I’m not a medical professional? How does this affect me?
A day does not go by without a new health care-related case being in the news. From the outside looking in, it would seem that the current attacks on medical conscience are far removed from the average person who isn’t currently practicing in the field of health care. But are they really that far removed?
Society is currently facing an onslaught of concrete risks and challenges in which medical conscience is being attacked.
- Patients’ control over their own health care is being threatened. It has become increasingly difficult for patients and health care consumers to find options that are consistent with their moral and religious convictions. In addition, these individuals are finding it more difficult to find health care workers that are respectful of the patient’s conscience and faith-based choices for care.
- Attacks on medical conscience are undermining recruitment for health care workers and health care access. It comes as no surprise that college students and young people are thinking twice about entering certain fields of medicine due to fear of violations of their conscience and faith-based convictions. Over time, the lack of protection of medical conscience can contribute to a shortage of medical professionals and thus undermining healthcare access.
- Ignoring medical conscience destroys the foundation of civil rights. Too often, hospitals and other health care entities are coercing doctors, nurses and other medical professionals into violating their conscience or religious faith. Such coercion is a fundamental violation of basic civil rights, the right to think, act, love, and care for others consistent with one’s conscience and religious beliefs, i.e., their moral or religious convictions.
- As medical conscience becomes more and more threatened, so too does the Patient-Doctor relationship. Patient-physician relationships are threatened when government policies or the health care industry coerce medical professionals into performing unethical procedures that violate the medical professional’s conscience and that risk harm to the patient. The patient-doctor relationship is a critical piece of medical treatment.
In summary, if we do not stop these attacks on medical conscience we face the following consequences:
- Increased violations of the rights to life, dignity, and health of patients
- Violations of the basic civil rights of doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals
- Loss of patient freedom and control over their own health care
- Shortage of health care workers
- Crisis of health care access
- Loss of moral or religious freedom
- Collapse of fundamental civil rights
- Poor health care outcomes because of the destruction of the patient-doctor relationship
What can we do to avoid these end results?
- Promote policies at the state and federal level that protect the right of conscience and religious freedom for medical professionals and patients
- Educate your family, friends, fellow Church congregants or parishioners, and local communities about the urgent need to protect medical conscience and religious freedom in health care
- Revitalize support for medical conscience and religious freedom in popular culture and civil society