Conscience

Handcuffed doctor. Medical crime concept, closeup
Handcuffed doctor. Medical crime concept, closeup

Ideology in Science is Destroying Trust

Science should never be tainted by ideology. After all, science isn’t supposed to be about political beliefs but is a powerful method for learning about and understanding the physical universe. Read More ›
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Gavel and Stethoscope on Gradated Background
Photo by Andy Dean on Adobe Stock

Science Journals Have Become Intensely Political

I have related here on several occasions how intensely political supposedly objective science and medical journals have become. The New England Journal of Medicine pushes progressive politics all of the time, as just one example. So does Science, which for example, has endorsed the “nature rights” movement. Nature joined the crowd too in publishing an hysterical jeremiad against President Trump by Jeff Tollefson, its D.C.-based reporter. But if you read the lengthy attack, its most bitter complaints are about intensely believed political and policy differences, not actual examples of Trump being somehow “anti-science.” For example, construes every Trump action on COVID in the most negative light possible. He also attacks Trump’s immigration policy. From, “How Trump Damaged Science–and Why It Could Take Decades to Recover”: Trump has also eroded Read More ›

Photo by Helloquence
man writing on paper

Autonomy, Ezekiel Emanuel, and the Limits of Advance Directives

One of the lessons (wrong, it turns out) that Americans took from the Terri Schiavo fight goes something like this: “What made Terri’s situation so tragic was that she didn’t have a “living will,” an advance directive. If she had only had one of those, everything would have worked out fine.” Advance directives, more commonly called “living wills,” are simple enough documents. Aging with Dignity is just one of many organizations that offers a “simple” advance directive. You run through a list of treatments or care you do or do not want to receive in the future, putting pen to paper, and viola! — you can now rest easy knowing your wishes will be respected should you no longer be Read More ›

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Pistoia, Ospedale del Ceppo

Catholic Hospitals Under Attack

Catholic hospitals are under unremitting attack — from prestigious medical journals, media, and lawyers in courtrooms. The goal is to coerce these venerable institutions into replacing their faith-based methods of medical practice with secular moral standards that deny the sanctity of human life.  

A recent article in the New England Journal of Medicine — perhaps the world’s most influential medical publication — illustrates the threat to medical conscience rights. Ian D. Wolfe and Thaddeus M. Pope, two prominent bioethicists, fret that one in six U.S. hospitals is “affiliated with a Catholic health system.” This is a problem, in their view, because religiously-affiliated hospitals often “refuse to provide legally permitted health services on the basis of institutional belief structures.” The authors are referring to services like abortion, sterilization (absent a pathology), assisted suicide (where legal), and transgender sex reassignment surgeries that alter a body’s normal biological functions. Refusing such procedures, the authors claim, leads to “substantial risks for patient choice, patient safety, and the fundamental principle of autonomy.” 

Patient choice? Yes, sometimes. If a woman requests an abortion and the hospital says no, she is not getting what she wants. But safety? The Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services allow Catholic hospitals to refuse interventions that violate Church belief, but nonetheless require that all patients receive proper care. That includes providing “all reasonable information about the essential nature of the proposed treatment and its benefits; its risks, side-effects, consequences, and cost; and any reasonable and morally legitimate alternative.” In practice, this may also include referring patients to non-Catholic institutions. 

Worries over “safety” are more likely a deflection to mask anti-religious bigotry. Charles C. Camosy, associate professor of theological and social ethics at Fordham University, believes that in many circumstances, the motive for attacking Catholic medicine “is about raw power. Certain influential people don’t want certain [medical] choices denied, so they try to use their power make things the way they want them to be.”

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Doctor with handcuffs. Medical crime
Doctor with handcuffs. Medical crime

Argentinian Doctor Sentenced to Prison for Refusing to Terminate Pregnancy

In Sweden, midwives can be fired and deemed unemployable for refusing abortion. In Ontario, Canada, doctors can face professional discipline for refusing to administer (or refer for) euthanasia. Ditto to refusing an abortion in Victoria, Australia. In California, a Catholic hospital is being sued — with the explicit blessing of the courts — for refusing to allow a transgender hysterectomy. But now in Argentina, the right to obtain an abortion has been declared so fundamental that an objecting M.D. can be held criminally culpable for refusing to terminate a pregnancy. An Impossibility? That would seem to be a moral and legal impossibility. But Argentina just elevated the “medical conscience” controversy to a whole new level of concern — from the potential of not “only” having Read More ›

Photo by Aditya Romansa

Bloomberg: A Patient’s Care is ‘Futile’ if We Decide the Patient Has Little Value

Mike Bloomberg’s presidential campaign is over, but I want to return to something Bloomberg once said that was brought up by reporter Peter Hasson during Bloomberg’s most recent campaign that speaks to a fundamental issue in healthcare issue: Billionaire and Democratic presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg said in a 2011 video that some elderly cancer patients should be denied treatment in order to cut health care costs. He drew on a hypothetical example of a “95-year old” with “prostate cancer” to signal an openness he would have to reform how Medicare provides treatment. “All of these costs keep going up, nobody wants to pay any more money, and at the rate we’re going, health care is going to bankrupt us,” said Read More ›