From Abortion to True Medicine
You are needed, doctor tells pro-life med students
By Nancy Frazier O'Brien, Catholic News Service
Dr. John Bruchalski has a message for medical students who don’t want to use the skills they are learning to end lives: You are not alone and you are needed.
The founder of Tepeyac Family Center in Fairfax, Va., embarked on a two-week, 15-state speaking tour at 23 medical schools and universities last March, sharing his own journey from abortion provider to pro-life obstetrician and gynecologist. He encouraged students to challenge those who think pro-life doctors have no place in medicine.
The “national bioethics symposium and tour” by Bruchalski and Dominique J. Monlezun Jr., national coordinator of Medical Students for Life of America, also was aimed at highlighting threats to the conscience rights of health care providers posed by recently announced changes in federal regulations on conscience protection.
“By reducing conscience rights, we reduce health care access by slashing the number of life-respecting medical professionals who no longer in many cases have the legal right to opt out of procedures deemed unethical by their well-formed consciences,” said Monlezun, a student at Tulane School of Medicine in in New Orleans.
Bruchalski said his primary hope for the tour was to “create good conversation” about reproductive rights and conscience rights in medicine between those who support keeping abortion legal and those who would like to see it end.
At George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences in, the last stop on the speaking tour, only one of the 15 or so students in attendance identified herself as “pro-choice” on the abortion issue.
The situation was quite different the day before at Harvard Medical School, where pro-life students were outnumbered by 4-to-1 or 5-to-1, Bruchalski said, adding that any med student accepted to Harvard must agree to perform abortions as part of his or her training.
At George Washington, Bruchalski was careful to thank the student who identified herself as pro-choice for following her own conscience on the issue but said those on both sides of the abortion issue need to “reframe the debate.”
“As long as the pro-life folks continue to say the fetus is the only thing that matters, and the pro-choicers say it is all about the woman, we’re going to have a problem,” he said.
He told the students that 55 percent of Americans now say they want to go to a physician who is pro-life and “the vast majority” want abortion to be “legal but restricted.”
“You are providing an alternative to those women who want to choose” a pro-life physician, he said. “I’m not sure you’re in the minority as much as you think you are.”
“Kristan Hawkins, executive director of Students for Life of America, the parent organization of Medical Students for Life, said pro-life medical students “need the support and training necessary to promote and protect all human life as future medical professionals.”
Because of the HHS revisions of the conscience protection regulations, pro-life medical students “are targeted not only by pro-abortion administrators, but also from the federal government now,” she added.
Bruchalski called for a model of medical care “based on relationships." He said doctors who value their patients should support regulation of abortion clinics and should look closely at research that shows women who have an abortion are more likely to experience depression or anxiety disorders and to be diagnosed with breast cancer.
“Both sides need to take a better look at the data we’re massaging,” he said. “We need to stop buying the party line that there is no problem at all.”
Copyright (c) 2011 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops