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Archived Commentary... Bloomberg’s Gift: Mandatory Abortion Training Arrives in NYC Public Hospitals, 2002

New York City mayor Mike Bloomberg "will be a pro-choice hero," the Village Voice promised shortly after his inauguration earlier this year.

And hero he is — not just to the abortion advocates in New York, but to the whole industry. Bloomberg may have just saved abortion in America.

Remarkably, abortion is on the decline.

One of the reasons: Younger doctors don't want to have anything to do with it.

For some, perhaps, it has something to do with the duty of a physician — to do no harm and all. For others, it's just not something they're willing to do anything extra for.

"On a 120-hour-a-week schedule, there's just not any energy to pursue an elective," Lois Backus, executive director of Medical Students for Choice, told the Associated Press recently.

More often, though, the explanation offered by abortion advocates and politicians is that med students fear for their lives. For them, keeping away from abortion is simply a safety concern. They remember stories like that of Bernard Slepian, shot dead by crazed murderers hypocritically calling themselves pro-life.

But just ask the National Abortion Federation, no pro-life organization, and you'll learn violence against abortion providers is on the decline. In fact, since Slepian's unjustifiable murder, not one abortion provider has been killed in the U.S.

Mayor Bloomberg's gift to New York City is a guarantee that the numbers of abortion practitioners will increase. Starting July 1, doctors trained in New York City public hospitals — the nation's largest public hospital system (it trains one-seventh of the nation's doctors) — will be required to learn the art of abortion. It was previously an elective.

About 2,000 doctors currently perform abortions in the U.S. With more than half of them over 50, mandatory abortion training has long been on the wish list of the National Abortion Rights Action League (to which Bloomberg has been a financial contributor) and now it is law. Their hope is that other cities will quickly follow suit.

A Washington Post writer, upset about RU-486 not catching on with women, recently editorialized on Bloomberg's abortion push:

    [N]o one should assume that the provider shortage has gone away. If anything, RU-486, and the response to it, point out the need for doctors comfortable with abortion procedure. Proponents should keep looking for ways to produce them: A good model is New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg's move to require abortion training as part of ob-gyn residencies in the city's public hospitals. More than a new pill, this initiative gets at the root of the shortage: a generation of doctors who have not seen the effects of illegal abortion and who often find in medical school that abortion training is unavailable, nonmandatory or inconvenient. Under the Bloomberg plan there will be a conscience clause for residents who don't want to do abortion, as there should be. But this sort of effort, if brought to bear elsewhere, might help produce a generation of doctors qualified to provide abortion, surgical and medical, ably and safely.

While proposals like the Human Life Amendment and a ban on partial-birth abortion have proved near-impossible to enact in law, the lack of interest in abortion on the part of doctors — and the aging of those practitioners who are most passionate about it — has increasingly been considered a sign of hope by those opposed to abortion.

The pro-abortion groups, meanwhile, are in a tizzy. But if Bloomberg's move starts a trend, it could revive the practice of abortion in America.

Or not.

The new training mandate allows for a religious/conscience exemption for those with moral qualms about abortion. And for the rest, a taste of abortion — as contrasted with the joys of delivering fully live children (who, not too long before, could have been legally killed) — could well turn new doctors off to the deadly procedure, breaking the hearts of abortion activists.

In a 1998 piece in the New York Times Magazine ruing the decline in doctors below the age of retirement who are willing to perform abortions, the reporter noted with dismay the attitude of OB-GYN residents who, though perfectly free to do them, still don't want to touch abortion. "Some of them," Jack Hitt wrote, "have the kind of revulsion you expect to find among abortion protesters."

    "If you do 12 in a row, it can make you feel bad," the chief resident said. "No matter how pro-choice you are, it makes you feel low." Another resident said, "I guess I never realized I would find it as unpleasant as I do. I really don't enjoy it [at] all. It's not a rewarding thing to do."

In other words, NARAL, don't break open the champagne just yet.
[1 July 2002, Kathryn Jean Lopez, NRO Editor,]