What do you do? For those educated in public schools, let me tell you this is not a hypothetical scenario. A situation like this actually happened as recently as the 1960s. Let's take a look at it.
During the Vietnam war there were many who dodged the draft under the auspices of "conscientious objection". As the idea goes, some felt the war was unjust and therefore a violation of their conscience to be required to participate. Others thought it unjust to force a free people to engage in a government action, as the draft forced young men to join the military. Others simply didn't want to go to war regardless of other considerations, because killing violated their individual commitment to peace. Do you notice a pattern here?
Apparently the freedom of conscience was a big deal to many in the 60s and 70s. We even hear talk about this today, with Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY) calling for a new military draft and the controversy still generated by the idea.
What exactly is this freedom of conscience? To put it simply, it is the freedom to abstain from something (even something required by law) because participating or contributing to it would violate one's conscience. But there are evidently some limits on this freedom.
In contemporary political discourse there is another issue in which freedom of conscience plays a role. It plays the same role as it did with anti-war protesters of the past when the draft was still in place. But now the issue is of a more domestic nature.
In October of 2011 MSNBC's Martin Bashir displayed a perfect example of oppression and the violation of the freedom of conscience. NewsBuster's Matthew Balan covered the incident in his Oct. 13 articled titled MSNBC's Bashir: 'Misogynist' GOP Wants to 'Let Women Die'.
On the issue of what is ironically called "abortion rights" Bashir takes an openly partisan stance on what remains a very controversial cultural divide. With the quoted material he presents and the guest speaker invited to join the discussion there is no question remaining as to Bashir's position on the issue. Having an opinion is one thing, and promoting it is another.
Throughout the segment on the October 13 show Bashir and his guest promoted the idea that women's rights were placed in danger by the newly proposed Protect Life Act, legislation offered by congressional Republicans. Advocates of the bill are portrayed by Bashir and his comrades as being uncompassionate while the issue is portrayed has having only one legitimate viewpoint: the right of women to choose. One might notice the conspicuous absence of any meaning for the "right to choose" when this phrase is used. "The right to choose what?" one might ask.
But in this unabashedly biased display we do not see Bashir ignoring the freedom of conscience as he does the meaning of a right to choose. Quite the opposite, in fact. Bashir attacks the freedom of conscience directly:
The bill would go as far as to protect the right of a hospital to deny a woman a termination under any circumstances (sic), even in life-threatening situations. Hardly surprising, then, that the provision has earned the moniker the 'let women die act' from its opponents.Imagine the freedom of conscience (the idea of individual freedom) being portrayed as anti-American during the Vietnam war. But here the very same freedom is portrayed as a great social evil, even an anti-American violation of women's constitutional rights (don't bother asking if men have reproductive rights). And Bashir demonstrates only one example that the freedom of conscience has only selective value to the political left, the supposed champions of individual liberty. Now the endeavor to protect the right to an opinion (in this case one differing from a progressive paradigm) is portrayed as a "war on women".
In regard to war, primarily U.S. involvement in war, conscientious objection is still touted as sacrosanct. If that is the cultural standard now in place in our society, so too should it be in the abortion controversy. What is anti-American here is the bullying of those who do not subscribe to a progressive point of view. This could easily be viewed as a war on children - as if Bashir were suggesting we ignore the constitution for some rights, and that the right to kill unborn children must be protected at all costs.
If you find Martin Bashir's treatment of this issue troublesome (or worse) I urge you to contribute to your local prolife/right to life organization. In my area, a group called Sav-A-Life is hosting its first annual banquet, on November 7 at 6:30pm. This will be held at Circlewood Baptist Church in Tuscaloosa, AL. This event functions as a fund raiser and as an effort to spread the message that there are good alternatives to abortion. This first banquet will feature Kirk Walden, who often speaks to pregnancy care centers and helps them raise funds for their admirable and vital work. You can find out more about Sav-A-Life at their website.
The Right to Life deserves protection and support as much as any other right of human kind. For Americans, this right is even explicitly mentioned in our founding documents (unlike the right to kill babies). Local right to life groups need your support. You can volunteer your time, donate funds to their cause, or contribute other material aid to your local groups.
If you can attend sporting events or concerts you can also spare just a fraction of that time or cost in support of the right to live. Please donate today.