Inside Out 289: Professors Encouraging Abortion

09.18.13 | Martha Manikas-Foster

The September issue of the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology includes a letter signed by one hundred medical professors. The letter urges administrators and doctors to make hospitals more available for abortions.

Forty years ago a parallel letter about abortion—signed by 100 medical professors—was published in this same journal. The medical professors who signed the new letter, in a nutshell, are reacting to the decrease in the number of clinics that perform abortions in the nation. Hospitals, by and large, do not perform many abortions, and the professors who signed this letter are urging hospitals to re-think their policies and begin performing more abortions.

Though it appears in a medical journal-- American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology—this is not a peer-reviewed article, but an opinion piece. Many of us read about this letter on the Time Magazine website on August 23 under the headline: Doctors Urge More Hospitals to Perform Abortions.

To provide a counter-point, we asked Jim Harden to join us on Inside Out to discuss the letter and what he sees as the motivations behind it. Harden is the President and CEO of CompassCare Pregnancy Services in Rochester, NY and the COO for the Commission for Reproductive Health Service Standards.

“Here you’ve got OB professors,” Harden says in our recorded conversation, “professors teaching ‘up and coming’ medical students. And they put their concerns out there about the political climate. And the political climate is such that they’re seeing increased regulation of abortion clinics. What that means is it’s more and more difficult for abortionists to continue to practice as they have been practicing. Now, that doesn’t mean that these abortionists are being shut down. It means that they are having to come up to compliance with the rest of medical care.”

For Harden, this presents what he sees as a “disconnect.”

“It’s a head-scratcher to me,” he says. “If you’ve got OB practices saying that they’re concerned about women’s reproductive health and concerned about women, and yet they’ve got opportunities across America to increase the standard of care for women—that’s the only thing that’s happening here—what’s wrong with that picture?”

Jim Harden has a lot to say in our recorded conversation. Listen by clicking on an icon above (either Listen or Download).

Read the letter published in American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology and signed by 100 medical professors.

Read the Time Magazine article about the letter.

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