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The Right of Conscience in Public Professions

The Right of Conscience in Public Professions

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Published by Curtis Edward Clark
Bush-Era Abortion Rules Face Possible Reversal:
Obama Team Looks at Regulation Set to Be Finalized This Week Letting Medical Staff Refuse to Take Part in Practices They Oppose
Bush-Era Abortion Rules Face Possible Reversal:
Obama Team Looks at Regulation Set to Be Finalized This Week Letting Medical Staff Refuse to Take Part in Practices They Oppose

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Published by: Curtis Edward Clark on Dec 20, 2008
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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Bush-Era Abortion Rules Face Possible Reversal:Obama Team Looks at Regulation Set to Be Finalized This Week Letting Medical StaffRefuse to Take Part in Practices They OpposeFrom a story published on Wednesday, December 17, 2008 by The Wall Street Journal"The outgoing Bush administration this week will finalize a regulationestablishing a "right of conscience" allowing medical staff to refuse toparticipate in any practice they object to on moral grounds, including abortionbut possibly birth control and other health care as well."It is unconscionable that anyone engaged in enterprise such as pharmacy, nursing,anesthesiology, or anything involving health care should be forced to commit actsthat are against his/her conscious.But if we are to allow such professions to object on moral grounds, then the powerof dispensing with health care needs to be given to those who can provide itwithout a bothered conscious.The medical profession, from the least important, most replacable jobs in theindustry, to board certified doctors, is not open to the layman. If my daughtercannot get birth control in the one-pharmacy town in which she lives, 14 milesfrom the next pharmacy, then she ought to be able to get them with outprescription.Fat chance. But you see the issue, and you see that conscious cannot count in anarea where only the licensed are allowed to even have such a conscious. Those outside of the licensed arena must not be allowed to be held hostage by monopoly. Andthe licensed professions are indeed a monopoly, though not of the sort normallythought of. They are a monopoly of educated, regulated, duty-bound individuals whoare given the power to provide services and products which we, the general public,are not given open access to.Since we do not have access to these services and products without the duty-boundlicensed professionals, and since it is not against the law for us to procure themfrom these professionals--indeed, it is illegal to procure them without theprofessionals--then they cannot be allowed to let their conscience get in the wayof their monopoly license.The very fact that it is illegal for us to procure these services and productswithout the assistance of licensed professionals is what causes them to be "duty-bound." Ayn Rand was absolutely correct when she said: "The meaning of the term'duty' is: the moral necessity to perform certain actions for no reason other thanobedience to some higher authority, without regard to any personal goal, motive,desire or interest."But she also said, "'Duty' destroys values: it demands that one betray orsacrifice one’s highest values for the sake of an inexplicable command..."“Causality Versus Duty,” Philosophy: Who Needs It, 95The privilege of having a licence is no "inexplicable command," so no values aredestroyed by the prevention of choosing one's conscience over one's licencedprivilege. Soldiers are duty-bound to protect the lives of their fellow soldiers;doctors are duty-bound to save lives whenever possible; airline pilots are duty-bound not to be drunk while flying. These are not inexplicable.Is the use of the word "duty" to describe the requirements of licencedprofessionals the wrong word? Not when Rand is using it in the social sense, when

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