Editor’s note. This first appeared last week on the blog of Ohio Right to Life.
Time magazine’s recent article “Doctors Urge More Hospitals to Perform Abortions” is sorely devoid of historical or modern perspective, as well as any attempt by the author to at least look like she’s attempting balanced reporting.
Essentially, the story [written by Grace Wyler] argues that most doctors want to perform abortions, but state restrictions and political pressure are preventing them from doing so.
The story begins by addressing the pending closure of the last remaining abortion clinic in Toledo, Ohio. The reporter failed to call Ohio Right to Life, let alone anyone from Ohio, for a statement on the matter. She cited a 2011 study that showed that only a small percentage of doctors confronted by a woman wanting an abortion actually perform the procedure. But the article included no statement from any pro-life physician. Instead, the piece is saturated with the opinions of typical pro-choice academia and the abortion lobby, NARAL Pro-Choice America.
At its best the story is lazy. At its worst, the story is pure, pro-abortion propaganda.
The story cites professors who say that by not providing abortions, “…hospitals have disregarded the responsibility that our academic predecessors expected them to assume.”
If Time was interested in holding these professionals accountable, the reporter would have looked further into the historical accuracy of that statement.
The reality is that the marginalization of abortion within the medical community has a long history. It began in the mid-19th century with the founding of the American Medical Association, and thus the professionalization of American medicine.
Before medicine’s professionalization, anyone claiming to be a doctor was accepted as such. Frustrated by the existence of these “quack” doctors, physicians collaborated to form professional standards and to delegitimize the quacks by claiming authority over medical science and ethics.
One of the standards the professionals developed was opposition to abortion.
Unlike the quacks who provided abortions, professional physicians adhered to the Hippocratic Oath, which condemned abortion. Contrary to popular belief at the time, they insisted that the only scientific standard for defining the beginning of human life was conception. Assigning the beginning of human life to any other moment in gestation was completely arbitrary.
The Time article says that in September, the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology will publish a statement in which 100 ob-gyns condemn the new state restrictions on abortion as a “political regression.”
The reality is that these 100 ob-gyns are committing a ridiculous professional, scientific, and moral regression that their academic and professional predecessors would be ashamed of.
In an age of ever-increasing scientific, technological, and social advancement, they are pedaling a dying practice whose market has been steadily drying up as more women choose life. And so is Time.
Since the 19th century, obstetric science has improved dramatically.
Case in point: The C-Section.
Before the C-section had become proven medical science, pre-born babies who were stuck in their mother’s birth canal were aborted by craniotomy, the centuries-old practice of crushing the baby’s head with forceps and extracting the rest of the baby piecemeal.
In the 19th century, American doctors agonized in operating rooms and debated in medical journals about the practice’s justifiability. Craniotomy was intended to save the mother’s life. But what many physicians could not overcome was their scientific knowledge that craniotomy deliberately (and literally) crushed out another human life.
Physicians proposed that the C-section be used in place of the craniotomy. This was undoubtedly a risky procedure, but they were sure that they could improve it—that they could save both patients rather than just one.
The CDC reports that in 2010, 1.3 million babies were born by C-section in the U.S. Nineteenth-century physicians have been thoroughly vindicated by the success of the operation.
My point is that if it weren’t for a group of courageous, pro-life physicians willing to pursue a higher, more principled science than what they knew, a great many of us would not be living today.
Any student of history can see that unflinching reliance on abortion is historically dangerous. As Cincinnati physician George Walton argued in 1878, the opinion of any doctor who aims to perfect the destruction of life rather than the preservation of life is not worthy of consideration.