Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Freedom to Discriminate in America

Read the following scenario on discrimination and answer the question below it:

A pregnant lady goes to an obstetrician/gynecologist to end her pregnancy for whatever reason, be it rape, incest, life circumstances, economics, or bad results from prenatal testing. The doctor is opposed to the procedure on moral grounds, despite it being legal in his state and his patient's falling within any legally specified criteria. The physician refuses to carry out the woman's wishes. His certification board requires he make a timely referral to another competent OB/GYN. The doctor ignores this requirement. The young woman is left to find a new provider. After telling her new physician the story of being left alone and hanging, the woman learns of the board requirement and files a complaint against her old doctor. Doctor #1 later loses his board certification which causes other ramifications.

Q: Whose rights do you think the federal government should be concerned about? Who should the head of Health and Human Services be championing? Is it:

a. The patient who wants a legally valid procedure and must get it within society's specified times frames and restrictions. After finding her doctor unwilling, she essentially feels fired from the doctor's practice and must find a new provider.

b. The doctor who took an oath to serve his patients and is trained to perform the legal procedure, but morally objects to it. The physician agreed to meet the certification standards of his specialty, but violated those terms when he failed to make the referral to another OB/GYN. He faced consequences from his actions, knowing full well what those would be.

If you said A, you don't live in Bush's world. His administration finds the doctor more powerless than the patient in this situation. HHS Chief Mike Leavitt intruded into this professional standard setting with his recent letter. In it he cites his fear that physicians will be discriminated against. What is this federal bureaucrat doing intervening in medical specialty standard setting? Not looking after the rights of patients, once again...