Note: The official positions of the Christian Medical Association and its affiliated Freedom2Care cover many policy areas. To maximize impact with current resources, CMA's Washington office focuses on the foundational right to life and freedoms of faith, conscience and speech—upon which all other rights and freedoms hinge.
Top Priorities: Freedom of faith, conscience and speech
· Conscience Protection Act
– S. 301
, H.R. 644
- Prevent government coercion related to abortion.
· Free Speech Fairness Act
– S. 264
, H.R. 781
- Protect free speech on political issues for nonprofit organizations including churches.
Top Priorities: Right to life
· Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act
– S. 1922
, H.R. 36
(passed) - Protect developing babies from abortions at the stage in which they can feel pain.
· House Resolution on Dangers of Assisted Suicide
– H. Con. Res. 80
- Prevent assisted suicide.
Other bills supported
· Child Welfare Provider Inclusion Act
– S. 811
, H.R. 1881
- Protect religious freedom of faith-based child service providers.
· Title X Abortion Provider Prohibition Act
- H.R. 217
- Redirect tax dollars from abortion businesses like Planned Parenthood to federally qualified health centers.
· Parental Rights Resolution
- S J Res 48
- Proposes an amendment to the Constitution of the United States relating to parental rights.
· Federal Disaster Assistance Nonprofit Fairness Act
– S. 1823, HR 2405
– Gives community centers, including tax-exempt houses of worship, eligibility for disaster relief and emergency assistance.
· Heartbeat Protection Act
- HR 490
– would not allow a physician to perform an abortion: (1) without first determining whether the fetus has a detectable heartbeat, (2) without informing the mother of the results, or (3) after determining that a fetus has a detectable heartbeat.
Washington, DC—October 6, 2017: Today the nation's largest association of Christian health professionals, the 18,000-member Christian Medical Association (CMA, www.cmda.org
) applauded the administration's actions to restore conscience freedoms in healthcare. The administration took action concerning the Obamacare contraceptives mandate, insurance premiums used to pay for abortions, and regarding government respect for religious freedom.
"We are thankful to see these vital conscience freedoms restored in healthcare," noted CMA Senior Vice President Gene Rudd, MD, and Ob-Gyn physician. "For millennia, medical ethics have provided for conscientious opposition to abortion by physicians who took up the practice of medicine as a healing art never to be used for the destruction of human life. And until recently, our government reinforced those ethical principles with conscience protections. We are heartened to see our government heading back in the direction of these vital freedoms that protect patients, medicine and freedom in our country."
Jonathan Imbody, director of Freedom2Care (www.Freedom2Care.org
), which is affiliated with CMA said, "As Americans who have inherited a nation founded upon freedom of faith, conscience and speech, we can agree that the government must never force individuals to violate their deepest held beliefs on vital and extremely controversial issues such as abortion. When our leaders forget these principles, and take to forcing nuns to participate in matters they consider wholly immoral, the American people realize that our fundamental freedoms are in jeopardy. If the government can take away the rights of one group, then no one is safe from government coercion.
"These actions today by the administration are an important step back in the direction of freedom and respect for one another, and we look forward to more actions in the future, including restoration of the conscience rule for health professionals that President Obama gutted."
Note: This excerpt is the first in a series of essays on conscience in healthcare, by Jonathan Imbody, Vice President for Government Relations of the Christian Medical Association and Director of Freedom2Care.
Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel and University of Pennsylvania professor Ronit Stahl advocate barring from medicine all physicians who would decline a patient's demand for morally controversial services such as abortion.
In a New England Journal of Medicine
opinion piece entitled, "Physicians, Not Conscripts — Conscientious Objection in Health Care,"[i]
Emanuel and Stahl make an argument against conscience freedom in healthcare that they summarize as follows:
"The proliferation of conscientious objection legislation in health care violates the central tenet of professional role morality in the field of medicine: the patient comes first. [ii]
|Physicians are caught in the cross-hairs of an aggressive |
agenda aimed at eliminating objections to abortion.
"The patient comes first" sounds good in theory; who would argue that physicians should pursue as their primary goal the patient's best interest? Physicians often make admirable personal sacrifices in order to advance health and healing for their patients, and many enter the medical profession motivated by compassion and a strong desire to help others.
So if "the patient comes first" is taken to mean that a physician should lay aside personal comfort, convenience and selfish ambition in order to focus on a patient's well-being, the phrase will find little argument and much example in the medical community.
But if "the patient comes first" is taken to mean that a physician must lay aside ethical convictions and professional judgment in order to fulfill every patient's preferences and demands, that interpretation will meet with great and justifiable resistance.
Ideologues can wrap a warped version of the noble notion around their political agenda, weaponizing "the patient comes first"
to undercut professional judgment and the ethical standards that protect patients and the integrity of medicine. To assert that caring for patients requires doing whatever legal procedure and prescribing every prescription the patient demands is a flawed premise that leads to a flawed conclusion—that all conscientious objectors must be banned from medicine.
Corrupted into a power grab, a "patient comes first" rule turns medicine into a patient dictatorship with no checks and balances. Ezekiel and Stahl's plan illustrates the danger, requiring the unilateral confiscation of conscience rights from all health professionals in order to ensure that patients receive whatever controversial procedure or prescription they demand. Behind the rhetoric of Emanuel and Stahl appears to be an aggressive agenda aimed specifically at eliminating objections to abortion, by eliminating from medicine all professionals objecting to abortion.
What the authors actually require, but of course do not spell out, is that everyone must accept as dogma their
view of what is a patient's best interest. While claiming to advance the consensus of the medical community, they actually are asserting the controversial agenda of abortion rights activists.
In doing so, they contravene the objective standards that have guided medicine for millennia.
|The role of the physician is to exercise ability and judgment.|
Although the authors avoid it and abortion advocacy has suppressed its use in recent years, for millennia the well-balanced principles of the Hippocratic oath have served as "the central tenet of professional role morality in the field of medicine." The first principle of Hippocratic medicine, the professional ethic that formed the basis for the oath, is not simply "the patient comes first" but rather "do no harm."
The Hippocratic oath does not pit patients against physicians but instead positions both as worthy of honor and protection, while spelling out objective standards to guide the practice of medicine. Hippocratic medicine recognizes both the vulnerability of the patient and the physician's unique role as a professional entrusted with potentially lifesaving or lethal power.
The Hippocratic oath therefore constrains the physician to abide by objective ethical principles, at the same time emphasizing that a physician's ethics and professional judgment serve as the prime protectors of a patient's best interests:
“I will use treatment to help the sick, according to my ability and judgment, but I will never use it to injure or wrong them.
"I will not help a patient commit suicide, even though asked to do so, nor will I suggest such a plan. Similarly, I will not perform abortions.
"But in purity and in holiness, I will guard the sanctity of life and my role as healer."[iii]
The role of the physician, therefore, is to exercise ability and judgment
to help the sick and to guard the sanctity of life
, thus preserving medicine as a healing
and not a killing profession.
in this series: "Autonomy quickly translates to tyranny"
"Physicians, Not Conscripts — Conscientious Objection in Health Care," Ronit Y. Stahl, Ph.D. and Ezekiel J. Emanuel, M.D., Ph.D., New England Journal of Medicine
376;14, April 6, 2017.
A number of medical schools began opting out of administering the longstanding Hippocratic oath when abortion and assisted suicide, both proscribed under the oath, gained acceptability among some in medicine. Such advocates typically emphasize patient autonomy in healthcare, as a way to circumvent obstacles presented by medical ethics that do not support these lethal practices.