The American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology has an official party line – and it’s as ideological as you’d expect. We recently came across the association’s “Statement Regarding Misinformation and Disinformation” on their website. Not only is it insulting and unfair to the OB/GYNs the group represents, but it also ignores the lessons of history in the OB/GYN community.
ABOG, as the board is called, wants OB/GYNs to practice “fact-based scientific data.” Yet its statement on misinformation goes far beyond science to matters of opinion and areas that deserve research.
ABOG all but states that there’s a single acceptable view on “COVID-19, reproductive health care, contraception, abortion, and other OB GYN practices.” If OB/GYNs fail to promote that view to their patients, then ABOG threatens to “review reports” about them.
The consequences are clear: “Eligibility to gain or maintain ABOG certification may be lost” if an OB/GYN doesn’t toe the party line.
Do No Harm doesn’t take positions on these issues. Yet we do believe that free speech and open discourse are essential to treating patients and finding medical breakthroughs. The way to clarify best clinical approaches is to encourage rigorous testing of ideas, not authoritarian pronouncements. Non-traditional ideas can be a powerful engine of medical advances. By trying to stifle debate on issues, ABOG is putting politics ahead of progress. Patients suffer when physicians are silenced.
The group representing OB/GYN’s should know better. One of the most famous physicians in history was Ignaz Semmelweis, a nineteenth century innovator who discovered that OB/GYN’s could dramatically improve maternal health by simply washing their hands. Yet his early insight on disinfectants was rejected by the medical establishment, which cast out Semmelweis. He was committed to an asylum and quickly died. Yet he was right – and the medical establishment was wrong.
The American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology is following this same, sad path. Who might the modern-day Semmelweis be in the OB/GYN community? And what life-saving breakthroughs are mothers and children missing out on because ABOG is stifling debate in the name of politics?
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