Listen to this 'Talk of the Nation' topic
Recently, there's been a lot of action on the so-called "right to refuse" front. HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt has a strongly-held belief in "the legal right medical practitioners have to practice according to their conscience," meaning, if a doctor has a moral opposition to something like abortion, he or she should not be legally compelled to perform one. To that end, the Bush administration has promised to implement a rule designed to protect healthcare workers from having to perform procedures to which they object. But in California, the state supreme court ruled against two doctors who refused to artificially inseminate a lesbian, due to their own religious beliefs against homosexuality. Justice Joyce Kennard ruled the Christian fertility doctors were protected neither by free speech nor religious exemption. So where do you draw the line between the right of the doctor and the right of the patient? Is it fair to force a doctor to perform a procedure to which he or she morally objects? Conversely, is it fair to deny a legal procedure to a patient who needs or wants it?