Monday, August 25, 2008


Now, courtesy of the Bush administration, here’s a genuinely blockheaded piece of proposed legislation, one that has the potential of unleashing all sorts of Unintended Consequences:
The Bush administration yesterday announced plans to implement a controversial regulation designed to protect doctors, nurses and other health-care workers who object to abortion from being forced to deliver services that violate their personal beliefs.

The rule empowers federal health officials to pull funding from more than 584,000 hospitals, clinics, health plans, doctors’ offices and other entities if they do not accommodate employees who refuse to participate in care they find objectionable on personal, moral or religious grounds.

“People should not be forced to say or do things they believe are morally wrong,” Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt said. “Health-care workers should not be forced to provide services that violate their own conscience [sic].”
Like the misguided but well-intentioned No Child Left Behind legislation, this sounds ever so reasonable until you take a look at some of the implications.

It means that if a pharmacist objects to prescribing, say, RU-486 (the “morning-after pill”) based on his personal belief that its effect is tantamount to abortion, he could not be sued or punished for failing to fill a legal prescription written by a licensed physician.

It means that a Muslim cab drivers could not be punished for refusing fares from people they believe to be carrying pork or alcohol. Can’t happen, you say? It has happened... in Minneapolis.

My own position? If you’re not prepared to do the job you were hired to do, then get the hell out and let someone else do it. If you work in a hospital, you are obligated to do your job, whether that is cleaning bedpans, processing invoices, performing surgery, or dispensing medication. And determining whether a specific procedure is acceptable is outside of your job scope. That’s why we have legislatures and courts.

If you’re a cabbie from Somalia and your inclination is to turn a paying passenger away because of what may or may not be in his luggage - as if it’s any of your fucking business - for your own personal religious reasons, then get the hell back to Somalia. Or find another job.

Flipping burgers at Mickey D’s? No go. Them burgers are not halal. Sorry.

You don’t see too many orthodox Jews working as pork butchers. There’s a reason for that. If there are aspects of a job that conflict with your conscience, you get a different job. You don’t stand there and gripe, “I can’t sell this ain’t kosher!” and still expect to get a paycheck from Mr. Semprini.

This is a continuing pattern for Bush et al.: the failure to perform due diligence and think about the ramifications of something that is done to please a certain constituency. It’s the kind of thinking that results in Federal funds being cut off from clinics that provide information on contraception because they may also offer abortion services... resulting in more abortions rather than fewer. It’s the kind of thinking that cuts off aid to family planning services in poor countries because they don’t preach the (ineffective) gospel of “Just Say No.” It’s the triumph of ideology over science and logic.

Barack Obama scares me to death... and yet the current administration continually manages to keep me agitated about the possible consequences of another four years of Republican rule. Way to go, Dubs.

[Tip o’ th’ Elisson fedora to Mac at pesky’apostrophe for the link.]

Update: Og has a different take on the matter.

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