In 2008 Esteban Rodriguez Martin became the first Spanish gynecologist to defend his right to conscientious objection in court. Three years later, he said he does not regret his “resounding no” to performing abortions even though he has had to pay a high price with his career.
Speaking with CNA on Aug. 31 in Rome, where he is attending an international conference, Rodriguez Martin said he has had to limit his work to assisting at births and treating women in their third trimesters because of his opposition to performing pre-natal tests often used by women to decide whether or not to obtain an abortion. “The better the prenatal diagnosis, the more abortions are performed,” he explained.
“As a doctor, my mission is to protect life,” he said. His request to be relieved of performing such tests was denied by hospital administrators.
“I have no other option than for a judge to rule on the conflict for the defense of a right as basic as that of freedom of conscience and of reason, which is the foundation of a democratic system, because otherwise we would be living in a dictatorship or a tyranny,” Rodriguez Martin explained.
“Will I have to leave my profession if the courts do not side with me? Only God knows, but many times the truth is shown through martyrdom. And that is what we Catholic obstetricians are dealing with by acting morally consistent, because we are charged with caring for life at its beginning, and that is our mission in society,” he said.
Rodriguez Martin said his objection to abortion is not only based on conscience but on science as well. “It’s a human being that dies, and there is another human being that does the killing, and there is a woman who suffers the consequences, and a father that nobody talks about. But the human being who does the killing is not the woman, but the doctor, and that goes against the essence of medicine. Therefore the argument is strictly scientific,” he said.
Because there are so many interests at stake, the scientific society is not willing to acknowledge these scientific facts, Rodriguez Martin continued. “Obstetricians have no other choice but to appeal to conscience, but the reasons are ethical and scientific, not only religious,” he said.
“I do not want to be an accomplice, I do not want to be an instrument, I do not want them to use my technical knowledge to support an ideology, to support a pro-euthanasia culture, to support the commercial, political and ideological interests of people who have intentions contrary to the dignity of man and human dignity, and that are totally unethical,” the Spanish doctor said.
Catholic obstetricians “should recover the value of opposing the attacks against life, of being a sign of contradiction, of calling things by their name, calling evil, evil, and good, good, sin, sin and grace, grace,” he said.