Camilla Hersh: Respecting religious liberty in medical training

by Marvin Olasky

Posted on Thursday, January 21, 2016, at 8:03 am

The issue of religious liberty has come to the fore now in regard to LGBT pressures, but pro-life groups have long had to deal with it in relation to medical training for performing abortions. Here, Dr. Camilla Hersh, a board member of the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists, speaks about the medical training she received and what medical training is like now. WORLD Magazine’s Jan. 23 issue includes an interview with her.

Did you have pro-life convictions when you went to the University of Michigan as an undergraduate and then for med school? I recognized, even before my faith became an important part of my life, that life begins at the beginning and that the Hippocratic oath of “first do no harm” spoke to my soul. I could never be a physician that ended life at any stage.

Did your medical training in the early 1970s include abortions? The medical training of any OB-GYN includes the technique of how to empty a uterus. I always chose the cases where the baby had already died. There are plenty of sad cases where the baby has died already and you need to use the same technique to empty the uterus. At that time, one could decide whether to or not to participate in ending life.

What is medical training like now? Many university programs require participation in an abortion. Many allow young physicians to opt out and some programs do not provide elective termination of pregnancy. They are required to end a pregnancy if the woman’s life is at risk or the baby has died. There are enough sad occasions that training is not compromised.

Is the number of programs that do not have an opt out growing? There is pressure from standard professional organizations to require abortion training and abortion participation. Still, at least half or a third of programs across the country do not take it upon themselves to strictly enforce that, from what my students and residents tell me.

Over five days, Jan. 18-22, WORLD’s website is running other responses from Dr. Hersh.

Marvin Olasky

Marvin is editor in chief of WORLD and the author of more than 20 books, including The Tragedy of American Compassion. His latest book is Reforming Journalism. Follow Marvin on Twitter @MarvinOlasky.

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