Opinion: Listen To More Than One ‘Professional’ Opinion

The inclination of many to listen primarily to members of one class is never a good practice.

Recently, this has taken place in many areas of American life, with people adhering unflinchingly to the guidance of medical personnel, while ignoring the thoughts of experts in other fields. While the advice from those in the healthcare and medicine sector are worthy of our attention, the obsession with their opinions is impacting other areas of public life. 

This phenomena was most recently demonstrated by a judge in Indiana making a ruling regarding abortion restrictions. The federal judge ruled against several laws restricting abortion in the state, while upholding others as constitutional, continuing a legal battle over how far states can go to limit abortion.

In her ruling, U.S. District Court Judge Sarah Evans Barker used the testimony and explanation of members of the medical profession in citing the reasoning behind declaring several of the laws in Indiana unconstitutional. 

Barker struck down several abortion restrictions, including a ban on telemedicine with regard to medication abortion, the requirement that a patient be examined in person before receiving medication abortion, and the requirement that provision of second-trimester abortions be restricted to hospitals or ambulatory surgical centers. The judge also found that certain facility requirements for clinics looking to perform abortions were unconstitutional.

As National Review aptly pointed out, many of the judge’s decisions were made based on the testimony of medical personnel, as well as those who had experiences with abortion.

According to National Review, “Citing prominent abortionist and abortion advocate Dr. Daniel Grossman, as well as abortion-advocacy group the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, Judge Barker asserted that prescribing abortion pills via telemedicine is safe and would increase access to abortion for women who do not live near an abortion clinic.”

Regarding the safety of abortion procedures, the judge pointed to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Dr. Grossman.

The judge wrote:

Abortion-related deaths also occur very seldomly according to the Centers for Disease Control (“CDC”). The CDC maintains a robust system of surveillance of all maternal deaths, as explained by Dr. Grossman, Plaintiffs’ expert witness specializing in gynecology, abortion care, and public health.

Grossman is cited several other times throughout the ruling, including the section on the risks of medication abortion, known as the abortion pill.

The judge noted: 

…According to Dr. Grossman. “Major complications” or “clinically significant adverse events,” such as excessive bleeding necessitating a blood transfusion or other complications necessitating surgery, emergency department treatment, or intravenous antibiotics, for example, affect between 0.16 and 0.31% of women, that is, less than half a percent, according to his testimony. 

To be fair, Barker also discusses the explanations provided by Dr. Donna Joan Harrison, whose expert testimony was provided by the state of Indiana. Harrison is a board-certified OB-GYN and is the “CEO of the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists, overseeing research related to mifepristone,” as a footnote in the ruling explained. It added, “This organization and Dr. Harrison view elective abortion as having no legitimate role in the practice of medicine.”

While expert testimony is key to the judicial process, the ultimate decisions should be made by the court with regard to precedent and the rule of law rather than what medical professionals might decide or believe at one time, regardless of where they fall on the political spectrum.

The judge also ruled against Indiana’s mandated disclosure related to fetal life, which provides that, “human physical life begins when a human ovum is fertilized by a human sperm.”

The ruling cited Grossman in the explanation. “As Dr. Grossman testified, there is no medical consensus as to when human life begins; thus, to advance such a position it not ‘truthful,’” it said. 

“As to whether there is any medical consensus on this issue, we find Dr. Grossman’s opinions credible and ultimately more persuasive,” the ruling stated.

When referencing a different medical professional’s opinion, however, the judge points out the doctor is not pro-abortion and is suddenly concerned with personal opinion. Dr. Curlin “was proffered by the State as an expert in the field of bioethics, including the bioethics of abortion and informed consent.”

The judge wrote, “We are further troubled by the reliability of Dr. Curlin’s opinions on this topic, given that they are informed by his overall belief that abortion is the killing of an innocent human being and as such must be provided to women so that they may understand that proceeding with an abortion kills innocent life.”

Rather than simply reviewing the opinion of multiple medical professionals, the court sided in part with the opinions of the expert testimony provided by the plaintiffs — presumably because their opinions were pro-abortion. While each side offered their own medical expertise, and are open about their personal biases, only one was viewed credible by the court.

It’s past time for the courts to make decisions based on precedent and legality, not opinion — especially when it comes to cases regarding social issues. 

The views expressed in this piece are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Wire.

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