Tag Archives: Right of Conscience

NHS appeals decision allowing midwives to conscientiously object to performing abortions

What happens when you let a secular government take over health care provisioning?

Here is a story from the BBC about the state-run health care system in the UK.


The UK’s highest court will hear legal arguments on whether midwives have a right to refuse to take any part in abortion procedures on moral grounds.

NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde appealed to the Supreme Court after judges in Scotland said Roman Catholic midwives had a right to conscientious objection.

[…]Five judges in London will hear the case. A ruling is expected next year.

Ms Doogan, from Garrowhill in Glasgow, and Mrs Wood, from Clarkston in East Renfrewshire, were employed as labour ward co-ordinators at the Southern General Hospital in Glasgow.

[…]This landmark case tests the balance between those whose religious beliefs do not allow them to play any part whatsoever in abortion, and the health authorities’ duty under the law to enable women to have an abortion. Many Christian groups back the midwives’ position.

The midwives’ counsel, Gerry Moynihan QC, told the court in the women’s earlier successful appeal that the law was clear that the right to conscientious objection contained in the Abortion Act was intended to apply to the whole team whose involvement was necessary to achieve the procedure.

If the Supreme Court upholds the midwives’ earlier successful appeal, it could set a legal precedent, allowing other midwives who object to abortion to take the same stance.

The Royal College of Midwives and the women’s charity British Pregnancy Advisory Service have both warned that any such ruling could have severe implications for the care of women choosing to terminate their pregnancy.

The BPAS is the largest abortion provider in the UK. I blogged before about their leader, Ann Furedi, who supports sex-selection abortions. I thought then that sex-selection abortions was the worst thing about abortion, but now I see that she would actually force her moral views on other people, compelling them by the power of government to act against their beliefs. There is something deep inside me that just recoils from making a person do something that they think is morally wrong. But I guess pro-abortion people don’t share my concern.

When I blogged before about these two midwives when they won their appeal case, I wrote this:

If the health care system were private, then it would be easy for midwives to find another company to work for that did not violate their consciences. But when the government runs the whole health care system, where are you supposed to go? They are a monopoly and they make the rules. Yet another reasons for Christians to vote for smaller government. In a free market, if you don’t want to buy something from one store, you can go to another store. There is competition. But where are these nurses supposed to go? They are midwives, and the government and the courts make the rules in a government-run health care system.

This is why we need to keep the government OUT of health care. When you work for a government monopoly, and they want you to do something that you don’t want to do, you have two choices – do what they want or leave the country. If the only health care system is government-run, then if you want to practice health care, you have to leave. That seems unfair to me.

New Tasmania bill undermines conscience rights for pro-life medical workers

Map of Australia
Map of Australia

The inimitable Dr. Lydia McGrew has a must-read blog post up about it at “What’s Wrong With The World?” (H/T Jay from Life Training Institute)

Here’s a snip:

This first part directly attacks the conscience of doctors opposed to abortion by requiring them, on penalty of a fine, to refer the patient to a doctor who will do the deed. See my further discussion of referrals, here.

But there’s more: The Tasmania law also says that counselors who are opposed to abortion and from whom a pregnant woman has sought advice must refer the woman to a different counselor who is known to be not thus opposed!

Here is how the law defines “counselor”:

counsellor means a person who provides a service that involves counselling whether or not for fee or reward;

Smith is, plausibly enough, of the opinion that this would apply to those who work even as volunteers for Crisis Pregnancy Centers and hence would “obliterate pro-life crisis pregnancy counseling.”

Even insofar as the law applies to professional counselors, those with counseling licenses who are working with a pregnant woman officially in their professional capacity, this is disturbing enough. It is yet another attempt to undermine the helping professions by forcing those in them to offer material cooperation with lifestyle decisions (including, in this case, murderous ones) preferred by the leftists.

But as the law applies to volunteers as well, we’ve entered wholly new territory. Volunteer pregnancy counselors are essentially just private people devoting themselves to trying to help pregnant women in their spare time. It is difficult to see any principled distinction between regulating what such an entirely non-professional person says to a woman in a private conversation and regulating what the woman’s aunt, mother, or friend says to her in a private conversation. The law is explicit that such a referral must take place “if a woman seeks pregnancy options advice from a counsellor and the counsellor has conscientious objections to terminations.” So if a woman deliberately seeks out and goes to a center calling itself “Alternatives Crisis Pregnancy Center” and offering explicitly in its advertising to help a woman to find alternatives to abortion, the counselors there would be obligated by this law, on pain of a fine, to round off their personal conversation with her by offering her a referral to a pro-abortion counselor! This despite the fact that the whole raison d’etre of the center is to try to save babies from abortion.

This law reminds me of a a post I saw a while back on Well Spent Journey, which is a blog written by a future physician. He was concerned about conscience rights and wrote about it just before the last election.

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.

Make no mistake, Christians should in no way shape or form support big government, because this is the kind of law that big government passes. If we are concerned about the poor, it’s better for us to solve the problem of poverty ourselves rather than grow government so that they can have the power to impose their will on us like this. This is something that all Christians need to realize, and vote accordingly.

Christian business to pay up to $1.3 million per day in HHS mandate fines

From Life Site News.


The Obama administration is set to levy as much as a $1.3 million per day fine against a Christian retail business based on their religious objection to abortifacient drugs, according to a lawsuit filed this week.

Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc., with more than 500 arts and crafts stores in 41 states and over 22,500 employees, is reportedly the largest for-profit business yet to file suit over the Health and Human Services (HHS) mandate requiring businesses to provide free abortion-causing drugs, such as the “week-after” pill Ella, as non-negotiable “preventive services.”

Lawyers for the private retail chain filed a lawsuit in the US District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma, where the company is based.

The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty says the company, which started in a garage in Oklahoma City in 1972, is now a booming business amid a struggling economy – making the government crackdown even more outrageous.

“Hobby Lobby is one of few companies adding jobs during recession, and the government is penalizing them,” said the lawyers, who filed the complaint on behalf of the business. “If Hobby Lobby does not comply with the HHS Mandate, they will be forced to pay up to 1.3 million dollars per day in fines.”

That success, says founder and CEO David Green, is inextricably connected to its groundings in the Christian faith.

“We have always operated our company in a manner consistent with Biblical principles, including integrity and service to others,” said Green in a statement Thursday. “We believe wholeheartedly that it is by God’s grace and provision that Hobby Lobby has been successful. Therefore, we seek to honor him in all that we do.”

Green noted the company keeps fewer hours than most and, like Christian-founded restaurant chain Chick-Fil-A, is closed on Sundays. Meanwhile, he said Hobby Lobby’s minimum wage is 80 percent above the national average, and its headquarters even offers an in-house clinic where employees with company health insurance can visit for free.

Green and his wife Barbara in 2010 signed a pledge to donate the majority of their wealth to philanthropy: “For me and my family, charity equals ministry, which equals the Gospel of Jesus Christ.”

“Our family is now being forced to choose between following the laws of the land that we love,” said Green, “or maintaining the religious beliefs that have made our business successful, and have supported our family and thousands of our employees and their families.”

If you own a business, then you have to pay for abortion-causing drugs for your employees. It’s that simple. Obama says you must. And if you don’t you pay a million dollars a day in fines.

I wonder how many jobs this secular leftist fascism by the Obama administration will cost? It seems like his whole purpose is to cause more people to be unemployed, so that they can become dependent on government programs. Why would he want that? And why would people who claim to be Christians vote for him? It’s a mystery.