Friday, November 30, 2007

Passing judgment on the victim

Is it just me? Really, it must be. But I just don't see it any other way.

Pennsylvania House Bill 288 is reasonable legislation that would see to it that emergency contraception, commonly known as the morning-after pill, is available to any rape victim who wanted it, no matter what hospital she was in. It would provide a guarantee that all rape victims have information and access to emergency contraception in every Pennsylvania emergency room.

Unfortunately, even something as straightforward as guaranteeing rape victims access to pregnancy prevention may be too moderate a concept for our esteemed House members to embrace.

A vote on this bill is expected on Monday.

As initially presented, House Bill 288 proposed sane much-needed guarantees to rape victims, offering assurances that they would be treated humanely when seeking medical help from any of Pennsylvania's hospitals.

But the "McCall amendment" to the proposed law, to also be presented Monday, would permit faith-based hospitals to exempt themselves from the bill's requirement for religious or moral reasons – gutting the very guarantees the legislation would provide.

So what can't I help but assuming about any lawmaker who votes in favor of the exemption? That he is a Neanderthal less concerned with defending the rights of a rape victim and more concerned that some sanctimonious jerk in a lab coat has the right to impose his personal moral views on brutalized women.

I mean, what else is a person to conclude about these guys?

Well, I guess we could also conclude that they think Pennsylvania voters are a bunch of religious extremists who want women, even rape victims, not to have access to birth control. And, they are so cynical that they are willing to sell their votes to what they assume is a majority of Pennsylvanians for the assurance of continued support for a cushy job and a nice fat pension.

Scary thoughts indeed.

Let us go over it again: Emergency contraception is not abortion (pdf). When used soon after unprotected sex, it can prevent pregnancy.

A Philadelphia Inquirer opinion piece, written by two members of the Womens Donor Network, sums up the issue quite nicely. The article is here. It points out:
On Oct. 18, Pennsylvania's Independent Regulatory Review Commission approved regulations that would allow health-care facilities with religious affiliations or moral objections to claim an exemption from a laudable new rule that requires hospitals to inform rape victims of their right to emergency contraception, and to provide the contraceptive pills to the raped woman if she wants them. The regulation was handed down just as legislators were scheduled to take up a bill that would have required Pennsylvania hospitals and health-care facilities essentially to offer the rule without a so-called conscience clause.

With the clause, state regulators have apparently appeased opponents to the proposed legislation who want to allow facilities to withhold birth control - even from rape victims - based on theological or moral grounds. Others seek to muddy the waters by claiming that emergency birth control is something it's not. (Emergency birth control is nothing more than two birth-control pills combined. It does not terminate a pregnancy; it prevents one from happening.)

Readers in Pennsylvania should call their elected representatives, urging them to support House Bill 288 as it stands and to oppose this mean-spirited Amendment.

Lauri in York

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was reading a couple of months ago that the very issue of religious hospitals and conscientious objections to treatment was center-stage in the UK as they try to outline policies consistent with the 21st century.

The difference in the UK is that the policy makers are CERTAIN that the rights of the patient supercede the rights of the doctors when it comes to treatment.

Funny how easy it is when you don't have the religious right screwing things up.

2:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What is it that makes a profession a profession, rather than just another job? The fact of a great deal of responsibility to the welfare of the general public and a willingness to put aside some personal interests in service to the public.

If you don't want to live up to your professional responsibilities and ethics as a doctor or pharmacist, you shouldn't be in profession in the first place.

12:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wake up people! This has been a practice for quite some time now. If you don't like it, go to another hospital. Solution solved!

Now, in the UK, the rights of a patient may supercede the rights of a doctor when it comes to treatment, and that's okay. Here is something to consider though:

If a patient only has one functioning kidney and asks the doctor to remove it and give it to a family member, is that "morally" correct?

If a child is critically injured and needs a transfusion and the parents refuse over religious beliefs, is that "morally" correct?

The fact is, religion is a part of everything. If you don't like the policies, YOU have the RIGHT to go elsewhere.

11:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


The main issue at stake is emergency treatment, when a person doesn't HAVE the choice of going to another hospital. You are taken to the hospital closest or best suited to the emergency.

In that case, the doctor is denying you essential treatment that you cannot get anyplace else at that moment in a way that could jeopardize your health, or in the case of EC, make it too late for it to be effective.

I don't think any of us have an issue with elective or non-emergency treatment. In that case, you can find another doctor.

8:06 AM  
Blogger Ruth Etters said...

You're confusing ethics with religious beliefs. The two don't necessarily equate.

11:02 AM  
Blogger radar pangaean said...

Ruth, as far as i can see it, here in the USA 'ethics' and 'religious beliefs' are more often than not polar opposites.

That's no doubt a sampling error issue. I'm sure there are many ethical people who practice one or another form of religion, but who do so quietly. It's when somebody brings up her/his religion to settle a social question for everyone, not just for those who share their particular set of superstitions, that the apparent distance between the two items is illustrated.

11:44 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

RE: Only One Kidney

Casper, you bring up some interesting points, but I have to object that the Kidney case is not on point.

This would be considered unethical behavior by the generally accepted professional standards, so it is not a case of a physisian refusing care based on "personal convictions".

A good example for us to consider would be a case where the physician is called upon to do something in the patient's best interest, that the patient wants done, and is allowed (perhaps encouraged) by professional ethics, and then refuses.

I don't think your examples meet all those criteria. Maybe you want to try again.

5:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I remember when the ACLU used to support religious liberty instead of trashing it. When did lawmakers get the right to force a doctor to violate their religious beliefs?

I guess the unenumerated right of abortion outweighs the enumerated right of religious liberty in the minds of the ACLU.

This is exactly why I stopped donating to the ACLU. Liberalism has trumped civil liberties in its eyes.

12:49 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Vegetarians don't work in butcher shops. I don't get why doctors and pharmacists who have moral problems with giving the best medical care possible enter those professions at all.

12:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have a friend who is a nurse. Every once in a while, one of the nurses has a problem with carrying out one of the Doctors orders. In that case, the nurse makes arrangements for another nurse to follow through. The patient is not denied the care that he has a right to, and the nurse does not have to step over his/her line. This is a means of preserving professional integrity and personal integrity AND ensuring that the patient's best interests are taken care of.

If a pharmacist or doctor has similar scruples, s/he should make provisions for the patient OR should be willing to temporarily set aside the religious restriction based on the situation and professional ethics.

The fact is that medicine is a helping profession and the doctor must put his patient's best interest above his own. That is why it is a profession, not a job. The doctor should not place his/her religious beliefs above the welfare of his patient.

9:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"In that case, the doctor is denying you essential treatment that you cannot get anyplace else at that moment in a way that could jeopardize your health, or in the case of EC, make it too late for it to be effective."

Last I checked abortion is a choice, not emergency surgery to save your life. If you can't get the pill, go to an abortion clinic and have the procedure done. They are not saying you can't have it done. They are saying that you need to make other arrangements. As far as your injuries, they will treat them. I would be more worried about the STD's and AIDS you could have for the rest of your life.

I had my tubes tied at another hospital. My preference was to go to the hospital closest to my home, but it is Catholic. Despite being able to provide documentation from my doctor that another baby would be detrimental to my health, they still refused. What did I do? I made other arrangements, and still had the procedure done. It's not denying me "essential" treatment, it's changing what hospital I go to. Again, it's a choice, take it or leave it.

8:16 PM  

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