A new rule being proposed by the Trump administration will shield health care workers — including doctors and EMTs — from being fired for refusing to do their job when doing so would violate their religious beliefs. This could include a variety of appalling things, including refusing to treat gay or transgender patients, refusing to perform medically necessary abortions, refusing to treat patients with HIV or AIDS, refusing to provide artificial insemination to lesbian couples, and any number of other things people might object to on “moral” grounds. The rule would establish a new division of the HHS civil rights office that would be focused entirely on making sure that health care providers are able to “opt out” of services and procedures that they object to on religious grounds.
Yes, America…you read that correctly. The federal government (the Department of Health and Human Services, to be precise) is creating an office which will protect the rights of haters and bigots in the medical profession.
The Division of Conscience and Religious Freedom will
protect doctors, nurses and other health care workers who refuse to take part in procedures like abortion, or treat certain people – especially transgender patients — because of moral or religious objections.
“No one should be forced to choose between helping sick people and living by one’s deepest moral or religious convictions, and the new division will help guarantee that victims of unlawful discrimination find justice,” said Roger Severino, the director of HHS’ Office for Civil Rights.
This means the rules will revert to Bush-era regulations which often placed patients in peril and beholden to the personal morality of whoever happened to be treating them.
I don’t know about you, but I’d want to be absolutely certain that a medical professional treating me in an emergency was thinking about one thing and one thing only- how to keep me alive. Nothing else should factor into that decision- not morality, not religion, not sexuality- nothing. You don’t have to agree with my lifestyle, my sexuality, or my politics…but you have one job- doing everything you can to ensure my survival.
The Obama administration in 2011 rewrote a series of Bush-era protections designed to protect the moral and religious beliefs of health care workers. Opponents of the Bush rules argue that they were too broad and could have allowed workers to opt out of end-of-life care, providing birth control and treatment for HIV and AIDS. For instance, some workers cited their moral objections when denying fertility treatment to lesbian couples or not providing ambulance transportation to a pregnant woman seeking an abortion.
What this really comes down is that the new rules will place the personal morality and/or religious convictions of medical professionals over the lives and/or wellbeing of Americans in need of medical attention. If someone with HIV/AIDS is denied treatment by a doctor who claims the disease is God’s revenge upon gays, that would seem a violation of the Hippocratic Oath…depending on how you interpret the oath, I suppose.
Even so, part of being a medical professional is accepting the responsibility to help make people better- not make people better (as long as they’re not gay/atheist/HIV-positive). “First, do no harm” may not actually be part of the Hippocratic Oath, but it’s a damned good place to start, eh?
I’m not denying that medical professionals have the right to their opinions and beliefs…but in the context of their profession, how can they believe it morally acceptable to deny treatment to someone? Basing that refusal on personal morality or religious conviction is borderline monstrous.
I’m married to a nurse practitioner, and our circle of friends includes medical professionals of all flavors. I know these people to be good, compassionate, and caring individuals who would never allow their personal beliefs and/or morality to cloud how the do their job. They got into medicine to help people. Period. The rest is just details which have no impact on how they practice medicine.
I’ve heard interviews with bureaucrats within HHS who make the case that the new office is merely about protecting the rights of medical professionals with strong moral and/or religious beliefs. That’s code for “feel free to hold your religious convictions and personal morality above that of those you treat.” It’s a recipe for monstrosity, pure and simple.
I don’t expect medical professionals to not have their own firmly held beliefs- religious or otherwise. I don’t believe they have no right to strong moral beliefs, whatever they might be. What I DO believe is that they have a responsibility to be professional and treat patients regardless of their personal stance on an issue. They shouldn’t have the right to hold their beliefs and morality to be superior to another’s rights as a human being.
No one- particularly a medical professional- should have the right to refuse medical treatment based on their personal beliefs and/or morality. That’s not “protecting the rights” of those who are opposed to homosexuality, abortion, or anything else. That’s allowing one person to elevate their moral framework above the well-being of another. It’s “preventing discrimination” against those with strongly held beliefs by allowing discrimination BY those with strongly held beliefs.
Then again, the Trump Administration has repeatedly demonstrated that the rights of Conservative White Christians are and should be considered superior to those of any other demographic. The Division of Conscience and Religious Freedom merely makes it acceptable for the highly moral and deeply religious in the medical profession to elevate their beliefs over the health and well-being of patients.
Here be monsters, eh?