(Secular Pro-Life) When news broke last year of a Vermont nurse who sued the hospital she was employed by for forcing her to assist in an abortion, many pro-choice activists responded with the rallying cry of “If you don’t want to provide abortions, don’t go into healthcare!” In an op-ed published in Vice on September 3, 2019, Monica R. McLemore, an associate nursing professor at UC San Fransisco, goes too far as to say that “we need to be more discerning about who is worthy of serving the public.” She goes on to say that the nurse in the above-mentioned case should have put her patient’s “need” for an abortion (although privacy laws mean we have no way of knowing if there was a medical need or whether it was an elective abortion) over her own “discomfort.”
The use of the word “discomfort” to describe the pro-life objection to abortion shows that McLemore, and those who agree with her, do not understand where that objection comes from. It’s not about our comfort level. It’s about deliberately taking the life of a growing, developing, genetically unique human. It’s not about feelings, it’s about one’s human rights stance.
But that’s not the whole issue. Not only should a health care worker be able to opt out of helping take a human life, patients should be able to, as well. My “pro-life origin story,” which was related to me often as I grew up, made that clear to me. When my mother, who had me the year before Roe, had pregnancy complications, she faced a constant fight while hospitalized. Her doctor repeatedly suggested she allow him to “do a D&C,” telling her that if I hadn’t died already, I would be born disabled — as if that was a good reason to end a human life. She had strong reasons to suspect her doctor was so insistent because she was poor and mentally ill. This story impacted my lifelong view of the value of human life.
When I was having my children, a couple of decades ago now, I sought a midwife who shared my values. This was important to me because I wanted the person managing my pregnancies to value the children I was carrying as patients, as people equal to me, who she viewed as worthy of protection as born human beings. I know many other pregnant parents who have done the same, in some cases driving an hour or more to find an OB or midwife who shared their values.
Advocates for reproductive choice must understand that includes the right of parents to receive obstetric care from providers who share their values — and that means including pro-life doctors, nurses and midwives in the field.
Editor’s Note: This article was published at Secular Pro-Life and is reprinted here with permission.
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