Commentary by Dominique Monlezun and Kristan Hawkins
Get the pitchforks out — America is hunting physicians. Instead of calling off the dogs, President Obama is leading the charge. In March of 2009, Obama called to rescind the conscience protection clause that was implemented by Health and Human Services on January 20, 2009. Then he adamantly backed the passage of the healthcare reform law, which leaves physicians’ conscience rights open for attack from nearly all sides.
Why should you care about the conscience rights of doctors? Because whether doctors have conscience rights may determine whether you have a doctor.
The sacred doctor-patient relationship is based on the assumption that patients and their doctors share similar moral beliefs. Patients want doctors who can help them make informed decisions within our moral frame of reference because they share our values. And physicians want to be able to follow their consciences when they practice medicine and have the power to say “no” to certain medical procedures without having to fear being reprimanded or losing their jobs.
That’s not a hypothetical situation. The Washington Post noted that Obamacare does not protect medical professionals opposed to a procedure like abortion from discrimination by federal, state, and local governments, nor from hospitals and clinics. This means that if a physician refuses to perform an abortion because it violates her conscience, she could lose her job and have no recourse.
Catherina Cenzon-DeCarlo knows this all too well. This New York nurse was forced by her supervisors to help abort a 22-week-old preborn baby at Mount Sinai Hospital, despite her long-standing agreement with the hospital allowing her to opt out of abortion procedures. She states, “It felt like a horror film unfolding … I felt violated and betrayed.”
Starting in 2009 and continuing until today, polls have shown that most Americans oppose abortion. Amid the growing pro-life atmosphere in America, Obama supports a double standard that tells pro-life medical professionals that they cannot exercise their free will and conscience rights, while patients desiring abortions can.
But isn’t America just catching up to the times and is this not the situation across the world? No. For example, the Irish Medical Council’s 2004 Guide to Ethical Conduct and Behavior states: “Medical care must not be used as a tool of the State, to be granted or withheld or altered in character under political pressure. Doctors require independence from such pressures in order to carry out their duties.”
The nation is already facing a shortage of doctors and nurses. Because of Obamacare, millions more patients will be flooding the system in coming years. In an online survey of nearly 3,000 faith-based physicians, 95% of them said they would stop practicing Medicine rather than violate their conscience. And the New England Journal of Medicine published a survey that said one-third of all physicians would stop practicing if Obamacare was passed.
Where will patients go when doctors are forced out of their profession?
We must tell President Obama to call off the dogs. He preaches tolerance but does not tolerate medical professionals who decline procedures on religious or moral grounds. As long as these physicians are portrayed as inhuman monsters, government agencies and organizations will hunt them down with the pitchforks of lawsuits.
Dominique Monlezun is entering Tulane School of Medicine next fall. He is the National Coordinator of Medical Students for Life, a division of Students for Life of America. Kristan Hawkins is the Executive Director of Students for Life of America. Learn more at www.medSFL.org.