Intended for healthcare professionals

News Roundup [abridged Versions Appear In The Paper Journal]

New US “abortion non-discrimination act” faces legal challenges

BMJ 2004; 330 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.330.7481.9-a (Published 30 December 2004) Cite this as: BMJ 2004;330:9

When "pro-choice" is not

The article, "New US 'abortion non-discrimination act' faces legal challenges, " (News Roundup, 1 January) fails to fully inform readers, reporting only one side of the debate over forcing healthcare professionals and organizations to provide or refer for elective abortions.

The abortion non-discrimination provision, recently passed by Congress and signed into law by the President, simply protects healthcare professionals' freedom of conscience regarding abortion. The Christian Medical Association is filing a brief opposing a lawsuit, launched by the National Family Planning and Reproductive Health Association, that attempts to convince a judge to overturn this democratic choice.

The abortion non-discrimination provision prevents recipients of federal funds from discriminating against any institution, firm or health care professional who decides not to perform, pay for, provide coverage for or refer for abortions. It does not prevent anyone from talking about, referring for, paying for or even performing abortions. It simply protects the right of those who oppose abortion to exercise their freedom of choice.

The BMJ article exclusively quotes abortion advocates like Planned Parenthood and other opponents of the provision, without disclosing the group's financial interest in mandating participation in abortions. BMJ readers might have been surprised to learn that groups like Planned Parenthood rely heavily not only on government subsidies but also on revenues from abortions performed in their own facilities. Readers may also find it ironic that those who march under a "pro-choice" banner are so strenuously opposing a provision that protects individual freedom of choice.

Competing interests: None declared

Competing interests: No competing interests

04 January 2005
Jonathan Imbody
Senior Policy Analyst
Christian Medical Association