In debates about conscience rights something very strange has happened. The left, which used to champion conscience rights, is now frequently opposed to such rights.
This post is inspired in part by this thread and its comments over at Anglican Samizday. It is about a florist who, in conscience, decided she could not provide flowers for a gay wedding. My point here is not to comment on the rightness or wrongness of gay weddings, but whether a citizen in a free society should have a right to freedom of conscience.
The article referenced at the top of this post tends to be concerned with the more serious area of health care, but I believe the basic principle is similar. Should, for instance, a doctor who will not, for moral grounds, provide what he or she feels is an unnecessary abortion, be banned from practicing medicine. I wonder if it may some day come to that. Should a pharmacist who, again on moral grounds, be free not to provide the morning after pill, even though there may be other drug stores close by who will.
Again, from the article,
(There) is a growing belief that once a person receives a license to practice they become, in effect, an agent of the State and therefore must do anything and everything the State requires of them regardless of their own moral convictions.
... an editorial in The New York Times... said that “pharmacists who refuse to dispense contraceptives are engaged in ‘an intolerable abuse of power’ and need to ‘find another line of work.’”
But... (t)he problem with this argument is that it fundamentally rewrites the history and purpose of professional licensing, which has traditionally been aimed at ensuring competence, not on co-opting providers into serving State interests at the expense of their own moral agency.”
I fear we may be heading toward a dictatorship of a politically correct majority, intolerant of any disagreement with its established code.