Ob-gyns urge hospitals to end abortion restrictions

A group of 100 professors in obstetrics and gynecology, reacting to new state restrictions on abortion, has issued a statement calling on hospitals to open their doors to doctors performing the procedure, Time magazine reports.

The professors also call on the medical community to ensure medical students learn how to perform the procedure, and to end its isolation of abortion providers.

The physicians' statement, which Time obtained, will be published in the September issue of the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology. It comes 40 years after the journal published a similar statement by 100 ob-gyn professors before the 1973 U.S. Supreme Court's ruling in Roe v. Wade.

"We have had 40 years of medical progress but have witnessed political regression that the 100 professors did not anticipate," the ob-gyn professors say, referring to the 1972 statement. "Forty years later, the change is not liberal. Its effects will threaten, not improve, women's health and already obstruct physicians' evidence-based and patient-centered practices."

By pushing abortion providers into stand-alone clinics easily targeted by abortion activists, hospitals have "disregarded the responsibility that our academic predecessors expected them to assume," the professors write, according to Time. "The savings in lives and money from legalization were soon forgotten and many hospitals now claim they cannot afford to provide abortions even if they wanted to. … "

Since so few hospitals perform the procedure, today's medical professionals "often have to choose between being an abortion doctor or being a practicing ob-gyn," Tara Culp-Ressler writes in a ThinkProgress commentary praising the upcoming statement.

"That lack of integration within the broader medical community, as well as the pervasive societal stigma regarding abortion that results in intimidation and harassment against providers, has contributed to a serious shortage of abortion doctors in the country," she writes. "Along with the increasing numbers of clinics being forced to close, that's a dangerous combination."

One of the signers of the new statement, Timothy R.B. Johnson, M.D., writes in the Detroit Free Press that "ideological backlash now threatens to overwhelm medicine's historic and critical concern for women's health."

The 1972 statement, signed by Johnson's mentor, "insisted that the priority in the abortion debate must be women's safety," Johnson wrote. "We are channeling him and his 99 colleagues in our statement of 2013 that reaffirms that priority."

For more information:
- here's the Time article
- here's Culp-Ressler's opinion article
- read Johnson's commentary