Bioethicist Says Doctors May Perform Illegal Abortions as ‘Civil Disobedience’

abortion on demand

Bioethicist Matthew Wynia told NPR’s Morning Edition on Tuesday that doctors may be compelled to perform illegal abortions as an act of civil disobedience.

“I have seen some very disturbing quotes from health professionals essentially saying, well, look – it’s the law. We have to live within the law,” lamented Wynia, who directs the Center for Bioethics and Humanities at the University of Colorado.

“And if the law is wrong and causing you to be involved in harming patients, you do not have to live to that law,” he added.

Doctors now find themselves undertaking more dangerous and risky procedures just “to avoid being accused of having conducted an abortion,” Wynia said.

“There’s actually a long history of civil disobedience around abortion,” said NPR’s Selena Simmons-Duffin, adding that “for many decades, starting in the 1900s, there was kind of a don’t-ask, don’t-tell silence around abortion.”

“The fear of these laws has caused some doctors to delay or deny abortions, including in emergencies,” host Rachel Martin said.

(FILES) In this file photo Pro-choice and pro-life activists demonstrate in front of the the US Supreme Court during the 47th annual March for Life on January 24, 2020 in Washington, DC. - The United States' Supreme Court on Wednesday will hear what may be its most significant case in decades on the controversial subject of abortion. (Photo by OLIVIER DOULIERY / AFP) (Photo by OLIVIER DOULIERY/AFP via Getty Images)

File/Pro and anti-abortion activists in front of the the US Supreme Court during the 47th annual March for Life on January 24, 2020 in Washington, DC. (OLIVIER DOULIERY/AFP via Getty)

“Some doctors are asking themselves tough questions. When they are forced to choose between their ethical obligations to patients and the law, should they defy the law?” she asked.

Simmons-Duffin noted that Wynia has argued elsewhere that hospitals should unite in supporting clinicians “who decide to follow the standard of care for a patient, even when that violates state abortion laws.”

Laws banning abortion “can compel doctors to choose between harming patients and breaking the law,” Wynia declared.

Moreover, he contended, “professional ‘conscience’ protections should apply equally to physicians refusing to participate in abortions and those who are compelled by conscience to provide abortion care.”

Comparing abortion restrictions with laws “authorizing forced-sterilization programs in the United States and Nazi Germany, the use of psychiatric hospitals as political prisons in the Soviet Union, and police brutality under apartheid in South Africa,” Wynia said that medical professionals have a duty to resist unjust laws.

“Professional civil disobedience may be what is required to repair the moral fabric of our country and the integrity of our profession, which have been so injudiciously ruptured by the Supreme Court,” he declared.


Please let us know if you're having issues with commenting.