Medical journal won't share birth-control image
15 April, 2001
Reproduced with permission
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
"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.