HomeoldStupid arguments against smart doctors

Stupid arguments against smart doctors

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Editor’s note. This ran a while ago, but is so dazzlingly brilliant that I am republishing it. It is particularly relevant in the context of freedom of conscience, which President Trump is working hard to protect in the United States.

Mr Van Maren is a Canadian pro-lifer. The column written by Martin Regg Cohn, which Mr Van Maren criticises here, discussed the policy adopted some time ago by the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario, which mandates that pro-life physicians, when faced with women seeking an abortion, must provide an “effective referral” to a colleague who will perform the abortion or to an agency that will arrange for it. Pro-lifers oppose this not only because of the involvement in abortion, but also because they rightly fear that they will be forced to participate in assisted suicide.

As a participant in Canada’s ongoing abortion debate, I am well acquainted with the rhetoric employed by those who advocate for the legalisation of abortion. This rhetoric is characterised by a lack of engagement with the complexities of the issue and a tendency to assume a position of ideological superiority. However, on occasion, I encounter a piece of writing that is so poorly conceived that it is difficult to believe that it was published. Martin Regg Cohn’s column in the Toronto Star a couple of weeks ago is an example of such a column.

On occasion, a columnist may engage in such a relentless pursuit of the readers’ disdain that it is, in fact, merited. Let us proceed to a detailed analysis of the matter in question.

A minority of patients still view their doctors as infallible.

I am inclined to agree. I was previously unaware of any individuals who believed that their physicians were infallible. However, I will not allow Cohn to divert attention from his own argument by introducing irrelevant considerations.

Nevertheless, a small number of physicians continue to fulfil this role.

It was not long before he was taken. It can be reasonably assumed that whenever a journalist mentions God, the intention is to use the concept in a manner that is detrimental to Christians. The majority of these references are characterised by a lack of awareness.

The notion that patients are entitled to unrestricted access to a comprehensive range of publicly funded, medically appropriate services has provoked a vocal opposition among self-identified Christian physicians.

The term “open revolt” is used to describe the situation in which many doctors do not wish to assist in procedures that result in the violent termination of a human life. Such procedures are never considered to be appropriate. Even Alan Guttmacher of Planned Parenthood conceded that abortion was never a medically necessary procedure. Furthermore, it is unclear what is meant by the term “self-proclaimed Christian.” I am aware that Cohn is attempting to obfuscate the issue and sow doubt, but even his audacity is incoherent.

Dr. Michelle Korvemaker, a Woodstock-based physician affiliated with the Christian Medical and Dental Society, asserted at a press conference that physicians in Ontario have the right to practice medicine according to their conscience and free from state compulsion.

It is intriguing to consider the perspective of an individual employed in a publicly funded and provincially regulated facility. It is also likely that they were trained in a taxpayer-supported medical school.

I have understood. Consequently, any individual employed in an organisation that receives public funding or is subject to provincial regulation is no longer permitted to act in accordance with their conscience. Instead, they must comply with the directives of the state, which represents the collective conscience. Furthermore, individuals enrolled in publicly funded institutions are obliged to adhere to the directives of the state. One might inquire as to the rationale behind this assertion. Those who espouse a consistent and coherent view of human rights are already denied their Charter rights on campuses. It is therefore evident that campuses are designated as a “Charter-free zone.”

Her organization is taking legal action against a policy from the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario (CPSO) that requires any member who declines to perform a medical procedure on grounds of conscience or religion to refer the patient to another doctor.

The Korvemaker group has collaborated with the Canadian Federation of Catholic Physicians’ Societies to initiate a legal challenge against the college, asserting that their Charter rights are being violated. The notion that physicians should serve their patients loyally, regardless of their personal beliefs, is evidently a concept that is difficult for them to accept.

The entirety of this statement is opaque and difficult to comprehend. Furthermore, the argument is not addressed in its entirety, which may be due to an intentional omission or a lack of comprehension on the part of Cohn. The debate concerns the precise meaning of the phrase “serving patients faithfully.” For those of us who believe that the removal of the offspring of women from their uteri into a bloody slurry is not an act of service to them or to anyone else, the demand of Cohn and his ilk that we help to facilitate this has as much to do with our disdain for barbarism as it does with the Christian conviction that such barbarism is, in fact, immoral. With regard to the concept of “private faith,” we observe the emergence of a moral dichotomy within Justin Trudeau and his recently formed Liberal Party. This dichotomy entails the belief in the veracity of a given idea while simultaneously acting as if it were not true. It is curious that Cohn and his colleagues fail to recognize that they are the ones espousing a dogmatic position.

Following nearly a year of public consultations, which demonstrated a clear and overwhelming public support for reform, the CPSO has sought to reconcile two seemingly competing rights:

  • The dissident doctors posit that, in the event that physician-assisted suicide becomes a legal option, they may be compelled to participate in euthanasia. In addition to this highly speculative scenario, the doctors are particularly concerned about contemporary requests for contraception or abortion.

One might inquire as to whether there are any dissident doctors. For opposing the notion that physicians should actively engage in the killing of others or assist in such killings? It can be reasonably posited that Canada would be a safer place if there were more doctors who espoused similar views.

  • However, the general public is not inclined to accept the refusal of medical assistance on the grounds of religious belief. The one belief system that all Canadians share is that no individual should be denied medical care by a physician, regardless of the reason for the denial.

It is evident that this is not the singular belief system that unites all Canadians, as evidenced by the necessity for this discussion. It is also evident that Cohn is able to refer to abortion as a “faith” issue with impunity, as he never bothers to define the procedure or address the reasons why doctors might oppose it. It is a poor journalistic practice to ignore the arguments of your opponents. …

Nevertheless, medical professionals from two Christian and Catholic organisations have declined to comply, citing the argument that referring patients to other doctors constitutes a form of facilitation. When one assumes the role of a deity, one should not engage in the activities of the adversary, nor should one facilitate the actions of others who do so.

In the most traditional of doctor-knows-best scenarios, these physicians adhere to a specific belief system. Their pronouncements are regarded as infallible and they are not subject to the authority of any earthly governing body.

The arguments presented by Cohn are devoid of any substance. For instance, he fails to address the fundamental question of why doctors would oppose abortion in the first place.

Cohn then proceeds to expound upon this theme for several more paragraphs, before finally offering the following observation:

It is somewhat incongruous that physicians would advance such an argument, given that doctors almost never countenance self-referrals on other medical matters. Furthermore, this is another illustration of the dissidents’ proclivity for selectively adhering to established procedures when it is advantageous to their interests.

Another approach to resolving an intractable debate is presented here. Those physicians who have declared that the practice of medicine is a matter of conscience should be asked whether they informed the medical school of their concerns at the time of their initial application.

It is indeed a remarkable phenomenon. It is astonishing that there are those who would actually advocate the idea that only those without a conscience should be doctors. It is therefore recommended that those who possess an active conscience and a concern for ethics should reveal this upon deciding to pursue a career in medicine.

“Do you have any knowledge of, or personal experience with, moral qualms regarding a procedure that results in the termination of a developing human being, and which is prohibited by every other nation on the globe?” “I can confirm that I have not had such qualms.” “Very well. The applicant is accepted. It is unclear where Cohn receives his medical treatment. However, it seems that a doctor with a conscience would be the most desirable option.

Had they done so, in accordance with professional ethics and religious fidelity, they could have been referred directly to a divinity school, where students are taught early on not to play God.

Observe the manner in which he has constructed his argument. He now links his original straw man with a comment about how doctors want to play God, referencing two concepts he is unaware of: The concepts of professional ethics and religious fidelity.

A perusal of a column comprising such inane arguments in Canada’s largest newspaper prompted a recollection of how the late Christopher Hitchens (an anti-abortion atheist, incidentally) responded to a statement he found particularly absurd. “Thus, we may conclude that,” he observed. “One can observe the extent to which the termites have spread and the length of time and degree of success with which they have done so.”

And thus they have.

This first appeared at Unmasking Choice and is reposted with permission.


Daniel Miller is responsible for nearly all of National Right to Life News' political writing.

With the election of Donald Trump to the U.S. presidency, Daniel Miller developed a deep obsession with U.S. politics that has never let go of the political scientist. Whether it's the election of Joe Biden, the midterm elections in Congress, the abortion rights debate in the Supreme Court or the mudslinging in the primaries - Daniel Miller is happy to stay up late for you.

Daniel was born and raised in New York. After living in China, working for a news agency and another stint at a major news network, he now lives in Arizona with his two daughters.

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