The American medical establishment is going all-in on abortion on demand until birth. A recent column in the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine is a perfect example of how activists are capturing the institutions of American medicine and corrupting its soul.
The article was written by Duke-affiliated Beverly Gray, M.D., and Jonas J. Swartz, M.D., who agitate for unrestricted abortion on demand. These two doctors try to strike a righteous pose over having refused to assist North Carolina legislators in drafting medical exceptions to restrictions on abortion after the first trimester, a refusal based on their opposition to any restrictions on abortion, at any point in pregnancy.
They appeal to the extreme pro-abortion positions staked out by groups such as the American Medical Association (AMA) and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. This illuminates how these groups have been commandeered.
Medicine has not been immune from the woke conquest of the professional classes. Organizations are run by those who show up. In medicine as elsewhere, it is the activists and pole-climbers who most eagerly seek positions of organizational influence, which they then use to turn once-respected institutions to partisan ideological ends.
Real Doctors Are Too Busy for the AMA
So groups that purport to speak for America’s doctors are captured by the radical fringe because normal people, including doctors, are not eager to volunteer for extra bureaucratic work in professional associations. As my father, who was a great family doctor, once told me, “I don’t have anything to do with the AMA, and I don’t know any doctor who does.”
He was far too busy with work (including delivering a lot of babies), family, church, and more. When he volunteered, it was to help the local pregnancy resource center, not to influence the AMA bureaucracy. He understood his vocation as that of a healer.
In contrast, doctors such as those writing for the New England Journal of Medicine can only reconcile their pro-abortion radicalism with the medical imperative to do no harm by erasing one of their patients. To write that “clinicians should prevent harm to patients” while advocating for an unlimited right to kill human beings in utero requires a deliberately cultivated moral blindness. They must pretend that the human being growing in the womb is a moral nonentity, that she is mere chattel, with no rights that the born are bound to respect, and that she is therefore disposable at will.
Similarly, these activist doctors’ solicitude for “black, Latinx, and indigenous people” seems less beneficent when the reader observes that they manifest it by demanding to be allowed to kill more “black, Latinx, and indigenous” babies in the second and even third trimesters.
Also, their assertion that “When the state exerts control over the provision of care, the autonomy of both patients and clinicians is undermined” is obviously insincere in light of their recitation of progressive pieties. We all know that leftists do not really mean the libertarian-sounding arguments they sometimes make for abortion. They still want lots of government involvement (and money, of course) in every other aspect of medicine.
This incoherence and moral blindness may not prevent pro-abortion activists from completing their capture of the medical profession. But they will never achieve the social justice they claim to seek, because abortion perverts every good principle they lay claim to.
Doing no harm? The point of abortion is harm, to violently end a nascent human life. Equality? Elective abortion regards some human lives as worth so much less than others that they are disposable. Genuine social justice cannot be established on, and cannot endure alongside, abortion on demand.
Our Obligations to the Weak
Solidarity begins in the womb. Our obligations to the poor and weak and needy begin in the womb, for those who as yet can offer us nothing but human need and dependence. And the physician’s responsibility to do no harm begins in the womb.
When pro-abortion doctors turn that moral imperative off and on — prenatal care and even prenatal surgeries for wanted babies, violent death for unwanted ones — they rupture solidarity beyond repair. Solidarity cannot be sustained when the primordial human relations of mother, father, and child are turned into a battleground of selfishness, with bloody consequences for the weakest among us.
The regime of abortion on demand favored by the activists trying to seize control of American medicine is many things, but it is not, and never will be, health care. Abortion turns physicians into hired killers, deliberately eliminating one patient at the request of another. It transforms medicine from a healing vocation into a mercenary service that kills patients.