Medical Students for Choice
Pro-choice group at UBC hard to locate, unless you're a fan.
This article originally appeared in the
Reproduced with permission.
. . .one might conclude that any journalist who is
granted an interview with MSFC spokesmen must be a parrot for its cause:
near-mandatory, if not mandatory, abortion training in medical schools.
Having to phone California to find out what is happening among Canadian
medical students is galling, but that's what Medical Students for Choice
insists Canadians do: phone California.
Reading the group's four-page brochure is just as galling; not only does
it outline its goal to have all medical students train to be abortionists,
it spouts statistics about American health care, thereby displaying an
ignorance of Canada that's appalling. Alas, it's an ignorance that one comes
to expect from a single-issue, pro-abortion, American lobby group.
Canada's universal health care plays a big role in the differences
between Canada and the States, and the U.S. birth rate is significantly
higher than Canada's; for teens it's double: 110 in 1,000 American teens
give birth while only 60 in 1,000 Canadians do.
American women use less effective forms of birth control than Canadians,
and Americans marry earlier than we do. There are differences in religious
practices, such as the fact that almost twice as many American women attend
church weekly, a practice that tends to support higher marriage rates and
lower divorce rates.
The B.C. Catholic spoke twice with MSFC's executive director Lois Backus.
The first time, she promised to put her Vancouver members in touch with the
paper. The second time, she suggested they might be too busy with their
medical studies to contact us.
When asked why The B.C. Catholic could not contact them directly, Backus
claimed that that MSFC keeps its members' identities confidential out of
concern for their safety.
However, Backus had no such concern for her members' safety when CTV's
current affairs program aimed at youth, 21C, interviewed her Vancouver
chapter this summer. When The B.C. Catholic suggested to her that she in
fact picks and chooses among reporters so that only those favorable to
abortion interview her members, Backus avoided any relevant response.
Later in the interview, when pressed, Backus said she would again ask her
Vancouver members to contact The B.C. Catholic, but "frankly" she
didn't think that the B.C. Catholic reporter was "talking the way a
journalist normally would." As a result she was not sure she could in good
faith recommend that her UBC students contact the paper.
Wondering how a journalist should talk with MSFC, The B.C. Catholic
searched CTV's Web site to see when 21C would be broadcasting its
episode about abortion training in Canadian medical schools.
The abortion movement couldn't have wished for a more enthusiastic plug
than the one it got from 21C's official Web page: "In Campus in Conflict,
Anne-Marie Mediwake reports from the University of B.C. on the fight to make
abortion part of the required curriculum in medical school.
"While the medical procedure is legal in Canada, training is almost
non-existent, and many students fear for their own safety and don't want to
learn. However, with the average age of abortion providers hitting close to
60, and without newly trained doctors, access will become increasingly
"At UBC, a small group of pro-choice students is fighting for the right
to learn how to perform abortions, but they are being met with resistance
from the pro-life forces on campus. Show airs Friday, Oct. 4, at 9 p.m. ET
From this, one might conclude that any journalist who is granted an
interview with MSFC spokesmen must be a parrot for its cause:
near-mandatory, if not mandatory, abortion training in medical schools.
There is also a more disturbing implication in 21C's plug: that abortion
training is not currently available to undergraduate medical students.
The B.C. Catholic contacted Dr. Angela Towle, associate dean of
undergraduate medical education at UBC, and brought to her attention by
e-mail the ad from 21C's Web page. It was pointed out to Dr. Towle that the
ad implies that UBC medical students are being denied the right to learn how
to do abortions.
"It's [The B.C. Catholic's] understanding that your undergrad med
students are taught how to care for women suffering from complications of
abortions and that they can indeed learn how to perform abortions by seeking
out the necessary instruction" if they want it. "Is our understanding
Dr. Towle replied that her "contacts with the people from CTV did not
lead" her "to believe that they were likely to handle the topic in a
non-inflammatory way," and in the end, CTV pulled the episode before the
scheduled broadcast date.
Bree L. Triffin, 21C's associate producer, e-mailed those interviewed,
stating that management had postponed the episode indefinitely. "We do not
have an alternative date for the piece yet. If and when there is a new air
date, I will e-mail all of you again. Thank you for the time and effort you
Dr. Will Johnston, a Vancouver pro-life physician whom 21C interviewed,
said he was wondering whether CTV management had "deep-sixed the
Dr. Peter Seland, deputy registrar of the B.C. College of Physicians,
said that MSFC is "naive" if it thinks it can make abortion training
mandatory in medical schools. "You cannot force a doctor to do anything he
doesn't want to do."
Although there are no plans at UBC's medical school to make abortion
training a required subject for undergrads, pro-life faculty members and
students fear that making it so, even with the right to opt out as
conscientious objectors, would end up making medical students feel they were
compelled to take abortion training, especially the younger, more naive,
less assertive, pro-life students.
Dr. Ellen Wasan, a doctor of pharmacology and a medical student, believes
that MSFC's goal is to make "more people think they could be abortionists by
having them desensitized by having them take the training as students."
As it stands, learning to perform abortions is voluntary, Dr. Wasan said,
but not entirely without pressure: "it is an option, but it varies from
preceptor to preceptor; which doctor they are following around determines
how much pressure they feel" to participate in abortions.
Dr. Marg Cottle, who hosts weekly suppers for the Christian Medical and
Dental Student group, said that MSFC ignores the fact that many medical
students simply don't want to perform abortions. MSFC prefers to claim that
"the flaming pro-lifers are ... making it so nobody wants to perform them
because pro-lifers are threatening the lives of abortionists, which is just
a bunch of rubbish."
Dr. Wasan, a member of Christian Medical and Dental Students, has formed
a complementary group to counter MSFC's push to make abortion training
mandatory: Respect Life Coalition of Medical and Dental Students, which also
speaks out for the elderly and the mentally and physically challenged.
Lois Backus made a point of stating that, as well as promoting mandatory
abortion training, MSFC offers medical students additional instruction on
birth control and other topics relevant to women's needs.
However, she did not explain why MSFC needs to teach subjects already
well taught in medical schools, nor did she explain why MSFC makes no effort
to promote adoption as a choice open to women and their babies.