Taking Back Medicine
Changing the dynamic of the debate about abortion.

Dr. John Bruchalski and a young patient


Kathryn Jean Lopez

Listening to him, what resonated in the room was another word: consistency. It’s what converted him and convinced him to stop performing abortions, and started a process that lead to his founding the Tepeyac Family Center in Fairfax, Virginia.

But it’s not just the humanity of the fetus with which Bruchalski’s talks are concerned. There is also, he says, the humanity of the doctor and the woman. “We need to understand the individual woman’s narrative.” He repeats twice his motto that “health is based on the relationships found in community.” And he’s not shy in telling the students gathered that the primary relationship not only for the person but for society is the relationship between a mom and her unborn baby. At Tepeyac, they do not operate as if “children are sexually transmitted diseases.”

“If you’re going to choose an abortion because you can’t pay for it or if someone’s going to kick you out of the house,”Bruchalski says,“we’ll try and help you. We’ll walk you through.”

Love and protect the patients. “You can love enough that you make abortion unthinkable,” he has said. Tepeyac will never perform or refer for abortions, but sometimes women do go and get them. “I wanted to practice excellent medicine. The way you do that is you offer real options to women other than abortion. You walk them through,” he says.

“This conscience issue is real crucial. It affects all of us,” he tells the students. To pro-lifers, he will say even more explicitly: If you are pro-life, you don’t have to hang your conscience at the door.

And if you consider yourself pro-choice, then why don’t we talk openly about the inconsistencies and silences we tolerate on certain “women’s health” topics to spare upsetting political coalitions and hiding open wounds instead of treating them? How can doctors tolerate the politicization of medicine?

Dr. B wants to “change the dynamic of the debate” about abortion in America, specifically among the next generation of doctors. Medicine, he says, “is an act of mercy” on each patient — even the ones whose little arms and legs are just beginning to form. It may not look like your niece yet, but she’s one of us. And if you’re a doctor, she’s your patient, too. Doctors know it, and Bruchalski is one doctor who wants to see the next generation take back medicine from the politicians.

Kathryn Jean Lopez is editor-at-large of National Review Online. This column is available exclusively through United Media.


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