Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Do you know your doc's faith?

Some Catholics have made big deals of late about the rights of Catholic pharmacists, for example, to refuse to fill a birth control pill prescription on religious grounds. With that--and my post on the Connecticut bishops' decision to permit Plan B in Catholic hospitals for victims of rape--in mind, I'm wondering how supporters of the "right to refuse" folks might feel about the following news story, in the U.K. Times Online:

According to a study by two British medical societies, a (very) few Muslim medical students have refused, on religious grounds, to study the treatment of sexually transmitted diseases or alcohol-related illnesses because the behavior that may lead to those conditions is contrary to Islam. One student even failed his licensing exam because he refused, on religious grounds, to give a standard medical exam to a female patient.

So, folks, are we talking apples and apples here, or apples and oranges? Are medical professionals obliged to provide the professional "standard of care" regardless of their personal religious beliefs? The Muslim professional society of doctors and dentists in the UK is not supporting these Muslim medical students, by the way, though the CT bishops are still seeking an exemption from the state law that would require Plan B.

I think this is a particular issue for women; many of the "refusals" are around women's reproductive health, and you can expect more when the vaccine for the virus that causes some cervical cancers becomes more widely available and the pressure increases to have pre-adolescent girls vaccinated.



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