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Enough Already: Changing the Abortion Rules and Ocean Nukes


a blogumn by Jordan Weeks

ethicaldilemmaApparently President Obama is planning to “repeal a Bush administration rule that has become a flash point in the debate over a doctor’s right not to participate in abortions.” (“Obama to rescind Bush’s ‘conscience’ abortion rule”; Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar, Associated Press; February 28, 2009.) Here’s the version of the article that I initially read about this, as presented in the Atlanta Journal Constitution.

The piece goes on to refer to this “rule” as a “regulation”, one assembled near the very end of Bush’s administration. It apparently “strengthened job protections for doctors and nurses who refuse to provide a medical service because of moral qualms.”

Unclear, nebulous terms aside, the issues at hand here are hefty: patients’ rights to legal abortion services and doctors’ rights to abstain from providing abortion services to their patients because of personal moral conflicts with or objections to the procedure.

Should doctors who don’t want to perform abortions because it conflicts with their personal morality be forced to perform abortions? HELL, NO. That’s insane. Should patients who choose to do so be able to get safe, legal abortions? HELL, YES.

Now, I don’t personally understand why someone would enter a field such as gynecology if she or he morally objected to abortions, or tubal ligations or other such potential “moral hot-button” procedures – but that’s just me. I’ve known doctors, both men and women, who refuse to perform abortions, or terminations of pregnancy, on moral grounds, and I’ve known doctors for whom the procedure was not morally prohibitive and who staunchly defend the rights of other doctors to abstain from performing said procedure for moral reasons.

Nobody should be making anybody get an abortion, and nobody should be making anybody perform an abortion. Seems simple enough. It’s a serious topic with a lot of different shades of grey, no matter what moral “side” one may be on

A recent phenomenon which is absurd and wrong and indefensible, however, is pharmacists who are refusing to sell the Plan B “morning-after” pill to customers, citing moral objections.

Why, one might ask, is this wrong and indefensible? Well, frankly, because these high-and-mighty moralists do not need to be working at these particular pharmacies. As a private business – which I believe all pharmacies are – a pharmacy can refuse to stock the morning-after pill, and then there’s no chance that they’ll sell them, because they don’t stock them. (That would be a great place for one of the aforementioned morally righteous pharmacists to work, don’t you think? But moral-objector pharmacists seem intentionally to work at pharmacies where such products are sold, so as to “foil the system from within”, by blocking people from buying the morning-after pill. And that’s just jacked-up on a lot of levels.)

But if a given pharmacy stocks the morning-after pill, and one of said pharmacy’s employees refuses to sell it to an interested customer, that employee should be fired for insubordination, or at the very least put on some kind of professional probation or something. I mean, people who work at grocery-stores don’t freak-out when people buy condoms there, because they know if they were to refuse to sell a customer something – like a condom, or a grapefruit, or a hairbrush – for “moral” reasons, they’d be thrown out on their asses. There’s an interesting, kind of alarming mainstream article about this from a few years ago here.

Private businesses’ business and the federal government’s business are two different things. The federal government should stay the hell out of private business as much as humanly possible, and it should stay the hell out of PEOPLE’S private business all the time, AT ALL COSTS. Here’s another example of questionable state involvement in this issue here.

I can understand people not wanting federal money to go to an abortion-clinic or -facility funding, since a lot of people who pay taxes do not agree with abortion on a fundamental level. (I kind of disagree with that stance, as I think at least a small amount of federally funded facilities could be of great benefit to people for whom such a clinic might be the only option for a safe and legal abortion under extenuating and potentially life-threatening circumstances.) But forcing that particular morality upon others who don’t share it is unproductive at best and harmful to others’ health at worst.

Good luck, everybody.


Oh – one more tidbit.

Did anybody hear about the two nuclear subs that collided in the Atlantic Ocean a couple of weeks ago while they were on “standard patrol”? One sub, HMS Vanguard, belonged to Britain’s Royal Navy, the other one, Le Triomphant, to the French military.

They collided. In the Atlantic Ocean.

Do you know how big the Atlantic Ocean is? Statistically speaking, it must be WAAAAAY more difficult for one nuclear sub to collide with another one than for either sub NOT to collide with ANYTHING. I mean, come ON. Who was steering these things, Benny Hill and Jacques Tati?

Everybody’s wigging-out about how dangerous Iran is, or could be, with a single nuclear weapon – Iran being a “rogue nation” and all – and the Brits and the French are out there with who KNOWS how many nukes around the world, just slamming ‘em into each other in the ocean.


. photo credit: Minette Layne