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.