Tuesday, December 23, 2008

2008: the bastard year i never wanted*. (part four)

2008 was a pretty rough year. This is the fourth part of a five-part post on why it's been so bad for me personally. Please share your reasons, advice, condolences, or whatever in the comments. Also, read parts one, two and three.

4. Speaking of abortion: Idiotic legislation.
I am LIVID over this regulation honoring religious objections from pharmacists and doctors who don't want to deal with abortions and birth control pills. Okay, I get it if a doctor doesn't want to perform an abortion. He or she should not have to. But now they can refuse to refer a patient to a doctor or pharmacist who will. In fact, a pharmacist/doctor can refuse to provide ANY information to a patient if it goes against their morals. But only as it pertains to women's health! The legislation specifically talks about abortion only. Which is why it makes no sense that this regulation also okays pharmacists refusing to dispense contraception. Contraception is not abortion.

There are so many things wrong with this decision, it's not even funny. First of all, don't say you're trying to protect all medical practitioners' religious beliefs if you're only focusing on abortion and contraception. If you were concerned about all religious freedom, you would realize that many other religions have prominent beliefs that interfere with other common medications and write these equally stupid provisions into this awful regulation. Is it okay for a Scientologist pharmacist to refuse to dispense anti-depressants, because it's against their religion? Is it okay for a Christian Scientist pharmacist to refuse to dispense any medication? Is it okay for a Jew to work at a butcher shop and refuse to sell pork? Is it okay for a Jehovah's Witness to refuse to give a blood transfusion (it's against their religion!) to a critically injured patient, or even refer them or take them to a doctor who will?

According to this legislation, probably not. But why is our government valuing one religion's beliefs over another's? Don't Scientologists and Christian Scientists and Jews have the same rights to religious freedom as well? Why is it only Christians that get to have their beliefs "honored" in ridiculous ways? Doesn't the First Amendment prohibit enacting a law that respects an establishment of religion? Aren't you playing favorites with Christianity?

My second, more important point is this: oral contraception is not just used as birth control. Many women, virgins even(!), use hormone therapy (read: birth control pills) to regulate conditions such as endometriosis and ovarian cysts. This isn't even an issue of pain reduction. It's about REDUCING the spread of cysts or polyps. It's the only way to treat these conditions, minus a hysterectomy. I understand that pharmacists are not required to take the Hippocratic oath like doctors are, but their job is to dispense medicine that aids people's health. They make sure medications that have dangerous interactions aren't taken together, and they give you what a doctor has deemed necessary. Preventing a person from getting vital treatment means they aren't fulfilling their job duties. I'm guessing a Jew who refused to sell pork, or a vegan who refused to touch or sell any meat, would be fired from a butcher shop pretty quickly due to the fact that they were failing to meet job requirements. Why are Christian pharmacists being singularly sheltered?

I talked to a very pro-life Catholic about oral contraception for ovarian cysts (and other conditions), and he said that most Catholics are perfectly fine with taking medication for this purpose. Okay, so, it's alright to deny Susie her birth control if it's for pregnancy prevention, but not if she's a virgin with a medical condition. How on EARTH are you going to regulate that? Doesn't that violate doctor-patient confidentiality? Are you going to call little ovarian cyst Susie each day and say, "Are you having sex? If so, you need to stop taking those birth control pills under MY watch!" Are you going to conduct some ridiculous TEST to see if she's a virgin? (There isn't one.)

A Slate article I found uses this final point as the last pin in the coffin:
"The most important distinction between [doctors and pharmacists] has to do with their differing relationship with patients. The law recognizes that doctors' special relationships with their patients warrant a legal privilege: Their discussions are kept secret. You may like and trust your pharmacist. You may even trust him with intimate details about your yeast infection. But your pharmacist has neither the tools nor the right to probe details about rape and abuse, incest and health risks. Which is why pharmacists who interpose themselves between decisions made by a doctor and her patient are overstepping moral and ethical boundaries—and undermining another professional relationship that is fundamentally different from their own."
So? How are you going to selectively administer hormone therapy without violating doctor-patient confidentiality? No one in favor of this regulation has answered me on this. Hey, here's a thought: Don't like birth control? DON'T TAKE IT. Oh, and perhaps you should reconsider gynecology if you have a problem with women. (Just a guess, but I assume, as a gynecologist, you'll be interacting with them a lot!)

Also, gay marriage. The passage of Proposition 8 was surprising and upsetting for many, and now proponents want to retroactively enforce the ban on gay marriage, rendering all previously recognized (pre-Prop 8) marriages invalid. Way to be an asshole and change your story, folks. Luckily this has thoroughly disgusted California's attorney general, who is now urging the Supreme Court to void the proposition.

No comments: