Monday, August 31, 2009

Conscientious objection won't work

Dogs wag tails. Tails don't wag dogs.

President Obama's move to disallow health care workers the option to display their conscientious objections to participating in some medical procedures by refusing specific tasks is the right step to take and the only step to take. At the crux of the issue is, of course, abortion.

Health care workers who don't want to take part in performing abortions have always had the option to refuse. Nothing's changed. They can quit their jobs if they want to. That's the ultimate option and its an option which will always be available not only to a squimish health care worker or to someone who claims moral objections but to every other worker in all sorts of situations as well; moreover, it is entirely unreasonable to search for any middle ground of appeasement.

There has recently been a somewhat similar case of "morally motivated insubordination" involving a Des Moines Iowa bus driver. Does anyone recall that news? Driver suspended. The case speaks clearly and sensibly about a worker's rights to subordinate or not.

Imagine what our world would become if workers (in all sorts of industries) could pick and choose their duties like they pick and choose their lunchtime burgers. Our supply of reliable services and goods would fall apart at the seams. Our societies would become a shambles in no time.

Imagine a baseball player who might decide that he morally objects to catching baseballs hit by lefties... or a truck driver who becomes morally opposed to driving his truck across river bridges. (I know these are preposterous examples; nonetheless, they make the point.) If an employee chooses to work for an employer who must rely on him to do the job he was hired to do, there are no options for the employee but to see that the job gets done, or be fired, or quit. What could be more clear than that?

Enacting any new law meant to accommodate ideas of "conscientious objection" in health care is a stupid idea that won't work.

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