Thursday, March 26, 2009

NEJM Op-Ed to Pro-Life Doctors: Drop Dead

Medicine needs to embrace a brand of professionalism that demands less self-interest, not more. Conscientious objection makes sense with conscription, but it is worrisome when professionals who freely chose their field parse care and withhold information that patients need. As the gatekeepers to medicine, physicians and other health care providers have an obligation to choose specialties that are not moral minefields for them. Qualms about abortion, sterilization, and birth control? Do not practice women's health.

Because, you know, it's all about "choice".

[HT: JivinJ]


The Dutchman said...

So — people shouldn't be allowed to choose Catholic doctors in a free society?

RobK said...

I wish we could find more doctors who did not give birth control. We found folks connected with a Catholic hospital, so they don't do abortion or sterilization - but it is impossible to find one in my area who refuses to do birth control.

We have looked, because we want to give our money to that doctor.

We were told that insurance companies won't accept doctors who refuse to prescribe birth control.

RobK said...

Hi Dutch! At what point do we drop the "free" bit. I think we are closer than a lot of people think.

The Dutchman said...

I have to say, of all the issues this is the one that concerns me most. Abortion, let's face it, does not involve coercion. I, and my family, can live our lives without being affected by it.(Yes, it's an abomination, but it really is a personal, not a social sin, and so it is contained to the community of sinners.) If I have to, I can live in a society that tolerates abortion much as Augustine and Ambrose lived in a society that tolerated blood sports and infanticide.

But once we strip away the conscience clause we are talking about a very different thing. Now I cannot patronize a Catholic doctor, now medicine is closed as a profession to myself and my children, now the state is coercing participation in an abomination.

You are absolutely right in saying that the status of "free society" stands or falls on exactly such issues.

John Jansen said...

We were told that insurance companies won't accept doctors who refuse to prescribe birth control.


Maybe the laws in California really are that bad.

That may be true, but I'd definitely recommend you get a second opinion on that from Someone Who Knows What He's Talking About.

Not to make you make you envious or anything, Rob, but I forget sometimes how lucky our family is to have a great Catholic doctor who doesn't prescribe birth control (and who takes our insurance).

Have you checked out the One More Soul directory of NFP-only physicians?

John Jansen said...


The points you made about the import of conscience protections notwithstanding, I'm not sure what you meant when you said:

Abortion, let's face it, does not involve coercion.

In the case of medical personnel, currently at least, you're right -- there are conscience protections in place.

But, of course, abortion often does involve coercion for the woman or girl herself -- especially if she is a minor or if she is in an abusive relationship.

I'm also surprised to see you say:

I, and my family, can live our lives without being affected by it.

It seems to me self-evident that abortion has caused enormously significant damage to the moral fabric of our society, such that no one is untouched by it.

Do you not agree?

RobK said...

Hi Jon,
We have tried to - went through the life center (who has a list of the no abortion docs in our area). We could not find one who did not offer contraceptives. It was an extensive search.

The reason being was the doc who delivered our last child (a Greek Orthodox doctor) asked my wife what kind of protection she wanted after the birth (he knew we were Catholic). That triggered the search, and we still have not found one.

I am glad to hear that is not the case elsewhere.

The Dutchman said...

John —

Let me clarify what I mean if I may.

The coercion you mention is not state coercion, it is private and, in many cases, illegal. Private sin will be with us always and it is rare when the state can put a stop to it. Frankly, most women who have abortion feel coerced by their boyfriends, society's expectations, and their economic circumstances. It is this reality that is most hidden from those who speak of Choice."

Yes, the moral fabric of society is affected by abortion, but I think most of the influence is the other way. That is, it is because sexuality has been turned into a consumer item by films, television, novels and the general spirit of the times that abortion is legal in the first place. If we were to change the laws and ban abortion we would simply be swimming against the tide and would soon enough find our measures overturned. What we need to do is make people aware of the atrocity of abortion first.

My point was that we can build our own culture of life within a corrupt culture as long as we remain free, but when the state begins to force doctors to conform to the culture of death, then we are in much more serious trouble.

Also, please keep in mind that I am speaking of the practicalities of the situation. This kind of analysis can seem to be callous and that is the last thing I am when it comes to this issue. My feelings are still pretty raw even if my calculations are cold.

John Jansen said...


Here's hoping you find one. I'm guessing St. Luke would probably the best intercessor in this regard?


I see what you mean now. Thanks for clarifying.

Paula said...

Excellent blog,John. Here in Ohio, we have many sources for pro-life docs . Please try your Crisis Pregnancy Centers (CPC's), One More Soul, Elizabeth New Life, and any listing in the phone book as an "alternative abortion provider or service". Also, please check out "pro-life pharmacies".It is tough finding a doc that doesn't Rx.bc pills ,as unfortunately, they are given for reasons such as PMS, PMDD,menopause, etc. Good luck.A "Nurse for Life".