Pro-life Physician Requests Assistance with Research

By Katherine Dowling M.D.
August 26, 1999

I have been at the University of Southern California for almost 30 years, either as a resident (physician in training) or as staff in the Departments of Family Medicine and Pediatrics. Recently our former Chairman in Family Medicine retired and was replaced by a new one, Dr. Ricardo Hahn, who did abortions in our family medicine clinic and supported staff who did so. I protested, but was told that this was an acceptable medical procedure and I did not have to do them myself. Yet my patients, many of whom did not approve of abortions or who actually were infertility patients forced to see me in the same office suite (the Healthcare Consultation Center or HCC) where terminations were carried out.

Things reached a critical point in late June when I was the only physician working in the HCC and a woman and her husband came in demanding I supply the drug Cytotec to finish a chemical abortion started by a resident in family medicine and another faculty member. They were furious when I refused on religious grounds. Though the nurses called a resident physician in (?from home?) to prescribe the drug requested, I realized that if the patient had left and had given birth to a baby with birth defects from the methotrexate the patient was given to start the abortion, I would be liable, potentially for a huge malpractice suit for not living up to the "standard of care" for an abortion-providing practice, which was what I was now in, and my malpractice probably wouldn't cover me. I am requesting transfer to an affiliated residency program in a Catholic hospital.

I realize, from contact with other pro-life medical people, nurses, physicians and others, that failure to hire qualified pro-life people, and terminations when a pro-life view becomes evident, is a widespread practice in the medical and scientific community. I have made arrangements with several magazines, papers, and periodicals to write a piece on this issue, and would like to talk with others who have been the victims of pro-choice prejudice in the job market. Complete anonymnity will be preserved if requested, but I want my facts to be solid when the issue is presented in a media form. I use my nom de plume. I can be reached at 213-307-4157 (pager), 323-442-2785 (work) for a short time more. Thanks so much for any research help you and others can give.

If you know of any medical professionals (including yourself if applicable) who would like to help Dr. Dowling with this project, please call her at the numbers above. Since you are using the name with which she publishes, you may have best luck locating her with her pager number. You may also email Karen Brauer at and I will forward all info to her in confidence. Dr. Dowling is also interested in having her own story disseminated among prolifers and in the mainstream press. Those of you with publications may wish to contact her about this also.