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Medical Students Oppose State Abortion Measure

October 22, 2008

Sioux Falls, SD – There's a growing chorus of South Dakota health professionals, including medical students, who are expressing strong opposition to Initiated Measure 11, which if approved next month would ban abortions. Second-year South Dakota medical students Veronika Holbeck and Kayt Calmus both believe passage of the ban would amount to government intrusion into medicine.

Holbeck says students coming into the medical profession are concerned the law would place doctors in a very difficult position, where they have to choose between doing what's right for their patients and doing what they can do to keep themselves out of jail.

"The measure is very worrisome. In school we're taught that a physician's job is to help the patient. The doctor's situation is irrelevant. It's important for physicians to put aside their personal beliefs and do what is medically best for their patients. I believe that young physicians who end up practicing in South Dakota will be much less inclined to put their patients first if we have a law that in effect allows the government to question the sound judgment of physicians."

Proponents of Measure 11 claim that only a small percentage of abortions are performed to safeguard the life and health of the woman, but medical student Kayt Calmus argues that physicians cannot know when they will be dealing with a high-risk pregnancy.

Supporters say the initiative would prevent the use of abortion as a means of birth control. But Calmus says every patient deserves the best care possible and that all health and safety decisions, including those involving abortion, should be left to the doctor and patient without government interference.

David Law/Steve Powers, Public News Service - SD