Tuesday, January 20, 2009

It's against my conscience

Our former (yay!) president's administration really pushed to make conscience clauses for health professionals a federal law (and unfortunately, they succeeded). This lets healthcare professionals avoid treatment, misinform and pressure patients using the excuse of "It's against my conscience." The goal of the proponents for this is obviously to limit access to reproductive services like contraception and abortion, and there are enough nuts in medicine that it has already become a problem. The most common problem is physicians not informing their patients of the option of abortion (or refusing to refer them to another physician), pharmacists refusing to fill Plan B or birth control prescriptions. But it could get even worse, it may protect healthcare professionals when they remove birth control devices, refuse to treat LGBT patients like straight patients, refuse to treat someone based on the hunch that she might have had an abortion, or even refuse to drive a seriously ill patient to the nearest hospital because it performs abortions. It is an amazing disrespect to the autonomy of the patient. It goes against the objective healers healthcare professionals should be... and it deeply disturbs me that there are so many people in my future profession that see no problem with it (or rather, welcome it).

Hopefully our new president (yay!) will reverse the worst of it, but the nuts are out there and the politicians are on their side (many states have had their own conscience clauses for a while). I think what people should do (spread the word my two loyal readers) is to proactively question their healthcare providers about their beliefs on sensitive topics like abortion, contraceptives, ending life support, etc. If they say something you don't like, find someone else to treat you. It's better to find out by asking them now, then later when its already too late (plus it sends a nice message to the medical community).

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