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ETpro's avatar

Does any US State require all Ob/Gyn doctors to provide abortions on demand?

Asked by ETpro (34436points) February 10th, 2012

I had an ultrasound image made of my heart today at Massachusetts General Hospital. After the procedure, I was talking with the ultrasound operator. The conversation drifted to the subject of church owned businesses being required to provide health insurance including coverage for birth control. The operator acted as if she had not heard of this, but immediately changed the subject.

She claimed that a Ob/Gyn doctor she knew had lost his license to practice medicine because he refused to perform abortions. It sounded strange to me. I know that in a number of states, there isn’t a single doctor who WILL perform an abortion, some because of issues of conscience and others because they don’t want to get shot or car bombed. I tried to Google for states that require all Ob/Gyns to perform abortions in order to retain their medical license. I couldn’t find any. But that doesn’t prove there are none. Does anyone know of such a state, or had this woman been listening to radical right-wing anti-abortion lies?

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12 Answers

Coloma's avatar

I don’t know. I assume it depends on the physician in question, I’d assume any physician can refute any practice he considers unethical and don’t think there can be a state mandate.
I’d say no, based on pseudo educated guess.
There’s always the PRC. Bonus, you can buy aborted fetuses to consume for health food. :-/

Seaofclouds's avatar

I’ve never heard of a state that mandated a physician perform abortions in order to keep their license. Perhaps the doctor that lost their license lost it for another reason (like being sued and found negligent or guilty of malpractice). Perhaps the woman needed an abortion for emergency reasons and the doctor refused and it cost the woman her life. That could have lead to a lawsuit. It’s really hard to say without more details.

auhsojsa's avatar

I feel it’s absurd. Also, I thought technicians weren’t allowed to politic or really discuss their opinions about such matters, perhaps thats why they strayed away from the subject.

But we do live in an absurd world. She said she knew him?

Claim Here

But just because it’s said doesn’t make it true…

I pulled this “Q. Can my regular doctor or ob-gyn provide the abortion pill?
A. In order to offer the abortion pill, a doctor needs to meet some basic qualifications. Almost any doctor who provides women’s reproductive health care can meet these qualifications. However, some doctors choose not to offer the abortion pill. Call your doctor to find out if they offer this service. If your doctor does not offer the abortion pill, call the NAF Hotline for assistance in finding a medical abortion provider.” From

It seems M.D. do have a choice whether they want to or not.

Aethelflaed's avatar

Nope. It’s against federal law (and in almost all states, against state law) to force a doctor to provide an abortion.

Maybe he lost his license for something else? Like, he refused to provide a referral to a doctor that did do abortions? But there’s definitely more to the story.

Pandora's avatar

I can only see that happening if he refused to perform an emergency abortion on a woman who was going to die without getting an abortion or, maybe the doctor feels he lost his license over some infraction that is often overlooked except in his case and he thought they were holding his personal view about abortion against him in the ruling.

bkcunningham's avatar

@ETpro, of course I wasn’t privy to your discussion with the tech, nor with the facts of the story they related regarding the physician. However, if the doctor in question refused to give an abortion and refused a referral to an abortion doctor then they may have been in trouble. Here is an article, similar to @Aethelflaed,‘s regarding your original question. It is informative, but keep in mind with the editorializing aspects of the article that Guttmacher Institute is a left-leaning pro-abortion organization.

Rarebear's avatar

No doctor is required to perform a procedure that they don’t feel comfortable performing, or they are not privileged to perform. They should, however, provide referrals to doctors who do perform procedures. In terms of losing the license, there’s more to the story the ultrasound operator is not telling you.

Aethelflaed's avatar

@Rarebear Is that any procedure? Like, a cardiac surgeon could refuse to do triple bypasses? Are there any exceptions – like, if they normally provide x procedure, they can’t refuse to do one in an emergency situation?

ETA: So, if any doctor can refuse to do any procedure, why do we need all these laws specifically letting ob/gyns refuse to do abortions?

Rarebear's avatar

Well, a cardiac surgeon wouldn’t be much of a cardiac surgeon if she can’t do triple bypasses. But no, their license wouldn’t be revoked.

Not sure about the legal issue. But there is more to the story than just the doctor refusing to do the procedure. There must have been some egregious ethical violation or lying.

I’d be curious to see the laws you’re talking about.

bkcunningham's avatar

I’m 50 and not Catholic. When I was in my teens, our family doctor, a Catholic, refused to prescribe birth control pills. Keep in mind this was a time when Enovid and Ortho-Novum were first becoming popular. The hospital wasn’t a large corporation like today. It was operated locally. Someone complained about the doc and the hospital board told him he had to prescribe birth control. He still refused. He was a GP, not a OB/GYN.

Anyway, my mother and others, Catholics and non-Catholics alike, throughout our community backed him and said his moral beliefs trumped the hospital’s orders. I’ll never forget that time and my mother’s support of her friend. It left an impression on me to this day. The hospital backed down and he didn’t have to compromise his convictions.

Of course he didn’t have a problem sending women to the OB who was in the office just next door to his office. Even the OB thought it was odd that they tried to force the GP to dispense the pill.

ETpro's avatar

@Coloma Thanks. If she was talking about a doctor in the PRC, she gave no indication of that. She sure seemed to be saying this was in the USA. I have to wonder if this didn’t grow out of an Amish Bus Driver type story. You know, where a guy gets a job as a bus driver, then revelas to the bus company that he’s Amish, and because of religious convictions cannot drive.

I wonder if the truth is the doc got a job at an abortion clinic, then refused to do abortions due to his faith. I suspect he got fired, not stripped of his medical license.

@Seaofclouds That;‘s an excellent guess. Most likely the source of her misinformatin.

@auhsojsa Yes, she said she knew him. That;s quite a list of abuses that table of contents lists. My guess is it’s all right-wing lies. Thay deal in little else. Spin and lies. When yur real agenda would get you strung up from the nearest tree, you have to deal in lies.

Thanks for the research. Very helpful. It is much appreciated.

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