In the first line of one of his My Secret Atheist Blog posts, Sean McGuire says,
It would appear that we’re approaching a time when nothing will get done in our country unless we run it past religious folk for their permission first.
So it should come as no surprise that Udo Schuklenk addresses this phenomenon in his latest post: “Conscientious Objection in Medicine: Private Ideological Convictions Must Not Supersede Public Service Obligations.” While conscientious objection and ideological convictions are not always based on religious convictions, they most frequently are religious.
In his post, Schuklenk discusses the Canadian Medical Association’s claim that
No physician in the country should be forced to play a role in any aspect of assisted dying against their moral or religious beliefs — including referring patients to another doctor willing to help them die.
The objections to playing a role in any aspect of assisted dying are the latest in a series of physicians’ objections to providing health care that goes against their conscience: prescribing birth control and performing abortions, tubal ligations and vasectomies.
While Schuklenk is sympathetic to individual doctors’ crisis of conscience, he is unequivocal in insisting that
Patients are entitled to receive uniform service delivery from health care professionals. They ought not to be subjected to today’s conscientious objection lottery.
As Schuklenk points out,
The odd thing about conscientious objections is that there is no way to find out whether they are genuine or just a matter of convenience. Even if they were genuinely held beliefs, why should that constitute a sound reason for refusing service delivery?
and goes on to say,
The very idea that we ought to countenance conscientious objection in any profession is objectionable.
This is more than a play on words. The very idea that doctors want to influence the moral or religious behaviour of their patients is more than objectionable: it’s odious.
Physician, heal thyself!