Sources : http://www.abortionfacts.com/facts/8
The statistics tell us that apart from the issue of emergency procedures, which covers less than 1% of the abortions performed per annum in the US, the remaining >99% are by choice, and as such, can be performed by physicians that are not personally challenged to perform such as procedure.
There are around 980,000 to 1.1 million abortions performed in the US every year. There are over 1,700 abortion clinics around the US which means that there are 1,000 patients per clinic or 2.3 per day. There is no overload on abortion clinics, neither on hospitals or physicians. While this fact is interesting, it is also irrelevant, since physicians do not need to defend their rights to perform or not perform certain procedures. Just to add to these facts one final fact, there are around 34,000 Ob-gyn physicians in the US, which is 5% of all physicians, this translates to 1:29 ratio of physicians to abortion procedures. There are enough pro-choice abortion physicians in the US; we do not need to force everyone to follow Merelli’s illogical argument.
The bottom line: Quartz reporter Annalisa Merelli misses the point of choice, choice is something that is for everyone, and not just for one side of the argument. Or to make a personal statement on this particular issue “Freedom of choice for a mother to abort a pregnancy is the same freedom of choice for a physician to select which medical procedures they will or will not perform.”