I am currently reading the novel All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr. In literary terms, it has some flaws. Ideologically, it is self-consciously non-religious but advocates ethical humanism with a commitment to moral objectivity.
There is a horrifying scene in which boys and teachers at an elite Nazi school are forced to throw water over a bound prisoner in the freezing cold, a process that freezes the prisoner to death. Only one refuses. He pours out bucket after bucket of water on the ground, saying, "I will not." He later pays the price.
That ability to draw a line, to say, "I will not" is important to all human beings. There has to be something about which you will say that, a line you will not cross, a thing you will not do. If not, you have lost yourself.
In Vermont right now, some doctors are being told that they have to do something, and they are saying, "I will not." Their lawyers for the ADF (these are people really doing something for the cause of the right and the good) have filed a lawsuit on their behalf. The complaint is here.
What are the doctors refusing to do? To counsel patients about their "option" to commit suicide. Vermont's bureaucracy is interpreting the conscience protections in its assisted suicide law to mean only that a doctor with a conscientious objection is obligated to refer the patient to someone who will counsel him about assisted suicide.
It probably goes without saying that doctors wouldn't be able to fulfill this legal requirement by firmly and unequivocally counseling against assisted suicide. But beyond that, nobody should be obligated even to bring it up. It shouldn't be treated as "another of your options."
If the doctors lose their case, they won't be killed or imprisoned, but they might have to give up their profession or move away from a state in which they have put down personal and professional roots. Either of those is asking rather a lot. The only other alternative is the old one of trying to fly under the radar and hoping "it" won't come up. This happens to be the "it" in this case.
But as in the Nazi school, so here: The ominous interpretation of the assisted suicide law tells us that the bullies are determined to make everyone, individually, endorse what they stand for. It may be "LGBT rights." It may be transgenderism. It may be assisted suicide. But one way and another, the idea is (metaphorically) to line everybody up and make them each throw the water.
I can't say for sure that they will get to each and every one of us, one way or another, in our lifetimes. There are too many contingencies for that, and too many people in the country, and that's a good thing, too. But the doctors in Vermont are just the latest to discover that they are the subjects of an attempted "flushing out" maneuver, intended to find out and root out regressive elements, this time in the medical profession.
Good for them for saying, "I will not." And may the ADF's lawsuit against the bullies prosper.