Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Doctors and discrimination

CA Supreme Court rules that doctors can't discriminate based on sexual orientation.

The key point in this decision is that the doctors had no moral or ethical objections to performing the procedure in question. In fact they performed it routinely. They simply objected to those particular patients having it. Some advocates are painting this as an infringement of a doctor's right to their own moral code. Bullshit. Under this decision, if a doctor finds artificial insemination or abortion or any procedure morally objectionable, they can refuse to perform the procedure. And they can reject certain patients based on legitimate medical grounds, eg. that that procedure would be medically harmful for that patient. What they can't do is flip-flop on moral grounds, deciding that a procedure's moral for one patient and not for another. Which to me seems reasonable. If a doctor found the procedure itself objectionable, why would they perform it for anybody? And if they don't find it objectionable, where's the problem?

Complicating matters for the doctor in this case is the fact that the doctor signed an agreement with the HMO to provide this procedure to all covered patients. The patients the doctor refused were covered by that HMO. So the doctors not only have a civil-rights problem, they've got a breach-of-contract problem.

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