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Association of American Physicians and Surgeons, Inc.
A Voice for Private Physicians Since 1943
Omnia pro aegroto

Statement of the
Association of American Physicians and Surgeons
H.R. 4691 The Abortion Non-Discrimination Act of 2002

Submitted to:
Committee on Energy and Commerce
United States House of Representatives
July 9, 2002

The Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS), founded in 1943 to protect private medicine and the patient-physician relationship, represents physicians in all specialties nationwide.

AAPS supports H.R. 4691, the Abortion Non-Discrimination Act (ANDA). The federal government should not discriminate against medical professionals or medical institutions that follow the dictates of conscience or medical judgment in refusing to perform, participate in, support, or fund abortions.

The Oath of Hippocrates proscribes abortion, as do the religious or ethical beliefs of a very large number of medical professionals.

In addition to the specific prohibition on abortion, the Oath of Hippocrates enjoins physicians to "do no harm." Even if the deadly harm to the unborn child is disregarded, there is increasing scientific evidence that abortion is frequently harmful to women. Though study results are controversial, many physicians and scientists are convinced that women who have an abortion are at increased risk of death in the year following the end of pregnancy; have a higher than expected incidence of breast cancer; may jeopardize fertility or the outcome of subsequent pregnancies; or may suffer other abortion-related, long-term injury to their health and well-being. Thus, there are many reasons to choose not to perform, participate in, encourage, facilitate, or fund abortions.

Instead of making their case by persuasion, advocates of abortion are attempting to use the coercive powers of government to pressure medical professionals to perform or support a procedure they find morally abhorrent or medically contraindicated. Additionally, there is pressure to force insurance plans-and thereby their subscribers-to pay for this procedure. Facilities may even be prevented from serving patients at all, as through denial of a certificate of need, if they do not include abortion services or referrals.

In a bipartisan effort, Congress previously thwarted the effort of the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education to require residency programs in obstetrics and gynecology to provide abortion training. ANDA clarifies what should be obvious: the term "health care entity" does not mean only residents (physicians in training) and residency programs. Moreover, ANDA strengthens existing law by providing that government may not force health care entities to pay for abortions.

ANDA involves a fundamental liberty issue: the freedom to practice one's profession in accordance with one's conscience and one's informed professional judgment. Government should not be in collusion with a special interest group, using the force of law to discriminate against those who choose options other than abortion.

Jane M. Orient, M.D., Executive Director