LOST ART OF CRITICAL THINKING
October 18, 2010
Part 3, Right of Conscience to “B” or not to “B”
Americans insist on all sorts of rights—rights to housing, jobs, decent medical care, and organized interests (i.e., unions). They affirm rights and freedoms as egalitarian in fashion, belonging to all.
Too often, however, folks confuse rights with privileges. For example, the Drivers’ Manual surprises many “teen wanna’-be’s” by characterizing driving not as a right, but instead as a privilege. The basis for legitimate concepts of natural law rights and liberties (as opposed to privileges) are expressed in the United States Bill of Rights.
In contrast, what springs from the blogosphere and impassioned sound bites frequently demonstrates a spirit of entitlement. Skewing God-given liberty, this wayward spirit drives an ongoing national right-to-conscience debate.
Right to “My Terms” Trumps “Your Terms”
At a recent public hearing in Renton, Washington, activists from Planned Parenthood, Legal Voice, NARAL, and others testified passionately before the Washington State Board of Pharmacy. Their demand was clear: Regulations are necessary to force pharmacists and pharmacies to dispense the “morning-after pill,” for example—when and where a customer asks for it.
Here’s the caveat: Demand for early abortifacients as Plan B, Ella, and ilk trumps even a provider’s conscience should he object ethically or morally. Forget that pharmacies do not, and cannot reasonably be expected to, stock all of the thousands of FDA-approved drugs and their generics; to “choicers,” here-and-now Emergency Contraception is non-negotiable. And they won’t be referred elsewhere to get it.
Think about it. On the basis of conscience, a pacifist need not go to war, and a nurse need not participate in an abortion. When Oregon legalized physician-assisted suicide, health care workers could opt out. But if “choicers” have their way, a pharmacist could be forced to forfeit conscience, career, or privately owned business in deference to someone else’s perceived “right” to convenience.
Right to Risk Trumps Prudence
Opponents wrongly brand conscientious objectors as “a few religious fanatics,” but a pharmacist committed to do no harm could well object to Plan B for reasons other than religious ones.
As is the case with all prescriptions, there are side effects from taking abortifacients. Also, Emergency Contraception may reduce the risk of pregnancy by 75 - 89%, but it offers no guarantees. Nor can it prevent STDs or ectopic pregnancies, which by the way are very dangerous.
It’s no big leap to assume that risk is involved when imbibing synthetic hormones that affect the ovaries and development of the uterine lining. As I understand it, the so-called one-step Emergency Contraception (EC) pill gives the body a short, high burst of synthetic hormones to disrupt hormone patterns required for pregnancy. Side effects can include (but are not limited to) nausea, vomiting, headaches, breast tenderness, dizziness, fluid retention, abdominal pain, and irregular bleeding.
Although emergency contraceptive and morning-after pills are not the same as RU-486, the latter (otherwise known as a “baby pesticide”) is used as Emergency Contraception. After taking RU-486 to cause an abortion, several women developed serious illnesses, and some died. For this reason, life advocacy groups petitioned the Food and Drug Administration to halt its distribution and marketing pending review of safety issues.
Problem is, what may be legal is not always safe, ethical, or moral. It stands to reason, then, if a provider believes use of legal ECs is harmful or even lethal, he must speak up. One way to do so is to refer a patient elsewhere; but to the “pro-choice” crowd, this act of conscience is unconscionable, even reprehensible.
My Life Trumps That of a Baby
Talk about reprehensible! Many who negate right of conscience likewise advocate for the new eugenics inclusive of partial- and live- birth abortions (infanticide), cannibalizing babies to make them into medicine, and selling baby parts in the name of science. Arguably, all are birthed out of Roe v. Wade legacy.
a "death with dignity" participant, a life in the womb has
no voice and, therefore, is no willing participant in the managed-death
option to which he’s subjected. Conscience in support of that
life mustn’t succumb to a customer's demand for convenience. Doing
so would undermine human dignity and violate core principles of “life,
liberty, and pursuit of happiness [specifically for the unborn].”
If my choice of conscience is unnecessary by another's standards, or even if it errs on the side of caution, I cannot rightly be denied it. The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution guarantees that special right.
To do what one perceives to be evil is, according to biblical principle, "sin" in the eyes of God. When church and State clash, a believer must submit to the highest authority. And he has every right to do so.
Right to Affix Blame Trumps Personal Accountability
Evidently, to the lonely, time- and money- challenged customer with prescription in hand, the one, local pharmacist is her only recourse. The impassioned cry, “What about true victims of rape or incest?” lands squarely upon his shoulders with no apparent expectation of intervention from Planned Parenthood, NARAL, the prescribing physician, or social services.
Forget that EC may be effective up to 120 hours (5 days) after intercourse and that it’s not 100% foolproof, activists insist upon immediate product and service from the first pharmacy of choice—no matter the provider’s heartfelt convictions against its safe, ethical use. A pharmacist on the next block simply won’t do.
It’s true, a woman can conceive when responsible efforts to prevent pregnancy are ineffective. But, then, in the minds of activists, this, too, becomes the pharmacist’s problem. It’s his job, not to refer, but rather to “fix” the outcome; conscience, we’re told, has nothing to do with it.
The “problem” resulting from risky, unprotected sex likewise becomes that sole pharmacist’s mandate. His “choice” not to dispense EC, but rather to refer a customer elsewhere, signals to the “pro-choice” crowd that the pharmacist is not doing his job. To “choicers,” right of “choice” applies exclusively to them.
Right to Label the Opposition as “Religious Fanatics” Trumps Civility
Labeling right-to-conscience advocates as “a few religious fanatics" overlooks the fact that that there are an estimated 2-3 billion Christians in this world, in excess of ¼ of the world’s entire population. Many among them champion right to conscience and, in so doing, cannot accurately be characterized as some small group of uncaring thugs.
To denigrate those whose worldviews differ may well stir passion within the ranks of the disgruntled; but, in reality, “conscientious objection” is by no means synonymous with religious fanaticism, as “choice” advocates suggest.
Live and Let Live (But Only If You Live Like Me)
An honorable person will "live in accordance with conscience" and, in turn, will "let live." Sometimes another person's life choices are in accordance with his or her conscience, sometimes not. God allows free choice, but then accountability falls to the one choosing and no one else.
That said no health care provider should be forced against his conscience to abort a fetus, perform extreme plastic surgery, prescribe marijuana, or dispense early abortificients. Another person’s choice is not his problem to fix.
My Want Trumps Universal Wisdom to the Contrary
Christians are not alone in standing for conscience. In the words of Mohandas Gandhi, “There is a higher court than courts of justice, and that is the court of conscience,” which, he adds, “supersedes all other courts.”
Truth be told, the entire world community agree that "everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience, and religion … and to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship, and observance." Check it out: Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
According to testimony at the public hearing, though, this universal declaration is more poetic than substantive. Like it or not, people, to behave in accordance with one’s conscience is an universal right, one upon which our nation is founded. Sorry, “choicers,” it can’t be shooed as a pesky fly!
If, indeed, right to conscience is an universally agreed upon premise, as most agree it is, then we must zealously uphold it even in the marketplace. On a practical level, it stands to reason that a private business owner should be free to choose his own inventory and to distribute it as he sees fit.
My Body; My Choice—Your Pharmacy; My Choice—Your Conscience; My Choice
The “my body; my choice” crowd apparently believes that “your pharmacy” is “my choice” as well. At the Renton hearing, a steady stream of self-proclaimed, would-be “victims” testified of their outrage at hypothetical, sometimes fabricated scenarios. Clearly, their spirited fight for speedy, non-restricted access was politically motivated and bereft of documentable authenticity.
A single working woman without ready access to transportation can’t possibly make her way to another pharmacy, they whined—but (miraculously) she can find her way to Renton from Vancouver or Eastern Washington in order to complain about her plight.
A college student is too pressed for time to acquire and use birth control, or to seek out another pharmacist; but evidently there is time in her busy schedule for sexual intercourse. Then again, there’s the hypothetical high school girl who claims to be too embarrassed to be denied Plan B at her pharmacy of choice, but with eloquence she readily testifies on camera before a room full of adults.
I have to agree that these folks are victims, but not necessarily of a hard-knock life—or a hard-nosed pharmacist. Political activists prey upon, and then use, the vulnerable for their own purposes. That’s victimization in my book.
Right to Timely, Non-Restrictive Access Trumps Conscience
If timely, non-restrictive access were truly a "right," as opposed to a convenience, then all pharmacies would be forced to operate 24/7 under threat of government enforcement. For now anyway, this isn’t the case.
A customer can always take his business elsewhere. It's America after all; most live within reasonable walking (or biking/bus) distance from a neighborhood drug store. If not, willing “choicers” who champion early abortificients are but a phone call away.
I agree with Albert Einstein who warned us “never do anything against conscience even if the state demands it.” In the words of Andrew Jackson, “As long as our government is administered for the good of the people, and is regulated by their will; as long as it secures to us the rights of persons and of property, liberty of conscience and of the press, it will be worth defending.”
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In America folks are still free to agree or disagree with my convictions [and I with theirs], but it's simply not acceptable to deny me or anyone the right to voice and practice them.
And that, my friend, is worth defending.