The administration of Mayo Clinic-Franciscan Healthcare has stated their intent to inform physicians that they have a legal obligation to discuss the option of abortion with pregnant women. There is no legal requirement for physicians to discuss abortion as an option. In fact, both Wisconsin and federal laws actually protect hospitals and physicians from being forced to participate in, assist with or recommend an abortion. The specific Wisconsin statute and a sample federal statute follow.
Wisconsin Statutes §253.09
253.09. Abortion refused; no liability; no discrimination
(1) No hospital shall be required to admit any patient or to allow the use of the hospital facilities for the purpose of performing a sterilization procedure or removing a human embryo or fetus. A physician or any other person who is a member of or associated with the staff of a hospital, or any employee of a hospital in which such a procedure has been authorized, who shall state in writing his or her objection to the performance of or providing assistance to such a procedure on moral or religious grounds shall not be required to participate in such medical procedure, and the refusal of any such person to participate therein shall not form the basis of any claim for damages on account of such refusal or for any disciplinary or recriminatory action against such person.
(2) No hospital or employee of any hospital shall be liable for any civil damages resulting from a refusal to perform sterilization procedures or remove a human embryo or fetus from a person, if such refusal is based on religious or moral precepts.
(3) No hospital, school or employer may discriminate against any person with regard to admission, hiring or firing, tenure, term, condition or privilege of employment, student status or staff status on the ground that the person refuses to recommend, aid or perform procedures for sterilization or the removal of a human embryo or fetus, if the refusal is based on religious or moral precepts.
(4) The receipt of any grant, contract, loan or loan guarantee under any state or federal law does not authorize any court or any public official or other public authority to require:
(a) Such individual to perform or assist in the performance of any sterilization procedure or removal of a human embryo or fetus if the individual’s performance or assistance in the performance of such a procedure would be contrary to the individual’s religious beliefs or moral convictions; or
(b) Such entity to:
1. Make its facilities available for the performance of any sterilization procedure or removal of a human embryo or fetus if the performance of such a procedure in such facilities is prohibited by the entity on the basis of religious beliefs or moral convictions; or
2. Provide any personnel for the performance or assistance in the performance of any sterilization procedure or assistance if the performance or assistance in the performance of such procedure or the removal of a human embryo or fetus by such personnel would be contrary to the religious beliefs or moral convictions of such personnel.
Sample federal law:
42 U.S.C.A. §238n
(a) In general
The Federal Government, and any State or local government that receives Federal financial assistance, may not subject any health care entity to discrimination on the basis that–
(1) the entity refuses to undergo training in the performance of induced abortions, to require or provide such training, to perform such abortions, or to provide referrals for such training or such abortions;
(2) the entity refuses to make arrangements for any of the activities specified in paragraph (1); or
(3) the entity attends (or attended) a post-graduate physician training program, or any other program of training in the health professions, that does not (or did not) perform induced abortions or require, provide or refer for training in the performance of induced abortions, or make arrangements for the provision of such training.
For purposes of this section:
(1) The term “financial assistance”, with respect to a government program, includes governmental payments provided as reimbursement for carrying out health-related activities.
(2) The term “health care entity” includes an individual physician, a postgraduate physician training program, and a participant in a program of training in the health professions.
(3) The term “postgraduate physician training program” includes a residency training program.