The Hill

Hospitals Provide Abortions, But Some Tell Employees To Keep Quiet About It: 1 Doctor Is Taking Legal Action

Many hospitals provide abortion services, but do so quietly. Pixabay Public Domain

Abortion may be the most controversial medical practice in the Unites States. The procedure has expanded from a shameful, hush-hush event to a hotly debated political issue, the topic of incessant discussion on television, radio, and social media. Though many women have worked to remove the taboo from abortion, one notable truth about ending pregnancy has remained purposefully cloaked: Clinics such as Planned Parenthood are not the only places that provide abortions. About 4 percent of pregnancy terminations actually occur in ordinary hospitals, a fact some of those facilities seem to prefer to cover up.

Diane J. Horvath-Cosper, an obstetrician and gynecologist at MedStar Washington Hospital Center, is an outspoken abortion rights supporter. In a legal complaint filed on her behalf, Horvath-Cosper alleges that her superiors asked her to “tone down her advocacy for abortion rights and decline interviews on the subject,” according to The Washington Post.

Horvath-Cosper wrote an op-ed last year about the dangerous threats abortion providers face and said she has experience with the risks doctors take when they perform the controversial procedure.  Instead of stepping up security, MedStar’s family planning clinic dealt with these risks by restricting her voice on the issue, she said.

“I personally think I can’t do this job without talking about it and without bringing abortion back into mainstream medicine where it belongs,” she told The Post. “I don’t think we’re going to move forward as a community and a country on the issue of abortion unless we talk about it openly.”

The National Women’s Law Center, along with another firm, filed Horvath-Cosper’s complaint. In it, she alleges that the chief medical officer told her he did “not want to put a K-Mart blue light special on the fact that we provide abortions at MedStar,” that the department made her feel “isolated,” and that her superiors even threatened to fire her. The National Women’s Law Center claims the hospital is violating the Church Act, which specifically protects medical professionals at facilities receiving federal funding from being forced to violate their beliefs on abortion. The act protects personnel regardless of whether they support or oppose the procedure, so a violation amounts to discrimination.

One doctor who works in the ob-gyn unit at the hospital, which is the region’s largest, was unaware of any written policy on what abortion providers at the hospital could speak about publicly, but said “there was clearly a protocol that this was not something we were going to advertise at health fairs at the Convention Center.”

The doctor, who is not authorized to speak for the hospital and wished to remain unidentified, said the company had always kept a “very, very, very, very low profile with our abortion providers,” explaining that even the procedures themselves were performed in a separate office. “That way, we could honestly say that the hospital does not do them.”