Opinion

CMA doesn't speak for all its members on "partial-birth abortion" law

LETTER — Posted May 17, 2004

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Regarding "CMA issues legal brief opposing 'partial-birth abortion' law" (Briefs, April 19): Recently, the California Medical Assn. filed a friend-of-the-court brief with the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, San Francisco Division, asking the court to declare the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act of 2003 unconstitutional.

AMNews reported that CMA claims the act endangers women's health and makes criminals, in the words of CMA "out of highly trained physicians when they perform the safest and most common procedures available for second-trimester abortions." The CMA amicus brief also reportedly states, "The act has no foundation in medical science, disrupts the informed-consent relationship between physicians and their patients, and violates firmly established constitutional principles."

As a member of the California Medical Assn., I must stand up and let it be known that the CMA obviously does not speak for all of its members on this issue. Abortion has long divided our nation.

In medicine, it has even deeper roots. The very Hippocratic oath contains a clause speaking out against abortion. Many of our nation's physicians have taken this oath.

Sadly, I have to tell you that such was not an option when I graduated medical school in 1985. Because the oath is blatantly "pro-life," we, at the Medical College of Ohio, where I graduated, had to recite not the Hippocratic oath at our graduation, but the more sublime "Prayer of Maimonides," which does not address the subject. We were not even given a "choice" in the matter. Go figure.

Any honest debate recognizes the gruesome nature of the partial-birth abortion procedure as ending a human life, the same life, that if the circumstances were different, would be operated on to save its life.

James F. Brinkman, MD, Oceanside, Calif.

Note: This item originally appeared at http://www.ama-assn.org/amednews/2004/05/17/edlt0517.htm.

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