Obama: Your conscience means nothing to me…UPDATED

I’ve been waiting for this story and knew it would come – dropped on a Friday night, of course:

Taking another step into the abortion debate, the Obama administration today will move to rescind a controversial rule that allows healthcare workers to deny abortion counseling or other family planning services if doing so would violate their moral beliefs, according to administration officials.

The rollback of the so-called conscience rule comes just two months after the Bush administration announced it late last year in one of its final policy initiatives.

The spin, of course, is that the Bush law was “confusing in scope.” That it needs “clarification.”

Apparently it is a very complex thing for someone to say, “no, I cannot in good conscience do this,” on issues which – despite the euphemistic language in which both abortion and contraception have long-been shrouded – truly involve matters of life and death or (at the minimum) moral consequence.

A person may believe she is free to take a “morning after pill,” and a second person might even agree with the first that she is free to do that. This does not mean that – if the second person is convinced the thing is an abortifacient – he or she should be compelled by law to deny his or her own conscience and dispense the drug. The point is even clearer in the case of abortion. A doctor may even be “pro-choice” but personally unwilling to perform an abortion and he or she should be free to make that choice.

When people believe their own soul is in peril if they participate in an action, the conscientious objection should be sustained. It always has been, before.

Can it be sustainable in Obamaland, or is this very fundamental sort of American freedom to be denied her citizenry in service to expedient (and monetarily lucrative) politics?

If we are going to be a nation that supports the “freedom to choose,” then it seems to me that has to go both ways. Professional health workers should be “free to choose” whether or not they will participate in what they find to be morally objectionable.

Freedom that is only one-sided i.e., “she is free to have a late term, partial-birth abortion and you are not free to refuse her request” or “she is free to demand this contraception and you are not free to refuse to fill that prescription,” is not really freedom.

It is enslavement. Dress it up any way you want. If the government is forcing you to do what your conscience tells you not to, under threats to your freedom, your purse or your livelihood, then you are not free.

But you know, the other night, when Obama addressed the joint houses of Congress, he only used the world “freedom” once. Just once. It’s not really what he’s about. Not really on his radar.

He appears to be more about…well…I won, and I am the president and you will live the way I think you should live, so I will make all of your choices for you, and you will obey.

This is not a president who is all about freedom, like the last American president.

Control, yes. Lots and lots of control. But freedom…not so much.

I wonder…once health professionals are compelled to prescribe or to abort, against their consciences, it won’t be a very big step toward demanding that they kill “compassionately put-to-rest” those whose quality of life is deemed “insufficient” by the government’s measure. Or, you know…those who are simply becoming too expensive to keep alive on “the taxpayers dime.”

Because when it comes down to Socialized Medicine “universal health care” a Ted Kennedy – who is useful, rich and connected – may be deemed worth treating and saving. But you and I, mere peons without “friends, money or connections” – we’d be a drain on the taxpayer’s dear purse.

Ed Morrissey has a good analysis over at Hot Air – one that puts out the fires, a bit.

Another article on Obama’s plans.

UPDATE I: From a blog I don’t think I have ever seen before:

Any state that claims the competence to make all decisions for its subjects must of course brook no opposition. All must go along with the program. In the words of that great humanitarian and promoter of big government, Benito Mussolini, “Everything in the State. Nothing outside the State. Nothing against the State.”

Whether you call this state socialist or fascist will not matter, for the essentials are the same in both cases—more controls, more taxation, more government, less liberty.

UPDATE II: An interesting perspective from Mona Charen:

It will be difficult to resist this charismatic figure, but let’s be clear about this: Though he denies what he is about, he is pulling the country dangerously toward a statist dead end.

“Catholics for Obama” may very soon come to feel they’ve been played by Obama, pretty much as Martin Peretz is beginning to feel…or discover.

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  • saveliberty

    I had been wondering how soon this would happen and whether Catholic hospitals would close. Why would medical professionals who don’t want to perform these services, why would they want to keep on working as medical professionals, given that the stimulus apparently creates a framework for doctors to coordinate with the government at the point of service.

    So instead of the family doctor spending more time with the patients and making decisions based on his or her opinion, which is quality health care, the government produces the inverse; doctors, nurses and other medical professionals will have less empowerment in performing their duties than they do today.

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  • mrp

    Oh, yes. It is all about control. Jake Tapper of ABC outlined the the proposed White House tax plan and he included this:

    1) On people making more than $250,000.

    $338 billion – Bush tax cuts expire
    $179 billlion – eliminate itemized deduction

    Itemized deductions includes charitable donations, right?

  • http://vita-nostra-in-ecclesia.blogspot.com/ Bender B. Rodriguez

    You really cannot expect logical, moral, or legal consistency from these folks, can you?

    Just because they assert a woman’s choice for one thing does not mean that a woman has a choice for the contrary thing. They are moral relativists, so of course they would say that a woman (patient) cannot be compelled by law to continue a pregnancy against her will, but a woman (doctor/nurse) can be compelled to effect the termination of a pregnancy against her will.

    Just because Roe v. Wade and its progeny all recognized the right of a doctor to perform an abortion does not mean that the pro-aborts are going to be consistent and recognize that those same cases must necessarily recognize the right of a doctor to not perform an aborion. And it does not mean that they will finally be forced to concede that they are PRO-ABORTION and not at all “pro-choice,” as they dishonestly pretend to be.

    The same goes for contraception and for pharmacists and others.

    As for combatting this, I would caution against relying on the idea of conscience and religious freedom too much. Whatever one’s conscience, whatever one’s religious beliefs, this much is clear — to force someone to do anything against their will in this fashion is involuntary servitude. Unfortunately, we really should not be surprised and should expect it from the despotic thugocracy that this nation is becoming.

  • http://vita-nostra-in-ecclesia.blogspot.com/ Bender B. Rodriguez

    the other night, when Obama addressed the joint houses of Congress, he only used the world “freedom” once

    Interesting. (I didn’t (couldn’t)(wouldn’t) watch and have read only analysis, so I didn’t know that.)

    But not surprising really. And, since freedom goes hand in hand with truth, it is not surprising that Obama, et al. care all that much about truth either.

  • Bridey

    Aside from the first objective, which appears to be to soak this administration in the blood of as many unborn children as possible, this policy will have the pleasant side effect of driving anyone whose conscience bars abortion out of the medical profession.

    Some will leave the field, and, as the real effect of this becomes clear, many more will choose not to enter it. Medicine will effectively become a proscribed profession for Catholics, Mormons, Evangelicals, and many others, secular and religious, who don’t follow the bloody Democratic party line.

    And I fear it will be only the first of many professions so proscribed. Dark days ahead.

  • Joe Odegaard

    Governments always overreach.

  • http://www.pursuingholiness.com Laura

    I’ve had a draft post sitting for a week titled Christian Pharmacists, Muslim Cab Drivers and just couldn’t get it finished for some reason. Maybe this is what I was waiting for… Christians of all denominations are going to be run out of the medical field eventually. And that health care crisis we’re about to experience is going to be EXPONENTIALLY worse when the Catholic hospitals close. And even though the repercussions will be terrible, I do sincerely hope they stick to their guns and close before they will go along with government-mandated support of abortion. This is a sad, sad, day.

  • PeggyR

    I have always been the most skeptical person. My default position to the world in general has always been one of agnosticism. I don’t get carried away. I don’t jump the gun. Its part of the reason why it still kind of shocks me that I managed to become a believer. Even so I certainly wasn’t converted because I lost my head.

    That is why it shocks me whenever I confront how I really feel about the election. With every passing day, I see more and more evidence that we have a bloodless coup on our hands.

    With every new action this group that is now in power demonstrates that its first priority is not the economic recovery of this country, but rather its immediate transformation into their own image. This is why the so-called emergency stimulus bill had so much extra non-emergency, wasteful spending in it. Its why the president signed orders on abortion as soon as he was in office but waited four days to sign the stimulus bill. Maybe they think that the faster they get moving, the harder it will be to undo later?

    I think that these people are relying on human nature to make their changes permanent. If they act now to steamroll the “evil” opposition and work fast to implement their “saving” agenda, then given a short time, the majority of citizens will either come around and see that they really are better off being ruled by a single party of elites or else they will be too complacent to rock the boat.

    Its a bitter fact that it is all too likely a scenario. It will take very long time, if ever, for people to become miserable enough to rise up against it.

  • http://dailywoof.wordpress.com Kensington

    It’s just disaster after disaster with this man, and it’s hard not to feel bitter, especially since so most Catholics voted for him, a fact I still can’t make peace with.

    I wonder if he will make a move to prevent the Church from closing its hospitals. It wouldn’t surprise me a bit.

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  • gs

    The Washington Post has a paragraph that doesn’t fit the narrative here:

    Federal law has long forbidden discrimination against health care professionals who refuse to perform abortions or provide referrals for them on religious or moral grounds. The Obama administration supports those laws, said the HHS official.
    If Bush supporters had refused to tolerate his spending and expansion of government, Bush might have been pressured into conducting a successful Presidency–and Obama would have been unelectable.

    [You'll excuse me, gs, if I remain unconvinced that "obama supports those laws." He "supports" the second-amendment, too, but he's clearly going to go after gun ownership. He "supports" the constitution, but he wants to take the census into his White House. Words really are "just words." And I'm sorry, but your hit at Bush is very weak. Bush certainly made his mistakes, but he was helped along by a GOP that was looking out for itself, and I think even you will agree he was put-upon and beaten up in the press to a degree we have not seen since perhaps Truman's or even Lincoln's day. The GOP - no matter how "successful" Bush had been - was never going to come together over an electable candidate which is how we ended up with McCain, and frankly...MCCAIN COULD HAVE BEATEN HILLARY. And once people realized that, suddenly the other Alinsky pupil was the godling who could do no wrong, and with the full, gaga support from the press. You cannot look at the situation we're in and simply say, "it's all Bush's fault." That's EASY, and it may go down smoothly - and it's certainly what some want you to keep believing - but it's a rather closed point of view. And...I am not the only one who has noticed that O has a way of saying he's not doing something, while he's doing it.-admin]

  • http://vita-nostra-in-ecclesia.blogspot.com/ Bender B. Rodriguez

    If Republican Bush haters, squishes, and mavericks had not constantly dumped on Bush and helped to bring him down, repeatedly obstructing what Bush wanted to do, Obama would have been unelectable.

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  • gs

    You’ll excuse me, gs, if I remain unconvinced that “obama supports those laws.”

    I’m unconvinced too, but IMO a description of the situation is incomplete without mentioning his supposed support.

    And I’m sorry, but your hit at Bush is very weak.

    It’s not aimed at Bush, but at his misguided supporters (enablers?).

    The GOP – no matter how “successful” Bush had been – was never going to come together over an electable candidate…

    Funny you should mention that. For a time it appeared that George Allen could be that candidate, but he self-destructed in 2006.

    You cannot look at the situation we’re in and simply say, “it’s all Bush’s fault.”

    Iirc in a recent comment I stressed that the country’s problems are systemic and cannot be blamed exclusively on either political party.

  • http://dailywoof.wordpress.com Kensington

    The country’s problems may be systemic, but only one party is currently determined to drive the country off a cliff, apparently.

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  • Ellen

    You touched on something that not many people have mentioned – the end of life. Sure, Ted Kennedy is dying and he has money and influence enough to make his last days comfortable (and I hope he repents of his sins), but what about us average Americans?

    Longevity runs in my family. My parents are 88 and 89. My grandparents all lived to be in their late 90s. I had an aunt who lived to be 102. While they all had good health, they did get frail and needed some care. I can see down the road, a mindset that will say that people over the age of – say 80 – are a drain on the economy and need to be “assisted” to make the “choice” not to take up anymore of the earth’s precious resources and should just go off themselves. Not that the oh so compassionate would say off themselves, but that’s what they’d mean.

    I used to rejoice in the prospect for a long life. Now I almost dread it.

  • http://rightwingnation.com rightwingprof

    “Catholics for Obama” may very soon come to feel they’ve been played by Obama

    Forgive my cynicism, but I doubt it, only because I have yet to see any indication that these people are in any way pro-life, or that their faith has anything to do with God. I would go as far as to say if FOCA passed, you wouldn’t hear a peep out of these people, because they would be applauding the bill.

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  • gs

    Kensington Says (On February 28th, 2009 at 1:30 am): The country’s problems may be systemic, but only one party is currently determined to drive the country off a cliff, apparently.

    While I agree, I fear that that’s because one party controls both the White House and Congress.

    As Obama stumbles, I hope the Republicans are not relying on Democratic incompetence to regain power. I hope they are asking themselves questions like “What did we do to lose the confidence of a basically conservative nation?”. If Republicans are expecting a contrite electorate to crawl back to them, they could be in for a nasty surprise that, more importantly, would do no good for the country.

    [I agree. The GOP needs to find some new energy and some boldness; they need to be pro-active or they'll simply get steamrollered. - admin]

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  • Genevieve B

    If the conscience rule is repealed, I will be watching to see whether the American Bishops make good on a suggested (?) promise to close the Catholic hospitals. The USCCB have been all too eager to jump on the government-subsidized health care bandwagon, the most recent example being the SCHIP or children’s health insurance program, apparently choosing to overlook that once the government pays for children’s health care, it can also determine which children live or die–

  • gs

    I wish I’d known about Victor Hanson’s essay when I posted the last sentence of my Comment #12.

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