Janet Crowe ( Sidewalk Jesus )
Conscience will lead the way, if we listen
“Let’s see what day we can set you up for your test,” said the smiling nurse with her clipboard and efficient, no-nonsense manner.
“What test?” I asked. “Does the doctor think there is something wrong with my baby?”
“Oh, no, dear,” reassured the trustworthy professional into whose hands I had placed my own health and that of my baby. “This is just a routine test for all new mommies. After all, you are at a high risk age and we want to be sure.”
“Sure about what? What type of test? The doctor didn’t say anything about needing a test,” I said in an effort to control my rising panic and yet find out needed information.
“Oh, don’t worry,” the nurse continued in her attempts to reassure me, “this is just standard stuff. The amnio takes only a few minutes and everything will be fine.”
“Amnio? No, I am not having an amniocentesis done,” I firmly yet politely stated.
“Well, of course, you are. This is just routine,” she said. “Now which dates can we schedule you to return for the test.”
“No, I am not having an amniocentesis,” I repeated.
About that time, the doctor returned to the examining room and the nurse’s friendly manner slipped completely. She turned to the doctor with the attitude of a child tattling on a playmate, “Doctor, she’s being stubborn and says she is not having the test done.”
“Is there a problem with my baby?” I asked in defense of my stubborn refusal. “Does my baby have a medical issue that you can treat before he’s born or that you want to be prepared to treat when he is born?”
As the doctor turned to me, I expected him to continue with the platitudes of safety and routine testing. Instead, he asked me, “How old are you?” “Um, I’m almost 34,” I stammered, knowing that my age was printed at the top of the chart held in the nurse’s hands.
“But you are 33 years old now,” he repeated and turned to the nurse. “She doesn’t need the test.” “But, doctor, she’s high risk,” began the nurse before the doctor waved his hand to end the conversation. After she closed the door with a little more than a gentle click, he said, “So, you don’t want the test done? You know that it will help you make an informed decision.”
“Informed decision about what?” I countered. “If this will inform you of how you can better treat any complications that you think my baby is suffering, then let’s talk. But this baby has a due date which he or she will meet no matter what any tests may say so there is no need to invade my baby’s space by sticking a long needle in there for no good reason. ”
I still remember the small smile the doctor tried to hide that day more than two decades ago. Although defiance was not my usual manner, I wondered how the argument would have continued had the baby’s due date been one month later, after my birthday. I knew that the nurse was more worried about a possible wrongful birth lawsuit than the health of me or my baby. Newspapers at that time had published stories of women suing their doctors when their babies were born with Downs’ Syndrome or other genetic abnormalities which might have been detected with prenatal testing. The nurse’s concern was a bottom line issue which is almost always a back pocket, or monetary, matter rather than concern about the patient.
Isn’t that the same concern that is driving the controversy over the Texas Sonogram Law? Informed women may choose not to abort their babies when they see the adorable image on the sonogram screen. The abortionist’s bottom line, or income, will be negatively affected because the abortionist certainly isn’t concerned about the well being of the two patients, mother and preborn baby, who enter his office.
Isn’t that the same concern that drives the push for all health insurance and health care providers to provide abortion services? After all, the bottom line in a health insurance company’s payout for an abortion is much less than the intensive care expenses of a premature infant’s care. Typically, insurance companies only care about the bottom line, the profits, and not about the blessings that each and every person bestows upon the world.
Long ago, a doctor created an oath designed for all health care providers to ensure the integrity of care received by patients. According to the Hippocratic Oath, at no time would a physician do harm or injustice to a patient. Neither would a deadly drug be given or even suggested to anyone even if the person specifically requested such a remedy. This Oath quite simply stated that no woman would be provided an abortion. The Hippocratic Oath is where modern law derived the protected privacy of the doctor/patient relationship as well as the patient’s safety from, what Hippocrates proclaimed as, the intentional injustice of sexual relations between doctor and patient.
When legislators perverted the patients’ medical safeguards by endowing the abortion industry with unprecedented power, the need for the conscience clause arose. As long as the medical profession protected the purity and integrity of the medical arts, as Hippocrates had designed, there was no need to protect the physician’s right to refuse to perform an act which was morally reprehensible as guided by the doctor’s own religious beliefs. However, the perversion of the medical profession, by an industry driven by unimaginable profits over even the most basic of laws against murder, required the creation of a loophole for those medical professionals who still valued the human patient rather than the almighty dollar.
Hippocrates prayed for guidance to Apollo and other gods in a religion which would today be considered pagan. However, he, like all human beings, was created by God who instilled in each person a moral differentiation between good and evil, a conscience which is sometimes referred to as the voice of God in man. Today we, as Christians, Jews, Muslims, and even those of no particular faith, must be allowed to follow our moral compass or conscience. We must be allowed to be guided by our ethical beliefs not in simply deciding what we want to do but in what we know in our hearts is the difference between right and wrong.
Forget the bottom line. Forget profit and loss. Forget cost effectiveness. Those are choices, not guidelines. Conscience directs us to decide the ethical difference between what is right and what is wrong. When a woman sees an image of her preborn baby waving a hand with five small fingers, she is given the knowledge to cut past the rhetoric about a blob of tissue and to recognize the humanity of her preborn child. When she hears the racing heart of a living person within her womb, she has the ability to see beyond the abortionist’s desire for a quick buck and admit to the fact that a human life will either be allowed to continue or be ended by her decision. That is informed consent rather than hiding the reality behind the rhetoric of choice – the industry’s choice for murderous profit.
The voice of God speaks to us through our conscience. We must speak up for those who do not yet have a voice. The law of God is written on our hearts. We can guide those who have been blinded to the difference between right and wrong by reminding friends, coworkers, and legislators to listen to their conscience. We must remember that we may sit on the bottom line, our back pockets, but we stand for what is morally right and engraved by God on our hearts.
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