Bioethicist Calls for Ban on Christian Doctors

by | Aug 26, 2016 | Thinking Out Loud | 0 comments

A leading bioethicist is calling for a ban on Christian doctors having the right of conscientious objection, saying they shouldn’t even do the jobs where there might be a conflict.

Here’s how  it reads in an article published yesterday on by Cameron Atfield.

Doctors working in the public system should be banned from refusing to perform certain procedures, such as abortions, because of their religious beliefs, a leading bioethicist will argue in Brisbane next week.

Oxford-based Australian bioethicist Julian Savulescu will make the argument at a public lecture at the Queensland University of Technology’s Australian Centre for Health Law Research next Tuesday.

In his lecture, Professor Savulescu will also argue doctors and health professionals should only enter medical specialities in which their values would not be in conflict with routine legal medical procedures.

“When a medical procedure, or one which doctors have a monopoly over, is desired by the patient, in the patient’s interests, and is a legal and reasonable use of limited resources, then that procedure ought to be provided by doctors,” he said.

“There is no place for conscientious objection at the bedside in these circumstances.”

At the same time, the Queensland Government is considering legislation making abortion legal without restrictions. That could mean that Christian doctors (or any doctors who reasonably believe that a living human shouldn’t be killed at the parent’s request) could be frequently asked to refer for an abortion.

The Real Issue

The issue of abortion is often clouded by arguments which take as their (faulty) premise that the person being killed isn’t the primary subject of discussion. I’ve even had Christians and conservatives tell me that I have no right to an opinion because I don’t have a womb. If we were talking about the morality of a hysterectomy, they might have a point. But we’re not. We’re talking about another person, not the woman – the baby. You don’t need to be female to defend justice for babies, you need to be born.

Maybe another day I’ll present a comprehensive rebuttal of all the flawed arguments for abortion (which is all of them), but my immediate point is that the main subject of concern for anti abortion campaigners is the baby being killed. Yes, we also care greatly about the mother, the father, the grandparents, the abortion providers and the pro abortion lobbyists and politicians. But as great as their personal damage is, they mostly live to tell about it.

The baby doesn’t.

Most arguments against abortion gloss over the inescapable scientific fact that there is a living human in the womb from the moment of conception. This is basic biology. What species is it? Human. Is it alive, growing, developing, in need of sustenance? Yes. Living, human. There are severe consequences for destroying the unborn offspring of endangered animal species, acknowledgement of the validity and value of their fragile life, even at the embryonic stage. Human life is not less valuable. Getting bogged down in subsequent semantics about “reproductive rights” and “exceptions” in tragic circumstances is simply glossing over the most important fact that we are debating the morality of killing someone every bit as alive and human as we are. The pro abortionist therefore is creating classes of less valuable humans, rationalising it with all kinds of selectively logical gymnastics, and feeling somehow superior to those who devalued black humans as slaves or Jewish humans.

What Is Truth?

My defense of life can be qualified by this simple, but logically consistent statement. “Every human life is precious and worth fighting for at every stage.” Scripture supports this. Science supports this. Logic supports this. Situational ethics are not ethics, they’re excuses. There’s no good reason for killing someone, ever.

Morality is not subjective to the whims of time, geography, social acceptance or personal convictions. What’s wrong has always been wrong and always will be. Society may forget or realise what’s wrong, but we never get to redefine it. We either agree and cooperate, or disagree and try to hold back Truth from our conscious thinking.

The objective person, if being honest with themselves, is in constant pursuit of Truth, constantly assessing their motives, and self-aware. The subjective, dishonest person rails against reason and ration, and often lashes out at anyone simply disagreeing with them, considering it an attack on their very identity – a hate crime.

One of the distinguishing marks of a Bible-believing Christian is the acknowledgement of Truth. We know His Name and can introduce anyone to a personal relationship with constant, unchanging Truth. His Name is Jesus.

Ravi Zacharias observes that if you believe in evil, you must also believe in good, and subsequently the fixed line between the two called morality. If you acknowledge the moral law, than you must acknowledge that it can not be derived from cultural popularity, personal subjectivity or even nature, but from a higher-than-humanity Moral Law Giver. He explains in more detail here.

And so we return to the topic for today, Christian doctors.

William Wilberforce

Conscientious Objection

Professor Savulescu wants doctors to not enter medical fields where their values won’t be in conflict with “routine medical procedures”. What he really wants is doctors without consciences, in effect. “If society says it’s normal, who are you to disagree?”

Professor Savulescu is arguing that society can never get it wrong and popular consensus is never wrong. He’s implying that individuals – especially with a faith in God – can never rise above peer pressure or mainstream media narratives and discover Truth that state sponsored groupthink would otherwise obscure.

It is not in the least bit reasonable or moderate to suggest that a doctor could choose other fields where values conflicts may not arise.

Every human life is precious and worth defending at every stage.

Take Dr Mark Hobart of Victoria for example. In 2013 a patient and her husband discovered that her 19 week, mid-term pregnancy was with a baby girl, and they asked the doctor to please kill the baby because they wanted a boy. Under Victorian law he was obliged to refer the patient to a doctor he knew would have no problems doing so. He refused, and the Medical Board of Victoria and the Australian Health Practitioners Regulation Agency (AHPRA) decided they would seek to take his licence to practice medicine.

Dr Hobart is a Christian, and Professor Savulescu’s argument is that people like him should not be in jobs like his because society might ask him to kill a baby, and that he should have no right to politely decline.

Really, Professor? Do you think Australia would be better off with less doctors, certainly less with firm convictions that they should do no harm? Do you really think a conscience and a spiritually-informed worldview are unhelpful hindrances to a career in medicine?

The Real Issue Again

It is wilful ignorance to dismiss the fact of the human life at the centre of such arguments. Calling the destruction of life “reproductive rights” is a misnomer designed to mislead. Describing abortion as “health care” is reckless indifference to the established negative consequences for women’s mental and emotional health for many years after. Reducing the topic to a “woman’s body” hides the fact that someone else’s body is discarded as medical waste.

Society in general is constantly chasing relativism, to throw off the personal accountability to the moral law Giver and responsibility to uphold His moral law. Increasingly they raise their voices and organise their efforts to say, “We don’t need a God – we can decide for ourselves what’s right and wrong.”

The Church, you and I, are the answer. It is our voices that must respond and offer Truth.

Twenty thousand Queensland children are killed in abortion clinics every year. Nearly a hundred thousand nationwide, more than could fill the Melbourne Cricket Ground for the Boxing Day Test Match or the AFL Grand Final. That many babies will never be held by their mummy or daddy. That many mothers and that many fathers will be denied even the opportunity to bury and grieve the child they conceived and which died.

What can we do to respond to overreaching bioethicists who would seek to exclude Christians not only from public debate but from even practicing medicine in the field of their gifting or choice?

We can, and we must, vote for Christian values in those we elect. Nothing is more important than life, for without life, there is no education. There is no health. There is no economy. There is no immigration or agriculture or sport or national security. Jesus voted for life when He designed it, created and gave it to us, so we know precisely “What would Jesus do?”. We must do the same, at the very least.