Photo by The National Guard
Exorcist extraordinaire and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal signs into law a "refusal to provide medical care only to some patients" bill (HB 517). Behold ye of little, or not-sanctioned-by-the-government, faith:
1. Your conscience is only as valid as Louisiana politicians say it is.
According to the new law [a]ny person has the right not to participate in, and no person shall be required to participate in any health care service that violates his conscience.... "Conscience" is defined as a sincerely held religious belief or moral conviction.
So far, so bad. The law accommodates all personal belief biases and discriminates equally against all patients, right? Oh, come on, how naïve are you and how come you've never read this blog before?
Unless your sincerely held religious beliefs or moral convictions have to do with reproductive-age lady bits or some already illegal conduct, no right to refuse to do your job for you. That right is reserved for, you know, the chosen ones with a government-approved conscience:
"Health care service" is limited to abortion, dispensation of abortifacient drugs, human embryonic stem cell research, human embryo cloning, euthanasia, or physician-assisted suicide.
2. Pharmacology is whatever you sincerely believe it to be.
According to the Times-Picayune [t]he drug provision is intended to include the so-called "morning-after pill," but would not extend to routine birth control. Pardon me while I take a moment to have a most dignified chuckle.
Unless the Times-Picayune reporters reveal the ancient secret method they use to divine the intent of this law, I call nonsense on their assertion.
Nothing in HB 517 indicates that magical thinking and personal belief as to a drug's mechanism of action are to be applied only to ECPs but not to other methods of birth control.
And for even more [demented] fun, let me just point out that if a physician or pharmacist has a personal belief that prenatal vitamins (or antibiotics, insulin, asthma meds, anesthetics, antidepressants, etc.) are abortifacient, the law allows him/her to refuse a pregnant patient who intends to carry to term common meds.
3. It takes a lot of people to run a hospital and they all have the right not to do their job.
Physicians and nurses might be the first ones you think of when it comes to medical care, but they're far from the only ones involved in providing care. Good luck with your health needs when the parking lot plow operator employed by the hospital refuses to do his job, or when the unit clerk refuses to process your paper work, or the lab tech refuses to run your bloods, or housekeeping...you get the idea.
4. It's good to be the chosen one, as long as you're not the patient.
If Louisiana politicians decree your conscience to be acceptable and to matter you have no obligations, only rights. No professional responsibility to provide care to (some of your) patients and no consequences for refusing to do your job. [A state monopoly on the practice of medicine and no obligation to provide care. Louisiana here I came!]
On the other hand, if you're a patient your conscience and medical needs are utterly irrelevant. Also health care facilities are obligated to have redundant staff on call to cover for the chosen ones who refuse to do their job.
Bottom line: We must applaud Louisiana politicians and their fearless leader Gov. Bobby Jindal for enacting HB 517 into law, a law that most clearly insures that all Louisiana citizen are treated equally under the law.