Tungtide

Posts Tagged ‘irrationality’

Simplicity

Posted by tungtide on August 18, 2008, 11:21 pm

Rarely have I seen such a clear and well-worded response to those who claim atheists function solely to attack god. BGH of The Information Paradox says it best.

I cannot rail against that which I disbelieve. I can only rail against the actions of those who use their belief as motivation to infringe on my rights.

Still, despite the irrationality (and my poor transition), more than 50% of adults in a recent survey said that they believe god could miraculously save a terminal patient when all medical information claimed the opposite. I understand the desire to see a loved one recover, the belief that they will somehow get better. I even understand that doctors and nurses need to be patient and understanding with the variety of beliefs in this country. I wonder, though, what the cost might be. A brain-dead patient in a hospital consumes resources (food, IV, equipment, staff time, etc.) that could easily be redirected to help another (as much as I hate to say it this way) more viable patient. On top of that, a prolonged hospital stay does nothing but rack up bills that are either covered by the family or by the insurance. The family can easily be bankrupted by the excessive costs, while the insurance companies will pass the costs along to the living.

Finally, the California Supreme Court ruled that doctors cannot refuse to treat gay and lesbian individuals based on religious objections. The case involved fertility doctors that began treating a lesbian woman but refused to perform the actual artificial insemination. The lawyer for the clinic had this to say:

“The Supreme Court’s desire to promote the homosexual lifestyle at the risk of infringing upon the First Amendment right to free exercise of religion is what the public needs to learn about,” said Tyler, who leads the nonprofit Advocates for Faith and Freedom in Murrieta, Calif.

My initial concerns about the ruling were cleared up after reading the statement. No one would be batting an eyelash if the doctors refused to treat a hispanic patient because of her race, or a Jewish patient because of her religion. Freedom of religion allows you to believe what you would like, but not to use that as a justification to treat other people differently. The doctors in this case are offering a service. They must either offer the service to all individuals or none. It is unethical to charge different rates for different groups, and it is just as unethical to refuse to treat a group.

The closest parallel that I could think of is the ongoing kerfuffle about pharmacists and birth control. Pharmacists who believe birth control is tantamount to abortion will refuse to fill prescriptions for the pill. The result is a prescription held hostage by religious belief. Certain loopholes in the law (as far as I remember it) allow the pharmacist to transfer the prescription to another pharmacist or pharmacy that will fill the order. In some cases the pharmacists were refusing to transfer the order and holding it in limbo. While I’m unsure about the legality, I would think that a pharmacy that opposed birth control would simply not carry it, and would not accept the prescriptions in the first place. This would simplify the process and allow all parties to get what they needed. Then again, in some rural areas there is only one pharmacy (others may be 50-100 miles away and have the same objection) and this would effectively deny the patient of a legally prescribed medicine. Guess simplicity isn’t the answer.

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