Culture & Ethics Icon Culture & Ethics
Faith & Science Icon Faith & Science
Medicine Icon Medicine

War on Humans: Forcing Doctors to Kill

Evolution News


It makes perfect sense, in a way: Once killing people is recognized as a right, it soon becomes nearly irresistible for some to see it as a moral and then a needed legal obligation. So says our Discovery Institute colleague Wesley Smith over at First Things. The ACLU is looking to recruit the State of Washington, not content with its path-breaking on the way to legalized trade in marijuana, as a pioneer:

If such thinking prevails, medical professionals could be forced to participate in the taking of human life, for example in abortion, assisted suicide, and (given the research trends in regenerative medicine) providing treatments derived from the intentional destruction of human embryos or fetuses.

That certainly seems to be the direction in which the ACLU wishes to take the country. Recently, the ACLU of Washington State began trolling for potential clients to sue medical professionals or facilities that refused to participate in certain legal procedures or transactions based on religious objection:

Have you or members of your family been denied reproductive health care or end-of-life services by a religiously based medical facility? The ACLU believes that everyone in Washington has the right to receive health care that is not restricted by the religious beliefs of others.

The solicitation listed specific procedures — some of which involve the taking of human life — that presumably a patient should have a right to receive. They include:

  1. Abortion
  2. Information about Washington’s Death with Dignity Act [the law permitting doctor-assisted suicide for the terminally ill];
  3. Referral to support organizations or cooperating providers to assist a patient in using Washington’s Death with Dignity Act;
  4. Medical providers permitted to participate in Washington’s Death with Dignity Act;
  5. Palliative care/nursing support for patients who choose to stop eating and drinking to allow natural death (e.g., participation in suicide by starvation, not a natural death)
  6. Pharmacy dispensary (e.g, forced dispensing of drugs used in assisted suicide, RU 486 abortions, etc.)

Some might think that the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, the law that protected Hobby Lobby, could also protect medical professionals and facilities. Nope. That law only applies to cases involving federal statutes. Unless a state has its own equivalent law, RFRA protections do not apply. (In Washington doctors cannot currently be forced to participate in assisted suicide, but pharmacists do not enjoy equivalent conscience rights.)

But what about the First Amendment’s protection of freedom of religion? Religious health professionals and religiously-operated health facilities may be out of luck on that score, too. Indeed, the RFRA was passed by a near unanimous Congress and signed by President Bill Clinton to overcome a ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court that deprived individuals of religious protection against a law of "general applicability," e.g., one not aimed at chilling religious practice but which merely has that ancillary impact.

Such denial of medical conscience is not yet embedded in American law. But if the anti-religious liberties lobby gets its way, it will be. Indeed, in coming years, medical professionals who believe in the Hippocratic Oath’s prohibition against killing could well be driven out of medicine.

Thus the twisted ethical logic of materialism.

Photo source: Steven Depolo/Flickr.

Evolution News

Evolution News & Science Today (EN) provides original reporting and analysis about evolution, neuroscience, bioethics, intelligent design and other science-related issues, including breaking news about scientific research. It also covers the impact of science on culture and conflicts over free speech and academic freedom in science. Finally, it fact-checks and critiques media coverage of scientific issues.