NPR airs interview suggesting doctors perform illegal abortions as 'civil disobedience'

Roe v. Wade was overturned in June by the Supreme Court, leaving abortion laws to the states to decide

NPR questioned whether doctors had an ethical obligation to perform abortions in states that restrict the practice, in a Tuesday morning report. 

"The fear of these laws has caused some doctors to delay or deny abortions, including in emergencies," host Rachel Martin warned.

"Some doctors are asking themselves tough questions. When they are forced to choose between their ethical obligations to patients and the law, should they defy the law?" she asked.

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

Doctor is checking patient symptom

Doctor is checking patient symptom (iStock)

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No health care workers have been prosecuted for defying state laws since Roe v. Wade was overturned by the Supreme Court, the report stated. But Wynia told NPR it would "certainly" happen.

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

Wynia called some doctor's refusal to offer abortions in order to obey state laws, "very disturbing."

"If the law is wrong, and causing you to be involved in harming patients, you do not have to live to that law," he advocated.

iStock

iStock

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The reporter posed situations in which doctors may question if abortion would prioritize the health of the woman, offering the case of an Ohio woman who was initially denied an abortion after experiencing heavy bleeding from a miscarriage. 

"[W]hat about when someone has a heart condition and pregnancy makes that condition worse? Or if a patient tells their doctor, 'I can't get an abortion, I'm going to harm myself,'?" she asked.

NPR went on to tout doctors who committed civil disobedience to perform abortions.

The bioethicist called on the medical community to unite and "say clearly" they will support doctors who decide to "follow the standard of care for a patient even if it violates state abortion laws."

On Nov. 8, California and Vermont enshrined the right to an abortion into their state constitutions. 

On Nov. 8, California and Vermont enshrined the right to an abortion into their state constitutions.  (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes, File)

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After the Dobbs decision, Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., said she would protest the court and encouraged women to defy the court's order. 

In the November election, voters in the deep-blue state voted to enshrine abortion rights into state law. Opponents of the proposition called it "extreme," arguing there were no limits in the law on gestational age or viability.