Religion and medicine don’t mix – and nor should they

It was with alarm that I read an article last week regarding a new ruling in the US, which grants medical professionals the right to refuse treatment based on “religious freedom”. Put simply, this means that doctors can refuse to treat a person who is transgender, or a woman who has had an abortion, because of their “beliefs”.

You can read the article here.

religion-and-medicine

(image from Medicine Today)

Quite frankly there is no room for such judgement in medicine. In fact there’s no room for such judgement in life, but bigots will be bigots and some Christians will wheel out the bits of the bible that back up their narrow minded beliefs, whilst ignoring the other bits that may see themselves acting against God’s will (yawn). The latter is a fight too big for anyone to win. But the former is absolutely appalling.

Imagine, perhaps, a woman who has been raped and aborted the resulting pregnancy. Tormented by the attack, potentially tormented by the abortion, and yet a doctor – who should be a trusted and trustworthy individual – can torment her further for a prior circumstantial decision?

Or, how about this, a woman who fell pregnant by mistake, didn’t want a child, and has no guilt about aborting a collection of cells that was unloved and unplanned. It happens, and is nothing to be ashamed of. Why should she be judged and refused healthcare or medical treatment in the future when, actually, she made the right decision in view of the amount of unwanted, mistreated children brought into the world, and the number of kids in children’s homes and care who will probably never be rehomed with a new family.

(sorry, this is turning into a pro-abortion rant which, whilst I feel very very strongly about it, is not the focus of this post. You can read more about my personal views on abortion here – the irony of the post title is not lost on me).

Think of a transgender person, born into the wrong body, living with the wrong identity and genitalia for however many years, hiding themselves for fear of judgement and perhaps being driven to the brink of suicide. Think of that person making the gender transformation and finally feeling free, feeling like the person they actually are, feeling like they can finally live. And then think of a doctor refusing to treat them purely on the grounds of their transition.

Too many people feel they have the right to interfere in decisions that don’t really affect them or their lives. Transgender people and women who’ve undergone abortions are too often ridiculed and vilified by the general public, especially in today’s social media world where everyone thinks they have the right to push their opinion on others. To have that ridicule and vilification reiterated by a medical professional is dangerous. It sends out completely the wrong message to everyone. It instigates a class system; a measure of worthiness to what should be a basic right for everyone in the world.

I see it like this – if you choose medicine as your profession then you deliver that service to everyone who needs it. You don’t get to pick and choose. It should be a vocation, and your priority should be to ensure that people who need medical help receive that medical help; regardless of what they may have done in the past. Because you are a doctor. You’re not God. You don’t get to decide, or judge, or devalue people. You make them better.

Unfortunately I fear this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to healthcare in America. With Donald Trump about to be inaugurated, making him one of the most powerful people in the world (shudder at that thought, and the sheer ridiculousness that it has ever gotten to this point), there is no such thing as a safe future for anything that currently sits in the American constitution. He will lead by emotion and personal belief, regardless of whether it’s right or wrong for the country – the intention to repeal Obamacare is proof of that.

Buckle up Americans. Your future health is at risk, along with who knows what else.

Thanks, as always, for reading! x

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