Thursday, March 26, 2009

The End of Hippocratic Medicine

It is troubling that I write about the assault on conscience legislation that was intended to protect doctors and health-care workers from retaliation based on their opposition to abortion, sterilization, and euthanasia. This fight wasn't started by those in the Pro-Life movement, but by extremist ideologues who are trying to force an abortion mandate on thousands of doctors who feel that elective convenience killing of fetuses and the elderly is wrong. These same abortion lobbyist, interestingly, also have a vested interest in the billions of dollars that they receive from government to perform abortions and abortion-related services in the U.S.

Turning doctors into vending machines for quick-fix immoral solutions to tragic mistakes will further plunge the profession into a status of a mere skilled technicians of whom you always have to worry that somebody else (e.g., the government) isn't paying more for your death than you are paying for your health.

Here's some illustrative quotes from a recent NEJM article that was published today:

"Health care providers — and all those whose jobs affect patient care — should cast off the cloak of conscience when patients' needs demand it."

The snarky use of the word 'cloak' here implicates malicious and covert intent on the part of doctors who refuse to take part in abortion. It's part of an ideology that has made it a moral right to be able to kill one's offspring, and assumes that anybody who disagrees on the grounds conscience or morality must have an underlying malicious intent (since, of course, abortion is perfectly moral and a righteous shibboleth of 'modern,' 'civilized' society).

Or ironically: "We have created a state of "conscience creep" in which all behavior becomes acceptable."

And then come out the hyperbolic reductio ad absurdum scare tactics:

"Taken to its logical extreme, the rule could cause health care to grind to a halt."

The author concedes there are reasonable grounds for Right of Conscience laws such as avoiding conscription into the military, but the elective abortion of a down syndrome child is simply too much tolerance; a tolerance that risks the total collapse of healthcare globally.

Crispin Sartwell a Pro-Choice Atheist said this in the Los Angeles Times last fall:

"The extent to which an institution seeks to expunge individual conscience and moral autonomy is the extent to which it is totalitarian and dangerous. The idea that I resign my conscience to the institution or to the state is perhaps the single most pernicious notion in human history. It is at the heart of the wars and genocides of this century and the last."

It was doctors who led the eugenics and genocide movements in Nazi Germany; doctors who met the prisoners at Auschwitz and signaled to the right or to the left. I hope the profession never violates the moral conscience of its members, but if it does then Medicine will aquire the distrust and reprobation that it will deserve. I am sorry to find myself in this sad state, but I am confident that Doctors and Patients will stand up together to oppose this possible oppressive action by the Obama administration.

Some Background information:

  • CMDA Informal Member Survey: 25% have been discriminated against - lost a job, lost a promotion or lost an educational opportunity; 40% have been pressured to violate their conscience, 90% say the problem is getting worst.
  • Right of Conscience is guaranteed in the First Amendment of the Bill of Rights - "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof"
  • The present laws are being ignored since there is no provision to enforce them.
  • Pro-abortion groups are attempting to force healthcare professionals to participate in activities they are morally opposed to or leave medicine. These regulations are needed more than ever.
  • A medical referral means you endorse the competency, ethics and integrity of the doctor you refer to, believe the procedure is necessary and that you have entered into a professional relationship. Patients don't need a referral to find someone to do an abortion, just a phone book.
  • Healthcare professionals of conscience have not been doing objectionable activities in the past so these regulations will not limit access for patients. The greatest danger to patient access is to force out of work up to a quarter of healthcare professionals.
  • You provide full and accurate information to patients even when they request something you won't do. You treat them courteously.
  • Professional and other ethical statements support your position.
    • American Medical Association - AMA reaffirms that neither physician, hospital, nor hospital personnel shall be required to perform any act violative of personally held moral principles.
    • World Health Organization - The physician should be free to make clinical and ethical judgments without inappropriate outside interference.
    • Canadian Medical Association - The CMA stresses that physicians who decline to participate in abortion should not be discriminated against, and emphasizes the need to respect the rights of conscientious objectors, especially those in training for obstetrics and gynecology, and anesthesia.
    • European Convention on Human Rights - Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes… freedom …to manifest his religion or belief in worship, teaching, practice and observance.
  • This is more than the issue of abortion. Should we force pacifist to kill or doctors to participate in executions? What about forcing them to participate in physician-assisted suicide where it is legalized?

There is much more information on and CMDA's websites. Act today, don't delay. You may submit more than one comment as you address different parts of HHS's request.

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