by Dr. Robert Cihak
I'm a retired physician and am now receiving medical services rather than
providing them. From my current viewpoint as a patient, requiring doctors to
do things unconscionable to them could easily harm me.
Many doctors find that some controversial medical services are inconsistent
with their personal scientific or moral beliefs. These services might
include acupuncture, chiropractic, physician-assisted suicide, alternative
medicine, abstinence-only contraception, homeopathy, abortion, etc. As a
result, these doctors know little, if anything, about the quality of
practitioners providing these services. They don't know which of these
practitioners are competent and which are quacks. For example, would Planned
Parenthood staff know which abstinence-only practitioners were good? (I
would guess that some of these Planned Parenthood practitioners consider
abstinence-only advice immoral.)
Obviously, physicians who abhor killing innocent fetuses or babies will not
know which abortionists are competent in what they do and which are
incompetent. They would not be able to make a "good" referral for someone
seeking an abortion.
As a result, the patient would suffer if their health professionals were
forced to do unconscionable things, which would happen if existing
conscience laws were repealed or weakened. Doctors would be prohibited from
describing their personal moral position with patients if their beliefs were
at all inconsistent with the organization they worked for. As others have
noted, the current federal healthcare laws on the books would result in
almost all medical professionals working for the government. This would
restrict my personal options; for example, I wouldn't be able to easily
avoid doctors and hospitals providing physician-assisted suicide.
A doctor lies if he tells a patient something he doesn't believe. People in
relationships requiring trust are very sensitive to other people lying. A
doctor forced to lie produces mistrust between patient and doctor. Yet trust
is essential in the patient-doctor relationship. When a patient mistrusts
the doctor, the patient sometimes withholds information that might be very
important or even essential to healing.
Yet another consequence of forced belief codes, such as politically
correctness, is deteriorating other services as well. A firefighter friend
of mine has refrained from seeking promotions because he finds himself
unable to repeat the ethical lies required to get ahead in the fire dept.
I've personally benefited from my contact with him; I regret that he finds
himself marginalized and limited in his ability to share his insights with
If a doctor would be forced to make a referral for what he considers quack
treatment, the patient would be the loser.