By Tom Quiner
I’m sitting in Anchorage reading about the debate my essay in the Des Moines Register has sparked.
I only had intermittent access to the internet this week, but it seems every time I check in, there are new letters in the paper either supporting or bashing my position.
This morning, a writer claimed the whole telemed abortion debate is all about politics:
“Tom Quiner’s guest column [“Webcam Abortions Have Nothing to do with Health,” Aug. 2] shows how the whole Iowa Board of Medicine issue is more about the politics and less about the practice of medicine.
The telemedicine delivery system is a success. Just look at the fact that over 94 percent of women were very satisfied using the system.
If Quiner is so concerned about people’s safety, he should lead the charge against overthe- counter Aleve, which is statistically is more dangerous than the prescription used for medication abortion.
The Iowa Board of Medicine is a non-political body, and we should keep it that way.”
— Sandra Armstrong, Des Moines
I marvel at Ms. Armstrong’s definition of success. Were the 6% of women who weren’t satisfied injured by RU-486? Did 100% of the babies in the womb attacked by the drug die? What kind of person considers that good? Another thing, Aleve doesn’t kill a human being with every use, a subtle distinction, don’t you think?
On the other hand, a doctor jumped into the fray in the defense of life:
“Robert Ashman, M.D., asserts in his Aug. 7 letter that the Iowa Board of Medicine would violate the Hippocratic Oath if it prohibited telemedicine abortion. My esteemed colleague would not know the Hippocratic Oath if it came up and bit him on his gluteus maximus.
The original Hippocratic Oath has been the foundation of medical ethics in western civilization for 2,500 years and has four primary precepts: A physician is not to perform abortions; a physician is not to assist a patient in suicide; a physician must not violate patient confidentiality; and a physician must not have sexual relations with his patients.
We must not countenance Dr. Ashman’s distortion of this foundational affirmation of the sacredness and precious value of life.”
— Eugene J. Cherny, M.D., West Des Moines
Another writer built on this theme:
“I thought it strange that a doctor would say that the Iowa Board of Medicine would be violating the Hippocratic Oath if members banned telemedicine abortions. Obviously, killing a baby is doing harm, but the Hippocratic Oath also specifically says, “I will not give to a woman an abortive remedy.”
So any doctor providing an abortion is violating the Hippocratic Oath. The letter writer [“Board Must Remember Hippocratic Oath,” by Dr. Robert Ashman, Aug. 7] also must not have read any embryology textbooks in his differentiation of an embryo from a child. Human life begins at conception, and the fact that different stages are given different names does not mean that some stages are not human.
I know that some argue that babies and senior citizens should not be given the same status as having a right to life. Others believe that how we treat the helpless defines us as humans. So we should not treat any human as property.
Hippocrates recognized this in 400 B.C. We should still recognize this today.”
— David C. Hammel, Urbandale
Advocates of human abortion seem quite comfortable twisting the Hippocratic Oath into a poisonous pretzel that means the exact opposite of its true intent.