In order to attribute everyone on this chain properly, JivinJehoshaphat led me to this article by Christopher Kaczor at First Things referencing the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) published Committee Opinion #385 first released in November of 2007. Whew! That was a mouthful. What this opinion addresses is the concept and practice of conscientious objection by medical professionals to providing certain services in violation to their personally held moral beliefs. In fact the title of the opinion is The Limits of Conscientious Refusal in Reproductive Medicine.
I will try to stay away from some of the aspects on which I am less than clear. Perhaps we can rouse Serge from his other duties long enough to address certain areas of interests like how often these types of opinions are crafted by organizations such as this and how ultimately binding these statements can become if ratified in some formal manner. Mostly I want to touch the things I am qualified to address. The ridiculous attempt by ACOG to sound impartial and scientific while spewing the party line for the pro-abort side to the letter. For example the opinion states:
Finally, the committee proposes a series of recommendations that maximize accommodation of individual’s religious or moral beliefs, while avoiding imposition of those beliefs on others interfering with the safe, timely, and financially feasible to access to reproductive health care that all women deserve.
The ACOG solution is multi-faceted. At best it allows pro-life doctors to refer patients wanting abortions to other doctors that will provide that “reproductive healthcare service” and at it worst it demands that doctors act against their consciences and give women the services they have a “right” to receive from the doctors. Ultimately, ACOG embraces the concept that since we all disagree on whether or not abortion is wrong (among other things like contraception that I will not focus on here) then we must honor the autonomy of women and do what they want. That is a tired and quite frankly intellectually lazy position. No one really knows if it is right or wrong so let the abortions commence and mandate that all doctor participate whether they like it or not!!
So here are the options as briefly as possible. A woman wants or in the broad medical definition of ACOG “needs” “reproductive health services. You as a pro-life doctor can:
Refer her to a doctor that will perform that abortion or give her what she wants unless:
(1) Your refusal impositions her and threatens her autonomy at which time “Conscientious refusal cannot be justified.”
(2) If your refusal causes a potential for harm defined as significant bodily harm, such as pain, disability, or death or a patient’s conception of well being.
(3) Your refusal is based on unscientific reasoning.
(4) Your refusal violates a broad definition of justice and would perpetuate
prejudices such as refusing to provide services or referrals to a woman who is not wealthy enough to have the time to make an appointment to see another doctor. Also included under the social justice provision is the inability to refuse to aid a homosexual couple become pregnant because it reinforces a false perception about the unsoundness of homosexuals as parents.
In addition, you must tell all of your patients your personal convictions not to be involved in the areas you consider immoral, but you are not allowed to discuss why you hold those views because that would be coercive. Finally, you are not allowed to refuse to give referrals to doctors without your moral objections and they even advise you make certain that you locate your practice geographically close to one of those other doctors. All of you pro-life doctors out there need to find the local abortion mill and set up your practice next door so as not to inconvenience your patients or infringe on their constitutional right to terminate the lives of their children in a speedy manner. Absurd!
The moral grounding for this opinion is based in the medical code of ethics that all doctors "agreed" upon when accepting the mantle of OB/GYN. In the words of Super Chicken, “You knew the job was dangerous when you took it, Fred.” ACOG advises you to not work anywhere that you may encounter something that you will have to object to based on your conscience. That is helpful.
The truth about this opinion is that there is nothing new in it by way of argument. It only regurgitates the dumbest pro-choice justifications for why women must be able to get abortions. Their autonomy supercedes all other concerns. Doctors are required to protect the health of the woman from harm including the vague personal “conception of well-being.” (Mental health exception anyone?) You don’t like abortions, don’t take a job where we might make you perform one. Poor people need abortions because they are poor and really do not need to have more children and you cannot deny them that right. Ultimately, you are allowed to feel however you want on these issues, but you have no right to apply your feeling to another’s life. They even pull the “We are scientific!” card out. Give me a break!
I could go on and on about this opinion. How the first justification they offer for the opinion involves the conscientious objection of a pharmacists which they later admit has nothing to do with this opinion. How they address the “do no harm” objection of doctors by arguing that we do not all agree that abortion is harmful. (I sense a presupposition about the humanity of the unborn there) The terrible truth is that ACOG is making it clear to all pro-life and Catholic doctors. Leave your conscience at home people! By deciding to be OB/GYN’s you agreed to cast off your concept of morality for ACOG’s whether you realized that or not.
HT: Jivin Jehoshaphat