The Right to Abstain from Murder


President Bush has given one last shout out to all the babies in the womb. On December 18th, he recently signed into legislation a group of measures that are known as the “conscience rule.”

Essentially, these measures further protect health care workers from being discriminated against for refusing to participate in the killing of other innocent human beings.  And that’s not just surgical abortions, but other procedures as well.  (Yes – morning after pills, RU-486, in vitro fertilization, birth control pills and others are all designed in one way or another to end an innocent human life and often do.)

It’s a bit strange that we need such rules. But, unfortunately, our country has yet to recognize the human rights of unborn humans. This, of course, is very convenient for those who find the existence of these unborn humans…well, inconvenient.

Previous discrimination laws already protected such workers from performing abortions.  These new laws will help protect them from having to participate in other forms of harming and ending human life (wait – I thought the Hippocratic Oath was supposed to cover that already?). Either way, technically, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 is supposed to already protect every American from discrimination if they refuse to take part in activities that are religiously or morally objectionable.

Yes – I know it’s hard to believe.  But I – as well as many other Christians, Muslims, Jews, atheists, agnostics, scientists, Americans, and humans – find it morally objectionable to willfully participate in the killing of innocent human life.

The saddest part is that there are many who believe differently.

The strange part is that while we now have a law that protects us from losing our job if we refuse to help kill an innocent human, we have yet to pass a law that protects these same humans from being killed.

And if Obama has anything to say about it (which he will in a few weeks) it is very likely that he will repeal many aspects of this conscience rule – leaving many doctors, medical workers, clinics and hospitals with no choice but to shut down and quit or to provide morally objectionable services (you know…that whole killing innocent humans part again).

Even worse, as I commented on here, Obama has promised to pass the Freedom of Choice Act.  This will not only void many of these conscience laws but will set the pro-life movement back decades in numerous ways.

We are, indeed, on the brink of change.  I’m not sure if it was the change many were voting for.

6 comments Add comment

Colleen December 30, 2008 at 6:06 pm

Agree with your post. I have to say that the Freedom of Choice Act scares me. I wonder of pro-life medical workers will be able to apply to be conscientious objectors? I mean, will they have no rights as pertains to their religion and moral conscience?

Kelly Garner December 30, 2008 at 6:30 pm

God Bless President Bush and I pray Obama is moved to do the right thing.

John December 30, 2008 at 10:15 pm

As a member of the health care field, I’m in agreement that discrimination against medical workers due to their refusal to participate in a procedure on religious grounds is clearly wrong. That said, it is incumbent upon health care professionals to be up-front and clear with patients and colleagues about their beliefs when they may directly impact patient care, to avoid situations where people “suddenly” discover that said professional has a moral problem with something that’s about to take place. “Abrupt” statements in that setting don’t lead to positive change, only destructive conflict.

Phil December 31, 2008 at 12:08 am

Interesting post Matt. While I agree with you to a certain extent (you know where I stand on the issue), there may be some ramifications to allowing Medical professionals the right to refuse treatment based on morals or religion. There could be precidents set that open pandoras box. For example, what if a doctor decides that it is against his morals to treat a murderer and that individual dies as a result? What if a doctor refuses to treat a convicted child molestor or rapist? Some jobs need to be done without passion or prejudice, i.e. Bernie Madoff’s lawyer.

I like John’s idea, but taken a step further. If the “conscience rule” remains in effect, these moral conflicts should all be outed on a job application as yes/no questions. Then there would be no surprises. Hiring managers would know ahead of time that someone may refuse to do their job based on personal beliefs.

Matthew Warner December 31, 2008 at 9:22 am

I agree mostly with that, Phil and John. But that’s the way a lot of freedoms work in our country. It takes a little bit of common sense and good will on everyone’s part.

We often use words in our system like “reasonable” (doubt) and “cruel and unusual” etc. These are very subjective words. And we have to use prudence when applying them or the system breaks down.

With these conscience laws, I think it’s reasonable to expect medical workers to understand certain types of situations they will be faced with in their jobs and for them to be able to declare the obvious ones up front. However, an individual’s moral and religious state is not a static thing – people grow, change, learn, go through conversion, etc….and often do so when they are finally faced with the reality of certain immoral acts – not when filling out a job application ahead of time. Should they then lose their job because of that? I suppose a case could be made either way.

All that aside – I think those are good points to the topic – but I’m not sure that is at all the issue truly in play. I’m sure that’s happened before, but from what I’ve heard – abrupt changes of heart, surprises,etc- have not really been the problem. And definitely seems like something that could be worked out in a way other than by forcing people to comply.

These laws are a reaction to a concerted effort by the abortion lobby and community to push their beliefs onto others and further promote abortion-on-demand in our country.

John January 7, 2009 at 9:41 pm

Excellent points, Matthew. It is very true that a medical professional’s views and beliefs can change in the midst of their practice. My point was focused more on individual doctor-patient encounters, and not on the overall employment contract perspective. If feel that they shouldn’t lose their job because of a chance of heart, but that if said change puts them at odds with an aspect of their current job, they should leave that position.

In terms of “surprises,” I was doing a poor job of referring to health care workers in a situation where a patient is getting an abortion “suddenly” refusing to assist in the process on religious or moral grounds, in order to make a statement or be an activist. Admittedly an extreme and rare example, but it has happened.

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