Anti-choice obstetricians and gynecologists. Sounds like an oxymoron doesn’t it? How can a group of people with such a deep medical knowledge of women’s bodies support anti-abortion legislation that endangers women’s health and their lives?
The American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists (AAPLOG) houses this alarming contradiction: It’s an organization of doctors, nurses and other medical professionals who strongly oppose abortion and some forms of contraception. Its mission statement asserts that the embryo is a “human being from the moment of fertilization” and that “elective disruption/abortion of human life at any time from fertilization onward constitutes the willful destruction of an innocent human being.”
Underreported and under the radar, there isn’t much to be found online about this organization of 2,500 members. But they’ve been around for more than 40 years and have fought to dismantle pro-choice victories—from the FDA approval of Mifeprex, an abortion-inducing drug, to the over-the-counter availability of Plan B.
To tell you a little about what AAPLOG is and what it stands for, here are some of the falsehoods the organization has been spreading, contrasted with what the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) has to say:
Even though the consensus in the medical community is that childbirth carries much more risk than abortion, AAPLOG continues to profess that the claim is under-researched, “a serious distortion of reality” and simply “pro-abortion speculation.” The official statement of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists is that “where abortion is legal, it is extremely safe.” The risk of death from childbirth is actually 14 times higher than that associated with abortion, and history shows that when abortion is illegal or restricted, women are much more likely to resort to dangerous methods of ending their pregnancies. Before the Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade, back-alley abortions resulted in a recorded 5,000 deaths a year in the U.S.
Ultrasound mandates are yet another way anti-choice extremists are hoping to cut off abortion access. Laws and pending legislation in several states require women to undergo ultrasound (using an invasive transvaginal probe) before having an abortion, with some states even requiring the woman to listen to a detailed description of the fetal development or look at ultrasound images. These ultrasound mandates are not only invasive, but can create an additional financial hurdle to ending a pregnancy. ACOG has been vocal against ultrasound mandates, calling them unnecessary laws that are “demeaning and disrespectful” to women and “insulting to the nurses and doctors who care for them.” The organization stresses that such medical care should remain between a medical expert and the patient, referring to ultrasound mandates as a “dangerous precedent.”
In 2013, when the FDA approved emergency contraception (Plan B) for OTC availability, it was a victory for women’s health that ACOG applauded. Yet the president of AAPLOG wrote a letter urging the FDA to reconsider the decision. Going against scientific facts, AAPLOG’s position is that increased access to emergency contraception does not lower abortion rates or unintended pregnancies. The letter advised the FDA to at least put labeling on emergency contraception that warns women that Plan B is an abortifacient, even though the medical community has disproven that myth.
Being an association of medical professionals, it is astounding how AAPLOG continually ignores vetted medical evidence that shows no link between abortion and the subsequent development of breast cancer. It accuses ACOG of only using studies that “agree with their politically correct opinions” and taking “liberties with their interpretation of the scientific literature.” It calls for additional studies and a reevaluation of past studies. In a committee statement, ACOG said that early studies proclaiming a breast cancer/abortion link were flawed and that larger, more recent studies show no link. What’s more, the National Cancer Institute agrees with them. But due to lobbying efforts by groups like AAPLOG, more than 15 states are considering laws that would require doctors to give this inaccurate information to women seeking abortions.
Strangely enough, even though ACOG has debunked many of AAPLOG’s studies and statements regarding reproductive care, the anti-choice group repeatedly uses ACOG’s name throughout its literature to bolster its legitimacy. Right in the first line of its About Us section, it’s proud to say that AAPLOG held the designation of “special interest group” under ACOG for 40 years.
When we reached out to ACOG about this “special interest group” designation and the meaning behind it, a representative from the group told us that the title does not mean AAPLOG was ever a division under ACOG—as the deceptive wording on AAPLOG’s website would lead one to believe—but only that the group was allowed to use some of ACOG’s conference space for their own events. ACOG discontinued the “special interest group” designation in 2013 to avoid this kind of confusion. Yet, AAPLOG uses the credibility of a respected medical organization to prop itself up and falsely present itself as a trusted resource, a “pro-life” counterpart to ACOG.
Make no mistake, AAPLOG is the academic, institutionalized face of an extremist anti-abortion movement that has been whittling away at abortion access in communities across the country.
Is your gynecologist or obstetrician a member of AAPLOG? Look them up on the site’s database here.