This just in from The Protection of Conscience Project: Sean Murphy’s post Entrenching a ‘duty to do wrong’ in medicine responds to a blog entry on Impact Ethics by Prof. Carolyn McLeod, The denial of ‘artificial’ contraception by Ottawa doctors.
Prof. McLeod heads up Let Their Conscience Be Their Guide: conscientious refusals in reproductive health care, funded by the Canadian government through the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.
Briefly, the goal of the group is to force physicians to provide abortion, contraception, etc. or to facilitate the procedures by referral or other means. However, the same reasoning is being used to justify forcing objecting physicians to provide or refer for euthanasia and assisted suicide. In fact, two leaders of the McLeod group are on record on that point through the Royal Society of Canada panel report on euthanasia.
Professor McLeod warns that physician freedom to act on moral or religious beliefs is limited, explaining that, if it were not, Muslim physicians would refuse to accept female patients, and Catholic physicians would deny care to women who have had previous abortions. These assertions are surprising – and erroneous. In fact, Muslim physicians may treat patients of the opposite sex,6 and a previous abortion is morally irrelevant to treatment decisions by Catholic physicians.7 Her suggestion that the religious beliefs of Muslim or Catholic physicians would make them “uncomfortable” in such circumstances bespeaks a complete lack of intellectual engagement with Islamic medical ethics and with Catholic moral theology. There is a significant difference between discomfort that might arise in real circumstances of ethical conflict, and principled and rational decision making based on religious or moral convictions.by
Carolyn McLeod is a philosophy professor. Jocelyn Downie and Daniel Weinstock, the other two leaders of the McLeod group who are on record that doctors should be forced to refer for services that they find morally problematic, are law professors. And while I don’t think that philosophers and lawyers should necessarily NOT have a voice in medical ethics, it is much easier to say what someone must do when you know that it will never be you who has to put the needle filled with poison in someone’s arm and watch the life drain out of his face. Or that it will never be you who suctions mutilated pieces of a baby out of someone’s body.
Good sound reasoning Natalie – very refreshing. It would be great if the ‘McLeod group’ had a similar orientation and used reason and fact as a basis for thought.