By Kathy Ostrowski, Kansans for Life Legislative Director
Pro-life physicians, pharmacists and their supporters gathered Wednesday with Gov. Brownback for the ceremonial signing of the new Healthcare Rights of Conscience law, a top priority for Kansans for Life. (Gov. Brownback will be the banquet speaker at the National Right to Life Convention June 30. See www.nrlconvention.com.)
The passage of yet another pro-life law under a pro-life governor is the result of decades of relentless work by pro-lifers, who refused to allow abortion to be assimilated into society as ordinary healthcare. Pro-life Kansans put those concerns into action by creating no-cost crisis pregnancy centers across the state –which rely on the volunteer medical help of dedicated physicians and nurses.
The Healthcare Rights of Conscience law, which will go into effect July 1, updates 40-year-old state statutes, which clearly covered hospitals and staff opposed to abortion.
The new law will protect individual medical practitioners from job loss and medical facilities from lawsuits when they absent themselves from abortion involvement and referrals.
The majority of ob/gyn physicians nationwide, unfortunately, belong to the abortion-supporting American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG). A June 4 2012 letter in the New York Times from James T. Breeden, MD, the current ACOG President complains that “Our message to politicians is unequivocal: Get out of our exam rooms.” But ACOG only means that certain politicians should get out— the pro-life ones!
This comports with ACOG’s November 2007 proclamation that Pro-life ob/gyns are not welcome. ACOG’s Ethics Committee Opinion #385 declared that ob-gyns opposed to abortion must provide referrals for, and even perform, abortions in certain situations, despite their conscientious belief that abortion involves the killing of an unborn child. Such a demand is an incursion on conscience that is not backed by any court decisions since Roe legalized abortion.
In a 2008 rebuttal, to the ACOG demand, the Catholic Medical Association explained, “the committee that wrote this opinion shows no respect for the beliefs of others. They have moved from believing that abortion should be legal to defining it as ‘standard care’ under reproductive services. If physicians refuse to go along with these demands they risk having an ethics complaint filed against them.”
The disrespect for opposition to abortion, when sanctioned by the ACOG trade association, produces a “group think” mentality. As an example, in a new book, Five Strands of Hope, the author complains that she was told by four different physicians to abort one or more of her triplets!
Also, when conscience rights are not a priority in medicine, purposeful exclusion of dissenting voices is the desired norm. A dozen nurses in New Jersey were terminated in 2010 for refusal to assist with abortions. They have since been reinstated after litigation, but numerous voices now state that anyone not willing to provide abortion should not enter the field of women’s health.
Congratulations to the Kansas legislature and Gov. Brownback for enacting the Healthcare Rights of Conscience law, a measure long overdue.