Monday, March 02, 2009


I can't help but be concerned about how the upcoming rule change by Obama will impact our world. It's bad enough that we condone so many abortions but now to demand that health workers violate their consciences to further access to murder is just too much like ushering in Hitler II. "I was just following orders".

A heads up from Bobbie Patray of Tennessee's Eagle Forum was in my in box this morning. She quoted from Scientific American:

Advocacy groups last month sued the government over the so-called "right to conscience" rule, charging that it's unlawful.
What kind of world are we living in when the right to conscience will be unlawful? What kind of medical community will we create when it's full of people who are willing to not have one? Or are willing to submit theirs to the powers that be? One that will be closer to Dr. Mengle than the Great Physician who said "Let the little children come unto me..."


N.S. Allen said...

It's important to note that the rule in question merely cut off federal funding for groups that didn't certify that employees were allowed to opt out of procedures they had ethical objections to. By repealing it, Obama isn't stopping any health care provider from having a "right to conscience" rule, themselves. Indeed, the Scientific American article linked notes that, in the case of abortion, federal law already protects workers who refuse to perform or provide referrals for abortions.

So, first of all, this is nowhere near as dramatic as you paint it, in any respect.

More importantly, the idea of a "right to conscience" protection for medical workers - or, really, for any worker in any position - is just silly. I have a hard time believing that anyone who has ever considered such a principle actually thinks it's a good idea.

Obviously, it sounds nice, when the act that conflicts with the worker's conscience happens to be one you oppose, but, in general, it would produce potentially horrifying outcomes. If I'm a doctor who thinks, say, that the sinful behavior of people with STDs deserves punishment, can I invoke my right to conscience and refuse to treat them? If I'm particularly crazy and think that blood transfusions are wrong, can I let a patient die, while the hospital staff rushes to find someone to perform one?

Obviously, these aren't the sort of situations that advocates of "right to conscience" rules have in mind, when they insist that this right is so important. But that's just the point - the odds are good that they would never really support an actual "right to conscience" for doctors. And, if that's the case, they should quit adopting a deceptive, dishonest slogan and just say what they're really campaigning for - special restrictions on abortion and contraception.

T.V. Fritz said...

To the doctors who invoke the "right of conscience," I have terrible news for you.

Under the capitalist system, at invariable points in your lifetime, you will perform acts that are morally unjust in order to be a willing participant in our system.

As N.S. Allen correctly pointed out, "the right of conscience" rule is sticky terrain. If a pharmacist refuses to fill estrogen for medical purposes, then the patient becomes ill, or dies, is the pharmacist in question legally held responsible for his actions?

Kay Brooks said...

It's not silly. It's foundational to the freedoms we hold dear in this nation.

If the military can make accommodations for conscientious objectors during a time of war our health car system can also make accommodations. It requires more planning, obviously. It will likely mean some folks don't get hired or scheduled but taking a stand isn't always free.

If we can create socially responsible investment portfolios...why not hospitals/pharmacies? Ahhh...because 'certificates of need' constrain providing such choices. Let's let folks choose what kind of medical care they want to get.

It's not 'sticky' terrain, it's slippery.

Morally unjust does not equal murder. It's a big's not like we don't have a Walgreen's on every other corner.

T.V. Fritz said...

The Walgreens on every corner is pure hyperbole, of course. In small towns with limited health care access and scope, slippery slope scenarios are more likely to occur.