Doctors who refuse to refer patients for abortions could be putting their practices in jeopardy.
New professional guidelines say doctors have to either perform abortions - or refer patients to a doctor who will.
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If they won't, the could lose their certification and ultimately, their job.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has had these guidelines in place for four months.
But now the organization is backpedaling.
They're telling CBN News that their ethics committee plans to meet to re-evaluate these guidelines.
That may be because of substantial pressure placed on the college by the Bush administration and other groups.
The college issued a new ethics statement on abortion in November.
It clearly states that "physicians have a duty to refer patients in a timely manner to other providers if they do not feel that they can in conscience provide the standard reproductive service that patients request."
Next, the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology said doctors could lose their certification if they violate the college's ethics guidelines--and that includes the one on abortion.
It was shocking news for many physicians.
"If you don't particularly want to do the abortion yourself, you have to help them get to someone who does. So they're saying either do it or refer it, and that if you're not doing that, you're not practicing ethical medicine anymore, and you no longer have a right to refuse to do what patients want based on your own conscience," said Dr. Gene Rudd with the Christian Medical Association.
Two weeks ago, Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt called on the board to reject its policy, saying the new guidelines "would force physicians to violate their conscience by referring patients for abortion."
HHS told CBN News Wednesday that the ABOG sent it a letter and it's now "satisfied" that O-B/GYN doctors do not have to worry about these ethical guidelines when it comes to certification. The College also told CBN News that it plans to "re-evaluate" the ethical guidelines on abortion. Stay with CBN News for more on this story.