Thursday, August 21, 2008

Doctors rights vs. Patients rights

Any time one persons rights infringe on another persons rights it gets awkward. An issue that has been coming up lately is if a Doctor or Pharmacists religious freedom gives them the right to deny care. If I was a religious man I might go after them by saying that according to their book JC said to hate the sin but love the sinner, and how we are all sinners, and finally that God is the only judge. To me it flies in the face of christianity to hate a person, for pretty much any reason. But I'm not a religious man, and this is not a religious country, our higher authority is a scrape of paper with some very wise word upon it. So while I think it's important for religious people to point out that religion should be used for good and not to the detriment of others, I'm not the one to make that argument because I firmly believe that even when doing some immediate good religious thought, non-critical thought is quite possibly the most dangerous force on this planet. There are many ways our species could wipe ourselves out, (climate change, nuclear war) but few if any would be possible if we all practiced critical thinking. But I can't get into that right now.

So back to the bill of rights, freedom of religion you may believe what ever you want, and you may practice how you wish, so long as you're not harming others. AKA: no human sacrifices. I think it's pretty obvious that denying medical care to a person because you think life begins at conception and therefore you refuse the "Plan B" pill which actually works by preventing an egg from being released and therefore prevents fertilization and therefore when life begins is a utterly mute point should be illegal. But thats too easy. How about contraceptives? Your pope says condoms are evil, but people need them, and to me this too is just blatantly obvious. Give people condoms and other contraceptives if they need them. What about abortions? Ah, the big A, you knew this was coming. Before I delve into this I want to look at things from the opposite perspective for a moment.

My only real concern from the other direction is if there will be good doctors who will simply say that if they must perform procedures that they think are against god's will then they will choose other professions, probably still doctors but they might well avoid womens health specialties. I have a hard time imagining being able to do all the science involved with becoming a doctor and still hanging onto fundamentalist ideas but I'm sure there are some, and the real concern is that this will be most prevalent in small towns and villages where people have very little choice in health care providers. You can argue that theres always going to be another doctor somewhere that will work with them, but what about poor people who can't even afford the medical bills and now your asking them to travel an indeterminate distance to get basic medical care? This issue has also dealt with a lesbian couple who wanted to have a baby via invitro fertilization, which is much less time critical. The irony of that part is that if the person hadn't told the doc they were a lesbian then they would have carried out the procedure and been on their marry way. They only denied it because of the person's orientation, AKA blatant discrimination. Oh shit, I'm trying to stick with why we need to be careful about limiting religious freedom.

Actually I think that about covers my only defense of this idea. It could lead to diminished health care for everyone (or at least for women) beyond that I've got no defense for these bigots. My reasons for opposing this I think are pretty obvious. If you want another opinion then heres one from Pharyngula although not by PZ.

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