To summarize, I had said:
Health care providers cannot be allowed to pick and choose what legal procedures they want to perform or assist with. If a person cannot in good conscience have anything to do with abortion, or any other legal medical procedure, that person shouldn't be working in health care.
My friend Jen suggested this revision:
I'd amend that to "If a person cannot in good conscience have anything to do with abortion, or any other legal medical procedure, that person shouldn't be working in: Labour and delivery/ER/post partum".
Likewise, those opposed to/don't understand electro-convulsive therapy should steer clear of the psych units, those opposed to/don't understand harm reduction should steer clear of public health, etc. Health practice, individuals and patient needs are all to many and too varied for there to be an expectation of everyone to be on the same page.
My friends the nurses weren't supporting C-537; they were pointing out flaws in my reasoning against the bill. I know these folks to be smart and progressive people, as well as caring health care practitioners, so I took their concerns seriously. Their comments are significant and worth reading. Some excerpts:
. . . the College of Nurses of Ontario and College of Physicians and Surgeons . . . both allow their members to refuse to perform procedures they object to via scope of practice statements. Even in NY State as nurse I was free in my practice to refuse to perform acts that I deemed objectionable and the state board of nursing protected that right.
. . . I don't believe as a nurse, I should be asked to do anything that violates my personal, ethical or religious beliefs as I've defined them. This could be widely interpreted to include a good deal of other issues besides abortion and abortion-related practices.
. . . Health care professions are self-regulating and autonomous. It was a long hard fight to be able to say "no" and advocate for the patient against unsafe and/or unethical practice (e.g.: giving meds, especially sedation, against the patient's will or unbeknownst to them; withholding information from patients at family's request, etc). . . .
The "by law you must do this" approach to practice was a huge motivator (among many other things) in the eugenics movement as another example of the end result of a very slippery slope.
These comments (which I hope you'll read in their entirety) brought a lot of food for thought to my table. Their concerns made sense to me. But the bill was still bothering me. A lot.
So I've thought more about this, and read what many other pro-choice bloggers have written. And now my thoughts are crystal clear.
This bill would define human life as beginning at conception. Meaning it would define the fertilized egg as a human being. That's all we need to know.
I am quite sure life of some sort begins at conception. After all, an amoeba is a life form. So is a cow. So is a carrot. So, too, the zygote. But we must reject any legislation that seeks to define the zygote as a human life under the law. The implications are obvious.
Reproductive freedom is the cornerstone of women's equality and self-determination. If a zygote has the same rights that I do as an adult woman, then disposing of that blob of cells is murder. And we can't take one step down that road.
The concerns about autonomy and personal ethics raised by my nurse friends have much merit. And, as they've pointed out, their concerns are already addressed by their professional regulatory bodies. Just as C-484 is unnecessary because the criminal code already speaks to the same issues without defining the fetus as a legal person.
C-537, like C-484, is an anti-abortion bill dressed up in a costume of concern. C-484 is supposedly about concern for female victims of violence: but we know better. C-537 is supposedly about concern for health care workers.
But both are really about abortion. Both are attempts to chisel away at our rights. If you feel as I do, make sure your MP knows how you feel.