If implemented, the new rule proposed by the federal Department of Health and Human Services concerning Title X funding would prohibit any clinic or medical facility that counsels about or refers patients for abortions from obtaining Title X funds. As a result, millions of low-income women and men would be deprived of reproductive health care.

As a member of the medical community, I am outraged. After years of medical study so that we physicians can provide the best health care we know how, the threat that the government will interfere in the cherished doctor-patient relationship is frightening. The law of the land supports safe and legal abortion.

If safe abortions are not available, desperate women will seek abortions from untrained practitioners. In the 1960s, prior to Roe v. Wade, I was a medical student, and I will never forget the “septic” abortion ward in a local hospital.

Wards were different from the way they are now. The ward was a wide-open room with beds lined from one end to the other. As a colleague of mine, Dr. David Bingham, wrote, “When we made rounds, there was a whole ward full of (septic abortion) patients with varying degrees of infection and hemorrhage, complications from quacks, beatings, poisonings, and potions. Most of these patients would be left sterile, some would not survive, and all survivors would be traumatized.”

Not only physicians, but all citizens need to contact Health and Human Services to oppose the “gag rule” and to demand that the government not interfere with the right to obtain optimal medical care, with the right to privacy and with the doctor-patient relationship.

Norma Dreyfus, M.D.


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