It's long been the case that the reduction in the number of abortions in the U. S., as well as the lack of access to abortions for so many women, has less to do with laws restricting abortion rights and more to do with the difficulty of abortion clinics to find doctors and nurses willing to perform abortions.I grant that Mr. Hunt, a medical professional, has anecdotal evidence (better than no evidence at all) for his position, but such an assertion requires more and better evidence.
Mr. Hunt offers, but dismisses, an alternative hypothesis:
This is partly, no doubt, because of pressures placed on clinics and their staff by pro-life activists. But, more than that, it is because more and more doctors and nurses have moral reservations about abortion.It's well-documented that these "pressures" include not only peaceful protests and non-violent direct action, but also personal harassment, death threats, vandalism, bombings, and actual murder, both attempted and achieved. A considerable amount of evidence must be offered for any thoughtful person to exclude these "pressures" as the primary cause of lack of access to abortion.
Mr. Hunt also conflates a reduction in the number of abortions (a generally good thing: abortions are logistically complicated, emotionally disturbing to some women, and pose some medical risk) with a reduction in access to abortion services. As far as the former goes, the most obvious, provably efficacious and scientifically uncontroversial way to limit the overall number of abortions is to provide universal access to contraception and good sex education, a position which seemingly ought to be socially and politically uncontroversial, but sadly is not.
This is why many medical schools, under pressure from abortion rights activists, started requiring that students learn how to perform abortions, because so few were voluntarily learning to do so.Again, I must challenge the evidence for the truth of Mr. Hunt's assertion here. Furthermore, it seems odd to argue that medical students should a priori have much of a choice about their curriculum: they are there to learn; if they want to express themselves, they can go to art school.
If conscience rights are rescinded [note: "conscience rights" have not yet been granted, so they cannot be rescinded] even more doctors and nurses will take your advice and move to fields where abortion is not an issue, and the dirth of health care workers in the field of obstetrics will only get worse.At best, even granting arguendo that Mr. Hunt's factual assertions are accurate, he makes nothing better here than an argument from expedience. Such an argument is not necessarily bad, but it is limited a priori: an argument from expedience is never a good argument for a general principle.
I don't think any of my colleagues at my hospital would deny any patient care that is in their [presumably the patient's] best interest. But that is the crux: what, exactly, is in the best interest of the patient[?]I agree that it's not always trivial to determine the patient's best interest, but Hunt places an invalid condition on this determination: "how far the doctor or nurse is willing to go, or what they are willing to do is one of those variables" affecting the determination of the patient's best interest. This is nonsense: There might be other dimensions in which a medical professional's personal characteristics would be relevant, but they cannot be relevant to or have any bearing whatsoever on a determination of the patient's best interests.
I doubt that any doctor or nurse would agree that the best interest of the patient means providing care "most efficacious to achieve the well-being of the patient in the patient's own terms." There are simply too many variables to make such a vague policy practical or meaningful in any way.Why not? My construction might be broad, but I don't see how it's vague, i.e. containing ambiguous or undefined terms. Patients typically want to live as long as is practically possible, they want to be free of physical pain and psychological suffering, they want to have maximum physical function and a minimum of inconvenience. In terms of abortion, the patient considers her well-being to consist of not being pregnant. While this construction might not handle every possible case (especially psychological or psychiatric issues), it seems clear and unambiguous in the vast majority of medical situations.
Troublesome and/or horrific consequences of such a policy are legion.They are not so legion that they have intruded on my attention; I'm unable to think of a single case outside of organic mental illness or profound neurosis of any troublesome — much less horrific — consequence of acting in any patient's self-interest. It seems to me, however, that many troublesome and horrifying consequences spring immediately to mind when physicians arrogate their own personal interests over the patient's: forced sterilization, unethical experimentation, the decades-long psychiatric pathologizing of homosexuality. I invite Mr. Hunt to offer examples (outside of psychiatry) of the "legion" of troublesome or horrific consequences of adhering strictly to the patient's best interest.
No health care worker in his or her right mind is going to adopt a personal standard of practice that requires them to leave their conscience outside the hospital door.Why not? When I see a physician or any medical practitioner, I want to be able to assume they will act in my best interests, regardless of their conscience. If their conscience is aligned with acting in my best interest, so much the better, but if not, either the conscience or the person needs to be outside the door. I don't want to know if they approve or disapprove of atheism, communism, mixed marriages, and I want to be sure that even if they do disapprove, their disapproval will not affect the quality of my care.
No health care worker regards him or herself as nothing more than a tool of the state, doing the bidding of the state...There is a substantive difference between being a "tool of the state", i.e. acting in the interests of the members of the government, and being subject to external ethical and legal standards.
No health care worker regards him or herself as nothing more than a tool of ... or any particular patient no questions askedWhy not? If you're in the health care field, you're there to make me better when I'm sick; you damned well better not be there to use your power over my health to enact your own personal agenda. No questions asked? Ask me all the questions you need to to discover my best interests, but in the intended metaphorical sense, no: your "questions" — especially your ethical questions — are simply irrelevant.
Do you care at all about having health care that even approaches professional standards when you need to go to the ER for that broken arm that won't kill you (though, in fact, it might)?Yes, I care about having health care that complies with professional standards. Hence I don't want any deviations from those standards, especially deviations justified only by purely subjective considerations such as individual conscience.