Conscience clauses in health care

I’ve written about my distaste for conscience clauses in healthcare before. I find it absolutely ridiculous that someone who elects to become a professional in healthcare can also refuse to provide care that they find “morally objectionable.” (Which, apparently, in some cases protects providers who refuse to perform blood transfusions or counsel about vaccines. I’m not going to get into the merits of vaccinations, but I AM going to say that they are one of the most BASIC sorts of healthcare, and if you’re a provider who doesn’t want to talk about them…what’s next? You don’t want to write prescriptions either? Become a homeopath then. There are lots of other healthcare avenues open to you – explore one.)

So I read a story like this one, and my blood pressure sky rockets. (Let’s hope conscience clauses don’t protect providers from taking blood pressure…) The anger and sadness and rage that I feel can’t even be measured, it’s THAT significant. I read the article over 2 weeks ago and have just NOW calmed down enough so I can write about it.

A woman presented to the hospital 20 weeks pregnant with significant vaginal hemorrhaging. An abortion needed to be performed TO SAVE HER LIFE. (As the article explains she was experiencing a placental abruption, which, if serious enough, will cause fetal demise, and can lead to death of the mother.) The doctor assigned to her care, “didn’t do abortions.” Nor did any of the other on-call doctors. An alleged mis-communication left her painfully bleeding to death in labor and delivery.

Fortunately someone did call a doctor who DOES perform abortions who was able to come quickly to the hospital and perform the procedure. The patient had lost so much blood by this time she required transfusions to stabilize her enough that the procedure could be performed, AND the surgeon counseled the patient’s husband that the procedure might be too late, and the patient’s life might be lost.

So here it is – a patient is dying, and a doctor is legally protected from performing life saving surgery. HOW IS THIS POSSIBLE? How, in the name of all things holy, does this make sense?

Let me be clear that I don’t think a woman should need to be dying in order for an abortion to be performed. I believe that women should have unfettered access to abortion at any time, and for any reason. But I believe FERVENTLY that conscience clauses harm patients, and this case illustrates it so very neatly.

If you are not willing to act in the best interest of your patient, (and not yourself) do something else. Become a veterinarian. Or a naturopath. Or a plumber. I don’t really care what you do – but DO NOT stand in the way of my access to health care because you believe that your so-called morals are more important than my health and well-being.



Filed under asshattery, choice, feminism, I get pissed, politics

6 responses to “Conscience clauses in health care

  1. I take the same view of refusal clauses as I do of military deserters. No one forced you to join the military/become a pharmacist, so if you refuse to do your job you should prepare yourself to face the consequences. After all, if you can’t be forced to do your job (which you voluntarily signed up for [why do conservatives hate personal responsibility?]) why should other people be forced to give you a job?

    Repealing refusal clauses and therefore forcing pharmacists to give out birth control prevents abortion. Leaving aside the fact that the abortion debate isn’t really about abortion, and is really about controlling women, if anyone truly, truly, truly believed that abortion was murder, then by opposing refusal clauses they could have prevented an abortion right here.

    • Like you said, if anyone truly believed that abortion was murder, seems they’d be doing everything they possibly could to get contraceptives out to anyone who wanted them, eh?

      But yeah, it’s not about murdering babies. It’s about control.

  2. OMFG. What the ever-loving hell. If these doctors had any “morals” at all perhaps they’d take “first, do no harm” a little more seriously. And now I am all ragey too.

    • I don’t understand it. I really don’t. I don’t understand how someone can walk away from a dying patient because they’re opposed to the treatment. GET A NEW JOB THEN.

  3. Pingback: Pregnant women’s rights are not just for developing countries | maternalselves

  4. Janine

    amen, sister. that is so incredibly f*cked up.

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