Saturday, July 12, 2008

I Got Your "Choice" Right Here!

And this is how they lick their wounds

Of all the troubling hysteria surrounding the abortion debate, few things are more hobbling than the obfuscatory rhetoric that surrounds it.

Those in favour of legalized abortion all too often seem uncomfortable admitting that they're in favour of it. So instead, they dress up their argument in populist rhetoric. They aren't pro-abortion, they insist, they're pro-choice. Pro-freedom.

It isn't abortion they're in favour of, they insist -- it's a woman's right to choose. Ergo, pro-choice.

Yet any credibility such a label possesses quickly melts away when confronted with the notion of protecting the right to choose of those who dare deviate from their ideological world view. In this case, the right of doctors who feel morally, religiously or ethically opposed to abortion to refuse to perform one:

"I'm going to level with you, doc, if you're going to promote yourself as pro-choice, then you really have to promote that choice for everyone.

So if that's supposed to be the case, why do so many "pro-choice"rs oppose legislation that would allow doctors to refuse to perform procedures they feel ethically opposed to?

Naturally, knowing that such legislation has no effect whatsoever on abortion, I know the arguments to expect: that it would limit women's access to birth control and such.

Yet nothing in such legislation could prevent women seeking birth control from seeing other doctors -- which they should.

(Frankly, any anti-abortion activists who oppose birth control are, in my view, retarded -- how the hell else do you think you'll bring abortion numbers down?)

Anyway, back to the point: if "choice" is really what you support, then I suppose you'll be supporting that particular piece of legislation from here on out?
Which, naturally, provoked a predictable response from Canadian Cynic's resident female lunatic:

"Nice slippery slope argument, Patsy. Now tell me where exactly you draw the line.

Since you support allowing doctors the right "to refuse to perform procedures they feel ethically opposed to", do you also support the right of female Muslim doctors to refuse to scrub up before surgery? After all, they're ethically and morally opposed to revealing their skin in public.

Or how about the right of Catholic doctors to refuse to dispense birth control? That goes against everything the Catholic Church teaches and stands for. Or how about the right of Hassidic doctors to refuse to treat women because their religion states that they can't be alone with a woman who isn't family?

Didn't quite think that one through, now did you? Surprise, surprise ...
Of course, there's a big difference between declining to perform certain medical procedures due to ethical concerns and refusing to partake in basic sanitation.

(Furthermore, aren't right-wingers always considered "racist" whenever they criticize people from other cultures for not adhering to western hygenic standards? Apparently there's a different standard for Lulu -- not that this is terribly surprising.)

(Not to mention the fact that Muslim women who adhere to such religious tenets tend to not be educated -- or at least be undereducated -- in the first place, let alone educated as doctors.)

In fact, Lulu's entire argument is dispensed with in fairly elementary fashion:

"If a woman wants birth control and a doctor won't prescribe it to her on religious grounds, she can go see another doctor. She has that choice.

If a Hassidic doctor won't treat a woman who isn't family, then she can seek [treatment] from a different doctor. She has that choice.

And let's not forget about the hippocratic oath. In an emergency situation in which such a doctor would do harm by refusing to treat that woman, his oath would prevent him from refusing. Not that this matters much, because odds are he would have nurses, bystanders, or other doctors on hand and thus would not be alone with her.

So, then, Lulu (and I'll be honest with you -- not only do I not expect an honest answer from you, but rather I expect the most dishonest answer you can manage), the question is this:

Is this really about choice? Or is this about an extreme agenda in which the pro-abortion lobby believes it's entitled to dictate the public agenda?

See, I can tell you all about being in favour of choice. I expect a woman's right to choose (within reasonable societally-mandated constraints), and I also support a doctor's right to choose.

I'm not picking and choosing whose right to choose I support and whose I don't. If this were really about "choice" to you then you wouldn't either.
Of course, Lulu wouldn't be Lulu if she didn't indulge herself in the Canadian Cynic Temple of Sycophantic Groupthink tradition of trying to move the goalposts, insisting that, somehow, morals play no role in ethics:

"And science has indisputably stated that life begins ... when? Conception? 12 weeks gestation? 20? Birth? Strange - I must've missed that memo, Patsy.

As to all of your arguments in favour of doctors refusing to do their jobs on moral grounds, perhaps they shouldn't be doctors. Morality should never play a part in a doctor's decision on how to treat a patient - ethics yes but not morality. Contrary to the entire foundation of your argument, allowing doctors to refuse treatment based on their sense of morality is hardly acceptable, don't you agree?
And yet, as Lulu apparently needed to be reminded, moral values are actually deeply rooted in virtually all professional ethical codes:

"I could agree with that -- to a point.

First off, there are strong moral elements to ethics. To pretend otherwise is incredibly naive.

To pretend that doctors could swear off their moral beliefs upon becoming doctors is triply so.

I would also draw a distinction between allowing doctors to allow their personal morals -- relgious or otherwise -- to determine how to treat a patient and decide whether to treat a patient.

If a doctor treats a patient, we expect that he will do so properly. That isn't up for debate. To suggest that a doctor could be excused from something like malpractice, for example, on moral grounds is ludicrous.

But the simple fact of the matter is this: we have the opportunity to choose our doctors. We can choose our doctors based on any number of criteria, religious, moral, ethical or otherwise.

It seems fair that doctors should have their right to do the same protected. After all, if a doctor refuses to prescribe birth control on religious grounds, a woman has the option of seeing another doctor.

Choice. Now, why would you argue that you should have the right to choose and others not have that right?

Is this about choice? Or is this about your notion of entitlement to ideological dominance?
A response which, unsurprisingly, responded in yet another movement of the goalposts:

" I'm curious, Patrick - in the midst of your unending moralizing about choice, could you direct me to a factual link of any doctor being forced to perform an abortion against his or her morals and/or ethics? Thanks bunches."
The original question, as the reader should at this point recall, is why so-called "pro-choicers" don't support legislation protecting the right of a doctor to choose to decline to perform a medical procedure they feel ethically, morally or religiously opposed to.

Ironically, it's an argument that had already been addressed.

"I'm not terribly shocked that you would bring that up. So much so that I mentioned earlier that "this doesn't affect abortion".

How does this not affect abortion, you ask?

Very simple: the doctors who would refuse to perform abortions under this legislation aren't performing them anyway.

So that, in particular, is precisely what I expected from you, Lulu: an attempt to evade the real meat and potatoes of this conversation.

Notably that: 1) Given that this legislation would have no affect on abortion availability, 2) given that this legislation could not prevent a woman from seeking a birth control prescription from a doctor predisposed towards granting one, 3) given that this legislation is little more than simply a confirmation of the very oncept you claim to be in favour of here -- notably, choice -- how can it be that you oppose it so fervently?

It this about choice, Lulu, or not?
It's at this point that a trend begins to emerge in the course of the debate: Lulu really wants no part of this "choice" question, instead she chooses to indulge herself in making herself quite transparent:

"Once again, nice try. Since you're all about the hypotheticals, what happens when the only available doctor in a rural or remote area is one who is morally opposed to abortion or birth control? How does that not affect the availability of abortion?

Oh wait, don't tell me ... let me guess. In your world, she can just head down the road to another doctor, right?
So, let's overlook the fact that the doctor in question doesn't necessarily have the requisite training to perform an abortion. Let's overlook the fact that in such a remote location there obviously is no hospital, and thus a lack of proper facilities to perform any kind of elective surgery, let alone an abortion.

In Lulu's mind, if that doctor has the option of declining to perform that procedure, then abortion -- which wouldn't be available in this situation regardless -- then any law that provides the doctor with such an option would be a bad thing.

One wonders what the alternative would be. Evidently, there could really be only one: doctors, at least in remote regions, forced to perform abortions against their religious, moral or ethical objections. Despite lack of proper facilities, or lack of training.

Which actually defies the most logical reason for supporting legal abortion: the security of knowing that women recieving abortions are recieving them from trained professionals in proper facilities, as opposed to so-called back alley abortions.

But it's impossible to overlook the undertones of pro-abortion authoritariansim: if a doctor would make a choice that Lulu, and those who think like her, would disagree with that, then they shouldn't have that choice.

At this point it becomes impossible to believe that the issue is really about choice. In fact, the so-called "pro-choice" lobby seems to hold two different positions on the matter: freedom of choice for some people, and no freedom of choice for others. The tipping point is whether or not that particular individual agrees or disagrees with abortion.

As such, the matter isn't really about choice. It's clearly about abortion.

The so-called "pro-choice" lobby would insist that they aren't in favour of abortion. They don't celebrate individual abortions, they insist, so they can't be considered pro-abortion.

But when confronted with an opportunity to defend someone's freedom of choice, they demur. It would seem the only thing the so-called "pro-choice" lobby is in favour of is abortion.

While they may be uncomfortable with the "pro-abortion" label (it's actually comforting to know they're cognitive enough of the fact that abortion terminates human life to feel uncomfortable about it), the fact remains that it's much more accurate.

At the very least they could amend their preferred label to "selectively pro-choice".


  1. Patsy, Patsy, Patsy.

    Why is it so difficult for you to deal honestly with what's really on your mind?

    Truth is you're sweet on LuLu. You've a got a big ole schoolboy crush and you just don't know what to do about it. Instead of dealing with it you act out instead.

    Does Uncle Frank have to sit you down and have 'Teh Talk'?

  2. Only if "the talk" is a frank and honest discussion about why you and your cohorts claim to be "pro-choice", then actually oppose choice.

    You know: the kind of frank and honest discussion you've proven yourself incapable of.


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