ACOG’s response to North Dakota’s pro-life legislation: dangerous for women?


The legislation definitely is not. ACOG’s response might be.

The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG, aka the go-to source for input on reproductive medicine) released its verdict on the three phenomenal pieces of pro-life legislation passed by North Dakota last month. These three laws together mitigate sex-selection abortions, the abortion of fetuses prenatally diagnosed with genetic abnormalities like Down syndrome, and the abortion of fetuses with a detectable heartbeat (essentially abortion after 6 weeks), as well as a landmark victory which passed the nation’s first personhood amendment (recognizing the dignity of pre-born human life).

Here’s what ACOG says of these laws:

The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) strongly opposes all three restrictive abortion laws recently enacted in North Dakota. ACOG opposes laws regulating medical care that are unsupported by scientific evidence and that are not necessary to achieve an important public-health objective. These laws hurt the women of North Dakota and their families and do not enhance women’s health or patient safety. These laws destroy the reproductive rights of women and impose unnecessary barriers that limit access to medical care.

Legislators should not needlessly interfere in the patient-physician relationship or the practice of medicine. ACOG, as an organization, joins other women’s health advocates in supporting the legal right of women to obtain an abortion and opposing laws that are dangerous, unscientific, and criminalize medical care.

Physicians, not legislators, should be making medical decisions with North Dakota women about their care.

ultrasoundSo, to summarize, ACOG is against recent ND legislation because they claim it: 1. is unscientific; 2. is not necessary for public health; 3. hurts and endangers women; 4. is not the role of government; and 5. is out of line with their opinion of a doctor’s role versus that of a legislator. 

Let’s address these points. First of all, ACOG believes that the ND legislation is unscientific. This isn’t expanded upon, so it’s unclear as to what they think is unscientific about the amendment. In fact, ACOG might end up being a bit embarrassed by this tidbit, since the laws are based on science. For example, the heartbeat law outlaws the abortion of a fetus whose heartbeat can be detected in utero. This is completely scientific: obstetricians check the heartbeat of developing child at practically every prenatal visit a woman will have (and Beyoncé and I agree: that sound is beautiful.) So ACOG will have to release an addendum clarifying what they think is unscientific about that, and every other scientific basis upon which ND’s recent legislation was based.

Secondly, ACOG thinks that mitigating abortion is not necessary for public health. Considering extreme examples like Kermit Gosnell, who is on trial right now for – what was it again? Oh yeah, murder – and lesser offenders like Dr. Sharpe, who recently sent a woman to the hospital in an ambulance after botching her abortion, abortion is definitely a public health risk, unless you don’t think women who are exercising their “right to choose” are members of the public.

Third, the people at ACOG are against ND legislation because they think that it hurts and endangers women. See the previous paragraph for an answer to that one.

Fourth, ACOG don’t like the legislation because they believe that it is not the role of government to “needlessly interfere” in the practice of medicine. That’s really strange, because I haven’t noticed ACOG making any statements about how the government needs to stop licensing doctors or halt funding for gynecological and obstetric research that many would consider mundane and “needless.”

Finally, ACOG pulls the good ol’ “it’s between a woman and her physician.” One may think by now that the pro-abortion community could come up with some better argument, but they simply can’t. It’s all they have. And the quintessential reply is that abortion isn’t just between a woman and her physician; it involves another life that deserves recognition. And that’s exactly what North Dakota’s brave and pioneering laws have afforded it.

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