It is crucial that the pro-life movement come together to speak against the lie that abortion is health care. This lie should be called out for what it is: a gross manipulation and abuse of medical ethics, as committed by health professionals who claim to hold a monopoly over the health of women and children.
Before discussing this problem, I would like to highlight health and medical professionals over the centuries and decades, who have not only worked against or spoken out against abortion, but have provided a safe haven for women and children vulnerable to this grave evil.
In the 17th Century, Louise Bourgeois was a famous midwife who cared for the women and children of the French Court. She not only protected the safety of her families through the art of midwifery, but also wrote extensively on medical ethics, ran schools, and also taught poor women to be midwives. In her 1617 edition book on obstetric theory, Madame Bourgeois condemned assisting with abortion at any cost, instead encouraging readers to always be charitable to those in need (Wiki Editors, 2011).
In the mid-19th century, Dr. James Young Simpson was a medical doctor who found that many of his female patients suffered from complications as caused by abortion. He realized that many women chose or were coerced into an abortion, falsely assuming that their child was not yet alive or human due to the antiquated concept of the quickening. After much research and help from the first wave feminists, Dr. Simpson pushed the medical associations of his time to take a formal stance against abortion in order to protect women and children from nefarious abortionists (Editor 2016).
During WWII, at the Auschwitz concentration camp, Polish midwife Stanislawa Leszczyńska was a prisoner, and refused to participate in the Nazis’ forced abortion procedures on female inmates. She helplessly watched guards in the so-called nurseries drown some of the babies who were born. Despite this, she managed to save 530 children who were born in the camps, who survived by the time Auschwitz was liberated (Blakemore 2018).
In 1989, the grand Black midwife Onnie Lee Logan was published with her biography, entitled Motherwit. She was, and still is, commemorated because of her dedication to the poorest of the poor in the deep South, where many rural Black families were forced to live in squalor and were refused medical care at most white-run hospitals. In recounting her professional career, Ms. Logan explained her refusal to help perform illegal abortions. After describing how she would refuse these abortions, she finished by proclaiming, “I know one thing. You couldn’t pay me to destroy a baby” (Logan & Clark, 1989).
In the 1960s and 1970s, Italian midwife Flora Gualdani discovered, with horror, that desperate women in her country were traveling to other nations in Europe in order to obtain abortions. She quickly began taking in single mothers, helping them to keep their babies as well as find a stable life again, or to offer them adoption if they wished. Girls who were tossed aside by unloving and unsupportive families found a new family in Flora — and oftentimes, in their children (Brockhaus 2019).
In 1951, Dr. Mildred Jefferson, the first Black woman to graduate as a doctor from Harvard, also condemned abortion. During the 70s and 80s she fought against racism and eugenics (for which abortion was often a perpetrating weapon). Dr. Jefferson was unflinching when she said, “I became a physician in order to help save lives. I am at once a physician, a citizen, and a woman, and I am not willing to stand aside and allow the concept of expendable human lives to turn this great land of ours into just another exclusive reservation where only the perfect, the privileged, and the planned have the right to live” (Peck 2014).
As you may have noticed, all of these people have two things in common: they were healers, and they refused to acknowledge abortion as health care. They knew better than to buy the lie that a woman is healed when her child is killed in her womb. Through their convictions, countless families survived and thrived because of their commitment to true medicine.
How many of these women would have been hurt by abortion, or whose children would have died from abortion, had their care providers NOT been pro-life? How many would bear the brunt of injury, death, or trauma, if these people bought the lie that abortion had a place in health, medicine, and healing? That dedication to preserving life is even more important today when we realize that modern day care providers who hold those same beliefs are being bullied within and without their professions: and all because they reject abortion as health care.
Today, there are countless pro-life people involved with the health care field. Some are care providers such as obstetricians, nurses, and midwives; others may be patient advocates or counselors. Half of women and nearly half of men in the United States are pro-life and they all exist as patients in our modern-day health care system. Like everyone else in our nation, they suffer from heartbreaking health problems such as infertility, recurrent pregnancy loss, and other medical trauma; and no doubt many of them have a child, other family member, or friend who is disabled or chronically ill. Their pro-life viewpoints most certainly inform them of the holistic, whole-life care that they and their loved ones deserve, of the dignity due to them when receiving medical care.
Pro-Abortion Infiltration Working Against Pro-Life Values
For this reason, it is concerning that mainstream medical organizations have been forcing abortion into public health as a so-called form of “healthcare.” The American Association of Pro-Life OB/GYNs used to be the largest subgroup under the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG). Still today, ACOG calls abortion “healthcare” and consistently challenges conscientious objection laws; in their Ethics Committee Opinion #385, they claim that conscientious objections are to be restricted for the sake of abortion. The ACOG does this in spite of the fact that many working OB/GYNs do not desire to perform abortions (Stuhlberg et al., 2011). This trend of denial about the harms of abortion is found outside of obstetrics as well. The American Psychological Association falsely claims that there is no empirical evidence that mental health problems can occur after an abortion (APA 2008).
Medical students and professionals are also coerced into abortions under threat of losing their place in residency or their careers. In the United Kingdom, where abortion laws are the loosest in Europe, this violation of conscience is not uncommon. Just last year, Catholic midwifery student Julia Rynkiewicz was unfairly suspended from her placement program because of her leadership in a pro-life group on campus. The University of Nottingham eventually gave payment and apology for the four-month investigation over her pro-life convictions, but only after mounting pressure to do so (CNA Staff 2020). As it was for Julia, it is frustrating, demoralizing, and exhausting for pro-life health care workers to continually defend their right to practice authentic medicine.
As a former midwifery student, I am also personally aware of pro-abortion support in the world of birth work. Many wonderful midwives and doulas talk about how the bond between a mother and her child, both physically and emotionally, is worthy of unconditional love and support. Yet, when it comes to the “unwanted child,” suddenly their life and interconnetedness is not worth cherishing; not only that, but they, like pro-choice doctors, continually deny the trauma that post-abortive women face. The International Confederation of Midwives, an organization under the jurisdiction of the UN, also denies the human rights owed to unborn children. In their article of rights, nowhere do they list the right of an embryo or fetus to obtain medical care and legal protection the way they do the mother and the born infant (ICM 2020). There are even doulas who specialize in abortion support, with the tagline “abortion is normal” (Abortion Doula, n.d.).
Consequences of Pro-Life Exclusion in Healthcare
We all know the horrible consequences of abortion for both mother and child. There most certainly are mental health consequences to post-abortion living, including an increased risk of drug abuse, depression, and anxiety (Terzo 2021); this trend of post-abortive mental illness has been documented since the 1980s (AAPLOG, n.d.). In terms of physical trauma, forcing the body to end what is typically a healthy pregnancy carries risks for both medical and surgical abortions. The use of the abortion pill sequence carries a risk of death from hemorrhage and infection, as well as other adverse events (Aultman et al., 2021); animal studies on chemical abortions have exposed the neurological harms yet to be properly studied by abortion researchers (Camilleri et al., 2019). A surgical abortion can cause injury to the uterus, which may lead to menstrual issues, chronic pain, infertility, and pre-term birth. (Cleveland Clinic 2017).
The law has also failed to protect the medical safety of abortion-seeking women. Late-term abortionists Carmen Landau and Shelley Sella, from Arizona’s Southwestern Women’s Options in New Mexico, have been allowed to test experimental and painful abortion procedures on pregnant women and their unborn children. Their research is openly shared to the public (AOT 2021). Multiple abortion clinics have also been cited for numerous health violations, so much so that the website CheckMyClinic.org regularly keeps users up to date on the latest safety inspection reports on their facilities.
Not only is a child killed and a mother’s health put in danger, but reliance on abortion prevents improvements in palliative care for the unborn and their families, prevents reductions in maternal health disparities, and slows the progress of disability rights. Dr. McNamara and her research team showcased the importance of a comprehensive care team to support a family both medically and emotionally during a terminal diagnosis of the fetus; families who received proper support showed positive outcomes after the experience (2013). Yet, despite evidence that perinatal loss from neonatal demise is just as intense as a natural miscarriage, most doctors will push for a termination when fetal anomalies are suspected, causing numerous families to feel as if they have no choice but to abort (Calhoun 2012). Parents of unborn children diagnosed with a disability face similar pressure to abort, for reasons ranging from doctors wanting to avoid complications from later term abortions, to the desire to have an able-bodied child over a disabled one (Terzo 2020).
Likewise, abortion accessibility has not been tied with improvement of maternal health. New York state had more abortions than births of Black babies in 2016, with a high mortality rate for their Black mothers and infants who went through live birth (New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, 2016). In spite of New York’s passage of the Women’s Health Act in 2019, these mortality rates have yet to improve. These trends are also seen in states with more liberal abortion laws like California; abortion is legal and attainable, yet maternal mortality remains a deadly epidemic within the perinatal health care system, especially for BIPOC women (CA-PMSS 2021). While there are many factors to consider when it comes to the safety of childbirth, one thing is certain: abortion does not improve women’s health. To claim that abortion protects women’s health is to make innocent children and the biology of their mothers the scapegoat for systemic issues in our medical system.
Bringing Pro-Life Medicine to the Forefront
Abortion is not health care. We know this. We know this because killing an innocent human being is never medicine — it is an abhorrent desecration of human rights. But a cult-like mentality surrounding abortion has infiltrated the medical profession and is using public health relations to force pro-abortion propaganda onto the populace despite evidence and the experiences of patients speaking against it. With citizens facing problems concerning maternal and infant mortality, lack of access to affordable health care, and frequent violation of patient rights, accepting the comforting lie that an abortion solves a myriad of problems in the health system can be easier to swallow than ever.
Despite these setbacks, pro-lifers have the chance to bring the medical world back to reality. Pro-lifers who are health professionals can bring a truly authentic practice of medicine to their patients and clients by recognizing their right to life from conception to natural death, and challenge the abortion industry in its attempt to monopolize health care. Not only do we have this opportunity to make a change, but we have this responsibility to make sure those changes happen: for women, children, their families, and for the professionals who help care for them.
These changes all begin with supporting pro-life health professionals and knowing who they are. There are many organizations involved with pro-life health care, and they not only give support to medical personnel and students, but also publish their own medical journals to inform people on the harms of abortion and the truth of prenatal development. The Association of American Pro-Life OB/GYNs, the Catholic Medical Association, the National Association of Pro-Life Nurses, and Physicians for Life are all medical and health-based pro-life groups that are at the forefront of reclaiming health care from abortion. Supporting these groups can be as simple as making donations and utilizing their medical information to inform others in the abortion debate.
While supporting these amazing organizations, we must also encourage and fight for pro-life workers in health care. Seek out pro-life care providers for your own medical care or health support, if possible. Give them stellar reviews and highlight their commitment to authentic, pro-life health care. Know about and keep references on pro-life care providers to recommend to your friends, or even to women vulnerable to abortion because of health complications.
Pro-life health care workers also need legal protection. Pro-lifers should remain aware of bills and laws that address medical ethics to defend the right of pro-life health care workers to practice their trade. Stay up to date on your community’s laws on conscientious objections, and contact your representatives about your opinions on new bills brought to the forefront. Demanding that pro-life medical professionals be sought when making legislation regarding abortion restrictions is necessary and should be expected, so that laws passed are truly, authentically, pro-life for both mother and child.
Finally, for those who are pro-life and are considering a career in health or medicine: Do it, and do it with passion! Now, more than ever, we need pro-lifers in the medical world. Even if you are still a student, you can join a pro-life group to not only give your perspective and gifts to others, but to also gain practical support from other professionals in your trade. Make friends with other pro-life students and professionals in the world of health and medicine, and remind yourself that you are not alone. Remind yourself of the patients and their families that you can help and save by being present, and by protecting their dignity and worth as human beings.
Whatever path you are on, whatever your past experience with abortion has been: never forget that you are a human being worthy of love and protection. Never forget that all humans, from the moment of conception, share this need for love. I hope that one day, this philosophy of unconditional love fuels the medical world and guides the hearts of all healthcare workers.
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