March 31, 2009

"No" To Conscience Protections

I received an E-mail today from the Heritage Foundation asking me to voice my support to keep conscience protections in place for medical professionals.

I can't in good faith do this for two reasons.

First, if I am offered a job and I know that as part of that job I will have to do something I disagree with and I still take the job, I have no grounds to complain if I am disciplined for not doing the tasks I disagree with.

For example, let's say I was Jewish. The Sabbath must be protected per my deeply held religious beliefs. I am offered a job as a chef, but one of the requirements of the job is that I must work on the Sabbath. Mind you, the Torah specifically forbids cooking on the Sabbath.

If I take the job with that requirement in place, I have no right to complain. I accepted a responsibility and failure to follow through on those responsibilities will appropriately result in discipline up to and including termination.

Second, the existing regulations are so vaguely worded that not only do they allow nearly any insane belief to be protected, but they offer little to no protection to the patient.

Under existing regulations, a nurse can force her personal beliefs on a patient without reproach. Under existing regulations, a doctor who is a practicing Christian Scientist can refuse to treat you with anything other than prayer. Under existing regulations, a nurse who is a Jehovah's Witness can refuse to grant you a blood transfusion because of a verse from Acts.

The only requirements that exist for the health care provider is that the people who are going to object should work near people who don't have these objections, that the objections must be made within a timely fashion, and that a referral process must be in place.

Sorry, but if I am going to the hospital, every minute counts. If the hospital down the street has a staff that refuses to treat me, I may not have the opportunity to get to get to whomever they refer me to.

Just as I expect a politician to check their own self interest at the door when they represent me, I expect my physician to check their own interests at the door when they treat me.

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