Bush’s Love of “Freedom of Conscience”?


My spouse, Amy, came home from work one day and vented her frustrations and resentment of the Bush administration. The oddity is that it’s usually the other way around. I normally vent to her. She made a certain connection and brought it to my attention. "The hypocrisy!" she said. Well… that’s not really how she said it. We have a bit more colorful of a language that perhaps some might be embarrassed to read… Anyway!

How can the Bush administration justify changing a rule in regards to abortion on the premise of protecting not only freedom of speech but conscientious objection while soldiers who resist a blatantly illegal war of aggression (e.g. Iraq and Afghanistan) are despised and treated as criminals, or when the GOP shuts down dissent in Minnesota and even attacks journalists with credentials (e.g. Amy Goodman and company)?

Health and Human Services Secretary Michael Leavitt said that "freedom of conscience is not to be surrendered upon issuance of a medical degree," and that "this nation was built on a foundation of free speech. The first principle of free speech is protected conscience."

 

Wait a minute? What did he say? "The first principle of free speech is protected conscience." George W. Bush hired this guy? Whoa, I am feeling dizzy. I better sit down… oh no, I am sitting down!

 

[Leaves computer for some fresh air and to check for a fever.]

 

Okay, where was I? Oh yeah. Bush is in love with "freedom of conscience." You got to give the guy some credit. He will surprise you every now and then (i.e. "money trumps peace").

 

I admit that I am not too fond of abortion. As someone on the "far Left" my comrades usually disagree with me on this, but for what it’s worth here’s a short version of my two cents:

 

Of the few women I have known who have had an abortion I didn’t think their reasoning was justified. To me, unless the pregnancy is at risk of death or disease to either the mother or child, or unless the pregnancy occurred due to rape I don’t think there is a sound reason for an abortion.
 
I liken it to the use of force by states or individuals. If someone breaks into my home and has a weapon then I am justified in using a weapon to defend myself. If I am an Iraqi whose country is illegally attacked by Americans then I am justified in attacking them in order to expel them. But if I am not ready or affluent enough or already have "too many" children then, in my opinion, I am not justified in terminating a life nor would I be justified in shooting someone on the highway for riding my ass, or, if I am a certain President (who apparently is fond of  "freedom of conscience"), if I order hundreds of thousands of soldiers to participate in an illegal war, an act of aggression. Similarly, if I am a soldier who took an oath to defend the constitution I would not be justified in violating not only my oath but the Uniform Code of Military Justice by obeying "unlawful orders."
 
And I understand that others disagree with me and without getting too much into discussing when life begins, women’s rights over their bodies or the possibilities of botched illegal procedures if abortion was too restricted or outright illegal I will say this: I accept there are many quality points by pro-choice advocates. I don’t oppose it on all grounds but I do have some objections to many instances I have known it to be done under.

So in a sense I can almost agree with Bush’s change for this law. I can understand and relate to the reasoning of healthcare workers having the lawful right to follow their beliefs. It just concerns me how one-sided and limited this moral is. This simple moral should be applied to media personnel who want to report on the corruption of political parties and their staged conventions or for soldiers who want to honor their oaths by not only disobeying unlawful orders but following what their hearts tell them is the right thing to do.

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