'Partial-Birth' Abortion Ruling a Mistake: Physicians

ByABC News
April 19, 2007, 3:24 PM

April 19, 2007 — -- Alarmed. Disappointed. Sad. Fearful. Concerned.

These are just a few of the words obstetricians and gynecologists are using to describe their feelings in reaction to yesterday's United States Supreme Court ruling to ban certain types of late-term abortions.

The 5 to 4 decision was arguably the most significant abortion ruling since Roe vs. Wade in 1973.

This ruling makes it illegal for a doctor to perform a medical procedure called intact dilation and extraction, commonly known as a 'partial-birth' abortion.

Many physicians who provide obstetric and gynecologic services to women are concerned that the ruling will have a negative impact on women's health by taking some medical decisions out of doctors' hands.

"From a public health perspective, today's ruling will not advance the health of women and children in America," said Dr. David Grimes, former chief of the abortion surveillance branch at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"It allows [an] intrusion into the relationship between doctors and patients. What would Americans think about that?"

Other physicians see the ruling as a violation of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act which, among other things, ensures the privacy and security of a patient's health information.

"If HIPAA prevents me from speaking to family members about medical decisions without permission, how can the federal government insert itself into the decision-making process without invitation from either the physician or the patient?" asked Dr. Lisa Jones, practicing gynecologist and fellow of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

"I feel strongly about the right of a woman to choose and the right of a physician to suggest the most appropriate treatment for a patient without the interference from a nonmedical body," Jones added.

Dr. Carla Lupi, assistant clinical professor of the department of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, said, "As a physician, I am aghast that a jurist, with no professional licensure or experience in the care of women facing very complicated medical and personal decisions, should have the power to dictate my medical practice. These cases are often challenging even for the most seasoned practitioners.