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Obama Calls for "Conscience Clause" Rights While His Administration Destroys Existing Conscience Clause Rights

Posted May 17 2009 11:15pm
President Obama spoke at Notre Dame today, an invitation that created divisions within the Catholic Church that are beyond our scope or concern here. But in reading about the president's speech, I was reminded of how adept Obama is in saying one thing while doing just the opposite; such as claiming in his speech to support a conscience clause for health professionals on the issue of abortion (which would also apply to assisted suicide, etc.). From the story:
He called for an effort to "honor the conscience of those who disagree with abortion, and draft a sensible conscience clause, and make sure that all of our health care policies are grounded in clear ethics and sound science, as well as respect for the equality of women," Obama said.

Obama plans to revise a Bush-era "conscience clause," which would cut off federal funding for hospitals and health plans that didn't allow doctors and other health-care workers to refuse to participate in care they believe conflicts with their personal or moral beliefs. Women's health advocates and abortion rights supporters say it creates a major obstacle to family planning and other treatments.

No, Obama--or at least his administration (is there a difference?) plans to revoke the Bush conscience clause, not revise it. That is hardly honoring heterodox thinkers' consciences.

And if we are going to base policies on "sound science," how about starting with the biological fact that embryos and fetuses are living human organisms? Alas, during the campaign, then Senator Obama said such determinations are above his "pay grade." (Not anymore, they're not.) Pretending that human embryos and fetuses are not "human life" (what are they, Martian?) may not resolve these contentious ethical issues, but if our policies are going to reflect "sound science," so that we can create policies based on "clear ethics," then the biological facts should quit being fudged.

Perhaps the administration will change from the radical course it has steered to date on these important matters. More likely, Obama will continue to say moderate things--to great cheering in the media--while his administration acts immoderately; as in the revocation by Obama not only of the Bush ESCR funding policy, but also, the requirement that the government fund "alternatives" to using embryos in finding pluripotent stem cells, which has been bearing great fruit in the induced pluripotent stem cell field.

So far, the president has had at least two great opportunities to steer a moderate course--first by maintaining required funding for alternatives research, and second, in maintaining formal policies that fully honor the consciences of those with whom he disagrees on human life issues--and he rejected the moderate course each time. Which brings to mind another trite old saying; talk is cheap.
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