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Demeter Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jul-16-06 08:09 AM
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A Medical Crisis of Conscience--Wa Po

Faith Drives Some To Refuse Patients Medication or Care

By Rob Stein
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, July 16, 2006; A01

Proponents of a "right of conscience" for health workers argue that there is nothing more American than protecting citizens from being forced to violate their moral and religious values. Patient advocates and others point to a deep tradition in medicine of healers having an ethical and professional responsibility to put patients first...."This issue is the San Andreas Fault of our culture," said Gene Rudd of the Christian Medical & Dental Associations. "How we decide this is going to have a long-lasting impact on our society."

The controversy is part of the larger struggle over religion's place in society, mirroring in some ways the fight over teaching alternatives to evolution in schools..."Freedom of conscience has been central to our political notions since even before the United States existed," said Loren Lomasky, a philosophy professor at the University of Virginia. "People should not be forced into doing things that they find morally odious."

"As soon as you become a licensed professional, you take on certain obligations to act like a professional, which means your patients come first," said R. Alta Charo, a bioethicist and lawyer at the University of Wisconsin at Madison. "You are not supposed to use your professional status as a vehicle for cultural conquest."....Doctors, nurses and other health-care workers who cannot find a way to fulfill their responsibilities should chose other professions, some say..."If your religious orientation is such that you can't discharge your professional responsibilities, then you shouldn't take on those responsibilities in the first place," said Ken Kipnis, a philosophy professor at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. "You should find other work."

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