Saturday, January 24, 2009

Right of conscience

In December of 2008, a 127-page, document of regulation, allowing a right of conscience, was implemented on a federal level, in which, federal funding would be cut, if a health care worker were to be punished, for exercising it. Excellent! All democrats should support a right of conscience. It is surprising, that, Republicans put it up. How and why, such a course? It concerns abortion and related issues [I have not read it, therefore, I am extrapolating].

Some self styled progressives do not like it, because it may reduce abortions. Conservatives [read Republicans] are for it. Some really are against abortion*, some are playing electoral politics, some get to stifle health care spending, and their are combinations.

But protecting a right of (or to) conscience is the right thing to do. Such protections for workers are right. Labor should fight for this. Medical staff should fight for it. It is consistent, it is also incongruent that Republicans are for it. They are making an exception, for it goes against management, it goes against institutional authoritarianism. Exercising a right of conscience is defined as insubordination. In employment it is grounds for, not only, ‘discipline’, but termination; in the military ― court martial.

Now, a worker usually knows his work well, and often, far better than his ‘superior’. In my trade, the phrase is that work is to be ‘done in a workmanlike manner’. Well, sometimes that leads to dismissal. The physicians oath of Hippocrates, in the 4th century b.C., has these lines:
To consider dear to me, as my parents, him who taught me this art; to live in common with him and, if necessary, to share my goods with him; To look upon his children as my own brothers, to teach them this art. I will prescribe regimens for the good of my patients according to my ability and my judgment and never do harm to anyone. I will not give a lethal drug to anyone if I am asked, nor will I advise such a plan; and similarly I will not give a woman a pessary to cause an abortion.
What we see, in these and the whole, is that a code of conduct of the trade is stated. In that code, a mode of right behavior is prescribed, and a corporate unity of membership. These greek physicians were a unionised, guild of laborers. Their workmanlike manner provision, prime directive, was a principle of: First do no harm.

Now, if legal precedent be followed, an empowered workforce would form. NO ‘pro-business’ candidate would be for that. NO militarist would be for that. A military draft would not be legal, many actions would not be forced on a serviceman. A right of, or to, conscience would be a great advance for the citizen, it would maddening for a capitalist, a militarist and a dictator.

Right of conscience is the right to strike, it is a failure to comply, it is a cessation of labor, it is a willful refusal to obey command. It is the difference between free labor and coerced labor. Coerced labor is slavery. This is a progressive issue, it is a social justice issue. When seen this way, the incongruity of the partisans will be seen. Anyone against a right of conscience is wrong, anyone who does not allow for it, as a general, and fundamental, principle, in all labor is wrong.
*abortion is a great moral wrong, it is murder.

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