Spectator editorial: Right to refuse

On Friday, Gov. Jim Doyle vetoed a bill passed by the state legislature that would have allowed health care workers to deny services to patients based on moral or ethical beliefs. Doyle said the best interest of patients should be put ahead of doctors’ personal beliefs.

The issue
Gov. Jim Doyle vetoed a bill that would have allowed doctors to refuse
to perform medical procedures based on personal beliefs.

The “Conscience Protection Act” would have allowed health care workers to refuse to participate in procedures including abortion, sterilization, euthanasia and experiments involving in vitro embryos. The bill still would have required doctors to obey patients’ legal, written directives.

Doyle did the right thing. The very fact the bill passed through the state legislature is ridiculous. This legislation seems to do little more than attempt to chip away at the longstanding Roe v. Wade decision regarding abortion. It does not seem applicable to doctors or more importantly, patients.

The bill is correct in its assertion that doctors should not be forced to perform procedures that make them uncomfortable. Conversely, though, doctors should not place themselves in a position where they may be asked to perform a procedure that violates their beliefs.

Furthermore, this seems to be the way the system currently operates. When was the last time you heard about a doctor being forced against his or her will to perform an abortion?

The bill had a number of potentially damaging effects.

The lawmakers responsible for this piece of legislation only seem to be trying to bring the abortion issue back into the forefront. This is something our representatives can potentially use to show their constituents they are fighting for this issue.

If the legislature does attempt to pass a similar bill in the future, they would be better off adding in a provision that doctors who refuse to perform procedures based on their personal beliefs should be required to give a referral to a doctor who will serve them. In the end, doctors need to remember their job is to perform services that are in the best interest of their patients.