NPR airs interview calling doctors’ illegal abortions ‘civil disobedience’

NPR’s Tuesday morning report questioned whether doctors have a moral obligation to perform abortions in states that prohibit the practice.

Host Rachel Martin warned, “Fear of these laws has caused some doctors to delay or deny abortions, including emergencies.”

“Some doctors are asking themselves tough questions. When they are forced to choose between their ethical obligations to patients and the law, should they disregard the law?” He asked.

Acts of “civil disobedience” may be necessary to provide the best care for patients, bioethicist Matthew Vinea told NPR reporter Selina Simmons-Duffin.

doctor checking patient's symptoms

doctor checking patient’s symptoms

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The report notes that since Roe v. Wade was overturned by the Supreme Court, no health care workers have been prosecuted for disobeying state laws. But Wynia told NPR it “definitely” will happen.

Simmons-Duffin cited how the American Medical Association expressed concern that abortion laws would harm women. Her guest called on physicians to “take a stand against these laws, using civil disobedience when necessary”.

Wynia called the refusal of some doctors to offer abortions “very troubling” in order to comply with state laws.

“If the law is wrong, and you are involved in harming patients, you don’t have to live up to that law,” he argued.


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The reporter laid out situations in which doctors might question whether abortion would prioritize a woman’s health, offering the case of an Ohio woman who was initially denied an abortion after experiencing heavy post-abortion bleeding .

,[W]Hat when one has heart disease and pregnancy worsens that condition? Or if a patient tells their doctor, ‘I can’t get an abortion, I’m going to harm myself’?” he asked.

NPR defied doctors who defied civil disobedience to perform abortions.

Bioethicists called on the medical community to unite and “state plainly” they would support doctors who “decide to adhere to the standard of patient care even if they violate state abortion laws.”

On November 8, California and Vermont added abortion rights to their state constitutions.

On November 8, California and Vermont added abortion rights to their state constitutions.
(AP Photo/Damien Dovergnes, File)

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Following the Dobbs decision, Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., said she would oppose the court and encouraged the women to defy the court order.

In the November election, voters in the deep-blue state voted to enshrine abortion rights into state law. Opponents of the proposal called it “extreme”, arguing that there was no limit in the law on gestational age or viability.

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