Peggy O'Mara on Freedom of Conscience and Informed Consent

At the 2009 Coalition for Improving Maternity Services Mother-Friendly Forum that just ended today, one of the presenters made reference to the article “The Assault on Freedom of Conscience” in the January/February 2009 issue of Mothering Magazine. The piece was written by Peggy O'Mara, the magazine’s editor and publisher.

The following excerpt was written in regards to HIV-positive pregnant women who declined AZT treatment during pregnancy and one woman in particular who took the AZT but was court-ordered by her pediatrician after her birth to cease breastfeeding and administer AZT to her baby. This applies to  all parents:

These parents exercise their freedom of conscience—a right supported by US courts for more than 100 years. Freedom of conscience is protected under the doctrine of informed consent, which specifically protects the right to decline. For informed consent to be valid, a decision must not be coerced.

O’Mara concluded the article by urging parents and families who have made a responsible and well-informed decision to dismiss propaganda.

A dangerously vicious intolerance for parents' freedom of conscience is growing and is breeding an atmosphere of distrust among families. It's especially important now for parents to clearly differentiate between the personal and the political. If you exercise your freedom of conscience and make a decision that is held by only a small minority, be reassured by the knowledge that the Constitution of the United States was written specifically to protect minority opinions. If you have made a responsible and well-informed decision, you can dismiss the propaganda when an issue is demonized in the press, because its coverage may be influenced by political, that is, financial, motives. Parents are the only ones who will live with the consequences of their actions, so they must be the ones who make the final decisions. Anything else is tyranny.


The argument to this, of course, is that children, too, must live with the consequences of their parents’ decisions. What do you think?


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