Medical organizations in the birthing field have vocally endorsed abortion in the wake of the Supreme Court’s reversal of Roe v. Wade. A prominent group of pro-life obstetricians and gynecologists found itself excluded from a national midwifery conference over its views on abortion, The Daily Signal can exclusively reveal. The pro-life group is also raising the alarm about the potential decertification of medical professionals who refuse to toe the line on abortion.
The American College of Nurse-Midwives (ACNM) held its Midwifery Works Conference last month, but the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists (AAPLOG) had no presence there for the first time in six years.
AAPLOG, a nonsectarian organization, operated as a “special-interest group” within the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) for 40 years before ACOG discontinued the designation. Now, ACNM, ACOG, and the organization responsible for certifying OB-GYNs, the American Board of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ABOG), have embraced pro-abortion stances.
“One of the greatest threats to maternal health care is the rabid pro-abortion activism currently being displayed by both ABOG and ACOG,” AAPLOG CEO Dr. Donna Harrison told The Daily Signal. “Three national studies have revealed that somewhere between 75% and 93% of OB-GYNs do not perform abortions in their practices.”
Harrison also raised the alarm about a July statement from ABOG, which she characterized as a threat to decertify pro-life OB-GYNs.
“Physicians and midwives who care for both of their patients, both the pregnant mother and the human being in her womb, are being systematically bullied and eliminated from being able to practice medicine, at a time when maternity care deserts are worsening around the country,” Harrison added. “ACNM has recently joined in the bullying by refusing to allow midwives who care for their in-utero patients to even speak or exhibit at the recent ACNM national conference.”
ACNM told AAPLOG in September that it could not participate in the midwifery conference, citing its official position that “Abortion Is Healthcare.”
“We are unable to accommodate as your mission doesn’t align with our position statement on abortion,” an ACNM staffer wrote to AAPLOG. “We affirm patient autonomy.”
“ACNM is committed to individual patient autonomy across the spectrum of reproductive health, including abortion,” ACNM CEO Katrina Holland said in the abortion policy statement. “This commitment includes advocating to keep abortion access unconditionally safe and legal for all people midwives serve, but especially for vulnerable populations with limited resources and unequal access to quality healthcare.”
The statement committed ACNM to opposing “state and federal legislation and/or regulation that aims to restrict access to the full-range of sexual and reproductive health services, including abortion, or compromise the safety of such care.”
Harrison sent ACNM leadership a letter on Oct. 6, expressing that AAPLOG’s members “were very disappointed that the ACNM decided, after accepting our application and money, to cancel our educational exhibit booth at the upcoming Midwifery Works conference. … We have exhibited at this conference in previous years and have been told by many of your members that they were glad we were there.” AAPLOG has over 150 midwifery members.
Harrison also wrote that the reason for canceling AAPLOG’s exhibit booth represents “a clear attempt to silence the voices of many within your own organization who do not include abortion as part of their clinical practice and who desire to educate on the peer-reviewed medical literature that show the risks abortion poses to the health of women.” (The ACNM statement denies medical risks from abortion.)
The AAPLOG president also wrote that “the canceling of those not in agreement with your current advocacy statement on abortion also appears to be in conflict with your own articles of incorporation.” Those articles state that ACNM’s objectives include “to study, develop and evaluate standards of midwifery care of women and infants” and “to speak for all members of the College.”
ACNM did not respond to The Daily Signal‘s request for comment.
Harrison connected this cancelation to ABOG’s threat to take certification action against OB-GYNs who spread “misinformation.”
ABOG warned that “intentionally providing misinformation and disinformation that may harm patients or public health… may be grounds for adverse action on an OB GYN’s certification status.” The board stated that it “will review reports of dissemination of misinformation and disinformation about COVID-19, reproductive health care, contraception, abortion, and other OB GYN practices that may harm the patients we serve or public health.”
“Eligibility to gain or maintain ABOG certification may be lost if ABOG determines that diplomates [people who are certified by a board of examiners] do not meet the standards that they have agreed to meet and that the public deserves and expects,” the board added.
Given ABOG’s previous statement that “access to safe and legal pregnancy termination is essential to reproductive health,” AAPLOG has stated that the July “misinformation” policy “appears to be a threat targeted specifically at pro-life board-certified OB-GYNs.” AAPLOG announced in July that it, along with the Catholic Medical Association and the Christian Medical and Dental Associations, it has retained legal counsel in this matter.
ABOG did not respond to The Daily Signal’s request for comment.
AAPLOG also raised the alarm about ACOG’s guidelines on “The Limits of Conscientious Refusal in Reproductive Medicine.” The document claims that medical professionals have a duty to refer patients for procedures that go against their conscience and even to relocate their practices to be near providers who perform those services with which they disagree, particularly abortion.
The document further states that “claims of conscience are not always genuine,” adding that “providers who decide not to perform abortions primarily because they find the procedure unpleasant or because they fear criticism from … society … do not have a genuine claim of conscience.”
Kate Connors, ACOG’s director of publications and public affairs, told The Daily Signal that ACOG stands by the guidance, but that it does not apply to the college’s membership.
“ACOG membership is open to all OB-GYNs regardless of their opinion on abortion or any other facet of medicine,” Connors said. She further stated that ACOG does respect conscientious refusal on this issue, noting that the guidance exists “specifically to guide people through” what she described as “complex considerations.”
In response to The Daily Signal’s concerns that ACOG’s annual meeting might screen speakers according to abortion views, like ACNM’s exclusion of AAPLOG, Connors said the college does not screen speakers for their views on abortion. “We do not evaluate annual meeting speakers about their opinion on abortion or any other facet of medicine,” she said.
Dr. Lester Ruppersberger, a retired board-certified OB-GYN in Pennsylvania and the former president of the Catholic Medical Association, told The Daily Signal that he does not know of anyone who has been excluded from any conference or suffered adverse action from ABOG against their certification. “I think that the [ABOG] letter is too new,” he said.
Ruppersberger added that if ABOG does act to decertify any pro-life OB-GYN, he would expect the medical professional to respond with a lawsuit. “If anyone did that to me, it would be a legal battle,” he said. “I’d be suing [the American Board of Medical Specialties, ABOG’s parent group] and ABOG that they don’t have the right to do that.” He mentioned “restraint of trade,” claiming that the ABOG action would involve “restraining me from practicing in the state where I’m certified to practice.”
“It’s an insidious attack on the very lifeblood of the ability to practice medicine,” he said.
The retired OB-GYN also warned that the midwifery conference canceling AAPLOG may represent a first salvo in a broader struggle for pro-life medical professionals.
“This whole disinvitation of AAPLOG from the midwifery conference may be the first step of many battlefronts for pro-life organizations moving forward,” Ruppersberger added.
Harrison, the AAPLOG CEO, predicted more struggles ahead.
“The threats to decertify OB-GYNs who do not participate in killing their patients will not only worsen the existing maternity care deserts but also completely ignore the fact that many women do not want to be treated by an abortion provider,” Harrison told The Daily Signal. “Many women want a physician who cares as much about the human being in their womb as they do, so that they can trust that the recommendations for treatment are being given in consideration of the best outcome for both the mother and her child. This is good obstetrical care.”
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