Pro-life OBGYN group speaks out after being banned from conference without explanation

AAPLOG, pro-life OB/GYN

Dr. Christina Francis, a practicing OB-GYN and CEO-elect of the American Association of Pro-Life OB-GYNs (AAPLOG), is speaking out after the organization was recently banned from participating in an annual educational conference hosted by the pro-abortion American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG).

In a video posted to Twitter, Francis said the group was told that AAPLOG had been banned from the conference — after they had already arrived in Maryland to attend. AAPLOG has previously attended the conference, the Council on Resident Education in Obstetrics and Gynecology (CREOG) and Association of Professors of Gynecology and Obstetrics (APGO) Annual Meeting, and has exhibited a booth without issue.

Francis spoke to Live Action News about the situation, and why it was so important for AAPLOG to attend.

AAPLOG has attended this OB/GYN conference for years

“The conference is meant to be — which is why it was such a big deal — for those who are educating medical students and residents and OB/GYNs,” Francis said. “So they are responsible, largely, for the education of the next generation of OB/GYNs in this country. So it’s a really important conference, just because the things that are presented at this conference, and learned at this conference, then go out to all of these residency programs and medical school rotations across the country.”

Though ACOG has long disagreed with AAPLOG’s position on abortion, the pro-life organization hadn’t experienced hostility when attending the conference in the past.

“Certainly in the past, we have received comments from people attending the conference who don’t agree with our position, but never any hostility on the part of the organizers,” she said. “We’ve always been allowed to exhibit just like anyone else, and not face any pushback. Definitely there have been people who quietly agreed with us, and have thanked us for being there. They feel very vulnerable, to be vocal about their pro-life position at that conference, or at any ACOG conference, so oftentimes, people would go by and give a quiet thumbs-up, things like that, to express their support without being able to do so very publicly.”

She added, “There have also been some good conversations with people who were thankful we were there, expressing this side of the abortion debate. And then, like any conference like this, there are dissenters as well. But from the conference leadership, this is the first time we have ever faced anything like this.”

Nothing has changed in AAPLOG’s position since their previous years presenting at the conference, and they were able to successfully purchase an exhibit booth in April of 2022. They had already traveled to Maryland for this year’s conference, only to discover they would not be allowed to attend. Yet ACOG didn’t bother to notify them.

“We found out not from the person who had made the decision, or even anybody from ACOG, but from their third-party vendor,” Francis said. “A vendor said he was instructed by ACOG to notify us that our booth was cancelled, and to refund us our money.”

ACOG remains silent on the AAPLOG’s banning

There has still been no word from anyone at ACOG discussing why AAPLOG was suddenly banned, nor has anyone been willing to answer questions about the issue. But the overturning of Roe v. Wade last summer — as well as an ongoing court case potentially banning mifepristone (Mifeprex), the first drug in the abortion pill regimen — may have influenced ACOG’s decision.

“ACOG’s really unscientific, non-evidence based opposition to our position on abortion… that elective abortion is not health care, has intensified dramatically since the Dobbs decision,” Francis said. “… They certainly have come out strongly, saying that abortion absolutely is health care, and that any OB/GYN who opposes that is unethical. They have increased their pressure on medical students and residents to participate in abortion training.”

She noted, “They also filed a brief in support of the defendants in the lawsuit we are a plaintiff on, against the FDA over Mifeprex. I don’t know if that has anything to do with it, but these are the questions we wanted to ask.”

Francis explained, “Well before the Dobbs decision, more than 90% of practicing OB/GYNs were not providing elective abortions. And I think when you sit down with physicians and clarify what we’re talking about here — which is the intentional ending of that preborn human being’s life — those numbers will not change dramatically, especially when they understand we’re not talking about miscarriage management, ectopic pregnancy treatment, or intervening to save the life of a mother.”

The ‘push to normalize intentional feticide’ and eliminate pro-lifers from medical practice

What really concerns Francis is “that, in this push to normalize intentional feticide in medical training, the goal of ACOG and its allies in the medical industry is to normalize it so much that they sway the opinions of the next generation of physicians and women’s health care providers,” she continued. “That’s the real danger of us being excluded from a conference like this.”

That goal — to normalize the intentional killing of undelivered human beings — may be the reason why ACOG may kept AAPLOG from reaching medical students and interns at the conference.

“Starting from their Ethics Statements 385, that ethics statement said you are an unethical physician if you do not perform or refer for abortion,” Francis noted. “And if you are not going to refer for abortion, you must relocate your practice to within either 20 or 30 miles of someone who does.”

She added, “They want to systematically weed out anyone who is not a proponent of abortion from the practice of OB/GYN. And this is another example of why so many pro-life medical students feel like they cannot go into OB/GYN. They recognize the pressure they face, and that they will likely be discriminated against. We’ve had reports of students being given extra work that nobody else had to do, having to come up with their own curriculum, things like that. Students are leery of getting partway through medical school or residency, and then being kicked out for being pro-life, and that’s a lot to ask them to take on. That is another reason why we think it’s especially important that free exchange of ideas be allowed.”

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Pro-life medical students are not alone

Despite the hardships of being a pro-life medical student or intern, Francis says support is available from AAPLOG.

“If you desire to practice life-affirming medicine, we need you in the field of OB/GYN,” she said. “There are thousands of patients out there looking for a pro-life OB/GYN. Please don’t select yourself out of this field.”

She added, “We are here as an organization. We are here to support you. We just did our conference with almost 70 students, and one of the most common things that I heard from them was how encouraging it was to know that they are not alone… that there are practicing physicians out there who hold the same values and desire to take care of both of our patients just as much as they do.”

The pro-life position, she noted, is “not just a moral or philosophical position, it’s a position that’s based in science and medical evidence. We don’t recommend abortion to our patients, not just because we oppose the intentional killing of an innocent human being, but because the evidence shows it’s not good for our maternal patients, either. Our job as physicians is to maximize their health, and that’s what we do when we perform life-affirming medicine.”

A message for ACOG

Finally, Francis had a message for Maureen Phipps, CEO of ACOG.

“As the new CEO of AAPLOG, an organization that actually started as a special-interest group within ACOG, I would welcome the opportunity for us to come together in the same place, and have an open, respectful conversation about where the medical evidence leads us on the issue of elective abortion,” Francis said. “I would assume that, at the heart of this issue, both she and I desire the best health care possible for our patients. And so starting there, as common ground, I would be very open to have a public conversation about where the evidence leads us — and allow our members to decide for themselves.”

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