ACOG to Review Abortion Policy / HHS Leavitt Urges ABOG to Protedt Right of Conscience (Update 6/08)

CMA Physicians Laud HHS Secretary Leavitt for Protecting Physicians and Patients on Abortion and Conscience Issue Washington –June 27, 2008–The Christian Medical Association (CMA, www.cmda.org), the nation's largest faith-based organization of physicians, today lauded U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Michael O. Leavitt for encouraging the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ABOG) to clearly publish assurances that it will not decertify or otherwise penalize physicians who do not perform or refer for abortions. CMA CEO David Stevens said, "Secretary Leavitt is serving America's physicians and patients well by prodding ABOG to provide assurances that it will uphold fundamental principles of conscience protections in healthcare. Protecting the right for physicians to abide by longstanding ethical codes such as the Hippocratic Oath is one of the best ways to protect patients—by insuring that their physicians follow time-tested objective standards and not ideological whims or politically motivated pressures." Secretary Leavitt's letter addresses ABOG's written guidance, published in December, that links its physician certification procedures with the ethics positions of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG). Those ACOG positions include a controversial official position issued in November that called upon conscience-objecting obstetricians to refer patients for abortions—an act which many such physicians consider unethical. Dr. Stevens noted, "As Secretary Leavitt has pointed out, forcing physicians to refer for abortions not only violates ethical standards; it may also violate federal laws such as the Weldon amendment, which prohibits discrimination in certain cases from forcing physicians and institutions to 'provide, pay for, provide coverage of, or refer for abortions.'" Stevens said, " An informal survey of our membership revealed that over 41...