The real anti-choicers: RH Reality Check argues pro-life doctors should be forced to perform abortions


By Cassy Fiano

Stop_Dr-HandreAbortion advocates like to call themselves “pro-choice” because, as they say, all they want is for a woman to be able to make her own choice regarding her own body. Don’t dare call them pro-abortion, oh no — they’re just big fans of choice.

Interesting, then, that they so frequently fight against anything that would give anyone choices beyond abortion. The most recent example is at RH Reality Check, where Joyce Arthur and Christian Fiala write a post arguing against conscientious objection, or in favor of forcing doctors who don’t want to perform abortions to perform them anyway. [The following is a long quote from the Arthur/Fiala post.]

Do health-care professionals have the right to refuse to provide abortions or contraception based on their “conscientious objection” to these services? Many pro-choice activists would retort, “No way! If you can’t do your job, quit and find another career!” We agree with them, and have detailed why in our new paper, “‘Dishonourable Disobedience’: Why Refusal to Treat In Reproductive Healthcare Is Not Conscientious Objection.”

Reproductive health care is the only field in medicine where freedom of conscience is accepted as an argument to limit a patient‘s right to a legal medical treatment. It is the only example where the otherwise accepted standard of evidence-based medicine is overruled by faith-based actions. We argue in our paper that the exercise of conscientious objection (CO) is a violation of medical ethics because it allows health-care professionals to abuse their position of trust and authority by imposing their personal beliefs on patients. Physicians have a monopoly on the practice of medicine, with patients completely reliant on them for essential health care. Moreover, doctors have chosen a profession that fulfills a public trust, making them duty-bound to provide care without discrimination. This makes CO an arrogant paternalism, with doctors exerting power over their dependent patients—a throwback to the obsolete era of “doctor knows best.”

Denial of care inevitably creates at least some degree of harm to patients, ranging from inconvenience, humiliation, and psychological stress to delays in care, unwanted pregnancy, increased medical risks, and death. Since reproductive health care is largely delivered to women, CO rises to the level of discrimination, undermining women’s self-determination and liberty. CO against providing abortions, in particular, is based on a denial of the overwhelming evidence and historical experience that have proven the harms of legal and other restrictions, a rejection of the human rights ethic that justifies the provision of safe and legal abortion to women, and a refusal to respect democratically decided laws. Allowing CO for abortion also ignores the global realities of poor access to services, pervasive stigma, and restrictive laws. It just restricts access even further, adding to the already serious abrogation of patients’ rights.

CO in reproductive health care should be dealt with like any other negligent failure to perform one’s professional duty: through enforcement and disciplinary measures, including possible dismissal or loss of license, as well as liability for costs and any negative consequences to victims. Because abortion and contraception are integral elements of women’s reproductive health care, those who would refuse to provide those services because of a personal or religious objection should not be allowed to enter disciplines that deliver that care, including family medicine and the obstetrics-gynecology specialty.

Get that? If an OB/GYN has an conscientious objection to performing abortions and as such, refuses to perform them, they should potentially lose their license to practice medicine. So now, not only should abortion be legal, apparently every obstetrician practicing should be performing them, whether they like it or not.

It’s also interesting hearing ethics be brought up as an argument against conscientious objection, considering that ethics plays a rather large role in practicing medicine. Most doctors aren’t big fans of abortionists, in all likelihood because of this very reason. People who take vows to “first, do no harm” aren’t going to be giving any standing ovations to people who take lives for money. It’s also not unethical for a doctor to refuse to perform an abortion, nor is it an abuse of power.

A patient could theoretically ask the doctor to perform the abortion; the doctor says no. It’s really that simple, and the patient is free to find another doctor that is willing to kill their unborn baby. This is the situation that is being railed against, and therefore, the logic follows that the answer would be that every doctor must be forced to perform abortions whether they like it or not. Not doing so would, in this pro-abortion extremists’ eyes, be unethical and an abuse of power. Have you ever read something so ridiculous?

News flash: not every OB/GYN performs abortions, and they shouldn’t be required to. It isn’t a negligent failure to perform one’s professional duty to not perform an abortion.

But then, as Adam Peters pointed out, forcing people, including women, to do things they don’t want to do is business as usual for the abortion industry.

Coercing women into getting abortions, and physicians into performing them, isn’t a problem for them because they don’t actually applaud choice. The mantra of being “pro-choice” is a lie, because to abortion advocates, there is only one choice available, and that choice is always abortion.

Editor’s note. This appeared at