Analysis

Media tries to blame pro-life laws in cases of medical neglect

pain, abortion, post-Roe, forced, human rights

Since the Supreme Court opinion in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization overturned Roe v. Wade in June, the media has been steadily releasing horror stories of women allegedly harmed by pro-life laws enacted by states to protect preborn children from abortion. However, these stories of apparent abortion denial actually appear to be instances of medical neglect on the part of pro-abortion doctors. Now, a leading medical association is showing support for this type of negligence.

The AMA and abortion

The American Medical Association (AMA), a professional association for physicians and a lobbying group, maintains a Code of Medical Ethics that is widely seen as the standard to which American doctors should adhere. Its latest guidance, however, erroneously affirms that induced abortion (the intentional killing of a preborn human being) is health care, and encourages doctors to break the law in pro-life states.

At the group’s interim meeting in November, AMA President Jack Resneck said doctors should be willing to commit abortions illegally. “Caught between good medicine and bad law, physicians struggle to meet their ethical duties to patients’ health and well-being, while attempting to comply with reckless government interference in the practice of medicine that is dangerous to the health of our patients,” he said. “Under extraordinary circumstances, the ethical guidelines of the profession support physician conduct that sides with their patient’s safety and health, acknowledging that this may conflict with legal constraints that limit access to abortion or reproductive care.”

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But the intentional killing of a human being cannot logically be considered health care. While it is sometimes medically necessary to induce a premature delivery at a time when the preborn child is too young to survive outside the womb, this is not an abortion, as the intent of premature delivery is to save the life of the mother — not to ensure that her child dies. The American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists (AAPLOG) explained:

There are times when separating the mother and her unborn child is necessary to save the life of the mother, even if the unborn child is too premature to live. In those tragic cases, if possible the life of the baby will be attempted to be preserved, and if not possible, the body of the unborn child is treated with respect, recognizing the humanity of the life which is lost in the separation. In contrast, the purpose of an induced abortion is to produce a dead baby.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention defined legal induced abortion as an “intervention performed by a licensed clinician (e.g., a physician, nurse-midwife, nurse practitioner, or physician assistant) that is intended to terminate a suspected or known ongoing intrauterine pregnancy and produce a non-viable fetus at any gestational age.”

Most of the medical emergencies currently featured in the media have occurred during the second trimester when the most common abortion procedure committed is a D&E, or dilation and evacuation. This procedure may take several days to complete and involves dismembering the preborn child by tearing off her arms and legs before crushing her skull. If done as a same-day procedure, the risks to the woman increase due to accelerated dilation.

An emergency C-section, in contrast, can be performed in about an hour.

 

Medical neglect

Resneck told NPR, “I never imagined colleagues would find themselves tracking down hospital attorneys before performing urgent abortions, when minutes count, [or] asking if a 30% chance of maternal death or impending renal failure meet the criteria for the state’s exemptions, or whether they must wait a while longer until their pregnant patient gets even sicker.”

Yet, women in these circumstances need legitimate medical care, not induced abortion. According to the stories shared by the Associated Press and NPR, doctors are refusing to provide “needed medical care” to pregnant women in distress out of fear that they will violate state pro-life laws. This has been the excuse given for emergencies that made national news in Tennessee (possible preeclampsia), Texas (incompetent cervix), and Ohio (missed miscarriage) where pro-life laws are in effect.

Each of these women could have been helped through use of completely legal medical procedures, not abortions. Instead, in Tennessee, a doctor sent a woman suspected of having preeclampsia on a six-hour ambulance ride to get an abortion rather than treating her with standard care, which according to the Mayo Clinic includes medications to lower blood pressure or an emergency delivery of the baby in extreme cases. And in both Texas and Ohio, women facing serious health concerns were sent home instead of being given proper, timely, and legal medical care specific to their medical situations.

There was nothing preventing doctors from intervening, and the heartbreaking stories are, therefore, an issue of medical neglect, not pro-life laws.

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