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The purpose of this blog is to stimulate thought and discussion about important issues in healthcare. Opinions expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily express the views of CMDA. We encourage you to join the conversation on our website and share your experience, insight and expertise. CMDA has a rigorous and representative process in formulating official positions, which are largely limited to bioethical areas.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced on June 12 that it had “finalized a rule under Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) that maintains vigorous enforcement of federal civil rights laws on the basis of race, color, national origin, disability, age, and sex, and restores the rule of law by revising certain provisions that go beyond the plain meaning of the law as enacted by Congress.”
Conscience rights are constitutional priorities as well as professional and personal necessities for free people, and these enjoy strong and historic support from the legislature, executive branch and judiciary. They are worth defending, especially when misrepresented and misunderstood.
OK. The ad is hypothetical, I’ll admit. But only a little. A just-released report on human sexuality issued a clarion call for Christian apologists to step up and counter the increasingly toxic cultural narrative on human sexuality. That narrative—or perhaps narratives, since some are severely at odds—has led to increasing radicalism and polarization, leaving a tide of refugees in its wake.
The viral attack hit especially in the major metropolitan epicenters, and many doctors, nurses, respiratory therapists and other healthcare professionals stayed at work in the trenches, came out of retirement or traveled long distances to volunteer their services to aid those in distress.
In New York City, pronouncements against the volunteer work of the Christian relief group Samaritan’s Purse revealed venomous anti-Christian attitudes. Because Samaritan’s Purse, led by Franklin Graham, the son of the late evangelist Billy Graham, adheres to a biblical view of marriage, some New Yorkers would have had the group kicked out of the city rather than allowed to help save lives.
After 10 weeks of avoiding people, I realize how much I miss them. People, that is. I always thought I disliked crowds, but now I find myself missing crowds also. People bring me pleasure. People are precious.
We are living in a highly polarized society. Disagreeing opinions have very little overlap, making compromise difficult. People talk more than they hear, and they hear more than they listen. People rally and argue and protest, but they rarely build bridges across the divides. Political candidates represent the extreme ends of their party’s platform, and those in the middle are accused of being weak on issues. Opinions on social media are strongly worded and leave no room for useful discussion. Family members have broken fellowship over the Trump v. Clinton election. Friendships are strained over differing definitions of social distancing. The world we live in is broken, and people are afraid. Fear, in fact, is the most insidious form of brokenness. It penetrates the very marrow of our character and changes our motivations. The values and ideals we hold dear are corrupted by fear such that we no longer act based on what we believe, but rather out of avoidance of what we fear.
Ethical considerations should have a priority place in science and medicine. Promoting sound bioethics promotes confidence in doctors and scientists and their work, among peers, the public and policymakers. This is certainly seen in the recent ethically-guided decisions around federal funding of research with fetal tissue from elective abortions. Ethical guardrails help focus precious research funds on projects with best chance of success and benefit for all. Even in a crisis such as the current COVID-19 pandemic, illumination of the ethical vs. unethical proposals can educate and serve to focus attention and resources on the paths that will benefit all.
Since the time of Job, people have struggled with depression. Depression isolates, as it causes sufferers to withdraw from others. Unfortunately, the stigma surrounding depression often reinforces the isolation. Not only do others stigmatize those who are depressed, but depressed individuals often believe these misunderstandings about themselves and experience shame. This shame arises from ignorance and misunderstanding about the nature of depression.
Seeing the pandemic as an opportunity to pump up profits from abortions, the abortion industry and its advocates in state governments are lobbying to loosen abortion-related FDA safety requirements.
Per Alliance Defending Freedom: “Freedom of conscience means you are free to carry out your moral duty without fear of government coercion or punishment.”
Also, it need not be faith-based to count. Conscience is conscience, and these rights protect our atheist colleagues as they do us. Canadian philosopher Edward Tingley explains that conscience rights protect those who object to the norm of what even a majority thinks is right, and they apply when (1) a cogent claim can be made that (2) grave wrong is done. The claim of wrong needs only to be serious and defensible.
Conscience rights exist precisely to protect someone who disagrees with majority consensus. They specifically protect unpopular opinions. The objection needs only to be serious and defensible.
The world is caught up in the COVID-19 pandemic. This virus has changed our lives, and it will continue to change the lives of people all over the world for years to come. Schools, churches, businesses, restaurants, sporting events and entire countries are closed or are placed under lockdown. Shelter-in-place, an old term, unknown to most, is now widely used, and it affects, by some estimates, more than half the country. At any hour of the day or night, one can find the most up-to-date tallies for morbidity and mortality in the U.S. and around the world. This led me to three observations.