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Protection of Conscience Project

Service, not Servitude

Medical journal won't share birth-control image

BC Catholic,
15 April, 2001
Reproduced with permission

Laureen McMahon

A B.C. medical magazine that recently featured a birth-control-wielding Aryan superhero on its front cover is shy about getting some free publicity.

The B.C. Medical Journal has turned down a request from an international watchdog group that wanted to distribute the image as part of a campaign in support of conscientious objection among medical personnel.

Sean Murphy, administrator for the Protection of Conscience Project, said the January-February cover of the Journal featured "a crouching, brawny Aryan hero glowering murderously from under a horned helmet while clutching a copper IUD in his sword hand."

Murphy noted that, while the picture was certainly "unusual for a medical journal," it is a "splendid illustration of the usual basis for conscientious objection to potentially abortifacient devices and drugs."

Murphy wrote to the B.C. Medical Journal, asking permission to use the picture on his organization's Web site.

"After a second letter, I received a rather curt note from the managing editor refusing permission. They also cautioned me that the cover and text are protected by copyright law, which they assured me `we will not hesitate to employ in the defence of our property.'"

"My response was that I don't post materials without permission, so they need not worry about their property interests. I also reminded them that I had asked for seven copies of the journal, and asked if they were going to publish my letter."

In that letter, Murphy criticized an article by Dr. Roey Malleson on the use of intrauterine devices and the "morning-after" pill because, while acknowledging that these abortifacients destroy the developing human embryo by preventing its implantation in the uterine wall, Dr. Malleson "fails to recognize that the destruction of the developing embryo is a key moral issue."

"Rather than dealing with these moral and controversial issues, Dr. Malleson defines the issue out of existence by adopting a coded vocabulary. Only readers familiar with authoritative embryological texts are likely to recognize the polemic behind the terms he uses."

Murphy called the article "an excellent example of moral obfuscation masquerading as science" and he challenged Dr. Malleson's authority "to tutor colleagues in faith and morals."

The magazine's editorial board decided against publishing the letter. It did send him the seven magazines, invoiced, as requested.

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