Lynn v. Sekulow

Lynn v. Sekulow

Conscience Clause: For What?

I am not opposed to a very narrowly crafted conscience clause where the issue is the sincerely held belief by a person that he or she is being asked to take a “life”.  This means that conscientious objectors to war can refuse to carry a gun (or participate directly in the institution of war which they oppose).  It could mean that a doctor could not be compelled to perform a “lethal injection”.  And I would include a provision for a doctor who shares the McCainian belief that fully legally protectable life begins at the moment of conception not to do an abortion.  But, Jay, I know you would not be satisfied with this.  You want a claim of “conscience” to negate any requirement that an individual doesn’t want to perform: the police officer who won’t stand guard at a womens’ clinic to protect the doctors who may enter to perform abortions; the cab driver who won’t drive somebody carrying home a sealed bottle from the liquor store; the teacher who won’t teach evolution because he doesn’t “believe in it”, and on and on.  To you, religious beliefs nearly uniformly trump the beliefs of third parties affected by that religious belief.  We can’t run a pluralistic nation that way and the Constitution doesn’t mandate that we even try.

Some of you think: the women in cases like this can just “go elsewhere”.  In the woefully inadequate healthcare system we have today, that is not a real answer.  Many people are tied to a health plan at a job which requires them to use the services of a select group of providers.  And those providers, frankly, ought to provide what the patient wants.
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Jack Ludwig

posted August 19, 2008 at 3:07 pm

As a citizen of the USA I feel we are excessively imposed upon by those who are zealous in their beliefs, organizations and activities (BOA) for others to be “forced to comply” with said BOA. Personally, politically and religiously I resent those attempts and unfortunate accomplishments of those impositions.
I liken these majority coaxings to exceeding the right to swing ends at my nose. Too often the nose is severely broken to cause harm beyond the alleged benefit of the imposed element. E.g. In the case of stem cell research using “soon to be discarded/destroyed embryos” maintained outside the parental host donor, some groups’ philosophic concerns negated the unknown potential for real benefit, leadership and initiative regarding ‘scientific’ pursuits. This reminds me of today’s call to drill in untapped areas rather than using already productive areas more effectively. Hypocrisy of some level in both, in my opinion.
Having personally had stem cell injections as recently as 8 weeks ago, my shoulder rotator cuff recovery is greatly limited by the nature of those non-embryonic cells. If development via umbilical cord cells proves more effective, I’ll probably endure more future injections.
Injecting my right to freedom from your imposition of restriction was not economically feasible because of your standard bearer’s similar bias. i.e Bush as religious based restrictive president.

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Bill Rohan Sr

posted August 19, 2008 at 3:25 pm

To understand that claims about the nature of reality based on religious beliefs (e.g. “There is a God”, “My prayers will be answered.”) are essentially different from claims about the nature of reality based on rational interpretation of sense-based experience, is to recognize and accept an essential distinction between belief and knowledge.
Since religious belief will not be constrained by reason or dictated to by facts it cannot serve as the basis of universal rules for harmonious human conduct. Rather the subjective idiosyncratic basis for religious belief is a fundamental cause of social disharmony and disorder precisely because it declares the nature of reality without a commitment to the means by which it is discovered and known.
The ultimate basis for universal harmony is knowledge, and not in a willful defiance of reason and fact that religious belief requires.

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posted August 19, 2008 at 7:40 pm

I have to respectfully disagree with Lynn on this one. There is absolutely no need for any type of conscience clause in any profession. Doctors should be making medical decisions baased on medical practice, not moral values or stop calling themselves Doctors and call themselves what they are: religious bigots masquerading as doctors. Same for pharmacists, attorneys, etc. Conscientious Objector status only came into play when there was forced conscription into military service.
One other thing Lynn : I can’t believe you are letting Sekulow get away way with the “pro-life” misnomer. He is anti-abortion and he supports the reckless endangerment deaths of our troops in Iraq and Afganistan, and has no problem with capital punishment, both, the last time I looked, were pro-death…

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Rick McGirr

posted August 19, 2008 at 11:57 pm

I agree with the concept of being able to live as one’s conscience guides, but it is best to temper such positions in light of the good of all mankind. If one group doesn’t favor giving researchers the best chance to find cures for diseases, I don’t necessarily agree that the rest of humanity can just forget about it. Allowances need to be made to accomodate not only those of certain beliefs, but all beliefs, as stated in our constitution.
The commenter who can’t get the best treatment for his ailment because of restrictions on the use of embryonic stem cells is a case in point. Human reproductive matter which is stored in the freezers of fertility clinics is restricted from use in vital medical research. Notions of the sanctity of such matter, held by so-called “pro-life” groups, are morally and legally unsupportable, not to mention unconstitutional. They are also ridiculous in light of the fact that the same matter protected so is discarded routinely, every day.
I suffer with Parkinson’s disease. In my position, it is easy to feel that I am valued less than garbage, because researchers are forbidden to utilize this very important resource. I must ask, is it really “pro-life” to restrict real, live, tax-paying citizens’ rights to their best chances of being freed of their afflictions, in favor of what ultimately becomes medical waste? I submit that this position is unconscionable, regardless of the belief system of its supporters.
My interpretation is that the constitution provides equal protection to my irreligious views and those of the religious. Accomodations must be made for all. I am willing to accomodate the religious to find workable compromises, if they, in turn, can find room in their hearts to hear my voice.

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posted August 20, 2008 at 4:39 pm

I am a supporter of the Rev. Barry lynn but I think he is too lenient on the subject of a “conscience clause.”
I agree with the comment that doctors should be making medical decision about a patient’s health based entirely on medical science, not religion. The idea that a doctor would not order the best treatment because it would in some way “violate his conscience” is appalling.
The same is true of pharmacists or other health care providers. The fact that any pharmacist or pharmacy would refuse to dispense a legally prescribed medication or treatment should be illegal, not permitted. If it violates his or her beliefs he or she should find another line of work that does not require such possibly life threatening decisions.

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posted August 21, 2008 at 2:00 am

Rev.Barry Lynn, why do you keep using that title?
If women want to kill their babies and the health professionals assist them then be assured there is a judgment coming.
True Christians will continue to oppose abortion and that’s all that is asked of them.

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Karen Brown

posted August 21, 2008 at 3:35 am

He uses the title because he has a divinity degree from Georgetown University. Just because you don’t like his positions doesn’t change his credentials.

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posted August 24, 2008 at 9:28 pm

Actually I found it intriguing that Barry had that title. I thought hey he’s an enemy but he’s a friend. I bit too simplistic but hey. Cool. I would never think any lesser of him because of that though. I might initially suspect him of at least skirting certain issues but I like the idea of a theologically informed person fighting for the rights of people who stand up against unfair religious influence on their way of life.

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Karen Brown

posted August 25, 2008 at 10:38 am

Well, it isn’t that surprising.
The first ones to fight for the Separation of Church and State weren’t atheists. They weren’t some non-Christian faith.
It was the Baptists. Of course, at the time when they were such fervent advocates, they WERE a very distinct minority, AND there were actual laws on the books in place that forbade various religions (or to be precise, often specific Christian denominations) from being able to engage in various public functions. Many times, you had states where Catholics couldn’t run for office, or where Baptists couldn’t.
So, to be honest, Lynn is part of a long history of Christians who supported that separation.
There is an irony, now that THEY aren’t the ones who are the minority, and are being dismissed in public life, that so many prominent Baptists have changed their views so dramatically. As if they only espoused it because it benefited them. The minute that was no longer the case, it was about other faiths, then they are against it.

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Glenn Ethridge

posted August 26, 2008 at 8:31 am

In a society that protects the rights of the individual, our right to conscience must be preserved. Doctors have an ethical duty to outline options, but the government should not force doctors or pharmacists or nurses to perform procedures that violate the individual conscience. The only exemption, in my mind, is that a doctor must say “Abortion is an option and is available by Dr. XYZ at location 123. I will not perform the procedure.”
Doctors choose all the time what procedures they will and will not perform for business as well as ethical reasons. Many doctors choose to practice gynecology but do not deliver babies. That is a business choice.
When the government forces a physician, pharmacist, nurse or other provider to perform an act over and against his/her conscience then the government has overstepped its bounds. Regardless of our views on abortion, we cannot surrender the right of conscience.
Let’s preserve the right of consciencious exemption. Let’s not force men and women into combat against their conscience. Let’s not force doctors to perform state executions which are 100% legal against their conscience, and let’s not force doctors to perform abortions which are 100% legal against their conscience.
When we raise the issue of abortion, suddenly the conversation divorces from logic. An exemption of conscience is critical to the preservation of the right of conscience.

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Karen Brown

posted August 26, 2008 at 11:31 am

The reason they still allow people to remain in the military WHILE preserving conscientious objection is that there are times when people are FORCED (via draft) to be IN the military.
Nobody is forced to be a doctor in a specialty working in a clinic where abortions might be performed. (Note all the steps it takes to end up even in the position where doing an abortion would even be possible. Nobody is going to make a podiatrist do an abortion, for instance.)
You have to use some more equivalent examples.
Are Muslim cabdrivers forced, against their conscience, to transport people carrying alcohol? YES.
Are Muslim cashiers forced, against their conscience, to handle pork products? YES.
They have CHOSEN to be in both that field, and to work in that site, where such activities are a common, and expected part of any employee’s job. If they don’t want to do that, they can work where that won’t happen.
If the cabdriver takes a job as an independent driver, able to transport whom he wants, problem solved.
If the cashier changes jobs to a clothing store, or hardware, problem solved.
If the doctor doesn’t pick one of a handful of specialties even qualified to do an abortion, or works in a private practice where he wouldn’t do any surgical procedures at all… problem solved.

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Karen Brown

posted August 26, 2008 at 11:45 am

Oh, and as was pointed out above..
There IS no ‘conscientious objector’ career path in the military. The military isn’t changing what it is, what it does, or its mission to cater to the conscience of that objector.
It is making a brief niche, knowing there’s a few positions available that fit, where they can go while they ‘serve their time’. The objector isn’t volunteering FOR the military, they are serving their mandated time and getting out.
AND, the military isn’t changing job descriptions for them. You aren’t going to find a conscientious objector demanding to get into the infantry, then saying they can’t be made to hold a gun. They simply choose and are given the choice of jobs where holding a gun isn’t in the job description.
The equivalent in the medical field would be to not get INTO that field. The doctor would, if they wanted to be treated equivalently, change their specialty, if already chosen, to one where the thing they objected to would not be part of the job description.

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Please Understand

posted April 6, 2009 at 11:25 am

Please understand that no physician will ever be REQUIRED to perform an abortion. If the Obama administration revokes this rule, it does NOT change a physician’s right to refuse. This is well-written as follows (from website above):
Dan Nejfelt, a Senior Communications Associate in the moderate Evangelical group called Faith in Public Life group sent The Brody File the following analysis:
“It’s important to remember that regardless of what becomes of the conscience clause regulations under review, doctors will NOT be required to perform abortions against their will. There’s a thirty-year history of legislation ensuring this, and even completely overturning the regulations in question can’t change it. What the conscience clause is far more likely to affect is access to prescription birth control, which can drastically affect the number and rate of unplanned pregnancies and abortions. In keeping with the President’s repeated statements about the need to reduce abortion, ensuring access to contraception is a logical goal. I don’t know what this review process is going to lead to, but it seems consistent with a commitment to reducing abortion.”

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Your Name

posted April 10, 2009 at 4:39 pm

Someone in the debate wrote that one shouldn’t even be a doctor if he or she does not want to peform abortion because abortion is the job description in the medical field. Abortion was never a part of a job description in the medical field. Helping people to recover their healthy lifestyles is the job description. So, to disqualify someone of his or her hope of becoming a medical professional just because he or she refuses to perform abortion, to some of us is a pure murder, does not justify one’s belief that such person not supporting abortion should not be doctors or nurses or any other type of medical professionals.

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N. Lindzee Lindholm

posted July 6, 2009 at 4:38 pm

This is not a pluralistic society. We, the United States of America, were founded on Christian principles and this should remain a Christian nation. The Conscience Clause is certainly needed to protect the rights of medical professionals who do not want to take life. Many went into the profession for this very reason: to save life versus extinguish it in a barbaric way through abortion procedures that butcher a little life. A Conscience Clause is needed for those who actually have a conscience.

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