In a recent CBC interview by Evan Solomon about the re-opening of the abortion debate, abortion advocate Joyce Arthur stated, “There is actually a policy by the Canadian Medical Association [CMA] that… recommends abortion on request up to 20 weeks.”

According to the CMA’s Policy on Induced Abortion there is no specific wording stating they “recommend” abortion.  As for “on request,” the policy explicitly says “Induced abortion should not be used as an alternative to contraception.” 

Granted, the policy does say “Induced abortion should be uniformly available to all women of Canada,” but it also says “A physician should not be compelled to participate in the termination of a pregnancy” and “No discrimination should be directed against doctors who do not perform or assist at induced abortions.”

And yet, when Arthur’s organization, Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada (ARCC), rightly says “Anti-[abortion] doctors are not required (by the Canadian Medical Association) to refer their patients to another doctor when they need an abortion,” they classify this as “an abuse of authority and a violation of a patient’s right to medical care and accurate information on all options.”

Really?  Is it?  The calculated propaganda campaign waged by the likes of ARCC, most recently revealed in their push for abortion access on PEI, has attempted to mislead the public into believing that abortion is a legitimate medical option.  Many are misled to believe that physicians have a duty to provide, or at least refer for, abortion.

It is for this reason that I have written a new booklet published this month by CCBR, “A Physician’s Guide to Discussing Abortion,” where I examine various medical and other statements to help physicians wade through this controversial issue.  The document aids medical professionals in defending their obligation to practice as physicians who respect human life at all stages, and to equip them to reasonably and persuasively articulate this perspective to peers and patients.

Consider, for example, clause 9 of the CMA Code of Ethics where it says, “Refuse to participate in or support practices that violate basic human rights.”

In the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights (1948)  it says, “…recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world…”

The document also says, “Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.”

Who is everyone?  “All members of the human family.”  The document is, after all, referencing human rights, something which can be determined biologically, as opposed to person rights, something which has had a changing definition throughout history. 

It is worth noting that this declaration was written on the heels of the Holocaust where society saw the danger of denying some humans personhood status, a lesson we could learn for today where human pre-born children are denied personhood status until fully removed from their mothers’ bodies.  But since science has determined human life begins at fertilization, the UN’s human rights doctrine applies to the pre-born as much as it does to the born.

Interestingly and much-overlooked, the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of the Child (1959) also says, “…the child, by reason of his physical and mental immaturity, needs special safeguards and care, including appropriate legal protection, before as well as after birth.”

Based on the scientific fact that the pre-born are human beings, abortion denies the pre-born their right to life, special safeguards, and care, thus it violates human rights doctrines.  To “recommend” abortion, to use Arthur’s word, is to violate clause 9 of the CMA’s Code of Ethics.

How then, one may ask, does a physician reconcile that analysis with the CMA statement that “induced abortion requires medical and surgical expertise and is a medical act”? 

Consider that organ transplantation also requires medical and surgical expertise and is a medical act, but we’d hardly consider the Chinese government’s alleged harvesting of organs from practitioners of Falun Gong as ethical even if the process is “medical.”  And so abortion, while “medical,” isn’t actually ethical.  Tragically history shows examples of physicians acting unethically.  The Tuskegee experiments as well as physician-involvement in eugenics and experimentation during the Holocaust are but two more examples.

And so it is worth considering ARCC’s perspective in light of the words of author Robert J. Lifton who once wrote,

“[N]othing is darker or more menacing, or harder to accept, than the participation of physicians in mass murder… [T]he modern physician…is still supposed to be a healer—and one responsible to a tradition of healing, which all cultures revere and depend upon (The Nazi Doctors: Medical Killing and the Psychology of Genocide).”

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