Medical Groups Urge End to 'Gag Rule'

From United Press International

A group of 21 medical organizations Thursday urged Congress to overturn a Supreme Court ruling allowing the government to bar family planning clinics that receive federal money from providing abortion information or counseling.

In a separate statement, the American Medical Assn. announced its endorsement of legislation to overturn the so-called gag rule, saying it would keep "the long arm of the federal government out of the patient-physician relationship."

"This is not an argument for or against abortion," Dr. Richard Schwarz, president of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, told a news conference announcing the effort by the 21 medical groups. "It is an argument about how free America's women will be to get information concerning their own health care and how free America's physicians and other health care professionals will be to provide it . . . ." Joining Schwarz at the news conference were representatives of the American Nurses Assn., the American Psychiatric Assn. and the American Public Health Assn.

In its statement, the American Medical Assn. said passage of the proposals now pending in the House and Senate "would halt an alarming trend."

"Too often," said Dr. James Todd, AMA executive vice president, "federal controls over the practice of medicine follow federal funding support. We are convinced that political medicine is harmful to the health of all Americans."

Opponents of abortion called their own news conference to attack the health organizations.

Nancy Myers, communications director of the National Right to Life Committee, organizer of the news conference, said that "the medical community is not united in favor of abortion."

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