My best friend and I used to say that jokingly in high school when we were being smart-alecks about not wanting to do something we were told to do. We laughed about it then. Probably louder than we should. It probably wasn’t funny to anybody but us. We thought it was hilarious and so absurd that a person could get out of doing a required task because of religious beliefs when it was part of the requirement, in this case, to pass the class.
Well, we aren’t laughing now; not at all. The reason we aren’t laughing is that people in the healthcare profession are actually getting out of doing their jobs because they claim abortion or certain kinds of birth control are against their religion. This is hurting patients who are pregnant or trying to avoid pregnancy. It needs to stop.
Hey all you state and federal elected representatives who are holding hearings about everything on God’s green earth, I’ve got some ideas for you.
Conscience clauses are supposedly designed to protect poor, discriminated against (mostly white male) conservative Christians from having to do their jobs. Our elected representatives have taken laws designed originally to keep somebody from not being hired as an OB/GYN just because they are Catholic and made them into laws that say this particular OB/GYN is not required to provide comprehensive care to women because he is Catholic. Basically, the OB/GYN becomes more important than the patient. This is wrong for so many reasons. Aside from the fact that a woman may end up with an OB/GYN who considers a 5 mm from rump to crown, with a single embryo and yolk sac present, with an approximate heart of a rate of 136 gets to decide that this non-thinking, non-feeling, barely visible, barely differentiated bit of cells automatically becomes an equal person to me. It takes the focus off the patient and puts it on the healthcare provider. Click here for an explanation of embryotic heart rates and appearance in the uterus on ultrasound.
Wrong! Wrong! Wrong! Healthcare providers are there to take care of the patients, not practice their religion or personal set of beliefs. Healthcare professionals are certainly not there to impose their beliefs on their patients. They are there to provide the accepted standard of optimal care as decided by science, not by personal opinion.
No, I don’t think this concept of “there are now two patients” will ever work for me. See, you can’t give that embryo rights without taking away mine, and there is nothing in the Constitution or federal law (I won’t even talk about unconstitutional state laws right now) that allows for the removal of rights due to a medical condition other than mental conditions that have caused the patient’s cognitive ability to deteriorate to the point of being unable to make one’s own medical decisions. This is no different than if my neighbor decided that 10 feet of my yard belonged to him and began to erect a fence. When I take him to court, they don’t tell me that we have to share because he has occupied part of my land without consent for a time before I could have him legally removed. I show them my property records and that 10 feet becomes mine again and that fence comes down because that land belongs to me. That land belongs to me, even though he has erected a fence. Just like my body belongs to me regardless of what is in it.
If a nine year-old rape victim must carry an unwanted pregnancy in order to keep an embryo alive, then I say we start taking away everyone’s rights. *Think of the lives it would save. At the age of nine all people in the United States must submit to being on an organ donor registry. If they are a match, they must agree to have surgery that will PROBABLY be non-lethal to them, but will cause permanent body changes and possible life-long disability. Think of the lives that would be saved if people were forced to donate bone marrow, an extra kidney, an extra lung, part of their liver and all organs were up for grabs after clinical death. Better yet, let’s just start forcing all 12 year-old boys to freeze sperm and then it’s off for the mandatory snip. I promise the rate of abortion would go to almost nothing. Of course, all those teeny snowflake babies aren’t so precious that a male child or male adult’s rights to bodily autonomy will be infringed upon. THAT would be wrong. All of sudden, they would become pro-choice for all, except of course pregnant people, who are only considered fetus containers.
Just how far are we willing to take this? Should a person be allowed to bleed out on the table in the ER because blood transfusions are against the attending physician”s religion? Should people with mental illness, like bipolar disorder or schizophrenia who must take their medications daily to maintain a normal functioning life, be denied their medication because the pharmacist on duty has a moral objection to psychotropic drugs? Should women be denied a legal over-the-counter drug because the pharmacist believes the non-science that it could cause an abortion? Should a man be denied behind-the-counter allergy medication that contains ephedra because the pharmacist believes that the only people who buy these drugs use them to make meth and that is against his religion? Are we ready to see people die of easily cured diseases like strep throat because the doctor believes the illness can just be prayed away? Do we want people to be forced to undergo invasive surgery wide awake because the anesthesiologist believes you can just concentrate hard enough and the pain will go away since the use of sedating drugs are against her religion?
Let’s step out of the medical field for a moment and into everyday life. Should a liquor store be required to hire a clerk who refuses to sell alcohol because they are Baptist and it is against their religion? Should you be able to be refused a ham sandwich at Subway because the only employee on duty practices a form of Judaism that requires him to stay kosher and he doesn’t want to touch pork? Of course not. Can I invent my own religion that is against every single aspect of my job but continue to be employed? Most people, including antis, would be put out by such day to day inconveniences, but when it comes to patient care they just plain don’t care when it comes to fetus carriers.
Our Congress is holding hearings over various issues now, with all the drama and flourish that comes with being carried on CNN. Both Congress and state legislatures have held hearings about reproductive issues from how Christians are being persecuted, to birth control, to whether people should have to do their jobs if they “feel” something is wrong but is not backed up by science, to fetuses that masturbate as a reason to pass more anti-choice laws.
Let’s hold a hearing on why a man elected to the House of Representatives, the “pro-life” honorable Dr. Scott DesJarlais from the state of Tennessee, is never or rarely mentioned on any of the “pro-life” blogs after agreeing to his own wife having two abortions and then audio taping a phone conversation himself of him trying to coerce a woman, a patient he was having a sexual relationship with, into an abortion. He was also writing prescriptions for controlled substances for her knowing she was a drug addict. He admits it is him on the tape telling her to hurry up, or that if it was “too late” they would go to Atlanta. That would be because there isn’t a clinic in the state of Tennessee that performs abortions past 16 weeks. You know, the state that allegedly needs to amend the constitution because abortion is just crazy unregulated, even though there were four anti-choice bills passed last year.
One of the laws they want to pass would outlaw women from coming from out of state for abortions. Well hello, geniuses. The two biggest cities in Tennessee are Memphis and Nashville. Memphis sits right on the Mississippi river and borders several states. Nashville is less than 40 minutes from the Kentucky state line. Of course people from other states are going to go to the closest place that provides a service. Are they going to ban all people seeking health care who reside in other states from going to the closest metropolitan areas for any sort of health care not available for their home community? It is doubtful. The truth is, abortion clinics are regulated just like every other healthcare facility in Tennessee.
Off topic, but why do these people never refuse to lie due to religious and/or moral objections?
Back to the original topic at hand, the uber-conservative legislature in Tennessee is just unable to pass TRAP laws because of a state Supreme Court ruling over 10 years ago. By the way, if you are wondering what the penalty imposed on the abortion-coercing Congressman doctor was by the state medical board so concerned about the unborn, it was a $500 fine and he won re-election in his his primary, while nary a pro-lifer said a word. I read about it on the Tennessean newspaper’s website. I’m so glad (insert sarcastic tone here) that clinics in Tennessee are required to display a sign stating it is against the law to coerce a person into having an abortion. They apparently need to be displayed in the office of congressmen as well. Of course, there is not a companion law for coercing a person into continuing a pregnancy. CPCs would cease to exist. All the staff would be arrested and the CPCs out of business if there were laws against coercion to carry a pregnancy to term.
I’ve got another hearing they can have. I do believe a Congressional hearing is what launched She Who Shall Not Be Named (who is now begging for donations on her website, by the way) into the national spotlight as a pro-life icon. She told a heart-wrenching story of holding a fetus born early of induced labor due to a pregnancy gone wrong. She testified she held it for 45 minutes until it passed away. There were other stories along with this one told that were never proven true, and were unsubstantiated by the Illinois Health Department. It couldn’t be she was lying, could it? Let’s just say she’s not. A big question they need to ask, and didn’t during these hearings that I know of, is who was taking care of her other patients as she had her heart-wrenching, life-changing moment in the linen closet. You know, the woman who had just gone through an early induced birth of a wanted child that had no hope of survival, and probably several other mothers who had given birth that day along with their infants. Did she even bother to dump these patients on other nurses giving them an unsafe patient load or did she just disappear for 45 minutes, abandoning her patients as she is so wont to accuse OB/GYNs of doing? I don’t know if she still has a nursing license, but if she does she should have lost it for the possible harm done to patients she abandoned to hold this induced-labor abortion of a doomed fetus. Personally, I don’t believe the story but if it is true, she is a negligent nurse and if it is false, she is guilty of perjury.
Am I here to rag on religion? Not at all. All I am asking is that people take responsibility for themselves and not take jobs that they are unable to perform due to personal objections. Religion is not a disability, it is a choice. It is a choice that needs to be left at the door when we healthcare professionals enter the door. I’m not talking about not having chaplains, not praying with a patient who asks, or forbidding any sort of reference to religion in the workplace. I’m talking about people who don’t want to dispense all current medications that need to stop being pharmacists. I’m talking about OB/GYNs or Nurse Midwives who don’t want to provide comprehensive care, including hormonal birth control, IUDs and yes, even abortions.
If all these people have consciences that are so bothered by the state of affairs at their workplace, they need to do the right thing and quit their jobs. Their personal opinions that go against established science shouldn’t matter one bit. The reason healthcare providers are there is to provide care to the patient. Everything should be centered on the patient, and the patient is not the doctor, nurse, zygote, embryo or fetus. The patient is the walking, talking, breathing pregnant person. If she chooses to make the embryo or fetus the focus of care, then that is and should be her choice. But if she says, as I would, I want the focus to be on me as the patient that should be honored as well, regardless of the feelings of the physician or other healthcare personnel.
As a pro-choice person, I am all about choices other than the right to have an abortion. I believe you have the right to choose not to be a doctor if you don’t want to provide women with comprehensive care, including abortion and birth control. I believe you have the choice to not be a pharmacist if you don’t wish to dispense valid written prescriptions or over-the-counter legal prescriptions. I believe you have the right to not be a nurse if you oppose what much of science says is true and you prefer to hide in the linen closet with a doomed fetus rather than take care of the living, breathing woman who just suffered through the induced birth of a pregnancy gone wrong.
I gave this little rant the title It’s Against My Religion because I still think it’s funny. Not in a teenage girl, giggle-giggle, aren’t we clever way. I think it is funny in an absurd way that our legislatures pass laws allowing people not to do their jobs because of a choice. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying we should go back to the days where people weren’t hired because they attended, or were suspected of attending or not attending a certain church. I am saying we need to go back to the days where people must perform their jobs, with or without accommodation regardless of their religious beliefs.
Religion is not a disability. It is a choice. So to all those antis who are pushing for these silly laws, I say it is time to start lecturing people to take responsibility for their own decisions. Lord knows, you say it enough outside clinics. How about applying the same standards to yourself? I may not have my religious beliefs fully figured out, as I have written about earlier, but I know that hypocrisy is one of the things that is against my religion, for all the good that does the people who have to walk into clinics through throngs of screaming protesters.
*Please note I am being sarcastic here. Obviously, as a pro-choice person I am against any sort of forced medical procedure, even to save the life of a living, breathing person.