Monday, June 25, 2007

Doctors now refusing to prescribe any medicine because of religious beliefs (not really)

Numerous doctors throughout the United States are now refusing to utilize any products offered by the pharmaceutical industry, based on religious conviction that God will heal the faithful. A doctor recently responded to multiple complaints to the American Meidcal Association that his professional diagnosis for at least fifteen cancer patients was vigorous prayer. Incidentally, all of the patients succumbed to their illnesses.

Okay, to the best of my knowledge none of the stuff I just described has actually happened. I made the whole thing up (I hope).

But there are doctors who refuse certain types of treatment based on their own religious beliefs, and the law protects their right to not do their job. Now, if someone has a moral objection to a particular procedure and does not want to perform it, that is fine and dandy--so a person who morally opposes the morning-after pill might want to stay away from jobs where there is a high likelihood of treating recent rape victims. Likewise, someone who opposes contraception but really loves being a pharmacist might consider passing off those customers to another pharmacist.

It is also important to note that I am not even talking about abortion here, but rather contraceptive services, involving prevention of fertilization of an egg or implantation of a fertilized zygote. None of these events yet involve a distinct biological entity--I could go on about how many fertilized zygotes never actually reach their destination of the uterine wall anyway, so if keeping a zygote from implantation is murder, the Mother Nature is the greatest murderess of the all. But that is rather beside the point.

Generally, the women (it's always women) who are denied services are allowed to seek treatment elsewhere, but they lose crucial time in seeking out a doctor or pharmacist who will leave the women's decisions to herself and do his or her job.

I suppose an analogy in my own life, being a lawyer, might involve certain criminal offenses. I do not practice criminal law at all, but even if I did, I would be uncomfortable representing someone charged with, say, sexual abuse of a child. Nothing in my professional duties requires me to take this person's case, but I also cannot do anything to delay him (or her) from seeking counsel elsewhere. The timeframe in law is also much longer than it often is in medicine, so this person would likely have time to find another lawyer--out of professional courtesy, I would probably provide names of some good criminal defense attorneys.

Maybe a better analogy is a doctor who holds deeply-held religious convictions that homosexuality is wrong and a mortal sin, etc., etc. If that doctor comes upon a homosexual who has been shot in the gut and is slowly bleeding to death, can that doctor just walk on and not render any sort of aid? Can that doctor refuse to treat that person if he/she is brought into his ER? How far as a society are we going to take the coddling of people's religious beliefs when it conflicts with the jobs they studied, trained, applied, and interviewed for, and are quite frankly luck to have?


Noelia said...

Hi there! I accidentally found your blog and read this article that I found very interesting.

I think doctors should operate within the law of the country he lives in, and leave their religious beliefs for sunday in the church.

If someone has strong religious beliefs that they know they might interfere with their work as a doctor, then they might consider another career, because it's human lives we're talking about here.

Same with abortion and contaception. For or against, a doctor should provide medical aid to a woman that is seeking for it if her requirements are within the federal law.

Here in Argentina, were abortion is ilegal because the Catholic Church seems to have almost the same power in politics as it used to have back in the inquisition times, lots of women die because of clandestine "medical" centers that help them out with abortions.

I strongly believe these women have the right to access medical treatments and not bleed to death like animals.

We could go over a debate about human lives killed in abortion, but no one ever stops to think that there are worse fates in life that "not being born". Kids who will grow witless due to bad nourrishing, without education, without a family, home. Kids that will turn intro criminals to end up shot by the police. Does the Church think about all this? Because they do not invest a single dime in sheltering these kids.

I sometimes think this anti-contraception thing (and anti-abortion too) is about a big part of the society who still sees women as the breeding half of human beings. It is almost an obligation for us to have children and dedicate our lifes to them sacrifycing our own sometimes, and that's not fair.

Anonymous said...

If there is a doctor who doesn't give you the medicines that you desire because of that doctor's personal beliefs, then get a different doctor. Suppose there is an vegan doctor out there who discourages animal derived medicines, shall we berate them, too? Would you be against the practices of a doctor who prescribes remedies derived from the organs of a preschooler? Such a doctor would be locked in jail for murdering children, why should the age of the human being in question matter?