I have predicted that “medical conscience” will become a huge social controversy in the next decade, as culture of death proponents seek to force pro-life and Hippocratic Oath-believing doctors out of medicine by compelling them to be complicit in life-taking acts such as abortion and assisted suicide.
I just learned that a law enacted last year in Illinois compels doctors to counsel patients about the “benefits” of all legal medical procedures — the prime target is pro-life doctors about abortion, but it is not limited to that — and if unwilling to do the deed, to become complicit by helping patient find a doctor who will.
First, the amended conscience law pretends to protect conscience, but requires counseling on benefits of legal procedures regardless of conscience beliefs. From Public Act 099-0690 (my emphasis):
Nothing in this Act shall relieve a physician from any duty, which may exist under any laws concerning current standards, of normal medical practice or care practices and procedures, to inform his or her patient of the patient’s condition, prognosis, legal treatment options, and risks and benefits of treatment options, provided, however, that such physician shall be under no duty to perform, assist, counsel, suggest, recommend, refer or participate in any way in any form of practice or health care service that is contrary to his or her conscience.
This means that if a woman is told she is pregnant, the doctor must counsel on the abortion option. It would require a doctor to counsel on the benefits of sex reassignment to their patients with gender dysphoria. (The ACLU has already brought such a lawsuit against a Catholic hospital for refusing to permit sex change surgeries.)
It would also mean, were assisted suicide legalized, a doctor would have to tell a terminally ill patient about the option of receiving a lethal overdose.
The conscience protections in the law — that existed prior to this amendment — are then stripped from doctors by requiring them to procure and refer:
(2) When a health care facility, physician, or health care personnel is unable to permit, perform, or participate in a health care service that is a diagnostic or treatment option requested by a patient because the health care service is contrary to the conscience of the health care facility, physician, or health care personnel, then the patient shall either be provided the requested health care service by others in the facility or be notified that the health care will not be provided and be referred, transferred, or given information in accordance with paragraph (3).
And here’s the kick to the conscience solar plexus:
(3) If requested by the patient or the legal representative of the patient, the health care facility, physician, or health care personnel shall: (i) refer the patient to, or (ii) transfer the patient to, or (iii) provide in writing information to the patient about other health care providers who they reasonably believe may offer the health care service the health care facility, physician, or health personnel refuses to permit, perform, or participate in because of a conscience-based objection.
That means forced complicity in abortion and other morally controversial medical acts, akin to the failed attempt by Vermont — thwarted by litigation — to force doctors there to counsel about the availability of assisted suicide to their terminally ill patients. (Except this is by statute, not a regulation that conflicted with a statute.)
I suspect that pro-life conscientious objectors can find protection against this authoritarianism in the safe harbor of the Church Amendment, a federal statute that forbids any facility or health-care professional working in a facility that receives federal funds from being punished for refusing to participate in abortion or sterilization. But that law does not protect against compelled participation in other procedures, and thus needs to be expanded.
This is an example of how medicine is being weaponized by law as a means for committing cultural imperialism.
Litigation has commenced. Let us hope it succeeds.