A Pre-Election Post: Abortion and Right of Conscience

As a general rule, I try to avoid using this blog as an outlet for my political beliefs.

Then again, there’s a presidential election taking place in two weeks. Which is kind of a big deal.

Rather than launching into a full-blown endorsement of an individual candidate, I want to take this opportunity to talk about two specific issues, and why they determine how I vote.

Abortion

Without question, this is the most pressing moral issue of our time.

About 1.2 million abortions are performed in the United States each year – approximately equal to the total number of American deaths in the Revolutionary War, Civil War, WWI, and WWII combined.

I’ve written before on the question of when life begins, so I won’t rehash that here. For Christians, however, the answer ought to be abundantly clear. I might catch some flak for this, but I frankly don’t understand how a professing Christian can possibly support a political candidate who views the ongoing genocide of the unborn as morally permissible.

So speaking to my fellow believers: If a candidate were actively and enthusiastically supportive of murdering 1.2 million schoolchildren each year, would you vote for him simply because you agreed with his economic policies? If you believe that God values the life of a 7-year-old more than the life of an unborn child, can you provide any evidence – Scriptural or otherwise – to support that position? I’m sincerely open to discussing this in the comment section.

Right of Conscience

This issue is sometimes overlooked, but it goes hand-in-hand with abortion. As a future physician, it affects me personally.

“Conscience is the most sacred of all property.” -James Madison

Only a month after taking office, President Obama announced that he would be rescinding HHS regulations protecting the conscience rights of healthcare workers:

“[Specific publicly-funded entities may not] discriminate in the employment, promotion, or termination of employment of any physician or other health care personnel because he performed or assisted in the performance of a lawful sterilization procedure or abortion, because he refused to perform or assist in the performance of such a procedure or abortion on the grounds that his performance or assistance in the performance of the procedure or abortion would be contrary to his religious beliefs or moral convictions, or because of his religious beliefs or moral convictions respecting sterilization procedures or abortions…” 

In April 2009, these rules were officially eliminated. Then, in 2011, the administration approved the now-infamous HHS contraception mandate, requiring employer-provided insurance plans to cover birth control and early-term abortion drugs…regardless of the provider’s religious objections. (As an aside, I highly recommend R.J. Snell’s article, “The Contraception Mandate and Secular Discourse”.)

Other recent attacks have centered around the Weldon Amendment (2004), which prohibits federally funded agencies from discriminating against health care providers who refuse to provide, pay for, provide coverage for, or refer for abortions.

Additionally, a 2009 online survey of 2,865 faith-based healthcare professionals found that:

  • 39% of faith-based healthcare professionals have “experienced pressure from or discrimination by faculty or administrators based on [their] moral, ethical, or religious beliefs.”
  • 20% of faith-based medical students say they are “not pursuing a career in Obstetrics or Gynecology” because of perceived discrimination and coercion in that field.
  • 12% of faith-based healthcare professionals have “been pressured to perform a procedure to which [they] had moral, ethical, or religious objections.”
  • 91% of faith-based physicians agreed with the statement, “I would rather stop practicing medicine altogether than be forced to violate my conscience.”

So aside from the clear injustice of legalized abortion, my interest in this election is based on a desire to learn and practice medicine without being pressured to violate my moral convictions. Not to belittle the importance of other social, economic, and foreign policy issues, but these will be my overriding concerns in the ballot box.

See also:

Real-life examples of discrimination in healthcare

J.W. Wartick pro-life resources

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30 thoughts on “A Pre-Election Post: Abortion and Right of Conscience

  1. “No provision in our Constitution ought to be dearer to man than that which protects the rights of conscience against the enterprises of the civil authority.” -Thomas Jefferson

  2. The sanctity of life is no longer a part of our country. It is scary that there will no longer be Christain OBGYN’s in this country anymore. Why are people so complacent. This so infringes on our freedom of religion.

  3. I agree with you more than not, but my concern is not so much economic as what I consider to be a bigger pro-life issue, and that is world peace. I do not believe, and I wanted to very much so, in fact, that Mitt Romney is capable of good judgment when it comes to negotiations and diplomacy with other nations–some which are very dangerous.

    Neither do I think we should ignore their faults or let them run amuck, and that too can happen. But it is a delicate balancing act, and I think President Obama’s more nuanced approach to foreign policy is much likelier to keep the world safer. I debated long and hard within myself (as well as praying obviously) before deciding to vote for him.

    I support Obama in spite of the points you made, and they are major ones indeed. But with such hair-trigger closeness to global war and catastrophe I find that Romney may lack that crucial judgment. And then it will honestly not matter if we are pro-life or pro-choice.

    As to the economy, it is my understanding that, with better economic times, abortion becomes more rare simply due to less desperation on the parts of those in severe poverty. Statistics during the Clinton years ( I do not have them off hand but have read this in numerous places) indicated a clear drop in abortions, not an increase, and he was very nearly as pro-choice as Obama. I think we must fight abortion in other ways than the nearly 50 year old attempt to overturn Roe v Wade, which even then would only send the issue back to the states and not make it neccesarily illegal. It would take a constitutional amendment to do that and I do not think we are remotely close to seeing that occur, although I would love it if it did.

    So that leaves, to me, the approach of keeping the world safe, working on poverty related issues, and the candidate most likely to do so, at least from where I stand, is President Obama.

    That is why this Christian supports him–in spite of, and certainly not because of, his stands on life issues. And to me it was a wrenching decision, because I clearly see your points as well, and know we must fight, no matter who gets in, to keep conscience rights for physicians and other healh care workers. And to convince, perhaps one woman at a time, those who are pregnant to give that very real human life a chance.

    Know that I respect you and your views greatly. And I have not switched teams on life issues. I just find that we must wade through so much on either side to bring them to pass, and I am not sure either candidate will actually do so.

    That is why I will vote–but more so pray–for whoever wins to be the person God indeed chooses.

    • Thanks for your very thoughtful response.

      To start with, I do agree with you that world peace is a pro-life issue. I’ve honestly not been impressed with how Obama has handled the problem of Iran (or our relationship with Israel, for that matter). For the most part, though, I don’t see many significant policy differences between Romney and Obama. It really took some splitting of hairs during the third presidential debate for us to see any tangible disagreements, and many of my liberal friends’ primary complaint against Obama is that he’s too hawkish.

      I look at it this way, though: Even if Romney were to get us into a ground war with Iran (which I actually think would be less likely than under Obama), I just don’t see it producing anywhere near the number of casualties that we inflict on our unborn – in this country alone – *every single year*.

      As far as the relationship between the economy and the abortion rate goes, I agree that there is a connection there. Without going into the relative merits of each candidate’s economic agenda, I’m very cautious about treading into moral consequentialism. Here’s an example (which I borrow from an acquaintance): Let’s say it was proven that the best way to reduce child sex trafficking was not to outlaw it, but to improve the economic condition of developing countries. Would we then be comfortable voting for a candidate who fully and vocally supports the sex trade, but who will institute good economic policies?

      Anyway, I do appreciate the sincerity of your decision (even if I don’t agree). I really can’t emphasize enough how underwhelmed I am with Romney as a candidate. Honestly, I’m not voting for Romney so much as I’m voting for the 2-4 Supreme Court seats that will likely open up in the coming term. With the HHS contraception mandate likely to reach the Supreme Court in the next few years, I really think this is what’s going to set the trajectory of our country’s political/religious landscape.

    • You have some strong points, particularly on the HHS mandate issue coming to the Supreme Court eventually. Very honestly I had not thought of that and I plan to ponder more! I for one want you as a doctor to be able to serve–I may need you one day!!! Thanks.

  4. anglicanboyrichard, did you consider while in prayer the fact that Obama voted against the Born Alive Act that protects babies who survive an abortion? What kind of person votes against it? We all know how premature babies die if denied medical care- they suffocate to death due to lack of oxygen from undeveloped lungs! What kind of person sees this as acceptable? What have we become as a human race to ignore this disgusting fact about Obama? If my neighbor came up to me saying they’d too vote to deny abortion survivors *babies* medical care and they knew perfectly how these babies die a horrible death and then turn around and ask me to vote for them. No way. NEVER!!! I hope you pray Obama doesn’t win.

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  6. JPAROTHINKS–Since your “aim” is at me, I think I clarified already that I was not for abortion. The Born Alive Act he rejected in Illinois is precisely why I did not vote for him last time.

    The question Matt posed was why any pro-life person would or could “possibly” vote for Obama, and I was sharing my views concerning foreign policy issues as one possible reason. I do have a fear of escalating unrest, particularly in the Middle East, as something that must be handled with extreme delicacy before it indeed starts World War III. And Romney worries me in that regard. You do not need to agree with me on that but I find it offensive that you attack me for simply answering his question.

    I have lost friends over the pro-life position I have always, and always will, take. Matt knows that I am not defending abortion in any way, shape or form here. Please do not assume I am not.

    • You have to admit that someone with this mentality and gross character flaw is in no position to protecting life or a *nation* in general. Did you read his interview with the New York Times where he admitted of panels to determine care for the sick and dying? If he is willing to turn his back on a newborn abortion survivor and let them die what else is he capable of? This sick mentality does affect ALL of his decisions because it stems from a dark place he’s coming from. He is no better than someone who kills their infant right after birth. His vote against Born Alive was essentially that. Since your name has “Catholic” in it I assume you are Catholic why are you so willing to go against your faith and the church? There is no prayer you can say to make you realize how a vote for Obama is good and acceptable. Did you also know the devil can enter your thoughts and make you think something is good when it’s not? Guard your heart and your mind. You were right the first time.

  7. Reblogged this on catholicboyrichard and commented:
    RICHARD’S THOUGHTS HERE–Ironically just as I was planning to repost this, I was jumped on pretty hard for even considering a vote for Obama. Let me again say, and for all to hear, that if I do cast my ballot for the current President it will definitely be in spite of, not because of, his views in this area. But the choices we have politically this time are very difficult, and I will just leave it there. I re-blog this with that in mind.

    • Hey Matt if you get a chance to post a comment on my re-blog I would appreciate it. I have a friend who sent me an article link which totally redefines “pro-life,” and I think you might be better able to answer her than I did, or at least to add to my thoughts there. Also I would share here as well the link to something I wrote on the topic this winter–link is below:

      http://catholicboyrichard.com/2012/01/26/pro-life-or-anti-abortion-who-decides/

      You have seen it, I believe, but some of your readers may not have. I still am, and always will be, pro-life in the traditional use of the term.

    • Now this is just downright eerie. I literally JUST finished writing a post addressing this exact article! It should be up in a few moments…

  8. “I might catch some flak for this, but I frankly don’t understand how a professing Christian can possibly support a political candidate who views the ongoing genocide of the unborn as morally permissible.”

    I will stand up in agreement with this statement. As in most cases in today’s time of “moral relativism” , someone who stands on truth it’s considered as closed minded.there is absolute truth! And it’s only found in God’s word, when society & even “Christians” stray from that truth, relativism starts to take hold.
    Any “Christian” who votes for a candidate that supports & promotes such a disregard for human life…no matter how such candidates relativistic logic tries to justify those viewpoints…is on dangerous ground because you compromise the word of God, an action He doesn’t take lightly. I would suggest to those Christians to take the Apostle Pauls advice in 1 Corinthians 13:5.

    There is absolute truth, the right to life is the first and foremost right that all men possess, and that life is given by God who personally knows and forms each individual. Without a right to life…no other rights matter, including your right to vote. I will NEVER vote for or support who purses the destruction of helpless children I don’t care if he fixed everything else in our country, had top notch foreign policy etc. The right to life should always be the first thing a Christian looks at in any candidate, because if that candidates view contradicts that right…then what else matters!

    Remember every man will stand and give an account. So Matt taking a stand for what’s right can come with some difficulty & ridicule but Matthew 10:28 comes to mind when such a stand is taken…Stand Firm

    God is not subject to mans opinions, we are subject to his. He does not bend truth to fit an “economic or foreign policy” so as his followers why should we….

    • “God is not subject to mans opinions, we are subject to his. He does not bend truth to fit an “economic or foreign policy” so as his followers why should we….”

      Well said! Thank you for your encouragement.

    • Anytime…just tired of people, especially Christians thinking it’s ok to have an opinion that’s contrary to the very basis of Christianity, God and his word. There is a blinder on them, that Gods judgment will pass over them, so they let in societal ideologies and mix them with their faith…thisidsChristians are labeled hypocrites…because they don’t fully Stand on God’s word, and this is part of the reason I feel Good has Lord mange to start The Remnant. And in reality everyone is a hypocrite at some point.

    • Thanks it just came to me at the end of my reply…I’ll always encourage those who stand on truth….and pray for those who don’t…this is why I feel God has led me and a friend to start The Remnant…it’s so important in taking our country back to the principles upon which it was founded. No elected official will lead us there only God can through his people who humble themselves and pray.

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