Holier than thou.

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.”

WashPost has the story:

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.

Posted at 7:57 am in Popculch, Same ol' same ol' |

21 responses to “Holier than thou.”

  1. Dorothy said on July 17, 2006 at 8:28 am

    As someone who had two miscarriages, I can feel Ms. Copeland’s pain. I never had a prescription like that (had a D&C after each loss), but you can bet your ass I would have been in his face – LOUDLY – in front of all of his customers if he’d done that to me.

    The family that lives behind us consists of a stay-at-home dad and the mom who is a pharmacist. I know they are very religious (they went to Bible colleges) and I often wonder if her beliefs get in the way of her doing her job. This is a whole new weird that I hope never crosses paths with me and my choices. If it does, I plan to have something to say about it. With no reservations.

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  2. nancy said on July 17, 2006 at 9:10 am

    You know, it’s a big world, and a big country. I firmly believe there should be a place in it for folks like that, within reason. If there’s a San Francisco for one type of people, there can be a Fort Wayne for their polar opposites. But I also think they have a responsibility, too, as citizens in a pluralistic society where many don’t share their special views. So, if they want to be pharmacists? Get a job in a Catholic hospital where you won’t have to compromise your principles, but don’t expect the rest of us to dance to your tune if you choose, instead, to work at a Target or CVS. And if it bugs you that much? Choose another line of work.

    I don’t know if you read that second story, but one of the anecdotes was about a 42-year-old single woman denied a routine physical that she had to pass before adopting a child. Her doctor disapproved of single women adopting children. What a jerk.

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  3. Connie said on July 17, 2006 at 10:32 am

    “It’s hot and the world’s at war, and it somehow makes more sense to be bugged by religious hysterics than Hezbollah.”

    This weekend I ran into some web links to sites that made it clear that the religious hysterics are cheering for this new war in the middle east because they believe it is a sign that the rapture will soon be here.

    I find that extremely scary.

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  4. mary said on July 17, 2006 at 10:51 am

    I had an encounter with some endtimers last year who were just waiting for things to get really ugly in Israel and Lebanon again. They said the rapture was nearly here. I’m sure they’re just ecstatic now. It IS extremely scary. One of them said he was sure that Bush was an endtimer, by the way. This guy was a follower of Tim LeHay.

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  5. brian stouder said on July 17, 2006 at 11:07 am

    here is the best analysis of the currently escalating war that I’ve seen


    One question I had was why this was happening now, and this particular article addresses that

    One critical question is the degree of support that Hizbollah, which has a well-armed militia and a large social programme, has among Lebanon’s poor Shias. The consensus is that the militia had been losing support before the crisis. That may be one reason for Wednesday’s attack, even if the reaction of the Israelis was greater than foreseen. ‘Hizbollah was being squeezed,’ said Steinberg. ‘It was “use-it-or-lose-it” time.’

    and so Hezbollah (and their backers) has their scripted warplan, and Israel has theirs – and now they’re busily executing them…the age old human conceit that war can be almost scientifically planned and controlled, for desired ends.

    I just hope that this isn’t ‘The Guns of August’ a month early

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  6. Danny said on July 17, 2006 at 11:31 am

    I am not a fan of newspaper eschatology, though I know that there are Christians who engage in it, unfortunately. But I also have never met anyone (except nuts who would be regardless of religious affiliation) who was ecstatic about any of the happenings in the Middle East.

    The strife that continuously plays out in that area is tragic and very scary. And it is detailed in fairly unambiguous language in the New Testament, which is read (or at least not in an authoritative sense) by neither of the parties participating in the “fulfilling” of said prophecies. Make of that what you will.

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  7. alex said on July 17, 2006 at 11:39 am

    As regards “conscientious objector” physicians and pharmacists, I think it’s a bad precedent to let people in any profession refuse to do perform their jobs just because they have “issues.” What if an ambulance driver decides he’s not going to take the Jewish heart attack victim to the hospital until he “confesses Jesus as lord and savior”? What if a waitress refuses to serve you a steak because she thinks you ought to be a vegan? What if the fire department lets your house burn down because you voted for the wrong political party?

    I really don’t see why there should be exceptions when it comes to medical care. If you’re not going to do your job then you need a different job. You wanna be a missionary go do it on your own time.

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  8. Danny said on July 17, 2006 at 12:00 pm

    A slight ammendment to my above post:

    The prohecies are in the OT too and maybe even the Q’uran. I guess it would be better to say that neither the Jews nor the Muslims would have a vested interest in fulfilling them. And doubly-so if one is just a “cultural” Jew or Muslim, which is probably a large majority of those involved.

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  9. mary said on July 17, 2006 at 12:05 pm

    There are endtimer tours one can take of the sites in the mideast where the final battles will be fought, and those tours are very busy. There are people very much looking forward to what they see as the victorious end of the world, and they see the events in the middle east as the lead up to that.

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  10. Dorothy said on July 17, 2006 at 12:14 pm

    After watching Tom Brokaw’s special on the Discovery Channel, it looks like the end of the world via global warming isn’t that far off. It gave me bad dreams all night long!

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  11. nancy said on July 17, 2006 at 12:50 pm

    Danny, I’ll take this opportunity to once again offer pimpage to Gershom Gorenberg’s excellent “End of Days: Fundamentalism and the Struggle for the Temple Mount.” Written pre-9/11, it’s nevertheless a rippin’ good read about the fights over Mideast real estate, concentrating on the Temple Mount but with a broader focus as well.

    You’re right — not all Christians are looking at current events with enthusiasm, but there’s a particular breed who very well may be. “End of Days” kicks off with a look at some Texas cattlemen who are trying very hard to breed a flawless red heifer, seen as the first sign of the end times. How can you resist a chapter titled “Cattlemen of the Apocalypse,” anyway? I can’t.

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  12. Danny said on July 17, 2006 at 12:54 pm

    How can you resist a chapter titled “Cattlemen of the Apocalypse,�? anyway? I can’t.


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  13. Connie said on July 17, 2006 at 12:54 pm

    And here is a link to a “Rapture Ready” message board site. http://www.rr-bb.com/showthread.php?t=265144

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  14. joodyb said on July 17, 2006 at 2:42 pm

    Ms. Copeland’s right to health-care privacy was violated by that pharmacist’s audible and public declaration. While the HIPAA laws are not being prosecuted by this administration (surprise), cases are nevertheless being brought.

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  15. David said on July 17, 2006 at 3:18 pm

    I’ve seen this behavior labeled as moral exhibitionism which describes it as well as anything.

    We can have all sorts of fun with this. The Catholic pharmacist doesn’t fill prescriptions for birth control, the Baptist one doesn’t sell cough medicine with alcohol, and Christian Science pharmacist just sits in the back room and reads magazines. In the same spirit, the vegerarian slaughterhouse worker also just sits in the back room and reads.

    I feel exploitated at work and find any form of exploitation to be morally repugnant therefore…

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  16. Connie said on July 17, 2006 at 4:26 pm

    I will note that I once had a library employee who told me that every time she had to check out The Satanic Bible to someone, she went to confession. I arranged for her to hand that occasional transaction off to another employee. I could understand her point of view.

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  17. Danny said on July 17, 2006 at 6:31 pm

    I feel exploitated at work and find any form of exploitation to be morally repugnant therefore…

    You spend your time posting here like the rest of us. 🙂

    We the exploited, rally to the blogosphere!

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  18. Bob said on July 17, 2006 at 8:36 pm

    I’m finishing up American Theocracy, by Kevin Phillips. The author has an amazing grasp of history and an ability to connect the dots that show a big-picture view of the interaction among worldwide natural resource contention, economic policies, and religious extremism.

    The rejection of history’s lessons and scientific knowledge in favor of the dogma of vodoo religion is creating a frightening situation.

    Oh, Hell! I’m not really a pedantic prick (I don’t think), but the foregoing sure sounds like it, doesn’t it?

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  19. Danny said on July 18, 2006 at 10:52 am

    Bob, I understand what you are saying and agree in many instances. I think the flipside of the coin is this:

    To believe that everything about our existence, from the beginning of universe to the beginning life to the progression of life, has a naturalistic origin and/or explanation takes a lot of faith too.

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  20. Danny said on July 18, 2006 at 2:41 pm

    An addendum to my Roger Keith “Syd” Barrett posts last week:


    The article was pretty interesting. Sounds like Syd would have gotten on good with anyone who loves HGTV or This Old House. Here’s the Byline:

    My lovably ordinary brother Syd: The ‘crazy diamond’ founder of Pink Floyd was no acid casualty or recluse. He loved art and DIY, his sister Rosemary tells his biographer Tim Willis in her first interview for 30 years

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  21. Kirk said on July 18, 2006 at 5:40 pm

    danny, thanks for the additional syd barrett link. you’re not the only one around here who considers his death a serious loss.

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