This Monday’s broadcast from Focus on the Family will highlight the issue of the right of conscience, which allows physicians, hospitals and other providers to refuse to engage in procedures, such as abortion or assisted suicide, which they find morally unacceptable,.

I was fortunate to be present at Focus on the Family when the show was taped, and I found it to be an excellent discussion of this issue.  Especially chilling were examples cited of physicians harrassed, denied residency positions or fired due to their committment to honoring their own moral standards.

I’m posting a link so that you can find a station and time, listen to the broadcast, and tell your friends to do the same.  There will also be some audience discussion posted online, though not included in the actual broadcast.

Here’s the link: 

As I mentioned before, the current administration will not continue the conscience protections afforded under the Bush administration.  Although President Obama suggests he will not alter physician conscience rights, the ball is steadily rolling in that direction.

The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology has already made suggestions that perhaps board certification might be in danger for physicians who refuse to perform abortions.

As an emergency physician, I know that all things roll in my direction, so I wonder how long it will be until my specialty is pulled into this mess.  Some EM docs have already been censured for refusing to provide post-coital contraception, i.e. Plan B; hardly a life-threatening emergency, to be sure.
At what point is our conscience no longer relevant?  At what point do we cease to be physicians, and become simply automatons who do exactly what the patient wants?  And while this may seem convenient in the case of abortion, or even assisted suicide, what happens when our patients demand unnecessary surgery?  What happens when someone insists on a large prescription for oral morphine, so that she can continue a destructive habit?  When do we say ‘no’ because we believe that a course of action is wrong?

The striking irony is that Americans are deeply concerned about so many ethical issues.  Americans are worried about the ethics of torture.  They are concerned that we use resources ethically.  Especially on the political and cultural left, people would be aghast at the idea of forcing an atheist to attend a worship service ‘because his neighbors want him to go.’

And yet, here we are, as the administration of the most free nation on earth considers whether or not to violate the morals of their care-givers.

Strange times indeed.

Please pass the link along.  And if you agree with the danger of this issue, please contact your representatives and the White House and express your concern, or outrage, however you see it.

And remember, even if you disagree on the ethics of abortion or assisted suicide, can you really disagree on whether a physician should be forced to engage in those acts in violation of his values?  In violation of her very faith?
Give it some thought.

God bless you all richly!


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