Thursday, May 15, 2014

On "Matters Of Conscience"

So, one of the Roman Catholic Archbishops thinks that Justin Trudeau's recent implementation of party policy needs a rethink.
Collins pointedly mentioned that there are two million Catholics in his diocese. He said he encourages them to get involved in politics as both voters and candidates. 
"It is not right that they be excluded by any party for being faithful to their conscience."
Let's get something absolutely clear here.  Abortion (which is what this is primarily about) is a matter of individual conscience.  That is to say, if you object to abortion on "conscience" grounds, then don't have an abortion.

Access to Abortion is NOT a "conscience issue".  Abortion is a medical procedure.  Plain and simple. The right of women to have safe access to medical procedures is well established in this country.  You cannot take one procedure off the table simply because someone else objects to it "as a matter of conscience".

More pointedly, it's time that we dug a nice big hole and dumped all of the nonsense rhetoric about "conscience rights" around this issue into it, and filled it back in.  The decision to have an abortion or not is a pregnant woman's decision to make.  Her conscience and her conscience alone has something to say on the matter.

Those who raise "conscience" objections as an excuse to deny a woman access to abortion are not exercising any valid right to object.  The Archbishop, for example, may have something to say about whether or not he things abortion is "moral", but he has no right whatsoever to demand that a woman's access to abortion be restricted on that grounds.  Conscience rights do NOT give anybody the right to restrict other people's actions.

The only other party in the discussion who has any right to object is the doctor who might be asked to carry out the procedure.  Even there, that doctor has an ethical duty to provide a referral to another doctor in such a situation.

While the good Archbishop's "conscience" may prevent him from having an abortion (should he ever become pregnant), his "conscience rights" do not allow him to restrict others from safe access to the procedure should they choose to access it.

The last policy convention of the Liberal Party of Canada made it abundantly clear that a woman's right to choose is not open for debate in the party.  This nation's lack of any law on the matter since the last laws were struck down in the late 1980s speaks further to that.  The matter is one between a woman and her physician.  Nobody else has a legitimate say in the matter.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

"Let's get something absolutely clear here. Abortion (which is what this is primarily about) is a matter of individual conscience. That is to say, if you object to abortion on "conscience" grounds, then don't have an abortion.

Access to Abortion is NOT a "conscience issue". Abortion is a medical procedure. Plain and simple. The right of women to have safe access to medical procedures is well established in this country. You cannot take one procedure off the table simply because someone else objects to it 'as a matter of conscience.'

Conscience rights do NOT give anybody the right to restrict other people's actions."

That is pretty much the same argument planters used for slavery against the same institutions that now oppose abortion. "If you don't believe in this established system because of your conscience, simply do not own slaves."

MgS said...

@ Anonymous 12:18PM: Now that I've stopped laughing, let me address your analogy.

Slavery bears little or no resemblance to abortion. First of all, slavery involves treating an otherwise fully autonomous human being as a possession. In case you had forgotten, slave owners also possessed absolute control over their slaves lives - and deaths if they so chose.

Mysteriously, people started to figure out that a slave was still fully capable of exercising their agency as independent beings, in spite of their status of being slaves.

In other words, Slavery falls into that nasty little ethical category of turning another autonomous person into a possession without independent agency.

The interesting point being that if a woman has an abortion, it affects her medically, just as much as if she carries the fetus to term.

A slave owner's decision to own slaves, and the consequences thereof, extend beyond the slave owner to the slaves, who are otherwise fully autonomous beings capable of independent agency in their actions.

A fetus, no matter what sophistry you throw at it is not capable of independent agency in its actions.

Lastly, I do not argue that the Archbishop should not argue against abortion to his followers. Rather, that there is no right to remove access to that medical procedure across the board based on individual "conscience rights".

Your conscience is not my conscience, and assuming that "you know better than me" based on your conscience ignores my right and ability to exercise independent agency.