Readers are not aware of my personal view on abortion, and they won't be after this post. While abortion seems on its face to be a complex biomedical issue, interestingly, those with firm views on either side do not describe it as a great moral quandary. Those who ardently favor abortion rights, and those who oppose them in equal measure, often express that this is not a controversial issue. For them, it is a clear issue of right and wrong, with each believing that the other side is entirely wrong and misguided. This observation applies best to those who are toward the poles of the abortion question. If you believe that an embryo and a fetus are human beings, than abortion is murder. Not much room for debate here. If you do not confer personhood on an embryo and a fetus, then a right to abortion is a woman's right to freedom and autonomy. Clear cut argument here also.
Of course, many thoughtful individual wrestle with this issue and do not grasp it in the black and white terms described above.
I have given this issue much thought over my adult life. I do not feel that I can contribute to this wrenching public debate. I have no new point or angle that hasn't been offered or would change any minds.
I was pleased with the recent Supreme Court decision that struck down Texas law which had resulted in the closing nearly half of the state's abortion clinics. My view here is not related to my personal view on the issue. I applaud the decision because I feel it is a victory for truth.
Texas had required that abortion clinics be certified as ambulatory surgical centers (ASCs) and that providers must have hospital admitting privileges at an area hospital. If these 2 conditions were not met, then the center would have to close. I completely reject the law's supporters who have claimed that the 2013 state law was to preserve women's health. This was unadulterated mendacity. The law was not to protect women, but to limit abortions in Texas.
We don't expect veracity from our elected officials. Indeed, politicians and partisans develop wheezing and hives whenever they unexpectedly make contact with the truth. They should have announced at the bill's signing the law's true intent, which was to limit abortions. If you believe that decreasing abortions is a noble and moral objective, then say so. If you believe that the unborn child merits all protections that can be legally conferred, then argue your case and try to pass laws that would accomplish it.
From a medical point of view, requiring the abortion provider to have admitting privileges or having the center regulated as an ASC is ridiculous. Many other medical procedures performed outside of hospitals in Texas were not subjected to these restrictions. Why not? Don't these patients deserve protection also? The fact that the law has not been shown to have protected a single woman is powerful evidence of its true motive.
Tell the truth. If you are a teacher who is protesting for a higher salary, don't tell us that you're doing it for the kids. If you're an older cop who wants to retain the current system that rewards seniority, don't tell us that this is an issue of public safety. And, if you're a gastroenterologist who does colonoscopy for a living, don't rail against a superior replacement arguing that you're only protecting your patients.
This post by Michael Kirsch, MD, FACP, appeared at MD Whistleblower. Dr. Kirsch is a full time practicing physician and writer who addresses the joys and challenges of medical practice, including controversies in the doctor-patient relationship, medical ethics and measuring medical quality. When he's not writing, he's performing colonoscopies.