Ayn Rand Center Press Release
Let Doctors Protect Conscience by Contract
August 28, 2008
Washington, DC--In its latest faith-based initiative, the Bush administration wants to shield anti-abortion and anti-contraceptive doctors from being fired for refusing to deliver such services. Opponents fear that proposed regulations creating “provider conscience rights” would leave rape victims without an emergency room doctor to prescribe morning-after contraception, or a pharmacist to dispense the pills.
“This is the kind of political infighting that’s inevitable when doctors, hospitals, and patients are denied freedom of contract,” said Thomas Bowden, an analyst at the Ayn Rand Center for Individual Rights. “Such moral questions have no place in the political arena. Instead, the law should recognize each individual’s right to deal, or refuse to deal, with others on a voluntary basis.
“For example, a doctor has the right to refuse an employment offer from a Catholic hospital that forbids contraceptives and abortions. But if he takes the job, he has no right to force the hospital to abandon its religious taboos and allow him to perform abortions. Likewise, a hospital has the right to hire only those doctors willing to prescribe contraception and provide abortions. If one of those doctors refuses to perform such services on moral grounds, he must take the contractual consequences.
“Patients have the same rights as doctors and hospitals to set their own terms of trade. A pregnant woman contemplating abortion has the right to seek treatment at a hospital whose doctors are unencumbered by religious superstitions about ensoulment at conception. But if that hospital denies her admission, she has no right to demand that the Catholic hospital down the street abort her fetus.
“The correct path out of the ‘conscience controversy’ over abortions and contraceptives is not to adopt new regulations creating ‘provider conscience rights.’ The solution is for government to recognize and protect the individual rights of all participants in the health-care system. Doctors, hospitals, and patients should be allowed to deal with each other by voluntary agreement, with government’s only role to enforce contracts and prevent fraud.”
Mr. Bowden is an analyst at the Ayn Rand Center for Individual Rights, focusing on legal issues. A former lawyer and law school instructor, who practiced for twenty years in Baltimore, Maryland, his op-eds have appeared in the Wall Street Journal, Philadelphia Inquirer, Miami Herald, Los Angeles Daily News, and many other newspapers. Mr. Bowden has given dozens of radio interviews and has appeared on Fox News Channel’s Hannity & Colmes.
Thomas Bowden and other Ayn Rand Center experts are available for interviews on this topic.
Contact: Larry Benson
Phone: (949) 222-6550, ext. 213
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