Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Absolutely Insane

If true, the allegations in this lawsuit (via PZ) are absolutely staggering.

A woman in New Mexico went to a local medical facility to have her IUD adjusted. Instead of doing her job, the nurse who performed the procedure "accidentally" pulled the IUD out (which caused the patient to experience "a sharp pain in her uterus similar to a very strong menstrual cramp"). Mere incompetence? Not quite:

Olona [the nurse] then stated, 'having the IUD come out was a good thing.' She asked (the plaintiff) if she wanted to hear her 'take' on the situation. Without receiving a response, Defendant Olona stated, 'I personally do not like IUDs. I feel they are a type of abortion. I don't know how you feel about abortion, but I am against them. What the IUD does is take the fertilized egg and pushes it out of the uterus.
Think about that for a second. This woman went in for a routine medical procedure, got battered, and then got lectured by some anti-choice nutter!

This is the logical end point of regulations, like the one pushed out before Duhbya left town, that would allow medical professionals to opt out of providing a legal service if it conflicted with their conscience. In other words, if the pharmacist down the street doesn't think you should be having sex, you unmarried slut you, he's under no obligation to fill your birth control prescription.

Such regulations seem incredibly problematic to me. Transfer the setting from medicine to law and try this one for size. Assume I undergo a religious conversion (it's hard to imagine, I know) and believe in my heart of hearts that personal well being and eternal salvation requires confession of sins and public repentance. If those regs applied, I could refuse to take any case to trial where I thought my client was guilty and needed to unburden their souls by pleading guilty to whatever they were charged with. In other words - I couldn't do my job. Maybe the US Attorney's office would hire me?

The medical scenarios seem similar to me. If something in your religious/ethical makeup will prevent you from fulfilling the requirements of your job, then find another line of work. That's particularly true when the job at issue - like doctor, pharmacist, or nurse - requires state licensing that effectively restricts the market of potential competitors. Vegans don't work at McDonald's and pacifists don't join the Army, after all.

That being said, the most disturbing part of this whole story is how the nurse's coworker's responded:
Defendant Olona stated, 'Everyone in the office always laughs and tells me I pull these out on purpose because I am against them, but it's not true, they accidentally come out when I tug.
Wow. Just . . . wow.

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