Sunday, March 11, 2007

Doctor knows to save your soul from eternal damnation!

This article reports the result of an interesting survey finding, "Many doctors believe they have the right not to tell patients about treatments that they object to on moral or religious grounds and to refuse to refer patients elsewhere for the care." Original research article here. Could be a new Hippocratic Oath: I'll do no harm to the patient's soul (based, of course, on my conception of the soul). In terms of some numbers:

(M)ore than 40 million Americans may be seeing physicians who do not believe that they are obligated to disclose information about legal treatments the doctor objects to, and 100 million have doctors who do not feel the need to refer patients to another provider.

The three medical practices in question were: "sedating dying patients to the point of unconsciousness; prescribing birth control to teenagers without parental consent; and performing abortions after failed contraception." So let me see if I understand. Hypothetically, I'm a dying patient with the legal right to be sedated to the point of unconsciousness. But if that goes against my doctor's moral beliefs, he feels he has the right to not make that information available to me, and he feels okay refusing to refer me to a doctor who would be willing to perform the procedure. In truth, the survey results are not that surprising. I frequently come across people very willing to argue, basically , "If it's against my religious beliefs, it should be against the law." So I can easily imagine a doctor who feels that certain perfectly legal medical procedures, if they went against his religious beliefs, *should be* against the law. And I can imagine him continue to reason that because the practices *should be* against the law, he has every right to deny me information about the procedures. Here's one take:

But Al Weir, director of Campus and Community Ministries for the Christian Medical & Dental Associations, defended doctors' rights to adhere to their personal beliefs. "The doctor has the right to follow their own moral compass and their own moral integrity," Weir said.

I wonder whether Al would agree that a female Muslim radiologist has a right to deny treatment to a male patient , even if it means the male patient ends up not being treated at all.

Given that so many putting forth such arguments seem to reference Jesus, I always wonder what Jesus might think of such reasoning. I'm no Christian theologian by any stretch of the imagination, but from what I can tell, Jesus seemed to be of the Golden Rule mentality. Some sort of, "Would I want someone to withhold information that I could use to make a personal medical decision solely because it goes against that person's religious beliefs?" If not, should I do that unto others? What, indeed, *would* Jesus do? Anyway, the whole situation seems to get worse when politicians get involved. If I were a SD resident, I'd be disappointed with this use of my tax dollars:

A Senate committee on Friday passed a measure requiring hospitals to give information about emergency contraception to rape survivors, (but the bill) would not require medical professionals with opposing religious, moral or ethical beliefs to give the information.

So you're required to give the information, except when you don't want to. Thanks for clearing that up for us, senators! Great use of tax dollars developing and enforcing that law.

First posted at Psyche Killer qu'est que c'est on 2/13/07

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