The Medical Profession and Abortion

On August 30, 2023, the Interim Chief Executive of the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG) and the Interim Director of Advocacy and Public Affairs for the Society of Family Planning concluded a brief op-ed piece in the Washington Post with these words:

Abortion is safe. It improves and saves lives, and it must be available without restrictions, without limitations and without barriers — just as any other critical part of health care.

They inflated their case by referring to themselves as “medical experts, physicians, scientists and advocates for unrestricted access to abortion care.”

Let’s clarify who these “experts” are.

The Society of Family Planning calls itself “the source for abortion and contraception science.” It claims to represent some 800 physical and mental health community members. There are approximately 15.7 million healthcare professionals in the U.S. That would be .0051% of the physical and mental health professionals!

Conversely, ACOG was formed in 1951 and claims to have more than 60,000 members from the healthcare community (they are not all OB/GYN physicians). What is easily confused is that ACOG is NOT ABOG.

ABOG is the American Board of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the certifying authority for the OB/GYN profession. ACOG is an independent advocacy group firmly focused on abortion rights. You want every OB/GYN to be ABOG certified, but not every certified ABOG member is a member of ACOG.

Nevertheless, anytime medical professionals advocate for abortion rights, it is alarming. Today, the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) and the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) regularly publish articles and op-ed pieces lamenting any restriction on abortion rights.

What happened?

It was not always that way.

For centuries, medical school graduates pledged the Hippocratic Oath (origin: 3rd to 5th century B.C.), which said, “I will not give a woman a pessary to cause her to have an abortion.”

Into the 19th century, leaders in the medical community reiterated the respect for unborn life. Dr. David Storer, Dean of the Harvard Medical School, said in an 1855 lecture: “The moment an embryo enters the uterus a microscopic speck, it is the germ of a human being, and it is as morally wrong to endeavor to destroy that germ as to be guilty of the crime of infanticide.”

A year earlier, an op-ed piece in the October 4, 1854 issue of the Boston Medical and Surgical Journal stated that abortion “is murder, and the perpetrator of it cannot expect to escape the vengeance of offended heaven.”

In 1859, the American Medical Association called abortion “no simple offense against the public morality and decency, no mere misdemeanor, no attempt upon the life of the mother, but the wanton and murderous destruction of her child.”

The Hippocratic Oath was professed by medical school graduates going into the 1960s when things began to change. The principles reflected in the Oath clashed with the changing attitudes of the late 20th century that venerated the rights of mothers over the lives of their unborn children.

As people drifted further from God and his Word, they set out to create a “heaven on earth,” placing themselves in the position of God, deciding who lives and who dies. Prosperity had bred selfishness and arrogance that challenged centuries of medical practice to raise a new ethic of self-determination and death.

When you read the proclamations of such “experts,” remember these three things:

  1. The Word of God that spoke of unborn life’s value (Psalm 51:5; Psalm 139) has not changed.
  2. The biology that a new life begins at fertilization did not change.
  3. What changed were the hearts of men and women.

The Apostle Paul warned this would happen (2 Timothy 4:3). Jesus said selfishness would grow stronger in time (Matthew 24:12). Christians suffer the consequences of these changes (1 Peter 2:20; 4:12-14). As the Jewish philosopher Maimonides once said, “Truth does not become more true by virtue of the fact that the entire world agrees with it, nor less so even if the whole world disagrees with it.”


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