A med student’s blog, “Degranulated” posts his thoughts about the presence of anti-abortion protesters outside and inside his medical school. It seems that the Australian medical community is in the midst of a debate like ours on conscience rights, with new laws that impose a duty to refer and /or perform abortions on physicians.
(after the same old “men don’t have the right to object to abortion”)
Secondly, the opponents argue that the bill does not adequately deal with doctors whom object to abortion on moral grounds. In medical school, we are taught that the patient has a right to be made aware of all their options, and if a doctor is unwilling to refer a patient for a ToP, they should refer the patient to a doctor who is willing to explain all possible options. In this way, the patient’s autonomy can be fully exercised. The opponents of this Bill appear to not currently do this. So, do they believe paternalism or patient autonomy, or even womens’ rights? Hmph. Isn’t it good to see how times have changed.
If times have changed, Dame Warnocke’s call for the rest of us to kill ourselves and others in the face of dementia is the sign of those times.
Here’s what I wrote in my comment:
I’m maternalistic, matronizing occasionally. And you sound/read as though you haven’t had many conversations about the subject of abortion.
You should inform yourself, as the same rules apply to euthanasia, “assisted death,” the death penalty, and our upcoming debates on genetic manipulation of future generations.
I’m sure that you understand the difference between the embryo or fetus and a body part or end stage cell line. There’s no doubt that what we are discussing is a human being.
The nature of this individual human being is underscored by in vitro fertilization. Just as a neonate may be cared for by other people, that embryo in the lab can be nurtured by others and even adopted for implantation into a woman other than his or her biological oocyte- mother. What we do to that embryo affects the later toddler and adult, and even his or her own children.
Once the individual human being is acknowledged, we have to discuss whether or not to afford him or her the protection from intentional killing by others – what some call “personhood.” This is the dangerous point of our conversation. How do we justify intentional, interventional and elective killing of that embryo or fetus in such a way that does not put other human beings that we acknowledge are “persons” at risk?
Autonomy should not be your first consideration in this deliberation. Instead non-maleficence, then beneficence and justice should be weighed with autonomy. Your own note about the decision to act or not act according to rules and laws by you future colleagues points out that these other values come into play when you are discussing the interaction of the mother, the unborn child, and the doctor and nurse, and the law.