A Moral Crisis in Medicine: An Obstetrician Takes a Stand for Life (Transcript)

Dr. James Dobson: Well, hello, everyone. I'm James Dobson, and you're listening to Family Talk, a listener supported ministry. In fact, thank you so much for being part of that support for James Dobson Family Institute.

Roger Marsh: Hello, everyone. I'm Roger Marsh. And yesterday here on Family Talk, Dr. Dobson spoke with Janet Porter about the Texas Heartbeat Act that the Supreme Court refused to block earlier this month. Even though the battle isn't over, this ruling is a momentous victory for the pro-life movement. Dr. Dobson has been fighting for life since the passage of Roe v. Wade back in 1973. Well, today on the broadcast, we are bringing you another interview on the topic of the sanctity of life that Dr. Dobson recorded back in 2017 with Dr. Robert Lawler.

Dr. Lawler is a board-certified obstetrician, OBGYN, who is currently practicing at a women's care clinic in Lombard, Illinois. Dr. Lawler has been caring for patients in his community for over 20 years. He's an active member of the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists and is dedicated to the wellness of every single one of his patients, including little babies in the womb. Even though this interview was recorded a few years ago, the legal case that Dr. Dobson and Dr. Lawler are going to discuss is actually still going on.

In fact, Dr. Lawler and some of his fellow physicians are suing the State of Illinois in a clear test of religious freedom, medical ethics, and moral conscience. I am sure that Dr. Lawler and his colleagues would covet your prayers during their litigation right now. Let's listen in now, as Dr. Dobson is joined by Dr. Robert Lawler via phone.

Dr. James Dobson: Today, we're honored to have Dr. Robert Lawler with us. He's a distinguished obstetrician and gynecologist at Good Samaritan Hospital in Illinois. I think Chicago. He's been with other prestigious medical institutions through the years. In fact, for 25 years, he's been delivering babies and caring for pregnant women, and I have great respect for him. I've heard about him before. This is the first time that we've had an opportunity to get acquainted. I will introduce him to you in a moment.

He is a member of the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Many of those men and women are my friends. I have spoken for that organization in the past. I just was delighted to learn that he is one of them. Dr. Lawler's practice is in the State of Illinois where the legislature there has passed an egregious bill.

It's almost breathtaking to recognize what they have done, which was a law signed now by Governor Bruce Rauner, that requires physicians and pharmacists and pregnancy resource centers to urge pregnant women if they ask to be referred to abortion clinics told how to get to them, and also be given information and urging to get an abortion as the best option for that woman. Even those who are pro-life must also try to influence women who seek abortion regardless of their own moral convictions.

Dr. Robert Lawler is one of those physicians that is determined to save as many babies as he can. Let me introduce him. Now, he's had 25 years of experience, as I said. He loves his patients and loves what God has called him to do, and yet now he's being forced to do things that he feels are an unethical, immoral, and evil. Dr. Lawler, thank you for being with us today and for your fighting the battle on behalf of unborn children. You're on the phone with us now. It's a pleasure to have you here.

Dr. Robert Lawler: Well, thank you for having me, Dr. Dobson. It's a pleasure to be here. Yes, in January of this year, our governor, Governor Rauner, signed a law which was an amendment to the Health Care Right of Conscience Act, which was a response to the original Roe v. Wade which protected physicians and healthcare providers, pharmacists from having to violate their conscious, their religiously held beliefs, and their medical beliefs as it pertained to the child in the womb. This amendment, in essence, gutted the Conscience Act.

What was most egregious about it, Dr. Dobson, was that what this amendment wanted us to do, the pregnancy resource centers throughout Chicagoland and throughout the State of Illinois, it wanted us, if asked, to provide these abortion-minded women not only referral for an abortion, but also a written list of where they might be able to procure the abortion and then to discuss the benefits of having an abortion. And as a medical doctor, I can tell you, in my opinion, there are no benefits to abortion.

Dr. James Dobson: I heard you interviewed by Tucker Carlson on this subject. You said that you have two patients when there is a pregnancy. Explain what you said there.

Dr. Robert Lawler: Right. I think everybody, all your listeners, everyone throughout the country would agree that as an obstetrician, I have two patients. I have the mother and I have the baby in her womb. What, in essence, this amendment was asking me to do was to refer one of my patients, the baby, off to be executed, and the other patient, the mother, to refer her off for a lifetime of regret, psychological trauma, and physical trauma in many occasions.

Dr. James Dobson: As a pro-life physician, you simply can't do that, can you?

Dr. Robert Lawler: I could not comply. I think and I know that the framers of this amendment knew that when they put this forth. They knew that doctors, healthcare providers, pharmacists of conscience could never agree to comply with this type of coercion.

Dr. James Dobson: What if the woman doesn't ask for that advice and that information? Can you show her an ultrasound of her baby?

Dr. Robert Lawler: That is really is right at the crux of this. I think what we are doing at these pregnancy resource centers is we are showing the couple, sometimes just the mother, the humanity that lives within her. I know it sounds very simple, but we know that once that mother or that father sees the baby, they see the hands, they see the fingers, they see the profile, that the likelihood of them going through with an abortion drops dramatically.

Dr. James Dobson: Dr. Lawler, share some of the stories that you've seen or heard firsthand with the women who have been your patients and you've chosen to help them keep their child and decide abortion is not the only way in their minds.

Dr. Robert Lawler: Oh boy. I would love this share one story of a young lady who came in with her boyfriend, and they were heading to the abortion clinic. They had stopped by the pregnancy resource center, and I was actually the one doing the ultrasounds that day. I started to show the various body parts of their baby, and this baby put on a show for both mother and father. One of the things that I'll always remember is, one, the baby I could tell was a boy, and two, this child opened up its hands and you could see all five digits.

I looked and I said, "Oh my goodness gracious! This child is going to be an incredible athlete. Look at the hands on that child." The young man, who was sitting in the corner all grumpy, kind of looked up and he looked at the screen. He opened up his hand. He looked in his hand and he looked at the hand of his son on the screen. He looked at his little young girlfriend and he said, "We can't kill our baby." I thought to myself, "Thank you, Lord." They did not go through with the abortion, and they did deliver a beautiful baby boy.

I think that's what is so powerful about these pregnancy resource centers. We're offering the truth. We're offering true compassion and concern and support. I think that this law, this amendment here in Illinois, basically is an attempt to silence the pro-life voice because we are winning the battle of hearts and minds.

Dr. James Dobson: What kind of struggle is going on there? Is there an outcry over what the legislature has done?

Dr. Robert Lawler: Yes. I think, praise the Lord, that shortly after we went on the Tucker Carlson show in June, approximately three weeks after that, on July 19th, we did have a federal judge step in and put forth a preliminary injunction. Because prior to that, we were unable to operate because all of these pregnancy resource centers are strictly voluntary. They are funded by donations. We don't have the deep pockets of a Planned Parenthood. We don't have government subsidies of a Planned Parenthood. We got a federal injunction statewide.

We have resumed operations and we are saving lives. We're making a difference because we're offering alternatives to abortion. It's not just enough to tell a young scared girl not to have an abortion. You have to back that up with material goods, with education, and with spiritual support.

Dr. James Dobson: Are there other states that you know of who are doing the same thing?

Dr. Robert Lawler: Well, I think there are. California has a very strong, not surprising, pro-abortion laws that are very similar to Illinois and a lot on the West Coast, Oregon, likewise. But the point being, and to your point, Dr. Dobson, is that this law is so one-sided, it actually is asking us to materially cooperate in what we feel is an intrinsically evil act.

Also, it's asking me as a physician who took an oath to, first, do no harm, to protect my patient, it's asking me to put that aside and refer my patient for something that I know is going to harm her and harm her baby.

Dr. James Dobson: Obviously you just can't do that.

Dr. Robert Lawler: Just can't. I cannot comply with that.

Dr. James Dobson: Prior to this injunction that you mentioned, are there penalties for not following the law?

Dr. Robert Lawler: Yes, and that's why before the injunction, we had to suspend operations at these pregnancy resource centers because we simply could not afford a fine, or we could not afford to litigate it ourselves.

Dr. James Dobson: For how long did that go on?

Dr. Robert Lawler: Well, between when the law became effect on January 1 through July 19th. There was a small statewide injunction that covered three pregnancy centers that came out in March. But it wasn't until this federal judge stepped in and said, "No, stop this. This is so one-sided that we need to litigate it first, and then let the chips fall where they may."

Dr. James Dobson: What was a reaction to your interview with Tucker Carlson?

Dr. Robert Lawler: Very positive for the most part. Lots of support from folks from all 50 states saying, "This cannot stand." Maybe they're not on board with everything I said or we were doing, but they get the fact that this is such an overreach of state mandated regulation of medical physicians.

Dr. James Dobson: Has the press been critical of you?

Dr. Robert Lawler: To some extent, I mean, as they are of any pro-life advocate. It kind of goes with the territory, doesn't it? But that's okay. I think that in the end, we have the truth on our side. We provide true informed consent. The other side provides deception. We offer hope and they offer misery. I think that, like I said, prior, this law is an attempt to silence the pro-life voice and it's just not going to work.

Dr. James Dobson: Do I understand that you are suing the governor and the legislature?

Dr. Robert Lawler: That is correct. With the help of the attorneys at the Thomas More Society, we filed lawsuit against Governor Rauner and the state of Illinois, and that is the litigation that is going through the court system at this point in time. We want to convince, of course, the judges that this law is unconstitutional, that this law is clearly a violation of the First Amendment, and that it needs to be struck down. That is our sincere hope. Because like I said prior, if this law is allowed to stand, then what next? It's a very slippery slope, isn't it?

There is no doubt that religious liberties are currently under attack. And indeed, the family is under attack. I can't think of anything more destructive to the family than this terrible procedure, the termination of one of our fellow human beings.

Dr. James Dobson: Have you always had this courage to take on the establishment in this regard? I mean, is this something new for you, or have you fought for the unborn child all along?

Dr. Robert Lawler: It's been sort of in my genome, I guess. It's always been something that I felt very strongly about. I think as I grew in my faith, it became even more evident. I'm truly of the belief that if we cannot protect the most vulnerable amongst us, the very, very small the baby in the womb and the elderly in the nursing home or the down syndrome child, if we can't protect the most vulnerable amongst us, how in the world are we ever really going to achieve any type of peace, any type of equality? It just can't happen because there's a disconnect there.

You can't at one time arbitrarily say, "Life has intrinsic value," and then at the other time say, "You know what, I don't want this life right now. Please take it out." I think there's this notion in the country, Dr. Dobson, that we're trying to make abortion somehow palatable. We're trying to make it a nice procedure, and I'm here to tell the country it's not a nice procedure. The analogy I have used is that this is kicking down the door of a house. It's killing the occupant of the house, and then it's dragging that dead occupant out and discarding them in the dumpster.

Dr. Robert Lawler: And if that offends some of our sensibilities, then it should, because that's what's taking place.

Dr. James Dobson: Are there penalties for not following this law if you lose the case?

Dr. Robert Lawler: The answer, of course, is yes and to what degree would they enforce those penalties, or as some have suggested on the other side, well, maybe you should just consider doing something else if you have such a big problem with killing the baby in the womb.

Dr. James Dobson: There's no compassion in that at all, is there?

Dr. Robert Lawler: There is none. We know we are better than that. We are so much better than that. Thanks to people like yourself, Dr. Dobson, people throughout the country are made aware of that. There is a lot of good in this country. We know that, but abortion is one of those situations where it's just pure evil and it needs to be stopped.

Dr. James Dobson: We had Janet Porter on our program. She is a pro-life activist who is fighting tirelessly in the Congress to get the Heartbeat Bill passed. And that will make a radical change if the Congress should do it.

Dr. Robert Lawler: Absolutely. Because like we talked earlier, ultrasound is showing the human nature of this baby in the womb. I think we all know that, of course, it's a baby in the womb. But when we see these 3D images, when we see that heartbeat, when we see the arms moving, the digits of the fingers, you can't deny the humanity and to say, "You know what? It's okay to just indiscriminately kill that other person," is clearly wrong.

Dr. Dobson, if history has taught us anything, it is that if you look back over the genocides, the Holocaust of our histories, the first thing, if you want to kill a lot of humans in lots of numbers, the first thing you do is you dehumanize them and then you can kill them in the millions. And since Roe v. Wade became the law of the land, 60 million of our brothers and sisters have been exterminated in this country alone. How many wonderful human beings have been snuffed out?

How many brilliant doctors or scientists or thinkers have been eliminated from our society? Is it even possible today to consider a world without abortion? What would that world look like? I think it would be a kinder place.

Dr. James Dobson: I wish everyone among our listeners who has compassion for children could have the privilege of seeing babies born. I was given that privilege many times at USC when I was a graduate student in child development. I tell you, how you could kill a little fellow or girl like that, I just cannot imagine the lack of understanding and compassion that so many people have. They'll do anything to kill, to promote abortion, and that's what they're doing here. They know that they're stepping over the line, but they think they can get away with it.

Dr. Robert Lawler: Absolutely. I don't know. I know we have to pray for those people, Dr. Dobson. It is such a financially lucrative industry and it has government support. When you think about abortion and you think about women who present for an abortion, it's as though the baby has become an inconvenience, and that's what they're afraid of. Many of them don't believe there is another way out.

And that's where these pregnancy resource centers throughout Chicagoland and throughout the country, that's where they play such a vital role in giving these young women, many of them young women, the opportunity to choose a different path.

Dr. James Dobson: Dr. Lawler, we're out of time. I just want to thank you. I want to ask our listeners to pray for you in this struggle. It's a matter of life and death. The book of Deuteronomy, I believe it's the 30th chapter 19th verse says, "Behold, I set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Therefore, choose life that you and your children may live." And that says it all as far as I'm concerned. Our prayers will be with you. I would love to get better acquainted with you. Thank you for being my guest and for what you're doing. I believe you're going to win this. I believe the Lord is going to help you prevail.

Dr. Robert Lawler: I believe that too.

Dr. James Dobson: I pray that that will occur because there's only one right and wrong here, and what has been imposed on you is definitely wrong. I know you feel that.

Dr. Robert Lawler: Yes. Thank you.

Roger Marsh: You've been listening to Dr. Robert Lawler, an obstetrician and OB/GYN, and his conversation with Dr. James Dobson here on Family Talk. I'm Roger Marsh. Now, if you are unable to hear this interview in its entirety, you can go to our website and click on the broadcast page at drjamesdobson.org and listen to the full interview. If you'd like, you can also download it as well and share it with your family and friends. Now, I'm sure you've been touched by this powerful interview that focused on the fight for life.

It is a struggle, and we would ask for your prayers and support as we seek to continue to speak for those who cannot speak for themselves. Would you prayerfully consider how you could support the work of Family Talk financially right now? Your generous gift allows us to create messages and other resources to strengthen your marriage, your family, and your walk with Christ. You can make your tax deductible donation securely online at drjamesdobson.org. You can also call in your donation at (877) 732-6825. Again, (877) 732-6825.

Thanks for listening to our broadcast today and be sure to join us again. Next time for another edition of Dr. James Dobson's Family Talk. For all of us here at Family Talk, I'm Roger Marsh. Thanks so much for listening.

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