Wintery Knight

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

An overlooked issue in the 2012 election: conscience rights

I found this post on Well Spent Journey. The author is a future physician.

He writes:

This issue is sometimes overlooked, but it goes hand-in-hand with abortion. As a future physician, it affects me personally.

[...]Only a month after taking office, President Obama announced that he would be rescinding HHS regulations protecting the conscience rights of healthcare workers:

“[Specific publicly-funded entities may not] discriminate in the employment, promotion, or termination of employment of any physician or other health care personnel because he performed or assisted in the performance of a lawful sterilization procedure or abortion, because he refused to perform or assist in the performance of such a procedure or abortion on the grounds that his performance or assistance in the performance of the procedure or abortion would be contrary to his religious beliefs or moral convictions, or because of his religious beliefs or moral convictions respecting sterilization procedures or abortions…” 

In April 2009, these rules were officially eliminated. Then, in 2011, the administration approved the now-infamous HHS contraception mandate, requiring employer-provided insurance plans to cover birth control and early-term abortion drugs…regardless of the provider’s religious objections. (As an aside, I highly recommend R.J. Snell’s article,“The Contraception Mandate and Secular Discourse”.)

Other recent attacks have centered around the Weldon Amendment (2004), which prohibits federally funded agencies from discriminating against health care providers who refuse to provide, pay for, provide coverage for, or refer for abortions.

Additionally, a 2009 online survey of 2,865 faith-based healthcare professionals found that:

  • 39% of faith-based healthcare professionals have “experienced pressure from or discrimination by faculty or administrators based on [their] moral, ethical, or religious beliefs.”
  • 20% of faith-based medical students say they are “not pursuing a career in Obstetrics or Gynecology” because of perceived discrimination and coercion in that field.
  • 12% of faith-based healthcare professionals have “been pressured to perform a procedure to which [they] had moral, ethical, or religious objections.”
  • 91% of faith-based physicians agreed with the statement, “I would rather stop practicing medicine altogether than be forced to violate my conscience.”

So aside from the clear injustice of legalized abortion, my interest in this election is based on a desire to learn and practice medicine without being pressured to violate my moral convictions. Not to belittle the importance of other social, economic, and foreign policy issues, but these will be my overriding concerns in the ballot box.

Religious liberty is one the things that I care about the most, and I’m particularly concerned about Obama’s attacks on conscience rights for medical professionals. He’s shown that he has no respect for Christians with his HHS mandate. If he gets re-elected he will no reason to spare us worse things.

I found this post from Well Spent Journey on J.W. Wartick’s round-up of pre-election posts for Christian voters. Lots of great stuff in that round-up.

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One Response

  1. Jerry says:

    I agree – I’m a tech worker and my first job was creating hardware that the military was going to use to kill people and I wanted to object to this on conscience – but my evil employer wouldn’t pay me if I didn’t do my job! How can this be legal…I deserve to get paid for not doing things I find objectionable!!

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