Ever since religious groups in this country started pushing for legislating conscience clauses for medical professionals under the guise of “religious freedom”, stories like this have been popping up all over the place, and for good reason. Now that the institutionalized homophobia and misogyny of religion are protected by law, doctors can fall back on some primitive Bronze Age mythology as an excuse to avoid doing the right thing.
An Oklahoma emergency room doctor refused to provide emergency contraception to a 24-year-old female rape victim because the medication violated the health provider’s personal beliefs, a local CBS News affiliate reports. The hospital also denied the victim a rape kit, noting that it had no appropriate nurse on staff to administer the test.
“I will not give you emergency contraceptives because it goes against my beliefs,” the doctor allegedly told the rape victim and her mother, Rhonda. “She knew my daughter had just been raped. Her attitude was so judgmental and I felt that she was just judging my daughter,” Rhonda told the news station.
For some background, the hospitals in the area use Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners (SANE), funded in part by the state and YWCA, who are professionally trained medical personnel who only perform rape exams. According to Care2:
The SANE program is coordinated through the YWCA and is a collaboration with local law enforcement, the Oklahoma County District Attorney’s Office and public health officials. The collaborative effort is designed to ensure evidence is properly collected and stored without re-traumatizing the victim and ensuring the most effective prosecution of the perpetrator possible.
Unfortunately, there’s not enough funding to make sure SANE staff is consistently on site at every Oklahoma City metro area hospital. The gutting of funding for services like this is one of the many services the Christian conservative Republican party provides these days, while beating their chests about fighting wars for freedom while battling the evils of socialism at home. Really, such rhetoric only ends up creating legislation that ends up screwing the poor, minorities, and in this case, women. Any combination or permutation of the aforementioned three is acceptable too.
So there’s the issue of not having enough funding to make sure sexual assault like rape is properly investigated to collect the evidence necessary for an effective prosecution.
On top of that, you have some power hungry fundamentalist doctor who appears far more interested in administering her own personal interpretation of divine judgment than doing her job as a doctor and helping people. Maybe someone should remind her of exactly what it is that Plan B does … and what it doesn’t do. She might also want to consider what kind of psychological damage it would cause someone to be forced – by a doctor in whom you supposedly trust and confide – to carry your rapist’s child to term.
I suppose that’s one of the many burdens of a woman who had to live during Old Testament biblical times. No one said it was easy, right? But some sacrifices have to be made if we’re to protect religious freedom in this country … and to hell with the actual harm it causes.
Now … bear with me here. This week, a pastor died from handling a rattlesnake because a passage in the bible said the faithful would be immune from harm:
Pastor Mack Wolford, the son of a snake-handling pastor who died from a rattler bite, lived by faith and died on Sunday, like his father before him, from a serpent bite.
Julia Duin has the riveting story of belief in miracles that defies mere rational understanding. Wolford, 44, “a flamboyant Pentecostal pastor from West Virginia,” refused treatment for snake bites and, like his father before him, died within hours of a Sunday afternoon service in an isolated park.
This story is taken from a USA Today “Faith and Reason” section, explaining why doing something so mind-numbingly stupid like fondling a poisonous snake is considered “living by faith” and that it defies “mere” rational understanding. Rational understanding is the foundation for modern thought and should be given a little more respect than being put on even footing with the delusions of this idiot and his idiot father. But … I do have to hand it to him in one regard: he put his money where his mouth was. None of this half-assed preaching from the pulpit. This guy went out there and took the bible so literally that he put himself in harms way as a sign of his belief … and died for it in the end.
… which gives me an idea.
For every doctor who claims to object to prescribing something like anti-HIV drugs, hormonal birth control, or some other “controversial” treatment to someone based on their beliefs, they should be required to demonstrate their faith as called out in the bible. If this is the basis for their “belief”, and they cherish as so important that they’re willing to risk other people’s lives for it, then they had better prove it by risking their own.
Every three months, they need to do one of the following things:
- Demonstrate clinical evidence of curing schizophrenia exclusively by speaking to the afflicted (“casting out devils” -Mk. 16:17).
- Speak in a new language confirmed by extensive peer review of linguistics experts (“speaking new tongues” -Mk 16:17).
- Handle a poisonous snake at random and show no sign of deleterious effects after being bitten (“taking up serpents” -Mk 16:18).
- Drink a 12 oz. glass of bleach, benzene, arsenic, or iodine and show no sign of harm (“drinking any deadly thing” -Mk. 16:18).
- Cure a terminally ill patient by laying on of hands, with an independently verified prognosis of full recovery (“laying on of hands to cure the sick” -Mk 16:18).
If none of these things are done – or, if they are and the practitioner fails (i.e. is poisoned by a snake, a bleach cocktail, or fails to cast out the “demons”) – then they are no longer allowed to determine what treatments they should withhold from their patients on the basis of their “belief”, since it’s obviously not strong enough to pass the test of the infallible word of God.