July 1, 1992

How the Doctor Got Gagged

Author Affiliations

Massachusetts General Hospital Boston

JAMA. 1992;268(1):50-51. doi:10.1001/jama.1992.03490010052017

To the Editor.  —I read with interest the article entitled "How the Doctor Got Gagged,"1 in reference to the Rust v Sullivan decision.2 Regardless of opinion on the politically volatile issue of abortion, dictating to a physician what he or she is permitted to say to a patient makes a mockery of the physician-patient relationship. It converts a relationship that is based on trust to one that is based on political views. The "gag rule" justifies lying by mandating the deliberate withholding of information to allow patients to make an informed choice.Even more disconcerting is the discriminatory nature of the ruling. Approximately 3.7 million women will be affected, the majority of whom are poor and a third of whom are minorities. They seek medical care at the Title X clinics because they cannot afford the private ones. The specter of a two-tiered health care system has everyone