The Department of Health and Human Services is proposing barring federal funds to organizations and clinics that won’t hire personnel who might refuse a patient treatment or counseling if it conflicts with their personal beliefs. While on the surface such a shield law seems sensible, in this case it’s not-so-subtly aimed at family planning and womens’ reproductive health clinics. Furthermore, the DHHS is contemplating widening the description of abortion so broadly as to incorporate oral contraceptives as well as against a near-universal understanding of the medical terms ‘abortion’ and ‘pregnancy’.
The above article is based of a draft proposal, so there’s no guarantee it’ll come to pass, but just think for a moment on this. Even after setting aside the ridiculous notion that oral contraceptives (even the ‘morning after’ pill) could somehow count as abortion (read about the mechanics of how those actually work here), this is just potentially bad law through and through,
While there’s justification (and indeed legal precedent) in the notion that an employee should not be forced to work against their own personal beliefs, there’s a dangerous line being crossed here, and I have the same argument for it as I do for companies that allow pharmacists or pharmacy technicians to refuse to fill orders or service that run contrary to their beliefs. For one, there’s no justification for inserting one’s self into a doctor/patient relationship of which you are not directly involved. That’s a non-starter by any standard. Secondly, the notion that pharmacist or tech can arbitrarily decide to quite possibly decide for another their reproductive decisions (with results that can very much last a lifetime) should be anathema to anyone who believes that we as a species have an inalienable right to decide on matters regarding to our own health.
If someone’s moral values are such that they can’t perform the service they’re charged with providing, then there’s a very good argument that they shouldn’t be in a position where that’s even a concern. And yes, while in many cases people can turn to another to provide the same service we have to remember that there are equally as many cases as where there might be no other option.
An employer with a server who refused to serve steak that was on the menu because they were morally opposed to meat-eating, so why would we make an exception for a situation in which a woman (or couple) might be refused the right to decide for themselves what’s best for their health?