Protecting Religious Freedom within Medicine

June 24, 2022

In an article published this week in WORLD Magazine, RFI Executive Vice President Eric Patterson argues that rights of conscience must extend to medical professionals and religious hospitals. He also discusses a state-level legislative effort that has seen recent success in South Carolina, and which is part of a broader Medical Conscience Rights Initiative. Patterson writes:

On June 15, South Carolina became the third state to protect the religious freedom of medical professionals by passing the Medical Ethics and Diversity Act (known as the “Med Act”), which defends medical practitioners from being coerced to violate their sacred oath to “Do no harm.”

Sadly, egregious violations of conscience rights abound. One example is a nurse at the University of Vermont Medical Center, whose objection to participation in abortions was widely known and appropriately documented. But she was manipulated under false pretenses into assisting in the operating room without the surgeon or staff informing her that she would be participating in an abortion until it was too late.

At its roots, the Med Act defends human dignity. Medical professionals swear by the ancient Hippocratic oath to “do no harm.” Thus, they vow to give their best care to those entrusted to them. In addition to the dignity of the patient, the dignity of the practitioner is at stake. It is morally wrong to require doctors, nurses, or other healthcare staff to park their religiously informed convictions at the door before they walk in to work.

Read the full article: Protecting religious freedom within medicine.