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» Got Questions? Get Answers. » SCARLETEEN CENTRAL » Sexual Ethics and Politics » Sterilization Prohibited at Catholic Hospitals

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Author Topic: Sterilization Prohibited at Catholic Hospitals
Lynne
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http://www.latimes.com/news/nation/updates2/lat_bishops010616.htm

If there were an abundance of non-Catholic hospitals, I wouldn't mind this. But in some areas there aren't; in some areas the only hospital is the Catholic one, and the Church should realize that when that's the situation, they're forcing their beliefs on others.

I even wouldn't have a huge problem with this if every single doctor affected had ethical problems with sterilization and would have refused to perform it anyway. It would be tragic if women who wanted to be sterilized only had a hospital filled with such doctors nearby, but doctors should have the right to refuse to perform procedures that they think are wrong. Of course, that's not the case. Doctors who don't have a problem with sterilization are also affected by this order, meaning that not only is the Catholic Church forcing its ethics on communities, but also on individual doctors.

[This message has been edited by Lynne (edited 06-16-2001).]


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Gumdrop Girl
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i've been fuming over that one for days!!!

did you know that 1 out of 5 medical schools does not teach abortions? that's because a lot of medical schools are privately owned and church affiliated.

*sigh* when i get my MD, there's no way if f***ing hell i'm going to practice like that.

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Grizabella
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D'oh.

Before I read the actual article, I thought you meant sterilization as in, killing germs. I think I need more sleep.

Personally, I don't think a dogtor should have to do something they are morally against, but I also don't think that the hospitals should forbid any procedure, because if the doctor is willing to do it, they should be allowed to.

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"Sometimes people care too much. I think it's called Love."
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Lucky1402
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I'm catholic, but I don't always agree with some of the things my church decides to do. Like this. Why should it be so bad to be sterilized anyway? I think, according to my religion, that it is supposed to be a sin to have sex for pleasure or something. I don't know, but either way, I think it's a bad choice to prohibit it. Not everyone who goes to a Catholic hospital is Catholic, therefore may not have the same beliefs. They shouldn't have to adhere to the Catholic churches' beliefs if they don't even follow the religion. Plus, not everyone who works at a Catholic hospital is Catholic- there are plenty of non-catholic doctors who work at those hospitals.

The doctors there who are Catholic should be free to refuse to perform the procedure, since it may go against their beliefs, but the non-catholic doctors should have the right to do it. I mean, if they don't believe that sterilization is wrong, then why should they have to follow that rule? Hmmm. There's nothing wrong with having that belief, I just feel that it should be the doctors decision whether he wants to perform the procedure or not, not the hospital's.

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"Why?"

"Because it's so devious I need to wink."


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Heather
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The real problem, however, with doctors stating a moral objection to medical procedures is that it then gets VERY iffy reagrding if they are adhering to the ethical code they agreed to in being certified as DOCTORS.

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Heather Corinna
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My epitaph should read: "She worked herself into this ground."
-- Kay Bailey Hutchinson


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Confused boy
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Well not that I agree with the argument but it is possible that abortions (and at a stretch sterilisation) could be considered a violation of the hypocratic oath to only ever help a patient and never harm them even if "harming" them is helping them in this case.
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Lynne
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I'm going to have to agree with Confused Boy here. And I'm going to take it a step further.

To me, the doctrine in question is silly. But to a devoutly Catholic doctor, it's serious stuff. Elective abortions and sterilization, to such a doctor, are sins and would put his/her soul in jeopardy (granted, there's confession, but one really should't be sinning in the first place) along with that of the patient. So the doctor really can view not performing the operation as helping the patient, and performing it as harming said patient. Furthermore, people shouldn't be forced to do things which they view as damning; if the doctor feels that performing abortions and/or sterilization are truly harmful to his/her soul, it's a matter of self-preservation to not perform them. To tell them that they should perform such procedures shows a disregard for their ethics.

Now, the case of abortion (or any procedure, for that matter) to save the woman's life is a different matter. To not perform the procedure would be physically harmful to her, and physical safety takes precedence over spiritual safety. Not performing an elective procedure due to religious convictions doesn't in and of itself result in harm. Not performing a necessary one due to religious convictions does, and that's the difference.

Personally, I think that if doctors are so devout that they're unwilling to perform legal prodedures, then perhaps they should rethink their decision to be doctors. Not being able to get certain operations performed because of the doctor's beliefs (which you may, like me, think are silly) is awful. But so is requiring doctors to violate the moral code of their religion when doing so doesn't cause direct harm.

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Only In Dreams
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quote:
Originally posted by Miz Scarlet:
The real problem, however, with doctors stating a moral objection to medical procedures is that it then gets VERY iffy reagrding if they are adhering to the ethical code they agreed to in being certified as DOCTORS.


Again, you put it perfectly, Miz Scarlet!

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"Only in dreams
We see what it means
Reach out our hands
Hold on to hers
But when we wake
It's all been erased
And so it seems
Only in dreams..."
-Weezer

"Wow, someone slept in sex ed!"


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Heather
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Thanks, Only.

The thing with this is that I am not sure where anyone is getting that sterilization would be a sin by Catholic doctrine. If someone can point me to a biblical reference, I'd be really interested in seeing it.

Even if there is such a reference, it might be worthwhile to think about the situation more broadly. In other words, WHY do most women want sterilization? because they do not want any more children, cannot care for or afford any more children, cannot get access to reliable birth control methods, have husbands or family members who have forcible sex with them without birth control, or because of health issues. And it seems to me that all of those issues are those which not only put the woman at risk (let's remember that the mortality rate for childbirth is higher than for sterilization, by far), but which may put further potential children at risk.

And if there isn't a bliblical correlation, are these doctors perhaps against performing ANY elective procedure? Even those -- like say, breast implants -- which pose very serious risks, but cannot make any positive difference in terms of health? If not, why not? What is the difference in terms of their requirements as DOCTORS -- which, when they are performing thier duites, needs come first. If it cannot, as Lynne said, they should be thinking about if they can be doctors. For instance, being a pacifist, I couldn't very well in good conscience sign up to be a soldier and swear to do things which I know I would not do.

And for those of you unfamiliar with the oath about 98% of certified doctors take, here is the most current version, courtesy of the AMA:

The practice of medicine is a privilege which carries important responsibilities. All doctors should observe the core values of the profession which centre on the duty to help sick people and to avoid harm. I promise that my medical knowledge will be used to benefit people's health. They are my first concern. I will listen to them and provide the best care I can. I will be honest, respectful and compassionate towards patients. In emergencies, I will do my best to help anyone in medical need.

I will make every effort to ensure that the rights of all patients are respected, including vulnerable groups who lack means of making their needs known, be it through immaturity, mental incapacity, imprisonment or detention or other circumstance.

My professional judgement will be exercised as independently as possible and not be influenced by political pressures nor by factors such as the social standing of the patient. I will not put personal profit or advancement above my duty to patients.

I recognise the special value of human life but I also know that the prolongation of human life is not the only aim of healthcare. Where abortion is permitted, I agree that it should take place only within an ethical and legal framework. I will not provide treatments which are pointless or harmful or which an informed and competent patient refuses.

I will ensure patients receive the information and support they want to make decisions about disease prevention and improvement of their health. I will answer as truthfully as I can and respect patients' decisions unless that puts others at risk of harm. If I cannot agree with their requests, I will explain why.

If my patients have limited mental awareness, I will still encourage them to participate in decisions as much as they feel able and willing to do so.

I will do my best to maintain confidentiality about all patients. If there are overriding reasons which prevent my keeping a patient's confidentiality I will explain them.

I will recognise the limits of my knowledge and seek advice from colleagues when necessary. I will acknowledge my mistakes. I will do my best to keep myself and colleagues informed of new developments and ensure that poor standards or bad practices are exposed to those who can improve them.

I will show respect for all those with whom I work and be ready to share my knowledge by teaching others what I know.

I will use my training and professional standing to improve the community in which I work. I will treat patients equitably and support a fair and humane distribution of health resources. I will try to influence positively authorities whose policies harm public health. I will oppose policies which breach internationally accepted standards of human rights. I will strive to change laws which are contrary to patients' interests or to my professional ethics.

Worth taking a look at.

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Heather Corinna
Editor and Founder, Scarleteen

My epitaph should read: "She worked herself into this ground."
-- Kay Bailey Hutchinson

[This message has been edited by Miz Scarlet (edited 06-17-2001).]


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Gumdrop Girl
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good ol' Hippocratic Oath. Every doctor's sworn vow to not do harm to their patients.

if you read the article closely, you'll know that this ruling doesn't affect vasectomies. those are done in clinics (in and out in 30 minutes, really -- snip, snip, it's quick). so really, this is a one-sided deal. women are getting the short end of the dogmatic stick.

a lot of doctors are conflicted because the church's ruling imposes doctrine (that could potentially be life-threatening) on people who may not necessarily subscribe to that set of beliefs. the doctors are sworn to serve the people, but how can they with church politics impeding their decisions?

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Bobolink
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It must be remembered that Catholic theology is not just scripturally based. That is Protestant theology.

The Catholic ideas regarding life and anything to do with contraception come from "The City of God" by St. Thomas Aquinas. In this work, Aquinas deals with the idea of "natural law". The Catholic doctrine which many see to be in error is that contraception violates Aquinas' view of "natural law".

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We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.

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Heather
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Bobo, out of curiosity, would modern medicine period be within or outside thatt "natural law?"
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Bobolink
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The Hippocratic Oath as translated from the Greek:

quote:
I SWEAR by Apollo the physician, and Aesculapius, and Health, and All-heal, and all the gods and goddesses, that, according to my ability and judgment, I will keep this Oath and this stipulation to reckon him who taught me this Art equally dear to me as my parents, to share my substance with him, and relieve his necessities if required; to look upon his offspring in the same footing as my own brothers, and to teach them this art, if they shall wish to learn it, without fee or
stipulation; and that by precept, lecture, and every other mode of instruction, I will impart a knowledge of the Art to my own sons, and those of my teachers, and to disciples bound by a stipulation and oath according to the law of medicine, but to none others. I will follow that system of regimen which, according to my ability and judgment, I consider for the benefit of my patients,
and abstain from whatever is deleterious and mischievous. I will give no deadly medicine to any one if asked, nor suggest any such counsel; and in like manner I will not give to a woman a pessary to produce abortion. With purity and with holiness I will pass my life and practice my Art. I will not cut persons laboring under the stone, but will leave this to be done by men who are practitioners of this work. Into whatever houses I enter, I will go into them for the benefit of the sick, and will abstain from every voluntary act of mischief and corruption; and, further from the seduction of females or males, of freemen and slaves. Whatever, in connection with my professional practice or not, in connection with it, I see or hear, in the life of men, which ought
not to be spoken of abroad, I will not divulge, as reckoning that all such should be kept secret. While I continue to keep this Oath unviolated, may it be granted to me to enjoy life and the practice of the art, respected by all men, in all times! But should I trespass and violate this Oath,
may the reverse be my lot!

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We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.

- Albert Einstein


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Bobolink
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Good question. Please bear in mind that I am neither a Catholic nor a theologian. This comes from a political philosophy course that I took in 1967-68 and my copy of Aquinas is in storage. I really don't know. I believe it to be bad doctrine but it is Church doctrine none the less. Yes, it has a big philosophical hole in it. I remember at the time arguing that under an Aquinean interpretation, the menses violate natural law because, under that definition, a woman should become pregnant each time she ovulated. I got points for that reasoning.

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We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.

- Albert Einstein

[This message has been edited by Bobolink (edited 06-17-2001).]


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Heather
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Sounds like then, perhaps the simplest way of handling this would be to simply say that women violate "natural law," period.

I tell ya. We girls just never behave. Even our bodies are defiant.

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Heather Corinna
Editor and Founder, Scarleteen

My epitaph should read: "She worked herself into this ground."
-- Kay Bailey Hutchinson


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Lucky1402
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Please remember that since I am Catholic I do believe much of what the religion teaches (although I don't really agree to prohibiting sterilization and I am pro-choice). I know nobody has said anything offensive yet, but it seems to be a bit of a touchy subject to me, and I just don't want anybody to slip and say something that might upset me (or any other people here who might be Catholic). I'm glad everyone's been respectful so far. Thanks, all.

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*^Lucky^*

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"No, Don't do it! I need it to seal my plan.."

"Why?"

"Because it's so devious I need to wink."

[This message has been edited by Lucky1402 (edited 06-17-2001).]


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Confused boy
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SO actually it appears that there isnt much we can do about these Catholic Hospitals. If they have Catholic doctors and Catholic managers then it is in their right to deny these procedures. Now do we really want to then say they cant be doctors because of their beliefs? That would be impractical and rather close minded. Then answer can therefore only come from haiving a hospital system which isnt reliant on religious groups to provide funding. But then that would of course require money from the public through taxation. Strange how nearly all problems tend to stem from that.
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Heather
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Point taken, Lucky.

Confused, I just can't buy into that train of thought, mainly because I have known a LOT of very dedicated doctors in my life, and their feelings would be that if any personal belief or bias hampered them from putting their pateints first, they shouldn't be doctors. And I think that's reasonable, and it's something we expect from people of all professions when they're acting ethically, and that is very important when we are talking about human service professions.

For instance, I could not be a very fair journalist if I knew I had racial or gender biases that would keep me from fair reporting. I could not be a soldier as a pacifist without putting other's lives at undue risk. I could not ethically accept work from a corporation whose practices I boycotted on weekends.

If the work we choose in our lives is simply to get a paycheck, then perhaps these ethical considerations are moot. But when they involve the lives and well-being of others, and they are more than a means to pay the bills, to do our jobs well, I think we have to consider them.

You know, in high school I had endometriosis and needed the birth control pill as medication to help with that condition. Unfortunately, the HMO provided through my father's job was at a Catholic hospital, and it would not pay for that medication. Now, we were poor, but not so poor that I couldn't take an extra job and thus pay for my own pills. But what about those who were less fortunate? They just simply get to have their health ruined and the bodies harmed because of someone else's religious beliefs? And what secnario can we envisiion in cases like this that is applicable to men, not simply women?

Even that is a very minor scenario. A woman who may die during another childbirth, and have no other choice because her husband routinely has nonconsensual sex with her ( a very common thing in thrid--world countries and very poor areas, as well as very traditional areas) -- is she less important? Not according to a doctor who took his duties seriously, she wouldn't be.

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Heather Corinna
Editor and Founder, Scarleteen

My epitaph should read: "She worked herself into this ground."
-- Kay Bailey Hutchinson

[This message has been edited by Miz Scarlet (edited 06-18-2001).]


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Lynne
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quote:
Confused, I just can't buy into that train of thought, mainly because I have known a LOT of very dedicated doctors in my life, and their feelings would be that if any personal belief or bias hampered them from putting their pateints first, they shouldn't be doctors.
And if somebody really wants to help people by being a doctor, but feels that abortion is unethical? Why should people have to violate their religious code of ethics on the job simply because something is legal and expected? The fact that something is legal doesn't automatically make it right (please note that I'm not contesting the morality of abortion, just making a point), nor does the fact that something is expected. Human beings are generally expected to have a moral code independent of their job; they are expected to know when something is just wrong and not do it, instead of just following whatever directions the law or their superiors hand down.

And your soldier analogy isn't accurate. You are against war in general; for it to be a correct analogy, the doctor in question would have to be against modern medicine in general. People like that don't become doctors in the first place. A better analogy would be somebody who signs up for the military and wants to help his/her country, but has an objection to a few select practices of war. Such a doctor might think that killing innocents would make a better analogy. They don't mind killing enemy soldiers, but innocent civilians are another matter -- even though most people going into the military today are aware that sometimes it happens and there's a chance they might be unlucky enough to be ordered to do it. Does the fact that they were ordered to mean they should?

But Lynne, you say, abortion isn't murder! And it's legal! Well, yes, it is legal. See my comments in the first paragraph. And to you it isn't murder. But to a doctor who thinks that it is, it is. Asking such a doctor to perform an abortion is effectively the same as asking them to murder.

(Again, I'm talking about elective surgery here. Anybody who lets patients come to direct harm due to inaction caused by their religious beliefs has no right to practice.)
quote:
And what secnario can we envisiion in cases like this that is applicable to men, not simply women?
Irrelevent. Religious beliefs are religious beliefs and should be respected in the case of elective procedures, regardless of how incongruent they are with your personal ethics.

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alaska
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Lynne, re: your last statement: however, there hasn't been a theological statement presented why it's ok to perform a vasectomy but not a female sterilisation.
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Heather
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So, working from that, I take it them that the doctors in the south before the Civil Rights Movement who refused to treat non-caucasians (plenty of whom stated their objection to be religious) were not only within their rights, but suitable doctors following an approppriate medical code of ethics?

And would most of them try and pull that now? No way. Why not? They'd get sued, because we do now have equal protection under the law for race. However, when the ERA finally passes, I think we may well see a similar change of habits.

And really, that is sad, because it does carry more weight to lose money than to treat people fairly.

The thing is that we cannot have this argument soundly if we are talking about procedures arbitrarily, which is what cases like this want to do. For instance, there are many, many reasons to perform a D&C (and NOT performing that procedure when it is required could, in fact, be murder). A medical abortion is but one of them. And that proceudre can save lives and protect health, which is the first and foremost duty of a doctor. Same goes for female sterilization. Those doctors can also elect not to work in areas of medicine which may conflict with their beliefs. But that can get really dicey, especially when what it boils down to is discriminatory behavior, and especially when those thics may override real care.

Thing is, people with a lot of objections DO become doctors. Why? It's awfully profitable. It is naive to think that every doctor who ebnters the field does so because he or she wants to *be* a real doctor, and perform medicine, above all else.

I really think it's important when we talk about elective surgeries like sterilization to look at the WHY behind why many women would want them, especially low-income women or women outside the comfortable middle class. They rarely want them for the same reasons women want plastic surbery, but instead, because they do not have choices they can make on their own regarding their sexualiuty and reprodcution, and also because the economy is of no real help in aiding them in supporting or rearing more children.

And again, it is dicey at best to say that a doctor's own beliefs and ethics regarding HIS life should override a petient's needs and feelings about their lives. It is that kind of mentality that leads to dangerous and illegal medical procedures, and that takes lives and endangers everyone.

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Heather Corinna
Editor and Founder, Scarleteen

My epitaph should read: "She worked herself into this ground."
-- Kay Bailey Hutchinson


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Lynne
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quote:
Lynne, re: your last statement: however, there hasn't been a theological statement presented why it's ok to perform a vasectomy but not a female sterilisation.
It's not. A vasectomy is just as bad according to the doctrine -- it's just that vasectomies can be performed in doctor's offices, whereas female sterilization can only be done in a hospital. The Church doesn't control individual doctors offices.
quote:
So, working from that, I take it them that the doctors in the south before the Civil Rights Movement who refused to treat non-caucasians (plenty of whom stated their objection to be religious) were not only within their rights, but suitable doctors following an approppriate medical code of ethics?
For elective procedures, they were within their rights. I don't think it's appropriate, and they certainly shouldn't have been discriminating against people who needed medical help. Otherwise, however, if their disagreement was stated to be religious (regardless of whether or not it actually was -- ideally, this would only apply to things that are actually religious, but having the government determine which claims are a statement of actual spiritual belief and which are just bunk could get problematic very quickly) then they were within their rights. I don't personally agree with their decision to be rascist, but it should be their right.
quote:
And again, it is dicey at best to say that a doctor's own beliefs and ethics regarding HIS life should override a petient's needs and feelings about their lives.
And assuming that your own ethics should override a doctor's is any better? Why are your ethics intrisically better or more important than theirs? (Also, the doctor could be female.)

[This message has been edited by Lynne (edited 06-18-2001).]


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Heather
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Because standard medical ethics make it clear that a doctor should do his or her utmost to respect their patients decisions and judgement, unless they are literally compromising their physical health. It isn't a doctor's place to assess their spiritual health, whatever that might be, nor their emotional or social circumstances (unless they are also trained as social workers, which most doctors are not, or are pastors or leaders in the religion their particular patient subscribes to) so that is moot. And unless those medical ethics change (and I don't feel they should, personally) I just can't agree there. I think that it is sound practice to put a patient's health and their needs first.

And insofar as the rede doctor's adhere to when becoming certified goes, I just have to disagree in terms of what is within or without their right.

"I promise that my medical knowledge will be used to benefit people's health. They are my first concern. I will listen to them and provide the best care I can."

"I will make every effort to ensure that the rights of all patients are respected"

"I will treat patients equitably and support a fair and humane distribution of health resources."

I also think you flirt with a very slippery slope to suggest that sexism or racism is okay when it is justified by certain religions, especially when it comes to the practice of medicine. basically, that would make any of those things justifiable at any time so long as whoever was discriminating said that their god or religion told them to.

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Heather Corinna
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[This message has been edited by Miz Scarlet (edited 06-18-2001).]


Posts: 67955 | From: An island near Seattle | Registered: May 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Confused boy
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Well the major difference with the racist doctors is that they refused to do procedures that were necessary for their patients health. Now obviously an abortion or a sterilisation might indirectly help someone (and directly when becoming pregnant would threaten their life- an exception that even religious doctors should accept) but it is not necessary to the health of the patient. So maybe these doctors should simply not do abortions and sterilisations!

Oh slightly off topic but I believe on the grounds of the hypocratic oath, no doctor should be allowed to perform cosmetic surgery (except reconstructive surgery sometimes required when a person is difigured in an accident). It is clear that cosmetic surgery cannot do good and can only do harm to a persons health (beauty being a completely subjective term and mostly unrealted to health)


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Lynne
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quote:
Because standard medical ethics make it clear that a doctor should do his or her utmost to respect their paatenients decisions and judgement, unless they are literally compromising their physical health.
Then I'm going to have to disagree with the standard ethics. I maintain my position that nobody should be forced to do something that they feel is profoundly evil. The fact that those things are regarded by a large portion of the population as not being evil doesn't matter. Granted, doctors with moral objections to certain procedures might want to rethink their decision to be doctors -- I think that's the responsible thing to do -- but that doesn't mean that they shouldn't have the right to refuse things on moral grounds.
quote:
I also think you flirt with a very slippery slope to suggest that sexism or racism is okay when it is justified by certain religions....
I'm not suggesting it. I'm saying it. Directly hurting people because of sexism or racism should be illegal, in my opinion. (Although I really really don't want to get into a debate about what "directly hurting" means.) Beyond that, though, they have a right to be racist, particularly when it comes to religious beliefs. Religious beliefs can't really be proven, so it can't be said that one religion is definitely worse than the others, or that some beliefs are objectively better than others. My atheism (though it isn't really a religion) might be wrong. Religious bigots might be wrong. They and I can sit and denounce each other all day long, but until it can be objectively shown who is right (and perhaps not even then), everybody has the right to their own beliefs.

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