The Mexican Supreme Court recently upheld a law that would require private and public hospitals to give the “morning after pill” to victims of rape. The Court further announced that any medical professionals or other officials who refuse to give the pill to patients will face sanctions and possible imprisonment. The critical element seems to be the position of the Supreme Court in Mexico regarding the actual effect of the “morning after pill.”
Minister José Ramón Cossío commented that, “we're not talking about an abortive process, and therefore there is no objection of conscience.”
The Supreme Court argued that because the pill does not actually cause an abortion, then Mexican laws restricting abortions are not relevant. The Court states that this is “part of a public health policy,”, and thus there is no provision for officials and medical professionals to refuse on the grounds of a moral objection to the pill. This statement that the morning after pill is not an abortifacient has been sharply criticized.
According to Cristina Marquez, a medical researcher studying conception at a leading university in Mexico, “The union of the sperm and ovum results in a new human being, no matter what happens from the embryological point of view, what is formed is a new human being. And the intention of using this kind of drug would be to precisely prevent the embryo from forming.”
Simply stated, the morning after pill stops the embryo, which is a human Life, from implanting, thereby ending his or her Life.
A second facet of this case which deserves comment is a statement made by Supreme Court President Guillermo Ortiz.
“We have finished with a matter that is very debatable and probably our decision is not universally convincing, but it is the product of the personal conviction of each one of the ministers, of our personal juridical knowledge and of our faithful knowing and understanding,” Ortiz said.
By using the phrase “personal conviction,” it appears that Ortiz wishes to show that, while there may be some strong disagreement with the Court's decision, this ruling was reached with a full understanding and careful consideration of all the relevant facts.
The confusing aspect, then, is the threat of serious sanctions and possible imprisonment for those who refuse to provide the pill on the grounds of moral objection.
Are moral objections not personal convictions?
It seems absurd to say that they are not, and thus we are left with the situation where one kind of personal conviction serves as the basis for the denial of another personal conviction. The members of the Mexican Supreme Court are denying others the right to conscientious objection because of their own personal convictions. It is true that Ortiz cited legal expertise and “faithful knowing and understanding,” as factors in the decision. And what about professional convictions – the scientists, like Marquez, whose expert opinion is that the pill is in fact an abortifacient? It seems that Ortiz committed a serious error in admitting that personal convictions played a role in the Court's decision.
The right to a moral conscience is fundamental. No one can be forced to commit an act that he or she believes to be morally wrong. It is vital that those of us in the Pro-Life movement continue to demand the right to morally object to any attack on the dignity of human Life.