Good morning, welcome to July 2006. We’re having a heat wave, the Middle East is in yet another spasm of hatred and death and explosions and blood and guess what? If you choose a doctor or drug store or ambulance driver, now you have another question to ask them. After you go through the usual — proximity to your home or office, staff privileges at a local hospital, willingness to accept new patients, board certification, office hours on weekends/holidays — after all that, now you get to ask them this:
“Do you have any religious convictions that might preclude your delivery of care? Might you balk at a particular vaccine, a circumstance of my lifestyle, a shadow that passes over the world not to your liking? At some point in our relationship, might your fears over the fate of your immortal soul get in the way of my health care? Yes? Well, I guess my search continues.”
Around the United States, health workers and patients are clashing when providers balk at giving care that they feel violates their beliefs, sparking an intense, complex and often bitter debate over religious freedom vs. patients’ rights. …For Debra Shipley, her duties as a nurse began to conflict with her Christian faith when the county health clinic where she worked near Memphis required she dispense the morning-after pill. “I felt like my religious liberties were being violated,” said Shipley, 49, of Atoka, Tenn. “I could not live with myself if it did it. I answer to God first and foremost.”
And so on and on and on. Some anesthesiologists refuse to assist in sterilization procedures. Respiratory therapists sometimes object to removing ventilators from terminally ill patients. Gynecologists around the country may decline to prescribe birth control pills. Some doctors reject requests for Viagra from unmarried men.
I like that last one. They don’t like your sex life. So you don’t get your ED meds. Tough luck, buddy.
Here’s my single favorite anecdote, from a sidebar:
Cynthia Copeland also had a run-in with a pharmacist in 2004. He wrongly assumed she was planning an abortion because she had a prescription for a drug that can be used for that purpose. In fact, Copeland had already had undergone a procedure to remove a fetus that had no pulse, and she needed the drug to complete the process.
“I was sitting there in the drugstore waiting and heard the pharmacist say really loudly, ‘I refuse to participate in an abortion,’ ” said Copeland, 39, who lives near Los Angeles. “I felt so violated. The miscarriage was about grief, and that was made public in a way that really compounded my grief.”
Notice how loud he said it. He wanted to make sure she heard it. Also, God.
Of course, most people who live in large cities will easily be able to find another doctor. It’s the folks stuck in Fargo or Casper or some other remote outpost of civilization who will be stuck driving 120 miles to find a pharmacist who will give them a pack of Plan B after a rape.
OK, I’ll stop now. It’s hot and the world’s at war, and it somehow makes more sense to be bugged by religious hysterics than Hezbollah.
Man, what about this weather we’re having? I spent all of Sunday indoors, my usual policy when the temperature rises much above 90. Frolicking in heat waves is for children and crazy people. The rest of us stay in the shade and try not to exert ourselves.
So I have two stories to write before noon. It’s a different kind of exertion. Back later.