Christian Medical Group Echoes Concerns on California Case and Pro-Life Docs
by Steven Ertelt
August 19, 2008
Sacramento, CA (LifeNews.com) — A leading Christian group for medical professionals is echoing concerns about a California Supreme Court ruling that it says could have negative ramifications for pro-life physicians. The state high court ruled that doctors have an obligation to provide medical care regardless of their religious or moral views.
The case involved a lesbian woman who was refused artificial insemination and the Christian Medical Association says the decision will impact abortion as well.
While media outlets and some activists groups made the case one about sexual orientation and opposition to gay rights, Dr. David Stevens, the CEO of the CMA, says the larger issue is conscience rights for doctors.
"This case was never about discrimination against patients on the basis of sexual choices; it was about discrimination against healthcare professionals on the basis of their sincerely held ethical standards," he told LifeNews.com.
"The physicians in this case had determined to only provide in-vitro fertilization to married patients. That’s hardly a novel or extreme ethical position," he said.
While doctors have an obligation to care for their patients, Stevens said that doesn’t mean they must check their ethical views on things like abortion at the hospital door.
"Physicians of course must treat all patients with compassion and respect, regardless of the belief systems or sexual norms of the patients," he said. "But tolerance is a two-way street: we must also respect the right of healthcare professionals to make decisions based on ethical standards."
"This court decision, like so many others in which the courts have waded into areas exceeding their proper reach, violates long- established principles of medical ethics," he added. "Even the American Medical Association officially affirms that ‘neither physician, hospital, nor hospital personnel shall be required to perform any act violative of personally held moral principles.’"
Ultimately, Dr. Stevens tells LifeNews.com he’s confident that other areas of law provide protection for pro-life medical personnel but worries the California Supreme Court’s decision is the beginning of the erosion of conscience rights that extend to all Americans.
"The overreaching court decision also conflicts with federal laws protecting right of conscience and with the First Amendment rights of healthcare professionals to exercise their conscientiously held moral beliefs," he said.
"This decision reaches beyond the medical profession. Taking away the First Amendment rights of healthcare professionals puts at risk the rights of every working American," he added.
Stevens echoed the concerns of other pro-life advocates who have said the removal of conscience rights will cause good medical personnel to leave the field.
"When faced with the decision to choose between conscience and providing a medical service, physicians of conscience are most likely to stop providing this service rather than violate their conscience," he said.
"If the courts are going to decree that only a certain type of physician may practice in California, the net result is that patients will have decreased access to physicians," he concluded.
Related web sites:
Christian Medical Association – https://www.cmda.org
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