Med-School Admission Committees: Tainted by Pro-Choice Bias?
Vital Signs, Summer, 1995
Reproduced with permission
Recently, a worried pre-med student called me. A
year ago her interview had gone badly, partly because her pro-life views
became known to her interviewer, a woman whose pro-choice sentiments have
been expressed to me personally in the past. Back for another try, her
interview somehow ended up on the same topic.
A few months ago I met a new colleague at my community hospital. He
reminded me of a conversation we had had several years ago, when he had
phoned me for advice after losing his position at a public health clinic. He
had done well in the job, and was about to be hired permanently, when the
non-physician office manager called him in for an "interview" and bluntly
exposed his pro-life leanings. "It's men like you who ruin the lives of
young women," was her tactful observation. He was informed that he would be
given no further sessions at the publicly funded downtown clinic, and was
more or less told to pack his bags. Now in private practice not far from me,
he still wonders if he did the right thing by accepting this treatment
However, there is a far more basic threat to the ability of physicians to
hold pro-life views. Recently, a worried pre-med student called me. A year
ago her interview had gone badly, partly because her pro-life views became
known to her interviewer, a woman whose pro-choice sentiments have been
expressed to me personally in the past. Back for another try, her interview
somehow ended up on the same topic. She was asked how she would respond to a
pregnant teenager requesting an abortion in the company of her mother. The
pre-med student, herself pro-life and yet uncertain of physicians' legal
responsibilities, found herself eventually opting to refer the teenager to
another physician who might recommend abortion. Last year she found herself
suggesting that she would refer a teenager directly to an abortionist, and
has felt guilty for this response for quite some time.
This young pre-med student's experience is not an isolated occurrence.
Approximately once a year I have been phoned by a medical student who felt
that the admissions interviewer was trying to detect pro-life leanings.
Whether or not these students are academically good candidates for medical
school, it seems to me that using pro-life sentiment as some sort of a
litmus test could eventually cut the physician pro-life movement off at the
It is evident to me that a comprehensive survey of medical school
admission policies should be undertaken by our organization. A pro-choice
bias which has successfully infiltrated a medical school selection process
should be exposed as the violation of civil liberties which it truly is.