In this era of ever-changing values, Christians must not change who they are nor what they believe; they must stand strong for Biblical truths.
On Jan. 5, a now former member of the New Mexico Medical Society (NMMS) did just that after physician-assisted suicide and pro-abortion legislation was officially endorsed by the society.
When Gregg Schmedes, a New Mexico state representative and physician, heard about the endorsements of the NMMS, he was appalled. As a follower of Jesus Christ, he knew these endorsements were not right, so he appealed to the society to change their stance. But after his appeal was rejected, he knew he had a decision to make—remain part of the NMMS or resign his membership.
“It was a hard decision because I knew it would bring a big spotlight on issues that are divisive, such as abortion and assisted suicide,” Schmedes said. “I also realized that as far as the medical society goes, I am in the minority on these pro-life views.” But being in the minority didn’t prevent Schmedes from standing for the truth and ultimately resigning his membership with the NMMS.
“I regret to announce my immediate resignation from the New Mexico Medical Society,” Schmedes wrote in his official resignation statement in the days that followed. “The society has stood to ‘uphold the principles of medical ethics of the American Medical Association’ per its published mission statement. However, the society recently resolved to diverge from the AMA’s long-standing position on physician-assisted suicide (i.e., aid in dying) and also endorsed a repeal of New Mexico’s only explicit abortion-related conscience protections. The society’s departure from its standard and own mission statement leaves me no choice but to part ways.”
Schmedes’ decision to resign didn’t come easily as he’d been a member for years. But he knew it had to be done. Though the NMMS was understanding of his decision, they asked him to reconsider. In response, Schmedes replied: “I have to stand up for what I believe in and what I think is right without violating my principles, and I cannot consciously pay dues in a society that is endorsing pro-abortion legislation.”
In fear that Roe v. Wade could be overturned by the Supreme Court, the House Consumer and Public Affairs Committee voted 3-2 along party lines to pass House Bill 51, which would decriminalize abortion in New Mexico. If made law, the bill would repeal a 1969 law that criminalized the receiving and performing of abortion. According to the New Mexico Political Report, “New Mexico is one of nine states with a statute criminalizing abortion. The landmark Roe v. Wade U.S. Supreme Court decision made the state law unenforceable.”
According to Schmedes, even with New York’s latest Reproductive Health Act, Vermont’s proposed Freedom of Choice Act, and Virginia’s attempt to legalize third trimester abortions for women if their health is threatened by the pregnancy, New Mexico’s abortion legislation is one of “the most radical abortion bills in any state legislature right now.”
The proposed legislation would legalize abortion all the way up to birth, even if the woman is in labor but the child has not been born. “Basically, we have no restrictions now,” Schmedes said. “House Bill 51 would formally legalize abortion in New Mexico, but once again without any additional protections or anything. This bill will make it legal for a woman who’s in labor to have an abortion … and even if Roe v. Wade goes away, this bill would make full-term abortion completely legal.”
In addition, Schmedes said, “this bill has essentially lifted all regulations.” Currently, there’s a requirement that abortion has to be performed by a licensed physician. But the proposed legislation would remove language that enforces such practice. So now the question is—Could abortions be performed by an unlicensed physician? A nurse practitioner? Someone else?
Right now, the law says that if you’re a doctor, you don’t have to participate in abortions if conscientiously objecting. However, the proposed legislation “removes the whole conscience protection clause in this bill, so doctors are vulnerable,” Schmedes said. “They have no conscience protection.”
When Schmedes resigned from the NMMS, he didn’t foresee the amount of attention that would come and the overwhelming response of people thanking him for taking a stand.
Travis Wussow, vice president of public policy and research for the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, commented on the New Mexico legislation: “We are alarmed by the New Mexico Medical Society’s repeal of conscience exemptions from participating in abortion and endorsement of physician-assisted suicide. … No healthcare professional should have to compromise their deeply held beliefs in order to administer care. This ought to be true whether caring for someone at the beginning of their life or while they near the end.”
This radical bill made it near impossible for Schmedes to not take a stand for the truth. “My faith is the cornerstone of all that I do,” Schmedes said. “It is the reference point through which I make all my decisions. It’s the guiding light of how I disciple my children. It is the driver of accountability with my marriage in how I honor and treat and love my wife. And of course, in my work it’s my only true source of wisdom that I can stand on. It’s a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.”
To those who may be faced with tough decisions and are being challenged to stand for what is true, Schmedes said, “I would say just go speak the truth. There’s no shame in standing up for what’s true because the truth is not predicated on other people’s opinions. It’s predicated on what you know to be true,” he explained.
“There’s nothing wrong with being a light in a dark place. And if you have the truth on your side in that conviction, then you should stand up for what you believe in—even if you’re the only one.”