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Protection of Conscience Project

Service, not Servitude

Experiences of Christian Medical & Dental Associations Members

United States

Christian Medical Dental Associations , USA
Reproduced with permission

Mark J Heulitt, MD, FCCM, FAARC, FCCP

I am a pediatric intensivist at a children's hospital where the morning after pill is offered. Since we are a children's hospital we have been able to deny any abortion procedures and refer them to other adult hospitals. When the issue of the morning after pill arose I explained that I could not prescribe it for any patient. Since I am also an ER attending it was agreed that if a patient came in while I was the attending another attending would be found who could care for the patient and write the prescription. Of course despite the fact I am a senior faculty member and have been here 16 years, some faculty have complained that I do not have the right to "force my beliefs on others," but I have held my ground.

While I was a student on OB rotation one of the nurses asked if she could speak to me in private and brought me to a utility room off the OR. In there she pulled a towel off of a basin which contained an aborted fetus. She looked me straight in the eye and said "What are you afraid of? This is just tissue," and told me to grow up. I told her I would pray for her and left the room. I will never forget the anger in her eyes over my decision not to be involved with this procedure.

The bias we face is many times subtle but poignant, but we must practice our faith and stand up for our beliefs.

Matt Anderson, MD

I applied for OBGYN residency programs in 1977. Iowa had an excellent program and was where I wanted to go. I interviewed with the only pro-life faculty member and one of the only pro-life residents. By accident, I might add.

When I started on clinic (two months in the first year and two months in the second year-the time I was to go to the abortion clinic one or two days each week), I told my chief resident I would not be going. Then, I was approached by at least three faculty who sat me down and told me I was stupid. I just did not understand. How could I judge about the need for abortion when I had never spoken with these desperate women, when I was ignoring the carnage of illegal abortion, when I was just uninformed and naive. I was just a dumb hick who didn't know any better.

I somehow got in contact with an attorney who did pro bono work for pro-life organizations. He sent a letter on my behalf, explaining my stand, explaining that participation in an abortion clinic was a violation of conscience and that he was certain they could see that and would take all necessary steps to correct the faulty policy at the U of Iowa Hospitals, OBGYN department. Oh, dear. What a storm the letter unleashed. I was called into an office where the director held the letter and paced, his neck veins bulging, not saying anything for about 5 minutes while I sat, not comfortably. He asked if this meant I was suing the department, as he threw the paper onto the desk. I said no, not as long as the policy was changed. Within weeks, the department backed down.

After all was said and done, I had grown up a bit. The most egregious mistake was going over there at all. I should have stomped my feet, made a big fuss, complained loud and clear, and not set foot in the abortion clinic. One does not need to climb into the pig pen to find out if it is dirty and smells bad. Although I did not perform abortions, I was there, keeping the machinery running. Shame on me. I should have argued more effectively when with pro-choicers. I should have worn pro-life buttons (everyone else wore pro-choice buttons). I should have been a stronger witness for Christ and a stronger witness for life where God had placed me.

Representative Don Van Etten

I brought a bill to the [South Dakota] legislature this past session to protect the conscience of medical care givers and it lost on floor debate in the House. I was told in a crackerbarrel debate that if I did not want to give patient's any care they demanded that I should not be in medicine.



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