Apr 21, 2009

Washington attempts to control medical ethics

by Mattison Brooks

“First do no harm” is a mindset and philosophy practiced by medics, doctors and physicians worldwide, and indeed has been for centuries.

However, President Barack Obama’s White House has recently taken upon itself the responsibility to change that philosophy, not by re-writing the original oath that outlines medical ethics, but by changing the policies around the medical practice and its allowances. President Obama has proposed legislation to reverse what is known as the Conscience Clause, according to CNN, which is a series of laws that protect doctors and physicians from being required to perform certain procedures and surgeries because of moral or conscience-based reasons.

The clause itself has been in existence in American law since Roe v. Wade, but former President George W. Bush made several changes to the legislation, broadening its scope and its provisions.

The proposal that is being pitched by the Obama administration wants to erase those changes, and while details are not solid, doctors and physicians whom this would affect are speculating that the conscience clause as a whole may disappear.

Legislation, lawmaking and due process are the greatest tools of a democracy. But when they are being wielded to decide the matters of the soul, the conscience and human morality, a line is being crossed. And that is turning those tools into weapons.

As history has shown, abusing democracy brings out some of the greatest monsters in history. Caesar was appointed by the Senate to defend Rome but never gave up his power. Hitler used legislation to ban opposition and drive support for his rule. Palestinian citizens elected a recognized terrorist organization as their representatives.

We can look back on history and say that these were decisions made by men who were blinded by the times. But they were decisions actually made by the people and the people’s representatives. The Conscious Clause is vastly different. This is a leader of a democracy who is contemplating deciding how doctors can choose or not choose to practice medicine.

If the day comes when this law does take effect, what needs to be looked at is not the implications on the legal system, because if morality ever becomes legislated, it is impossible to speculate what will come of it. But when doctors are being forced out of work because of moral choices, the medical field begins to only contain certain mindsets and worldviews. As a result, the practice of medicine will either become a controlled institution or become morally gray. And when human life is the ends and medicine the means, when there is no freedom to decide what is right or wrong, doctors and nurses will be programmed to think exactly what the government wants them to.

And that is not to assume this form government mind and occupational control will leak into all walks of life. But as true as it is in the real world, one step can lead anywhere. While assuming gets mankind nowhere, being ever vigilant in the face of immorality does.

Contact Mattison Brooks at


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