By Dave Andrusko
After listening to pro-life bioethicist Wesley J. Smith at Saturday’s open general session of NRLC 2018, you came away fully aware that the title—“Will pro-life doctors and nurses be driven out of Medicine?”—accurately conveys the hoped for objective of anti-life forces.
Protecting the right of conscience was a prominent theme of the three-day convention in Kansas City, Kansas. Smith’s step-by-step explanation of the worldwide threat against conscience perfectly complemented the remarks of Roger Severino at a Thursday night general session, Severino, Director of the Office of Civil Rights at HHS, said Thursday night, Trump is already the most pro-life President in American history. In explaining how and why Severino talked at length about the much under-reported threat to religious liberty and the right of conscience and what the Trump Administration is doing about it.
For example, NRL News Today readers remember that earlier this year the Department of Health and Human Services created a new Conscience and Religious Freedom Division in the HHS Office for Civil Rights. This is a very, very important move.
As NRLC president Carol Tobias explained at the time, “Rights of conscience are extremely important to the right-to-life movement to protect medical professionals, religious institutions, and employers from being forced to participate in abortion.” NRLC commended the Trump Administration for creating the new Division that will focus on enforcement of and compliance with existing laws that protect conscience. Tobias added, “We are pleased to see this new division in the face of a growing number of actions by some state governments to compel participation in abortions by health care providers and others, and because the Obama Administration had effectively adopted a non-enforcement policy with respect to existing federal conscience-protection laws.
In response The New York Times published what was (even by their over-the-top standards) a hysterical editorial informing readers that the Trump Administration “puts the Bible above the Hippocratic Oath.” Of course, the Times conveniently overlooks that the Hippocratic Oath forbade physicians from giving women abortifacients.
Both Severino and Smith emphasized that there are laws on the books but under President Obama, they were not enforced. However even with a new administration that is dedicated to protecting the right of conscience, more must be done.
Jennifer Popik, JD, NRLC’s Federal Legislation Director, told this morning’s general session audience about The Conscience Protection Act. The Act would prohibit any level of government from mandating that health care providers participate in abortion. It would protect doctors, nurses, hospitals, and health plans (and employers who purchase the plans). Most importantly, the bill empowers those who are affected by abortion mandates to file private lawsuits in federal courts.
Smith, the author of many books, including most recently “The Culture of Death: The Age of ‘Do Harm’ Medicine,” outlined the rapid expansion in Europe and Canada of the “right” to assisted suicide which includes coercing unwilling physicians. The actions of the Canadian province of Ontario is the canary in the coalmine not just for Canadians but for all who are under siege by the likes of “Compassion & Choices.”
As Smith wrote in a post at National Review Online, Ontario “has passed a law formally legalizing lethal injection euthanasia. And it will force all provincial doctors to be complicit by either doing the deed themselves to all legally qualified patients who request to be killed, or by tasking them with procuring a death doctor.”
Just in the last month, barely after a referendum had passed in Ireland doing away with its protective 8th Amendment to the Constitution, the Minister of Health announced that if they receive any governmental funding, Catholic hospitals must perform abortions or refer a woman to someone they know who will (so-called “effective referral”). As Smith correctly observed, prior to the referendum vote, that possibility was never raised by proponents of gutting the 8th.
Smith contended the objective of pro-death forces is clear: to drive out pro-life doctors, nurses, pharmacists, and midwives out of medicine.