Katholiek Nieuwsblad reports that the Council of Europe is preparing to establish regulations for medical doctors who refuse a treatment based on moral objections. The proposed bill says that there must be a balance between the right of personal moral objections and the patient’s right of treatment. It continues to say that, under certain circumstances, doctors must set aside their objections.
The question here is not so much whether or not a doctor should be allowed to have moral objections to perform, say, and abortion or euthanasia. Well, it is, but it goes further than that.
Ingrid Airam wonders who should make the medical decisions: the doctors who studied and trained for years, or the bureaucrats who decide what medication they can proscribe? She raised the question in regards to the forms of medication covered by insurance companies, but I also think it is a valid concern here.
A moral objection is not a simple decision not to do something. The doctor who has one will have a good reason for it. When you remove the right to make expert decisions, the doctor becomes a tool wielded by people and institutions who have considerably less expertise, let alone hands-on experience.
In a life-or-death situations (or even a less serious case) I would sooner trust the knowledge of the person directly treating me than the bureaucrats and politicians who say what he or she can and can not do.
I’m not proposing doctors should be loose canons who can do whatever they please. But I do think it is important that, when it comes to medical and ethical decisions, the experience of the people in the field is the first deciding factor.