Monday, October 22, 2007
Conscientious objection to gay adoption
There's a lot of irony in this. Much to the chagrin of some of my gay friends I have always maintained that arguably gay people have a moral obligation to contribute to the welfare of children (often gay couples have the resources and the time to do so, frequently more so than heterosexual couples). In view of large numbers of orphans both in developed as well as in developing countries I think it would be only sensible if more gay people who find themselves in the fortunate situation to be able to resource the upbringing of such orphans should do so (eg adopt them). So, rather than thinking about gay adoption as a right that needs to be fought for, I believe it is a moral obligation that sufficiently resourced gay people have toward orphans. While I was saying 'duty' and 'obligation' as opposed to 'right' ('gay' preferably) my gay compatriots were not exactly taken by my views.
Well, thankfully there's always a religious person around working hard to stuff these matters up. You know, some bloke who had a chat with his 'God' the other day, and who then 'feels' strongly enough about it to campaign against gay adoption (the 'right' and, weirdly the 'duty'). The fascinating bit to me isn't that sort of conduct in itself, as to my mind organised monotheistic religions are about little other than this kind of activity. No, it all comes full circle to my other favorite topic, 'conscientious objection'.
63 year old Andrew McClintock is some kind of professional. His job as a Magistrate in Sheffield is to get kids into adoption. Well, you guessed it, Mr McClintock is part of God's squad, so he knows that it's 'wrong' to place orphans with adoptive gay parents. He wants that the place where he works excuses him from having to give orphaned children to gay adoptive parents. Conscientious objection as an idea holds much sway in health care professions. There members of God's earthly team also want a special exemption when it comes to certain types of medical services. The weird bit about the conscientious objection stance is, of course, that it's not about any kind of actual truth of the belief held by the objectors. So, it's not at all about whether they can show that their God exists and that the views they ascribe to their God are truly God's views, basic stuff like that. Rather, it's about the fact that they feel so very strongly about the issue. Well, what if Mr McClintock had joined an Aryan Nation type religion that would prevent him from given orphans to families from an ethnic group that he doesn't like, because his God etc etc, would that also fly as a reason for racial discrimination?
Given that conscientious objection, as we have seen, is not about the truth or otherwise of the God related claims, to me at least it seems that accepting a right to conscientious objection is close to saying 'anything goes' as long as the objector feels strongly enough about it. This absurdity is truly incompatible with professional conduct, and for that reason alone we should do away with any supposed right to conscientious objection.
You don't want to deliver services that we as society can reasonably expect of you by virtue of your professional status ... frankly, then take a hike and get yourself some other job that you're able to fulfill.