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Tue Jun 19, 2012, 02:26 PM


Religion trumps health care in Michigan.


In 2009, a student at Eastern Michigan University named Julea Ward was expelled from her graduate studies program. She was removed from the program because she refused to counsel a suicidal gay student. The reason, if you haven’t already guessed, is because she is a ‘Christian.’ To be clear:

Julea Ward, while seeking certification from a state university, refused to apply her training to a fellow student (a requirement for certification), even though his life was at stake.


Julea Ward turned away a person crying out for help, because she is an adherent to the teachings of Jesus Christ.

Either way you look at it, it seems like a huge failing. And we would all agree that something needed to be done to prevent this kind of potential tragedy from ever happening again. The Michigan House of Representatives have addressed the problem…By passing a bill making it illegal to:

“discipline or discriminate against a student in a counseling, social work, or psychology program because the student refuses to counsel or serve a client as to goals, outcomes, or behaviors that conflict with a sincerely held religious belief.”

13 replies, 1723 views

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Response to daaron (Original post)

Tue Jun 19, 2012, 02:49 PM

1. I am an advocate for conscientious objection, though many here disagree with me.

However, if this proposed law is not amended to provide that the training institution must assure that the services are available if a trainee objects, that is a problem.

We have had this discussion before, and I anticipate that this article will lead to another.

I just want to make my position clear.

An OB/GYN residency program may have a requirement for training in abortion. They may also have a resident who has a strong personal objection to abortion. I believe that person should be exempted from performing abortions if, and only if, there is a guarantee that the procedure would be available through other means.

A pharmacist may not want to provide the morning after pill. Again, if that service is easily available elsewhere, I would support his right to choose. However, if it is not, that presents a serious problem regarding patient's rights.

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Response to cbayer (Reply #1)

Tue Jun 19, 2012, 02:59 PM

2. "if that service is easily available elsewhere" - how does that work?

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Response to phantom power (Reply #2)

Tue Jun 19, 2012, 03:03 PM

3. If a residency program can provide enough residents to perform the

services and the objecting resident causes no disruption in services, for example.

The case in question here doesn't really address that at all. if the program she was expelled from would not have been able to provide adequate coverage for a needed service, I would support their decision to remove her from the program.

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Response to cbayer (Reply #3)

Tue Jun 19, 2012, 03:22 PM

5. I think it is helpful to keep in mind...

that these people do not really want to 'consciensously object' in the sense that they are OK with other people performing abortions or providing birth control, if they don't object. They want to eliminate it, and prevent anybody from having either abortions or birth control.

Accommodating them will not satisfy them in any way.

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Response to phantom power (Reply #5)

Tue Jun 19, 2012, 03:28 PM

6. While that may be true of some, it is not true of all.

There are, actually, people who take the choice argument literally and they only want to be able to exercise theirs, but do not object to the choice of others. While accommodations will not satisfy the group you describe, it does satisfy others.

Those that have stronger objections, including the desire to eliminate the service, are better off seeking a program where this philosophy is shared.

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Response to cbayer (Reply #1)

Tue Jun 19, 2012, 03:12 PM

4. The problem is when these things are legislated

They are inevitably phrased in terms on religious freedom but it doesn't take much thinking to realize that the only goal and the only outcome is that the law enables religion to impose their beliefs on others even when doing so is counter to what would normally be part of their job.

The religious right want all of society to adhere to their warped, hypocritical so-called morality. They are intolerant of anybody who disagrees with them. Of course, I am intolerant of them. But I am not the one who wants to legislate my beliefs with the goal of imposing them on everybody regardless of their beliefs.

It is a difficult thing to resolve. But I would prefer that err on the side of tolerance, not artificially imposed restrictions just because there are people who don't agree with it.

Do we outlaw bacon just because some religious sects find it evil?

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Response to longship (Reply #4)

Tue Jun 19, 2012, 03:32 PM

7. I agree and object to the bill as written.

Of course, outlawing counseling services for GLBT students would be the conclusion drawn from your analogy. The bill doesn't call for that, but makes it possible that that could occur.

For example, if every student in the program objects, then you have essentially legislated that those services will not be available.

That is why I am making the argument for the law if amended to require that the services be available.

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Response to cbayer (Reply #7)

Tue Jun 19, 2012, 05:07 PM

9. Isn't the better solution to vote the bill down?

After all, this cannot be a religious freedom issue unless you interpret those freedoms to include the right to discriminate which is clearly not in the country's interest.

I would prefer to leave these questions to a personal nature. No freedom guaranteed under our Constitution mandates that everybody must agree with others. Instead, the Constitution enshrines in law that people have the right to disagree, and to speak out. But to encode a specific disagreement in law is, by definition, unconstitutional.

This goes back to the arguments at the founding of our country. Jefferson and Madison both wrote of this. In a Constitutional government, no one has the right to impose their beliefs on the country. IIRC, it was Jefferson who termed this as the tyranny of the majority. Under our Constitution, no majority has a right to impose their will if it violates the principles under our Constitution.

As usual, I go on and on. And as usual, you bring heady topics to these forums. Thanks.

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Response to longship (Reply #9)

Tue Jun 19, 2012, 05:22 PM

10. If not amended, I think it should be voted down.

I don't agree that this is not a religious freedom issue. Conscientious objectors should be protected by law, imo.

Further reading about this case sheds some light.

The student, after reviewing information on the proposed client, saw that the issue at hand revolved around a same sex relationship issue. She, reportedly, voiced her discomfort with this. One might suppose that she said something along the lines of, "I may not be able to maintain the objectivity necessary to perform this task".

She then, reportedly, asked that she have the opportunity to meet the student then the option of requesting that the case be transferred if she felt she would be an inappropriate counselor.

Now I can't (and won't) excuse her bigotry and discrimination, but she is what she is. Perhaps she was really putting the client first and recognizing that she might harm them because of her personal beliefs. In that case, she would be doing the right thing, from a medical perspective.

Should she have been dismissed from the program? I wouldn't want her in my program, but that's not the question here, imo. Should everyone who has religious beliefs that would prohibit them from doing certain things (abortion being the strongest example, imo) be disallowed from doing anything in a field where this one thing is also done?

I can't really engage with you on founding father matters, as my knowledge in this area is limited.

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Response to cbayer (Reply #10)

Thu Jun 21, 2012, 07:36 PM

12. "Conscientious objectors should be protected by law, imo." No they shouldn't.

Unless we are talking about these people being drafted in the jobs they are performing, then you would have an argument, but if you can't or won't do the job you were hired to do, then you should be fired.

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Response to cbayer (Reply #1)

Thu Jun 21, 2012, 07:34 PM

11. Screw that, if you let them have conscientious objection, then I should too...

I work in health care too, but on the back end, I can determine whether you can get affordable prescriptions or not. My conscience tells me to approve all rejections on prescriptions all the fucking time, but if I did, I would be fired for not following the rules of the insurance plans we contract with. Why should they be exempted and not me?

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Response to daaron (Original post)

Tue Jun 19, 2012, 04:01 PM

8. A Counselor’s Convictions Put Her Profession on Trial

Published: February 3, 2012

In 2009, Julea Ward, a teacher and an evangelical Christian, was studying for a master’s degree in counseling at Eastern Michigan University in Ypsilanti. As part of her training, she was required to treat clients, and she expressed her reluctance to work with any who were in same-sex relationships. A professor, heeding Ms. Ward’s wishes, referred a gay client to another counselor.

That seemingly simple request became a problem for Ms. Ward when the university expelled her for having made it. Ms. Ward sued, and her case raises the question of whether a counselor’s religious convictions can disqualify her from the profession.

A federal court dismissed Ms. Ward’s claim of religious discrimination. But on Jan. 27, the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit ordered the lower court to rehear the case, finding that Eastern Michigan “cannot point to any written policy that barred Ward from requesting this referral.”

According to the Sixth Circuit decision, written by Judge Jeffrey S. Sutton, Ms. Ward counseled her first two clients without incident. But when she “reviewed the file of the third client, she noticed he sought counseling about a same-sex relationship.” Ms. Ward asked her faculty supervisor, Yvonne Callaway, “(1) whether she should meet with the client and refer him only if it became necessary — only if the counseling session required Ward to affirm the client’s same-sex relationship — or (2) whether the school should reassign the client from the outset.” ...


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Response to daaron (Original post)

Thu Jun 21, 2012, 09:10 PM

13. To me, health care is up there with police and fire.


Firemen have been letting people's homes burn down, sure, because they didn't pay their bill. But not because they're gay, or atheist, or living in sin, or smoking pot, etc. We would never tolerate our police or fire officials selectively helping people based on their personal religious convictions. Why would we tolerate it from health professionals, including mental health?

There is already plenty of room for conscientious objectors to get exemptions in most states - not least of all by getting jobs with religious institutions, instead of trying to apply their doctrines in the secular world. These are the choices that medical professionals need to make BEFORE they've got somebody on the table.

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