Monday, March 28, 2005

The Newest Definition of Medical Futility: Sexual Orientation

Michigan now proudly announces the newest bill to protect the freedom of religion: HOUSE BILL NO. 5006 the Conscientious Objector Policy Act. We've been hearing about CO acts all over to allow healthcare providers and pharmacists to refuse to participate in abortions or provide/fill prescriptions for contraceptive they find morally objectionable, but Michigan's bill is a little different.

HB 5006 would allow a health care provider to object, as a matter of conscience, to providing or participating in a health care service on professional, ethical, religious, or moral grounds. A “health care provider” would include members of professions regulated under Article 15 of the Public Health Code except for veterinarians and sanitarians. “Health care service” would be defined as the provision or withdrawal of, or research or experimentation involving, a medical diagnosis, treatment, procedure, diagnostic test, device, medication, drug, or other substance intended to affect the physical or mental condition of an individual, but would not include provision of a contraceptive medication or device.

The protections do not apply to emergent situations in which another qualified healthcare provider is not available or during a public health emergency. So, why am I all aghast at this bill? Take look at Section 11(c):

A health care provider shall not assert an objection to providing or participating in a health care service based on the classification of a patient or group of patients protected under the Elliot-Larsen civil rights act, 1976 PA 453, MCL 37.2101 to 37.2804, or based on a disease or other medical condition.

In case you hadn't noticed, Elliot-Larsen civil rights act is from 1976. Discrimination under the act is only illegal if it is because of religion, race, color, national origin, age, sex, height, weight, familial status, or marital status. In other words, a healthcare provider can refuse to provide the services listed above to someone based on their religious/moral objection to the patient's sexual orientation. Three other bills (exempting insurance providers and health care facilities) were passed last Wednesday that could also negatively impact the ability of GLBT folks to access medical care.

VP of Public Policy for the Michigan Catholic Conference, Paul Long, defended the bill as promoting religious freedom by allowing providers and facilities to "maintain their mission and their services without compromising faith-based teaching." Apparently "good Christians" believe on invasive means to keep some folks alive but have no problem ensuring those of whom they disapprove can be denied healthcare services and medications until those immoral fornicaters are at death's door.



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1 comment:

Public Theologian said...

This kind of thing is really ridiculous. Should your local mail carrier who has a particular ideological bent be exempt from delivering mail to your house because he thinks that the candidate who sent you a flyer is immoral and not properly qualified for office on theological and ethcial grounds? Should the firefigher who is a teetotaling Baptist be exempt from putting out the fire at the local bar because he finds what they do there to be sinful?