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Jack Sisson's Life Ethics Blog
We must find new ways through many ethical issues, especially regarding bioethics, medical ethics, and criminal justice. Jack Sisson's 'Life Ethics' blog focuses on numerous areas of concern, including the philosophical and ethical dilemmas surrounding stem-cell research, abortion, medical research, and health care.
Monday, August 06, 2007
Doctors as the State's Flacks
Adam Liptak writes a column called "Sidebar" for the New York Times, about legal matters in the news. Unfortunately, the column is stuck behind the Times's "TimeSelect" wall, where many people can't see it.
On the off-chance that you can get to it, though, today's column, entitled "Putting the Government's Words in the Doctor's Mouth," is especially interesting for readers of this blog. The topic under consideration is a cluster of court opinions -- and counter-opinions -- about a disputed South Dakota law, the 2005 "Women's Health and Human Life Protection Act."
Women's health and human life: Who could be against protecting such things?, you might wonder. And then you might reconsider your confusion, having thought separately about the two halves of the act's name. Does "women's health" serve as a common code phrase for anything else? No? How about "human life"?
What the South Dakota law will require is that doctors there "tell women seeking abortions that they 'will terminate the life of a whole, separate, unique, living human being.'" (Note: That's a quotation from Liptak's column, not from the text of the Act itself.)
From the "Sidebar" piece:
But there is, according to the federal courts that have so far blocked the South Dakota law, a constitutional flaw in how the state seeks to go about informing women of its views. The problem with the law, the courts said, is that it would hijack the doctor-patient relationship.If you don't see a problem with South Dakota's initiative (or Pennsylvania's for that matter), imagine a completely different situation for a moment: Let's say the state in question isn't South Dakota, but California, or Vermont -- one of those places, y'know, where hippies continue to flourish even in the halls of the Statehouse. Imagine that the legislature there establishes a new law requiring that recruiters for the military (including the National Guard) lay out for potential recruits all the ghastly things that might happen to them in combat. Furthermore, if young men and women insist knowing the reasons to enlist anyway, the recruiters must answer these questions in writing. Recruiters who fail to do so can face criminal punishment.
Or heck, why not force newspaper publishers to notify all readers, "Some of the things you read herein will turn out not to be true." Or force clergymen to point out that none of the assertions which their congregations may hear in church may, in the end, have any bearing on reality. Or...
Okay, okay. Sarcasm off.
Roe v. Wade
Stem Cell Fight!
Bush the hypocrite
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