New England Journal of Medicine: Pro-Assisted Suicide, Pro-Rationing, Anti-Hobby Lobby

Opinion   |   Wesley J. Smith   |   Jul 4, 2014   |   11:20AM   |   Washington, DC

The New England Journal of Medicine is a cultural wrecking ball. Whenever it turns to ethics, it reliably sides with the culture of death–pro assisted suicide and health care rationing–or against conscience rights of those who dissent from the reigning moral orthodoxy. For example, it disdains the right of medical professionals to refuse participation in abortion.

Now, it has published a shallowly reasoned, follow-the-liberal-advocacy-meme article bemoaning the limited and eminently reasonable Hobby Lobby decision. From, “When Religious Freedom Clashes with Access to Care:”

The Court’s decision allows the beliefs of employers of various sizes and corporate forms to trump the beliefs and needs of their employees, potentially influencing the types of care that will be affordable and accessible to individuals and permitting employers to intrude on clinician–patient relationships.

newenglandjournalofmedicineIt did no such thing.

Employers offer salaries for work. Part of the “package,” as it is called, often includes health insurance.

Employers have always made decisions about whether to offer this benefit and the extent of the policies offered. And no one suggested–until now–that they were interfering with doctor-patient relationships in the decisions they made about the kind of insurance to offer as wages.

But once the government seized centralized control over these decisions–and used the cudgel of Obamacare regulations to impose the politically progressive moral view on everyone in the guise of regulating healthcare–it suddenly became a right to have employers pay for certain procedures, even if the person who owns the business believes it would be sinful to so participate in the action.

That’s what happens with centralized control. Government power is used to impose a preferred moral view.

Then comes the NEJM hysteria:

Finally, in the wake of Hobby Lobby, we may anticipate challenges to other medical services that some religions find objectionable, such as vaccinations, infertility treatments, blood transfusions, certain psychiatric treatments, and even hospice care.

Good grief: What religions opposes hospice care? Christian Scientists, I suppose, because they don’t believe in most medical care–for themselves. I don’t think CS theology considers it sinful for an employer to purchase medical insurance. Indeed, I am not sure that faith accepts the concept of sin.

But here’s the larger point. The Hobby Lobby decision (and subsequent actions) restricted its terms to the HHS mandate re birth control–which the editorial acknowledges.

There’s a reason. Under the law, these issues must be looked at on a case-by-case basis because the Religious Freedom Restoration Act allows the government to prevail if it has a compelling interest, not to mention analyzing whether the least restrictive method was used by the government and the bona fide nature of the complainant’s religious objection.

Hence, as I wrote at The Corner, a refusal to cover blood transfusions or inoculations for infectious disease would be looked upon more skeptically than covering medically unnecessary contraception.

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Also, publicly traded companies like, say Chevron, will never be deemed to have a “religion” because they have millions of owners, thereby further limiting the potential scope of the ruling.

Bottom line in my book: The HHS mandate was intended to prepare the way for an eventual order for free abortion, free sex change surgery (already happening), free IVF, and perhaps, assisted suicide. One reason–beyond politics–for the rage is that the case throws a minor impediment in the way of using health care to transform the culture into the secular progressive image. Note: Wesley J. Smith, J.D., is a special consultant to the Center for Bioethics and Culture and a bioethics attorney who blogs at Human Exeptionalism.