Listen to the Thought for the Week
Junk Science and Falling Skies
Following the Dobbs decision, the pro-abortion cheerleaders and their accomplices, the drive-by media, have gone into fully full-on Chicken Little mode. A simple court decision, correcting Roe v Wade, that even liberal superheroine Ruth Bader Ginsburg said was “bad law”(1), has been twisted into a fascist assault on women, at least as bad, or even worse than The Handmaid’s Tale. Here are just a few of the headlines: “Black Women in the Crosshairs of Christian Fascist Assault on Abortion”(2), “With the Corpse of Roe Still Warm, Far Right Plots Fascistic Anti-Abortion Enforcement”(3), “Roe’s Reversal and The Specter of American Fascism, How the Supreme Court’s ruling in Dobbs helps lay the groundwork for a fascist revival”.(4) So, returning abortion regulation to the states, where it constitutionally belongs, is somehow a prelude to fascist blackshirts marching in the streets and invading Poland? I mean, fascist is a pretty heady and scary term for someone who disagrees with the invented right to murder unborn children. Last time I checked, in around 1938, it was the fascists who were murdering children. (Although the prize for leading the world in killing the unborn goes to the Soviet Union, which was the first country to legalize abortion, in 1920.(5)) (Fascists, communists, tomato, tomatoe.) Speaking of scary terms, the democrats have castigated half of America as assaulting “democracy,” another big and sacrosanct word. We have been inundated by accusations of Republicans threatening “democracy” because they disagree with Democrats’ talking points, the constitutionally-defined powers of Congress and the Supreme Court, and the electoral process.(6) So, if the media echo chamber is to be believed, free expression of opinion, voting, congressional checks and balances, and federal court overview of legislation is assaulting “democracy” and the very fabric of this nation.(7) It seems that people hold these ideas as true, due to peer pressure and a desire to “fit in,” or gain status within the Party—to be seen as a loyal Party Member. For someone to even recognize—let alone mention—any contradiction within the context of the Party line is akin to blasphemy, and could subject that person to disciplinary action and the instant social disapproval of fellow Party Members.
Gentle readers, those of you who partake in a lot of literature, by now realize that the last two sentences above, starting with, “It seems that…”, are not my descriptions, but rather a description of George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four and his characterization of Doublethink and Newspeak.(8) Orwell wrote Nineteen Eighty-Four in 1949, as a commentary on Soviet totalitarianism. Who would have thought that it would become an instruction manual for the “woke” new millennium?
The pro-abortion cheerleaders also relentlessly paint killing the unborn as “essential” and “critical” health care.(9) Indeed, it is implied that, if there is any restriction on abortion whatsoever, not only will pregnant women’s lives be threatened (you know, persons experiencing pregnancy, as MSNBC says), but also everyone in America will have their lives threatened. Even little old men with prostate cancer! If that seems like a pretty far stretch, then you haven’t been doublethinking enough.
We have lately been inundated with articles and junk science making the case that if physicians are prohibited from killing unborn children, they will either not continue in the practice of medicine or will relocate to states where they can satiate their appetite for destruction, depriving little old men, who happen to live in pro-life states, of treatment for prostate cancer.(10) So, geriatricians, radiologists and dermatologists will not move to Texas because they can’t perform abortions? Another variation of this is, female physicians (the real kind, not the Dylan Mulvaney kind) will not move to pro-life states because, God forbid they become pregnant, the options for killing their unborn child will be limited.(10) I suppose that means pro-life states will also soon be facing a shortage of female lawyers, pilots, bus drivers and accountants? The obvious conclusion is, if you need medical care, you better support unlimited abortion on demand, lest you be unable to get that suspicious-looking mole removed.
Pro-tip, anytime you are reading a scientific paper whose conclusions are based on opinion polls and people’s beliefs about what “might” happen, you are reading junk science. This is doubly true if said paper is written by medical students. This is triply true if said paper actually runs as “commentary” in a journal, rather than a scientific study. This week “NBC Health” (there goes that doublethink again) ran a pretty sensationalistic article titled, “Abortion bans could drive away young doctors, new survey finds”, with the subtitle, “A majority of surveyed medical students said they would likely not apply for residency in states with strict abortion laws — for both their patients and themselves.”(11) This is accompanied by the usual picture of virtue-signaling, angry “health care workers” shouting and making a nuisance of themselves in a pro-abortion rally outside of the Massachusetts State House (protesting in favor of abortion in Massachusetts seems unambitious, no?)
In this so-called “study” 494, 3rd and 4th year medical students in 32 states were surveyed. Most respondents were women. 57.9% said they were unlikely or very unlikely to apply to a single residency program in a state with abortion restrictions. 76.9% said that access to abortion would influence where they would pursue their residency. In a laughable comment, 72.2% said abortion access would influence where the respondent would want to start a family (or end a potential family, but I digress). (12) The junk science makes several unfounded statements, like: “This decision [Dobbs] jeopardises the physical and psychological health of millions of pregnant people and their families.” “It also has profound implications for medical education and will fundamentally reshape the knowledge, skills, and quality of care provided by future physicians.” “Abortion care discourse is particularly important for teaching professionalism and deconstructing biases.” (I know, doublethink.) “It is paradoxical for a medical school to instill the principles of medical ethics while simultaneously refraining from providing students with the tools to implement them when treating patients.” (Except for the child, I guess.) And “Abortion education is essential in preparing future physicians to preserve the sanctity of the patient-physician relationship, provide medically accurate clinical recommendations, and comprehensively manage all aspects of necessary healthcare.”(12) The conclusion here is, if training in abortion is restricted, then little old men will be unable to have competently-done prostate biopsies and dermatologists will be unable to treat rosacea. I will spare you the rest of the pro-death word salad, but feel free to look up the article if your cable is not working and you miss MSNBC.
The lead authors of this “study” are medical students from Emory University’s School of Medicine who have co-founded an advocacy group that supports abortion rights. These completely unbiased medical students (yes, sarcasm) cite a nationwide decrease of just over 5% in applications for OB/GYN residencies and just over 10% in states that restrict “access to abortion” as proof of their hypothesis.(13) An AP story trumpeting this “study” quotes a future OB/GYN wannabe in evaluating his residency options, “I can’t really be an abortion provider in Ohio, and that’s an important part of my career.”(14)
I have very little doubt that the study results are accurate. I also have very little doubt that the study is completely biased and inappropriate conclusions are drawn by biased stakeholders to drive a pro-abortion agenda. Could not the opposite be true? Could the small drop in OB/GYN applications be related to a desire by future physicians to not be compelled to slaughter the innocents? The nation’s largest professional organization of obstetricians, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists is in a race with Planned Parenthood to see who can most strongly advocate for the elimination of unborn human life. A decade ago, President Clinton said abortion should be “safe, legal and rare.” It was seen by many as a sad reality or necessary evil. Now it has become a symbol of virtue to be celebrated. Why would a physician of conscience even choose to enter that morass? Perhaps those physicians instead chose to enter general surgery and operate on gallbladders, rather than be compelled to crush the skulls of unborn children. We know, for a fact, that there are potential medical students who choose not to enter medicine for fear they will be forced to do procedures that go against their conscience and religious beliefs. We are regularly contacted by prospective students asking when the Saint Padre Pio medical school will open, as they are reluctant to enter schools that have embraced the woke, pro-death and anti-family agenda of contemporary academia.
People enter medicine for a lot of different reasons. The naïve among us like to think that the motives are altruistic, centered on treating the sick and relieving suffering. If only it were so. Medicine is a respected profession that generates high incomes, wields power and nourishes the ego. Studies are lacking, but the evidence points to money and power as larger motivations than helping others. After all, the American healthcare system suffers from a tremendous shortage of primary care physicians. These are the family practitioners, pediatricians, and internal medicine physicians. Psychiatry is also in short supply. These shortages are particularly acute in rural and underprivileged areas. Simultaneously, the residencies most difficult to obtain are in dermatology, plastic surgery and orthopedic surgery. There seems to be no shortage of cosmetic surgeons and dermatologists in Las Vegas and Manhattan. I don’t think many dermatologists located their practices in Beverly Hills to relieve suffering of the underserved. The ability to perform abortions is probably pretty far down the list of reasons why someone goes into medicine or chooses a particular residency. It is far more likely that applications to OB/GYN decreased slightly because it is a difficult job, with long hours and diminishing pay. As mentioned, orthopedic surgery is in very high demand from medical students, but they don’t do too many abortions. In the most recent residency match, the process where graduating medical students are paired with their future residency positions, there were 554 positions in emergency medicine that went unfilled and 86 positions in pediatrics that were unfilled. In total, there were 2603 open positions in all specialties after the match.(15) Since neither emergency medicine specialists nor pediatricians perform abortions that is not the likely explanation for those large numbers of unfilled positions. In OB/GYN, there were 4 open positions. It does not appear that what the media characterizes as a “war” on abortion and “fascist” assault on women’s “reproductive health care” is turning applicants away from OB-GYN residency, but that does not make a good news story or support a junk “study.”
Similarly, the idea that people are deciding where to live and “raise a family” based on access to abortion is simply magical thinking. Again, no good studies exist examining this nonsensical proposition, but the fact that people are moving to Florida and Texas while fleeing New York and California, argues against abortion as a motivator. The Dobbs decision, however, does provide political cover when an institution takes a course of action that a community would otherwise view as greedy or callous.
Bonner General Hospital in Sandpoint, Idaho (population 9003) is a 25-bed, critical access hospital that made some headlines recently when it announced the closure of its labor and delivery ward and the ending of obstetrical services. In a widely-circulated press release, the hospital cited, the closure was related to, among other reasons, “Idaho’s legal and political climate – Highly respected, talented physicians are leaving. Recruiting replacements will be extraordinarily difficult. In addition, the Idaho Legislature continues to introduce and pass bills that criminalize physicians for medical care nationally recognized as the standard of care. Consequences for Idaho Physicians providing the standard of care may include civil litigation and criminal prosecution, leading to jail time or fines.”(16) Pretty bold statement for a little hospital in rural Idaho. I doubt there was any demand for abortion services in rural Northern Idaho, so why the virtue signaling? Obstetrical care is very expensive to deliver.
The national standard of care requires the capability to perform emergency Caesarian delivery and neonatal resuscitation by specifically trained personnel, including neonatal pediatricians. Last year, Bonner General only delivered 265 babies, or about 5 a week. The problem is, it costs about the same to deliver 5 babies a week as it does to deliver 5 a day. But 5 a week doesn’t pay the bills. Bonner General is an institution that has previously boasted about supporting and providing care for the community, even if it does not make economic sense. In a December 2021 magazine article, Bonner’s Public Information Officer said, “As an independent hospital, we can remain firmly anchored to our mission, the people we serve and the community we love. We can address a need even if it isn’t a sound financial decision when we see a need—for example, behavioral health. We needed a psychiatrist in Sandpoint. We developed the business plan, and even though we knew it wasn’t a financially prudent decision, it was the right decision for the community.”(17)
A psychiatrist is one thing; an entire labor and delivery unit is quite another. Because the train is never late, Planned Parenthood of Greater Washington and Northern Idaho weighed in, “We know that there’s a lot more wrapped up whenever a state pushes for abortion bans, or gender-affirming care bans, and it has a larger impact on just healthcare in general. We know it will have an impact on maternal health rates. We know that it has disproportionate impact on patients based on whether they live in an urban or rural area, whether they are a person of color, have preexisting conditions, based on their income or access to transportation.”(18)
Impressive, they hit every one of the pro-abortion talking points, but they do practice a lot. So, a tiny hospital closes a money-losing service in a small, rural town because of abortion and gender-affirming care bans, seems legit (sarcasm, again and no, I don’t know how the “gender-affirming” bans affect tiny hospitals in rural Idaho, but they must be required to use the script). It should be noted that Bonner General is maintaining its other women’s health and gynecologic services, including surgery.(18) Sure it is. An elective surgical suite, unburdened by complex and charity care, can make a lot of money. On the surface, it seems surprising that Bonner General would go that far out on a limb politically with their press release, but on closer examination, it makes sense, to quote the line from “Argo”, “It’s the best bad idea we have.” After all, closing what is painted as an essential service, just to save money, in a town of 9000 people, can cost a hospital administrator her job! Far better to throw shade and confuse the subject. If only Idaho had abortion on demand, not only would Bonner General still have obstetric services, they would probably be doing liver transplants too! (Or so the pro-abortion cheerleaders and failing hospital administrators would have one believe.)
As we have previously discussed, most medical schools are to the left of Fidel Castro on the political spectrum and many medical students resemble Karl Marx more than Albert Schweitzer. We have, over and over again, been assailed with stories of medical students walking out on pro-life speakers, making pledges to fight the “oppression of gender roles” and, of course, advocating for the essential right to abortion. Rush Limbaugh’s description of “empty-headed liberals with their skulls full of mush” is particularly apt. (If, in the next year or two, a medical school replaces its white coat ceremony with a Che Guevara T-shirt ceremony, you owe me a coke.) We do wonder, however, how many medical students go along to get along and quietly suffer through the woke agendas to graduate and get that orthopedic surgery residency. We suspect it is a lot. We do notice that the authors of the “study” we have been discussing did not resign from medical school at Emory (in pro-life Georgia) or transfer to another medical school in a more murder-friendly state. A lack of courage in their convictions? Sound and fury, signifying nothing?
The sky is not falling, women are not dying in the streets and physicians are not running away from states where abortion is restricted. Tiny hospitals in rural Idaho should probably never have been offering obstetrical services in the first place. Even under the hypothetical of unlimited, unrestricted abortion nationwide, recruiting specialized medical personnel to deliver 5 babies a week, in the contemporary standard of care, is a laughably tall order and any hospital administrator thinking that is feasible should probably be working in either the housekeeping or food service industries.
Very, very few physicians perform abortions and only 56% of OB/GYN residencies even offer specific training in abortion.(19) The drive-by media would have you believe that 44% of newly-trained OB/GYN physicians are incompetent. Nonsense. Surgical techniques that are used for abortion are also used for other, non-abortion purposes, such as uterine cancer and miscarriage. (For those of you who still beat the drum of “abortion is a necessary treatment for miscarriage, just stop. You’re embarrassing yourselves.) Similarly, medication abortion requires no special skill, aside from properly diagnosing and dating a pregnancy and writing a murderous prescription.
We are somewhat dismayed, however, by a student saying that the ability to perform abortion is “an important part” of his career. We don’t need physicians like him and perhaps he would be more fulfilled working as an executioner in a third-world prison or training child soldiers in Africa.
“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you; before you came to birth I consecrated you; I appointed you as prophet to the nations.” -Jeremiah 1:5
This concludes the audio portion of this article. Thank you for listening.
George Mychaskiw II, DO, FAAP, FACOP, FASA
Saint Padre Pio Institute for the Relief of Suffering
School of Osteopathic Medicine
Hovey, G. (1985). “Abortion: a history”. Planned Parenthood Review. 5 (2): 18–21. ISSN 0275-5122. PMID 12340403