Human Exceptionalism

Forcing Doctors to Kill

With assisted suicide, abortion, and starving Alzheimer’s patients to death on the bioethics agenda, the acute question is raised, whether doctors can be forced to kill–or be complicit in the killing–of human fetuses and born people.

Increasingly, the culture of death brooks no dissent–as the splendid Margaret Somerville points out from Canada. From, “A Modest Proposal for Protecting a Physician’s Freedom of Conscience:”

Dr. Marc Gabel, a College official, chairs the working group looking at this issue, which is drafting a new policy on “Professional Obligations and Human Rights.”

Dr. Gabel has been reported as saying that “physicians unwilling to provide or facilitate abortion for reasons of conscience should not be family physicians” and it seems wants the College to approve that stance. Sean Murphy, of the Protection of Conscience Project, argues that “if it does, ethical cleansing of Ontario’s medical profession will begin this year, ridding it of practitioners unwilling to do what they believe to be wrong.”

The right to killing–for now abortion, perhaps one day, assisted suicide–is a “human right?” Rubbish!

If the only people in medicine are those willing to kill patients and fetuses, none of us will be safe. Somerville suggests an accommodation:

Consideration should be given to creating a public list of physicians who register as having conscientious objection to providing a specified medical procedure. This would allow people who want to be treated by a physician with such values to identify those physicians, at the same time allowing those who want such procedures to avoid those physicians…

Alternatively or in addition to the above, health-care institutions should have the right to declare themselves, for instance, “euthanasia free” and “physician-assisted suicide free” zones. Patients who object to those procedures could then be confident they would not be subject to them.

I have been urging doctors in states where doctor-hastened death is legal to declare themselves in their waiting rooms to be “assisted suicide free zones.” Pro-life Ob/gyns should do likewise.

If assisted suicide becomes widely legal, the next fight will be to ensure that Hippocratic doctors, nurses, pharmacists, and others aren’t drummed out of their profession for refusing to kill.

Here is an extended article I wrote several years ago about how conscience clauses could be fashioned to protect dissenting medical professionals.

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