Thursday, July 31, 2008

"I'm sorry. Providing you with adequate health care goes against my religious beliefs."

The Department of Health and Human Services Considers Denying Funding to Entities Refusing Opt-Out Plan.

This scares me not only because of it's option to opt-out of abortive procedures, but it's redefinition of what an abortive procedure is. Under this, people are allowed to refuse to provide the morning-after pill; that's gotta be a fun discovery when you're getting a rape kit. It also includes all birth-control procedures that run counter to someone's personal convictions. I'm trying to think about what this will mean for women who opt to get voluntary sterilization; "Sorry, I can't perform the tubal ligation because my religion tells me that you're supposed to have lots of babies. Yeah, I know it's not your religion, but I've gotta do what I think is right here."

It's probably more of a superficial political battle to impress pro-lifers than anything else; that said, pharmacists have been fighting (and winning) the battle to refuse to fill prescriptions that violate their moral code for awhile now. While I don't think anyone should ever be forced to do something that violates his/her religious code, demanding that health care providers give their employees the right to refuse patients services is not the way to provide greater religious freedom in this country.

One of the biggest arguments I've seen in favor of plans like this is, "Religious freedom is important and besides, patients who want those services can just go somewhere else." Wrong. Many insurance providers specify a specific clinic or doctor, and patients cannot go elsewhere without a referral and still have their insurance cover treatment. There's also the fact that not everyone has the option of going somewhere else. There are 3 hospitals within a 15 minute drive of my house, but I'm lucky enough to live in a decently sized city. People who live further out in the county don't have as many choices. If I need an abortion and someone at the nearest hospital refuses to perform the procedure or give me a referral (fairly likely, given that I live in Alabama), there's a Planned Parenthood in my town. But what about all the people who don't have that option? What about the people living in rural areas where there aren't a lot of hospitals and clinics? Where do they go to get what they need?

The "get someone else to do it" argument only works if you live in a city; if you live in an isolated rural or mountain area, you probably only have access to the one clinic, and if the workers at that clinic refuse to prescribe birth control or perform an abortion, you aren't exactly flush with options.

What about getting the doctors and nurses to go somewhere else? If you're so opposed to abortion and birth control, then don't work for a company that is supposed to provide them. Start your own clinic, with your religious objection to abortive acts in the mission statement. Express your religion to your heart's content, but don't do it in a public hospital.


My other big problem with this is obvious: people using their religious freedom to push their values onto others. Just because you believe something does not mean you can enact that belief upon my body. Religious freedom gives your the ability to practice, but it should not give people the right to force that practice upon others, because that action infringes upon my freedoms, specifically my freedom to not participate in someone else's religion.

1 comment:

Crystal Y. said...

Oh for sure! The "go somewhere else" argument can't possibly be valid when you live outside the city where emergency medical help is limited to perhaps one or two in the area. Say you get raped the night before; you ask for a rape kit and the hospital flat out denies you. Most rape kits are supposed to be administered within 72 hours or less (please verify my sources- I think it's less)

What happens next? You are already down 24 hours. And that is assuming you gather enough courage to even ask for help after something so traumatizing. You go to another hospital and they deny you. 12 hours, 24 hours pass and now what?

Anyway, I think that's pretty ludicrous. Screw people who actually stand up to such injustices after going through something horrific just to get shot down by "moral beliefs."