Health care workers take note: Alabama wants you to know that your conscience doesn't matter – unless someone else's uterus is involved. Then, legislators are totally on your side & vow to protect your delicate sensibilities.
So says HB31, sponsored by Rep. Becky Nordgren and passed out of committee yesterday. The bill would allow health care providers to refuse to “perform or participate in any medical health care service” that violates their “moral, religious, or ethical principles,” as long as the health care “service” is related to:
Any phase of patient medical care, treatment or procedure that is limited to abortion, human cloning, human embryonic stem cell research, and sterilization, and is related to: Patient referrals, counseling, therapy, testing, diagnosis or prognosis, research, instruction, prescribing, dispensing or administering any device, drug, or medication, surgery, or any other care or treatment rendered or provided by health care providers.
It's pretty clear that Rep. Nordgren is far more worried about ladyparts than she is anyone's conscience. Otherwise, why limit this medical conscience clause to reproductive procedures?
The Jehovah's Witness who doesn't want to work during a blood drive or perform a transfusion will find that that Legislature doesn't care about his/her conscience.But the pharmacist who doesn't want to fill a prescription for Plan B or who thinks unmarried women shouldn't be obtaining birth control is.
So is the white supremacist doctor who can presumably refuse to perform sterilization procedures on white patients or even prescribe birth control pills to white women because he agrees with Pat Buchanan about population trends.
For some reason, the State of Alabama thinks it's fun and easy to pick on women and limit their health care choices, but the wording of this bill, cuts both ways (so to speak). What's going to happen the first time a doctor refuses to prescribe Viagra for an unmarried man or a pharmacist denies his prescription refill based on the “moral” belief that an aging single guy doesn't have any business tomcatting around?
And, for a political party that likes to tout its “business friendly” policies, can you imagine what a nightmare this law would be for hospitals, medical offices, and pharmacies? Imagine trying to draw up a work schedule:
“Let's see, Sally won't fill birth control prescriptions without seeing a marriage license first, but Joe will, so we'll put them on shift together. Bob won't assist with fertility treatments unless the couple is Christian, married, and heterosexual and Kelly is morally opposed to sterilization and refuses to assist with tubal ligations…..”
How about this as a solution to the so-called “conscience” problem? If you're opposed to providing health care services that patients need, then don't enter the health care profession. Problem solved. No conscience violated. No stupid law required.
Really, Alabama, let's start applying a variation of Occam's Razor to some of these state “problems.” Often, the simplest solution is the best for all concerned.