everything old is new again

The American Taliban

April 22, 2004
The American Taliban

I’m speechless.

(Lansing, Michigan) Doctors or other health care providers could not be disciplined or sued if they refuse to treat gay patients under legislation passed Wednesday by the Michigan House.

The bill allows health care workers to refuse service to anyone on moral, ethical or religious grounds.

The Republican dominated House passed the measure as dozens of Catholics looked on from the gallery. The Michigan Catholic Conference, which pushed for the bills, hosted a legislative day for Catholics on Wednesday at the state Capitol.

The bills now go the Senate, which also is controlled by Republicans.

The Conscientious Objector Policy Act would allow health care providers to assert their objection within 24 hours of when they receive notice of a patient or procedure with which they don’t agree. However, it would prohibit emergency treatment to be refused.

Three other three bills that could affect LGBT health care were also passed by the House Wednesday which would exempt a health insurer or health facility from providing or covering a health care procedure that violated ethical, moral or religious principles reflected in their bylaws or mission statement.

Opponents of the bills said they’re worried they would allow providers to refuse service for any reason. For example, they said an emergency medical technicians could refuse to answer a call from the residence of gay couple because they don’t approve of homosexuality.

Rep. Chris Kolb (D-Ann Arbor) the first openly gay legislator in Michigan, pointed out that while the legislation prohibits racial discrimination by health care providers, it doesn’t ban discrimination based on a person’s sexual orientation.

“Are you telling me that a health care provider can deny me medical treatment because of my sexual orientation? I hope not,” he said.

“I think it’s a terrible slippery slope upon which we embark,” said Rep. Jack Minore (D-Flint) before voting against the bill.

Paul A. Long, vice president for public policy for the Michigan Catholic Conference, said the bills promote the constitutional right to religious freedom.

“Individual and institutional health care providers can and should maintain their mission and their services without compromising faith-based teaching,” he said in a written statement.


Via Atrios.

12 Responses to The American Taliban

  • So much for the Hippocratic Oath.

    Hippocratic Oath — Modern Version

    I swear to fulfill, to the best of my ability and judgment, this covenant:

    I will respect the hard-won scientific gains of those physicians in whose steps I walk, and gladly share such knowledge as is mine with those who are to follow.

    I will apply, for the benefit of the sick, all measures which are required, avoiding those twin traps of overtreatment and therapeutic nihilism.

    I will remember that there is art to medicine as well as science, and that warmth, sympathy, and understanding may outweigh the surgeon’s knife or the chemist’s drug.

    I will not be ashamed to say “I know not,” nor will I fail to call in my colleagues when the skills of another are needed for a patient’s recovery.

    I will respect the privacy of my patients, for their problems are not disclosed to me that the world may know. Most especially must I tread with care in matters of life and death. If it is given me to save a life, all thanks. But it may also be within my power to take a life; this awesome responsibility must be faced with great humbleness and awareness of my own frailty. Above all, I must not play at God.

    I will remember that I do not treat a fever chart, a cancerous growth, but a sick human being, whose illness may affect the person’s family and economic stability. My responsibility includes these related problems, if I am to care adequately for the sick.

    I will prevent disease whenever I can, for prevention is preferable to cure.

    I will remember that I remain a member of society, with special obligations to all my fellow human beings, those sound of mind and body as well as the infirm.

    If I do not violate this oath, may I enjoy life and art, respected while I live and remembered with affection thereafter. May I always act so as to preserve the finest traditions of my calling and may I long experience the joy of healing those who seek my help.

    Written in 1964 by Louis Lasagna, Academic Dean of the School of Medicine at Tufts University, and used in many medical schools today.

  • Indeed.

    This is opening Pandora’s Box, and it leads to Very Bad Things.

  • This also opens the gates for possibly having christian medical personnel refusing to provide for those of other faiths. If this stands constitutionaly challenges, this is a sad precedence.

    To play the devil’s advocate, this may be an advancement where they are now considering homosexuality on the level of personal choice instead of an illness which can be cured.

  • Anyone that would refuse to treat someone on grounds of religion or sexuality is simply not a Christian, regardless of what faith they claim to profess.

  • They’re not just after LGBTs, believe me. My understanding is that this may also be used to allow pharmacy workers who do not wish to dispense birth control, fertility drugs etc. to decline to do so.

  • That’s already in progress. There’s at least one case pending against Eckerd because a pharmacist refused to fill a Plan B prescription for a rape victim. My hope is that the victim will win, but my fear is that the courts will uphold the pharmacist’s “right” to not fill prescriptions that promote things s/he doesn’t agree with.

    My opinion? If you’re going to have a problem filling prescriptions you don’t agree with or treating people whose lifestyles you don’t like… don’t become a doctor or a pharmacist. Case closed.

  • A similar law in Wisconsin was just veto’d by the governor:


  • I’m inclined to agree with you, Kim.

    On the other hand, that assumes that someone’s moral beliefs are decided and set before they embark on a career (or training thereto). What if someone changes their mind (or religious belief) after becoming a doctor.

    What, just for argument, if it were legal to perform some medical treatment that you and I both consider abhorrent — let’s say, female genital mutilation? If a doctor declined to do so, or an insurance company declined to cover such a procedure, on grounds of their conscience, would you or I be so quick to say they should be fired, sued, or compelled by law to do so?

    Hell, at the risk of violating Godwin’s Law, if a doctor in Nazi Germany had declined to participate in human experimentation, would that have been heroic or a prejudiced exercise of a faux “right”>

    I agree that this law is dangerously open-ended. I’m just not that comfortable with the converse proposition, that a doctor or pharmacist (or insurance carrier) should be obliged (under pain of civil suit and loss of employment) to perform whatever the majority thinks is acceptible and unharmful, regardless of their freedom of conscience.

  • As I understand the pharmacy case, the national association of pharmacists doesn’t have a problem with the refusal to prescribe, AS LONG AS the refusenik provides a referral to another pharmacist who will prescribe the pills. I think that’s a tad too broad; what if the referred pharmacist is 150 miles away?

  • On religeous grounds issue, will it be possible to hide racism behind it? ie.

    It’s not cause he’s Arab, it’s cause he’s Muslim.

  • Sure. That’s a big problem with letting “religious conviction” trump everything else. (Religion has sometimes been used as a similar excuse in housing discrimination.) And that’s if you assume it’s legitimate and honest (something the courts have fits trying to decide at times).

  • Wait until the first person refuses to treat a conservative Christian for his beliefs. The Republican swine will file a frivoless lawsuit, of course.