Obama Seeks to Remove Freedom of Conscience From Doctors

Many doctors have moral reservations about legally permissible medical practices—such as abortion, embryonic stem cell research, and the distribution of contraception, among other things. On December 18, the Bush administration signed into legislation a bundle of regulations to protect these doctors against discrimination for their moral and religious convictions. Some have called this the “conscience rule.” Under this legislation, hospitals, pharmacies, and other healthcare providers that discriminate against employees because of their convictions will face penalties in the form of loss of federal funding.


The Obama administration announced yesterday that they are seeking to remove these protections. They claim that they do not want to remove the protection for doctors who oppose abortion, but rather that the conscience rule is overbroad, potentially “limit[ing] family planning counseling and even potentially blood transfusions and end-of-life care.” Thus, they want to strike it completely or restrict its language. Life Site News, a pro-life news source, expresses real concerns about this restriction on the freedom of doctors. And although it was released very quietly, it has produced quite a reaction on both sides of the spectrum. 


Given Obama’s pro-life record, this should not come as a surprise. But this is about freedom, not abortion. The administration believes that the religious and moral freedom of doctors to is unacceptable in certain cases. So they are removing that freedom.


This is nothing less than the administration imposing their worldview on American doctors. It says to the doctors: “You are not allowed to make a distinction between what is legal and what is good. If it is legal, then it is good. Thus, if you don’t want to perform it, we are not going to protect you from discrimination.” In other words, “Your religious beliefs are wrong!” To be sure, Americans are not allowed, on religious grounds, to perform a legally prohibited act (for the most part). Nor can we avoid compliance with government prescriptions on religious grounds, such as taxes and draft registration, which are passed by Congress (again, for the most part). But we have always been allowed to refrain on religious grounds from doing something that is not prescribed by Congress. The government is turning that table right now. Doctors aren’t allowed to disagree with the morals of the administration on this one.


I suspect, although it doesn’t necessarily follow, that a materialist (in the philosophic sense, not the consumerist sense) worldview is what underlies the government’s position on this. They believe that only physical and measurable realities have value. It is a view that says: “We can’t see or measure any harm done to you, so we won’t protect you from it.”


We all have to be careful about falling into this worldview. To be sure, many believe that politics can only deal with what the eye can see—they call themselves “realists.” But the reality is that America was founded to protect those areas where the eye can’t see. The establishment clause, the free exercise clause, and the free speech clauses, along with the rest of the Bill of Rights, make this clear. 

Introductions: John A. Wehrly

John Wehrly is a law student at the University of St. Thomas in Minneapolis, MN. He is an associate editor of the Journal of Law and Public Policy. He graduated with a B.A. in economics from Ave Maria University, but spent most of his time studying philosophy and Latin. Mr. Wehrly is a Blackstone Fellow with Alliance Defense Fund, and is currently working on a year long directed research endeavor concerning the tithing scheme of medieval canon law from mid-11th to the mid-13th century. He lives in St. Paul, MN with two great Christian men, and is a parishioner at the Cathedral of St. Paul. He reads the Bible and, when he has time, Russian literature.

Ex Deserto enthusiastically welcomes John to the discussion.

Change (not THAT kind)

So we’re making a few changes here at Ex Deserto. A few of our original contributors could no longer maintain their commitments to the discussion, so over the next few weeks, we’ll be introducing several new authors. We’re excited about the new additions to the conversation, and we eagerly await their contributions. With the unambiguous attempts at radically changing the American political and social landscape, it remains vitally important for conservatives to continually put forth cogent arguments in opposition and offer viable alternatives. We have selected an excellent, engaging, and thoughtful group of writers precisely for their potential to do just that.

Continued Opposition to the Obama Fiscal Irresponsibility

Though the Democrats won the recent battle over President Obama’s trillion dollar “stimulus” plan, conservative opposition remains critical. Why? More of the same is on the way.

First, the president is set to push through another bank bailout. Second, Obama will soon approve the “Homeowner Affordability and Stability Plan,” which will

1) Require responsible homeowners to pay the mortgages (up to $728,750) of irresponsible homeowners (contra the “Affordability” portion);

2) Reward irresponsible lending institutions in a myriad of ways for renegotiating rates with borrowers that the lenders knew couldn’t afford the mortgage payments;

3) Allow bankruptcy judges to rewrite mortgage contracts between lenders and borrowers (undermining the “Stability” portion) ; and

4) Double the taxpayer capital injection (to $400 billion) into Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the esteemed institutions of fiscal constraint that are partly responsible for our economic woes.

Here’s what the American People get in return:

1) Nothing. Only a small number of homeowners are eligible: those who secured their loans through Fannie or Freddie, or those whose lenders securitized their loans through Fannie or Freddie. Most homeowners get nothing, except getting stuck with the bill.

2) Another bad-mortgage bailout in the future. Historically, about 50% of homeowners who renegotiate failing mortgages end up defaulting on the new terms.

3) Redistribution of income. The plan redistributes income from 92% of mortgage-holders who responsibly pay their bills on time to irresponsible, reckless defaulters who promised to pay more than they could afford. Some taxpayers will pay more in taxes so that others can pay less for housing.

4) Continued deteriorating economic conditions. The plan will produce mortgage-backed securities based on debt that exceeds the value of the underlying assets—precisely part of the foundation for the current economic trouble.

5) More market instability. The bankruptcy law modifications are particularly troublesome. This abrogation of private contracts undermines the certainty of loan agreements and threatens the availability of credit and market stability.

Worse, only the bankruptcy law rewrite requires Congressional approval, as most of the funding will come from TARP money. I don’t know what this is, but it isn’t responsible, and it isn’t democracy. Continued, articulate opposition on behalf of conservative solutions is necessary between now and the 2010 midterm elections, or there will be more of this for years to come.

All My Children? Soap Opera Illustrates Mainstream Marriage

Note: After sticking my head out of my law books for a brief instant and catching up with pop culture, I came across the CNN entertainment section. This wasn’t on the front page because, either 1) the article is day old and no longer newsworthy or 2) articles like this become so commonplace that they’ll take a back seat more popular news stories. Regardless, for those that know as much about Hollywood as I do (practically nothing), take note that this soap opera comes to a living room near you.

The soap opera, All My Children, will be airing a wedding that is sure to both anger and please daytime television viewers. While weddings (and their subsequent divorces) may be relatively common – especially on soap operas, this one outdoes them all.

No, not because of the glitter and glamour that that is inherently associated programs of this nature. This wedding crosses the traditional boundaries as two women, Bianca Montgomery and Reese Williams marry one another.

“It’s reality,” said Neil Giuliano, president of the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD). “So when we see a lesbian couple getting married on daytime drama, it simply reflects what’s happening in the real world.”

I partially agree with Mr. Giuliano. Lesbian couples getting married may reflect reality. But let’s not also forget that other things reflect reality too: AIDS, divorce, psychological problems, crime, and myriads of other conflicts associated with tearing down the pillars of traditional marriage. After all, if soap operas merely reflects what is happening in the “real world” there shouldn’t be any qualms about including the repercussions should there?

I suppose that this may not be significant transition for programs of this genre. Popularize adultery. Encourage divorce. Promote progressive marriage. When does a program become obscene? Truthfully, now I don’t know. Where does one draw the line between the sacred and the profane, between edifying and destroying? I would argue that there are no lines when we abrogate and relinquish the natural. Everything becomes relative and in time we devolve, in (un)natural course to our own true nature.

Reality? I thought the television was a place to escape it, a relaxing diversion. Apparently it only reflects it.