Pro-life and med school

OK, WITHOUT starting the pro-life debate is there any “pro-life” med schools OR med schools that allow you to opt out of certain portions?

Any suggestions or ideas…please share. I am pro-life and I want to be a doc…the two don’t seem “fully” compatible.


Gwen, there are a number of pro-life students at my med school, as well as student interest group. I’m not sure what things you would specifically be concerned about, other than the obvious assumption that you would prefer not to participate in an abortion. In my area, elective abortions are performed pretty much exclusively at two area clinics, and med students are not required to rotate to those clinics.

If you have more specific questions, let me know and I can ask some of my classmates. We haven’t started rotations yet, but I’m sure they’ve asked about this.

Thanks for responding,

I was really concerned about A and P class… will there be any babies at ANY stage of development or children? I just don’t think I can stomach that. I would be so concerned about how they go to that table. I don’t think my stomach is actually the problem, however my HEART/SOUL is really sensitive to such things. I want to attaend the Catholic Med Schol in Chicago but I don’t want to live around there (plus it’s s expensive) and just because it’s Catholic doesn’t mean it’s pro-life.


Gwen -

It is highly unlikely that you would see any children/babies used as cadavers for med school anatomy classes. For our cardiology module, we did have a lab where infant/child hearts with congenital deformities were demonstrated, but it was optional and most of these hearts were very old (some from the 70s). They mentioned that it is very difficult to obtain these (for obvious reasons).

I don’t think it’s too much of an issue, but when you get to the interview stage, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with asking current med students at those schools about their experiences. Like Denise, I also know several students who are pro-life, and I’ve never heard of it being an issue for anyone.

We had a few very very old specimens of babies with major birth defects, but they were stillborn. That was probably the saddest and most difficult part of anatomy lab for me – picking up and holding a little tiny fetus with anencephaly. She was like a little doll. These specimens were kept in a separate part of the lab and it was not absolutely required that we go see them, but I felt I should. She was certainly not dissected.

All the cadavers used in our anatomy lab were donated with informed consent, and the faculty member in charge of the anatomy lab is very adamant about this. He refuses to go see the Body Worlds exhibit because he’s not certain all those donors consented to be exhibited in that way (and probably also because he’s really seen it all and doesn’t need to see plasticized cadavers riding plasticised horses).

Anatomy lab is required (at least, passing it is. You can get away without attending), but the animal labs we do in physiology are not really required. The school does try to be kind of sensitive to controversial issues.

I had the unfortunate experience of being in the autopsy lab when a docotor was performing an autopsy on an infant/stillborn.

We were huddled on our cadaver but I still caught glimpses of what the other doctor was doing.

The images still haunt me today, and I am the least queasiest person by the standard norm.

Oh and to top it off I wasn’t even in Med school then (and neither am…yet)!!!