Bioethikos: Bringing Life to Bioethics

Archive for October, 2012


Health Care and Rights of Conscience

Wednesday, October 24th, 2012 by Dr. Heather Kuruvilla

In America, those who ethically and morally oppose war are not forced to violate their deeply held beliefs. Our nation has a long-standing tradition of respect for the principles of conscientious objectors.1 In fact, soldiers whose battlefield experiences have led them to oppose war may be honorably discharged from the military or re-classified as a non-combatant.2

If our government is careful not to step on the conscience of those who oppose war, should we not respect the beliefs of those who oppose contraception? Under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, private insurance plans must cover the cost of all FDA-approved birth control. This includes contraceptive measures, as well as methods like the IUD, which prevent implantation of the developing embryo.3 Failure to comply with the mandate will result in significant fines. 4

So what happens to the business owner who objects to IUDs? What happens to Catholic institutions? What happens to other persons of faith or persons of conscience who object to birth control on a religious or moral basis? Must they choose between violating their conscience or closing their business to avoid crippling fines? That hardly seems fair.

A narrow religious exemption from the contraception mandate is provided. However, as many have pointed out, this exemption does not apply to many religious organizations.5

It’s not too late to provide for a broader conscientious objection to the contraception mandate. But it will take the voices of concerned citizens to ensure that their rights of conscience are protected.

1 Conscientious Objector.  The Free Dictionary.

2Conscientious Objection Fact Sheet.

3Obamacare Conscience Issues Put Catholic Health Care at Risk

4 Obamacare Contraception Mandate Takes Effect

5Obamacare, Religion, and the Court

Keeping the Drive Alive

Saturday, October 6th, 2012 by Dr. Heather Kuruvilla

When I was a kid in school, I’d inhale my lunch, so I could go outside and play touch football.  At the small Christian school that my parents started, kids from grade school through high school would play touch football in all kinds of weather.  There were a couple of important rules we played by: don’t squash the little kids, and three completed passes gets you a first down.

When no adults were around, we did our best to organize teams with matched talent. We had combinations of long and short plays. We got muddy, and had fun, and probably smelled rather ripe going into our afternoon classes. But when my Dad was around, he encouraged us to play “boys against girls.”  He played on the girls’ team. Maybe my memory has faded, but I don’t recall a single instance when the girls’ team lost.

My dad didn’t play on our team to run the big play. In fact, when he was on our team, we pretty much had one play: take two steps, turn around, and catch the ball. All we wanted was a completion. Because three completed passes gets you a first down.

The shortest kid could throw the ball. The slowest kid could catch it. Talent didn’t matter; we were all involved. It took forever to get to the end zone, but get there we did, because every first down kept the drive alive.


Sometimes we who defend the value of human life get discouraged. We want the flea flicker, or the Hail Mary pass. We want the 80-yard completion that gets Roe v. Wade overturned, or the 50-yard field goal that bans research on human embryos. We want to end human trafficking today! We want an end zone celebration!

But when a young mother chooses adoption over abortion, that’s a “completed pass” on behalf of life. When adult stem cell research leads to another successful medical treatment, we just completed another “pass.” When people raise awareness about human trafficking, leading to laws that protect innocent humans enslavement, that’s another “completion.” In this game, anyone can make a difference. Your gender, your size, your talents don’t matter – keep the “end zone” in sight. Compassion and respect for human persons will take you to places where real people have real needs. You can help meet them.

So don’t give up. Because three completions gets you a first down. And another first down is all that it takes to keep the drive alive.