When the US still had “mandatory” conscription for males it was still possible to claim exemption on the basis of a conscientious objection to war. While this usually required a religious basis and was almost impossible for doctors because of a supposed non-combattant role, we were still given full C.O. status as a doctor without a religious basis. The explanation for this legal certification is not relevant and it didn’t happen without a protracted struggle which we had no reason to believe would turn out as it did. Its lack of relevance is because the end of the draft or the war did not end our status as a conscientious objector. We have objected — publicly, conscientiously and strenuously — to every US war and military misadventure since Vietnam and there have been quite a few: Grenada, Panama, Gulf War I, Iraq, Afghanistan, not to mention the covert and blatantly illegal wars on Cuba and Nicaragua and who knows where else. We have objected out of conscience.
“Conscientious objector” is not a legal status. It is a declaration we are not on Death’s payroll:
Conscientious Objector by Edna St. Vincent Millay
I shall die, but
that is all that I shall do for Death.
I hear him leading his horse out of the stall;
I hear the clatter on the barn-floor.
He is in haste; he has business in Cuba,
business in the Balkans, many calls to make this morning.
But I will not hold the bridle
while he clinches the girth.
And he may mount by himself:
I will not give him a leg up.
Though he flick my shoulders with his whip,
I will not tell him which way the fox ran.
With his hoof on my breast, I will not tell him where
the black boy hides in the swamp.
I shall die, but that is all that I shall do for Death;
I am not on his pay-roll.
I will not tell him the whereabout of my friends
nor of my enemies either.
Though he promise me much,
I will not map him the route to any man’s door.
Am I a spy in the land of the living,
that I should deliver men to Death?
Brother, the password and the plans of our city
are safe with me; never through me Shall you be overcome.