In earlier entries in this blog I have written about my reservations about what are called “conscience clauses” in general. Advocates of abortion, euthanasia, embryonic stem cell research, often in order to get something enacted into law when there is significant and vociferous opposition will agree to an inclusion that exempts people who for “conscience” reasons feel that they cannot morally participate in these procedures. From the time of Roe v Wade in the early 1970′s, many laws have been enacted which a faithful Catholic or Morman and sometimes people of other faiths and no faith feel that they can not abide. Feeling that they are covered by such “conscience clauses”, they suddenly find their employer applying punitive action against them for refusing on the grounds of conscience.
It is partly for this reason that this nation needs to be careful of proposed legislative actions like a “Freedom of Choice Act.” On the surface it seems to offer a piece of relief to those who cannot abide by what it will make possible. But these conscience clauses do not always work and they should never be accepted as a reason for supporting immoral laws. Let me make it clear, I certainly do not advocate removing conscience clauses from proposed legislation. I just remain skeptical as to how much protection they might offer let us say a nurse who suddenly discovers that the surgery on which he or she is assisting is actually performing a morally illicit act.
But they must be doing some good because Planned Parenthood and other pro-abortion organizations want to get rid of them from all legislation, federal and state. That would be a worse tragedy than failing to provide them in morally flawed laws. The Illinois legislature has an action before it to outlaw such protections and the federal department of Health and Human Services has an open window of public comment now about closing the protection federal law currently provides. I have written to the latter expressing my opposition to the proposed regulatory changes. It is hard when you find yourself between that proverbial rock and a hard place: maintain the current weak protections often employer violated and supporting their continuing presence. I hope the legal system will ultimately support the right of an individual not to be made to violate their individual conscience. One can only hope.