“I am a pro-life physician, but in rare cases I will refer my patients to a clean and safe abortion clinic.”
This statement brings to light the duplicity that exists in the minds of many physicians. Some physicians, who consider themselves pro-life, make abortion referrals because they feel they do not have a choice due to their employer, they feel they are doing the compassionate thing, or they have made a series of compromises to avoid the hard discussions with their patients.
If you’re a physician finding yourself in this situation, here are some thoughts from your pro-life colleagues on how to explain why you won’t refer for abortion.
“I tell my patient I cannot refer her for an abortion because I am the doctor of two patients, the mother and fetus. If I refer for an abortion, one or both of them will not come back alive and that is not good medicine. “ – Dr. Anita Showalter, OB-GYN
“I do not believe abortion is good medicine and I cannot refer my patients to a good abortion provider because I do not know one.” – Dr. Byron Calhoun, OB-GYN
“In a digital age, women can easily find an abortion clinic online; they do not need me to refer them. My referral would only serve as a stamp of approval for an unnecessary elective procedure.” – Dr. William Toffler, Family Medicine
“We counsel our patients to abstain from smoking and unhealthy foods, yet we shy away from counseling them when it’s about an elective procedure that will end a life. This does not make sense.” – Dr. Angela Lanfranchi, OB-GYN
What is known to be right and healthy cannot be sacrificed on the altar of patient autonomy or what is politically correct. When it’s boiled down to its simplest form, there is no difference between the abortionist and the doctor who refers his or her patient for an abortion; both actions will end a life and damage the doctor-patient relationship.
Medical students and residents need to know about their right of conscience and how to communicate those values to their patients, colleagues, and students. This fall, Medical Students for Life will be focusing much of our effort on educating medical students about abortion referrals and the right of conscience. Pro-life physicians must be pro-life in word and deed.