Commentary

Liberals Should Afford Medical Practitioners ‘Right to Choose’ to Obey Their Consciences

Kristan Hawkins
By Kristan Hawkins | July 13, 2016 | 4:19 PM EDT

Certified nurse midwife, Marcia Welsh, left, performs an abdominal exam on Olga Magana of Oxford Pa. at the Project Salud in Kennett Square Pa. (AP File Photo/Matt Rourke)

In yet another effort to force “choice” down the throats of anyone who disagrees with the pro-abortion mentality, the industry that makes a significant amount of money off of ending innocent lives and harming their mothers is actively trying to take choices away from everyone else, including doctors, nurses, pharmacists, hospitals and others in the healthcare profession who refuse to do abortions for moral reasons.

God forbid that there might be a doctor chooses to save lives instead of end them.

Even the most pro-abortion president in the nation’s history, President Barack Obama, recognized that conscience is an important aspect in the abortion debate.  At Notre Dame in 2009, President Obama said, “Let’s honor the conscience of those who disagree with abortion.”

Yes, we absolutely should.

Just as no woman should be forced to have an abortion, no healthcare provider should be forced to participate in an abortion. Discrimination is prohibited against providers who refuse to participate in assisted suicide. Why should another life-ending procedure be any different?

Those in the healthcare profession aren’t the only people uncomfortable with abortion. According to Gallup, in a May 2016 survey, only 29 percent of Americans believe abortion should be legal under any circumstance. In another Gallup poll last month, only 43 percent of Americans believe abortion is morally acceptable.

The abortion industry has been trying to remove the stigma from abortion for the past few years.  They have promoted heartbreaking stories of women who chose late-term abortion for various reasons; they’ve highlighted the easy decision to abort from the president of the nation’s largest abortion provider; and they’ve encouraged women to speak out about their abortions.

But abortion will always have a stigma because it takes an innocent, human life. It seems, even abortion advocates know it.

Medical students know it too. Abortionists are having a difficult time finding replacements when they retire. Dennis Christensen in Wisconsin cannot find any young abortionists to buy his abortion facility. Another abortion doctor in Texas is in the same predicament, as he has watched the number of abortionists in the state dwindle down.

While reasons for not wanting to be an abortionist can stem from other issues besides the morality of it, forcing doctors and nurses to participate in abortions is not the answer to solve the shortage.  It is fundamentally hypocritical to oppose conscience protections yet demand ­­women have the same choice available to them.

Why are conscience protections even an issue, and does the country actually need laws to protect conscience rights? Unfortunately we do.

The Department of Health and Human Services houses the Office of Civil Rights, which is supposed to protect the rights of healthcare professionals who refuse to participate in abortions because of moral issues through the Weldon Amendment. Yet the law isn’t being enforced.

Last month, California passed a law that demands abortion be covered in all insurance plans, including those of churches and universities that specifically excluded abortion coverage. New York is following suit.

This is a cruel predicament for healthcare professionals. Many victims have been in a position where they faced the “choice” of participating in an abortion against their conscience or they would lose their jobs. One particular case in New York is horrific. According to Alliance Defending Freedom, Nurse Cathy DeCarlo was threatened with disciplinary measures if she refused to participate in a late-term, non-emergency, abortion. She was forced to collect the baby parts of the child to make sure the abortion was a “success.” Other stories involve medical students not being admitted to programs or residencies­­­ if they refuse to participate in abortions.

The only recourse for these victims are to file complaints with the Office of Civil Rights, which, to the surprise of no one, takes forever and a day to handle. Cathy DeCarlo filed a complaint with them and it took all of three years to be resolved. She tried going through the legal system and was told she didn’t have standing.

This is a nightmare for medical professionals who went into the healthcare field with a passion of helping people and instead have been forced into a winless situation of either losing their job or doing something that they consider to be a grave evil.

This week, the House of Representatives is scheduled to consider legislation that would protect conscientious objectors, The Conscience Protection Act. Every effort should be made to protect the consciences of those who have made it their profession to care for, aid and cure their neighbors. If the abortion industry truly values “choice,” there is no reason they should oppose policies that afford Americans the “right to choose” to obey their consciences and object to taking the life of an unborn child.

Kristan Hawkins is president of Students for Life of America.