Long time USCCB Respect Life spokesman Richard Doerflinger posted this brief and ultra-clear challenge to critical thinking skills in today’s culture.
Once upon a time, we were told to allow dissent from time-honored legal and moral norms in the name of “freedom of choice.”
Politicians assured us they were “personally opposed” to abortion but couldn’t impose their values on others. Assisted suicide was advocated not as a way to demean the lives of seriously ill patients but as a way to let desperate people make their own choices at the end of life.
Where does this commitment to personal freedom stand now?
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists declared in 2007 that doctors morally opposed to abortion must present it as an option, and perform it or make referrals. They should even locate their practice near abortion clinics to ensure “access” to what they abhor.
Now the New England Journal of Medicine has published a manifesto co-authored by Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, an architect of President Barack Obama’s health care plan, that goes further. Abortion is now “a standard obstetrical practice,” he says, and physicians may not substitute their “personal beliefs” for this professional standard. Objectors must switch to a medical specialty where they will not care for female patients or “leave the profession.”
The article’s basic premise is ridiculous. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists’s 2011 survey of its membership showed that only 14 percent are willing to provide abortions. So Emanuel’s position accuses most OB-GYNs of unprofessional conduct, and would force all pregnant women to have their babies delivered by an abortion provider.
In politics, as well, freedom of choice is getting old. Tom Perez, Democratic National Committee chair, now insists that support for abortion is a litmus test for anyone running as a Democrat for public office. Some party leaders seem to disagree, but he retains his key post and hasn’t retracted his policy.
So here we are. Last Friday one of the very few remaining pro-life Democratic Members of Congress was my guest on radio, and we talked about how lamentable these circumstances have become. Congressman Dan Lipinski long has been a champion of human life and rights and unapologetically so. He stays in the party in hopes of making a difference in that political ideology, but his own party is running a Democrat to oppose him in the primaries who is distinctly not pro-life.
To call them pro-choice is simply a misnomer. Always has been. The abortion industry offers women no choice, no pre-natal care, no crisis pregnancy help, the way the proliferation of pregnancy help centers around the country have over the years and decades. The abortion industry offers abortion. Being “personally opposed but…” doesn’t stand and it’s getting old, as Doerflinger so candidly points out.
The same politics are at work in the end of life issues, especially assisted suicide.
In Canada, a Supreme Court decision allowing the practice is being interpreted as requiring doctors to at least make referrals. The advocacy group “Compassion & Choices” [Formerly known as the Hemlock Society] has been in court demanding a similar policy in Vermont.
But at least patients’ own choice is paramount, yes? Well, no…
…where assisted suicide is legal, insurers are placing their thumb on the scale to tilt it toward death. Nevada physician Brian Callister says he recently tried to help two of his patients receive potentially life-saving therapy in their home states of Oregon and California – and the insurance company refused to cover the therapy, suggesting that they consider assisted suicide…Oregon’s public health plan has been doing this for years.
Doerflinger does us all a favor by focusing the attention to the clear essentials, to what – for many of us – is stating the obvious.
We’re not debating “choice,” but which view of life will mark our society.
Is human life a gift to be revered, or something to be discarded when it seems unproductive or inconvenient to others? There is still time for all of us to help choose the answer.
Choose wisely. Be intellectually honest.
Sheila Liaugminas writes from Chicago. She is a journalist, author and host of A Closer Look on Relevant Radio.