Monday, January 30, 2006

"Right of Refusal" INDEED!

I finished reading this Washington Post article this morning about bills appearing in legislatures across the nation debating the right of health care workers to REFUSE treatment or services because of their religious or moral beliefs. Anyone now want to seriously tell me that the right in this country does NOT want to create an Old Testament-based theocracy in America? I'm so angry over this issue that I could spit nails. I'm almost speechless. Almost.

The first rule they teach you about medicine, even when you are premed and taking a bioethics course like I did in college, is "First, Do No Harm." It blows my mind that someone would actually endure years of education and training in medicine or pharmacy and seriously think they should have the right to pass judgment on their patients and refuse to render service. People are supposed to enter the medical fields to heal the sick, not heal only the sick you approve of.

Many of these states are focusing solely on the right of pharmacists to refuse to give a woman birth control pills or the morning after pill based solely on that pharmacist's moral or religious beliefs. The pharmacists' role is to fill prescriptions from a doctor and to provide advice on drug interaction, side effects, and proper use of the medication. Nothing more. If Susie has the clap because she's a slut, the pharmacist does not have the right to refuse her antibiotics to teach her a lesson on sexual morality. I think having to go to the doctor for a case of clap would be lesson enough. Even if it wasn't, it is NOT the pharmacist's job to provide moral judgement about clients. He or she should fill the damn prescription, answer any questions, and go on to the next customer. If that is too difficult, than perhaps Dr. High-and-Mighty should not have gone to pharmacy school. Perhaps open a "Christian Taliban Drugs" store and watch it fail.

Other states apparently want to give more blanket "protection" against coercing health care workers to do their jobs. If victims of gang violence come into the emergency room, workers should have the right to refuse treatment because they find gang bangers morally reprehensible. Perhaps they should refuse to treat someone with syphilis for moral reasons. Perhaps refuse pain medication to a woman who was beat by her husband for being "sassy". Perhaps refuse treatment of any sort to GLBT people out of moral repugnance for their "lifestyle". There is no line where the "right to refuse" treament will be considered inappropriate. You can have any reason or no reason, call it a moral or religious belief, and boom, you can sit down and read a book without your boss being able to do anything.

This is not about religious freedom. This is about religious bigotry...the bigotry of the religious against those they don't like. Mostly, I'm talking about evangelicals here. I'm sorry, but if your morals will not allow you treat anyone who comes in the door of your business no matter what their personal story (assuming they can pay, of course), then you should NOT be in health care. Pharmacist's should not have the right to refuse to fill a valid prescription. Doctors, nurses, etc. should not have the right to refuse treatment because they disapprove of the patient. Employers who have these types of hateful people on staff should be able to punish or fire them when they refuse to do their job.

If the Christian Taliban wants to have "Christ-centered" care, they are welcome to form their own medical practices, private hospitals, etc. Let patients decide where they get care. It's up to the provider to decide whether a valid treatment is provided or not. It's up to the patient. The American people should be livid that such proposals are even being taken seriously in this country.

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