Conscientious Objection

Frank Pavone
Reproduced with Permission

Pope John Paul II writes the following words in The Gospel of Life, n.73:

"Abortion and euthanasia are thus crimes which no human law can claim to legitimize. There is no obligation in conscience to obey such laws; instead there is a grave and clear obligation to oppose them by conscientious objection" (EV, n.73).

But what is this "conscientious objection?"

Certainly, conscience clauses protect doctors and nurses who refuse to perform or assist in abortions. There is also a clear obligation on the part of lawmakers to protect human life.

But an important arena for conscientious objection also lies in the non-medical service personnel who may be called upon to help an abortion facility. Some 90% of abortions are performed outside of hospitals. Like any facility, these abortion mills require servicing from a wide range of people. When the roof leaks, someone is called to fix it. When the heat or air conditioning fails, someone is called to service it. When the copy machine is broken, someone is called to repair it.

Is it not time for the People of Life to say that they will not cooperate in servicing abortion facilities? The fact that abortion is legal does not imply that any citizen, particularly one opposed in conscience to abortion, has to do anything to help it to happen. Putting aside the nuances about the forms of cooperation and the levels of obligation associated with them, is it not time for a strong and pure witness of non-cooperation?

Businesses need not contract with abortion facilities, and employees can refuse to take an assignment that brings them to an abortion mill. Many, in fact, may be servicing facilities without realizing that abortions are committed there. Local pro-life activists can find out which businesses service the local abortion facilities, and then begin informing the businesses and their employees of that fact.

Federal law, under Title VII, states, "It shall be an unlawful employment practice for an employer to fail or refuse to hire or to discharge any individual, or otherwise to discriminate against any individual with respect to his compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment, because of such individual's... religion," and further indicates that "[t]he term 'religion' includes all aspects of religious observance and practice, as well as belief." There is certainly a strong defense here for those who are opposed to abortion to refuse to service abortion facilities.

Let this witness begin, from plumbers, electricians, office supply companies, delivery services, printing companies, lawn and garden companies, snow removal services, computer consultants, office machine repair services, sanitation workers, roofing companies, taxi drivers, security companies, lock and key companies, cleaning and maintenance services, sign and fence companies, food services, exterminators, and every other conceivable service! It takes a village to kill a child, and we don't have to participate!