NRL News

“Catch The [Dead Aborted] Baby’s Head” Order Illustrates Need For Conscience Law

by | Dec 2, 2011

By Wesley J. Smith

Wesley J. Smith

Fifty years ago, the Hippocratic Oath’s proscriptions on medicalized killing were generally accepted within the medical professions and society generally.  Today, practioners of what used to be called the “healing arts” sometimes take part in killing (ending life) in performing their professional services–as in assisted suicide, abortion, and if they ever prove efficacious, using the body parts from nascent human beings destroyed for their medicinal value in treatments. We also see calls for killing profoundly cognitively disabled patients for their organs–not yet happening–and in Belgium, euthanasia of the disabled and mentally ill has already been coupled with organ harvesting.

Regardless of the legality of these things, no one in medicine should be forced to be complicit in the the active termination of human life as part of their profession, and no medical professional should have to choose between being in the field or so participating.  Hence–in this day of wide moral disparity of beliefs about these matters–the need to protect the conscience rights of those medical care givers and treaters who believe in the traditional meaning of ”do no harm,” and the Hippocratic prohibition against assisted suicide and abortion.

A  Washington Post report (via Gateway Pundit) about a conscience lawsuit in New Jersey, which we have discussed here previously, provides a vivid illustration of the emotional trauma that can be caused by being forced to choose between one’s career and participating in the stilling of a human heart.  From the story:

“Matt Bowman, an attorney representing the nurses, said he had received an e-mailfrom a lawyer for the hospital arguing that no laws had been broken, because the nurses are required to care for abortion patients only before and after the procedure. ‘The pre- and post-operative care provided to these patients is the same nature as that provided to patients who have undergone other surgical procedures,’ Edward B. Deutsch of McElry, Deutsch, Mulvaney & Carpenter of Morristown, N.J., wrote in the e-mail.”

Bowman argued that requiring the nurses to get involved before and after an abortion violated their right to refuse based on their conscientious objections. “Federal and state law explicitly prohibits requiring nurses to assist in abortion against their moral and religious convictions,” Bowman said. “All these nurses are asking is that they not have to assist in any part of an abortion case.” One of the nurses, Fe Esperanza R. Vinoya, said a manager told her: “‘You just have to catch the baby’s head. Don’t worry, it’s already dead.’ ”

No one should be forced to go through that.

Editor’s note. This appeared on Wesley’s fine blog at

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