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Monday, July 17th, 2006

Time Event
11:07p
And another really stupid thing
I am very depressed by this story Evangelical and Catholic health professionals constantly extending the reach of their consciences which I got to from Avedon.

The thing you have to ask yourself is, where does this end? With them refusing to treat gay men and lesbians for venereal disease, because that would condone a sexuality of which they disapprove? And if they can refuse to treat the clap, why not appendicitis? After all, if we go on living, we are bound to go on sinning.

And if they expect to be allowed to try and preach patients out of having abortions, do they expect to be allowed to preach their gospel to non-Christian patients on the brink of death and therefore, in their eyes, damnation?

And the idea that they are being persecuted for being expected to do their jobs is also a slippery slope. If a fundamentalist policeman is supposed to arrest someone for killing a gay man, is he allowed to opt out of that on the grounds of conscience, because he thinks the killing righteous and justified in scripture? Is a clerk in an employment agency allowed to refuse to find women jobs if he thinks women belong in the home?

The idea that there should be a conscience clause allowing doctors and nurses to opt out of procedures they find abhorrent was a compromise. Speaking as someone who got some fairly nasty comments from a nurse who had religious objections to gender reassignment, I am pragmatically in favour of some respect for conscience.

And I know that it is in part social snobbery that makes me go 'o for heaven's sake' when it is ambulance drivers and pharmacists.

The other aspect of the situation is just this - the entire silliness of the belief that humanity is bestowed at the moment of conception rather than by gradual increments as most other peoples in most other times including Christians have thought. To think otherwise is perpetually to sacrifice the actual for the potential - by opposing IVF because of discarded spare embryos the Catholic church is make impossible individual actual children who will be loved and cared for. By regarding the use of embryonic stem cells in possible cures as abhorrent, the Church is putting the 'interests' of embryos who will not ever be born ahead of those of actual sick people. By barring abortion, even the morning-after pill, they are putting the interests of what might in nine months be a child against those of what is, right now, a woman in difficulties.

And, as I have said before, if they actually believed in the full humanity, and full human dignity, of every single embryo, they would have, necessarily, to regard the death of any embryo, or anything that might have been an embryo, as an occasion for the full panoply of mourning. And, in fact, they don't.

One of the things that confused me about Pope Benedict's recent abolition of Limbo - where unbaptised chldren suffer none of the pains of Hell but are forever separated from God - was what he replaced it with. The sites I looked at were unclear on the matter. Does he believe that all miscarried or aborted embryos have souls that go to Hell, or does he believe that through the grace of god they all go to Heaven?

I ask this, not in all seriousness, but because I am genuinely intrigued by the bizarre intellectual consequences of arguing from what strike me as significantly false premises.

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