The Medical Multiverse


Medical clinics are coalescing around religious principles and openly declaring doctors' aversion to birth control, reports The Washington Post:

Proponents say the practices allow doctors to avoid conflicts with patients who want services the practitioners find objectionable, as well as to provide care that conforms with many patients' own values. The approach, they say, provides an alternative to mainstream medicine's reliance on drugs and devices that, they argue, carry side effects and negatively affect couples' relationships.

You have to work pretty hard to see this as problematic. Provided doctors are open about the limits of the advice they're prepared to dispense, women on the pill can avoid a sermon and woman who object to birth control can avoid a condescending lecture about why they should be pill-popping. (And it'd be best if women could avoid conflict altogether and get the stuff over the counter.) But apparently we should worry:

"Welcome to the era of balkanized medicine," said R. Alta Charo, a bioethicist at the University of Wisconsin at Madison. "We've had this for years with religious hospitals. What's happening now is it's drifting down to the level of individual practitioners and small group practices. It essentially creates a parallel world of medicine."

Like, I dunno, alternative medicine? Even the most vocal proponents of a single-payer system don't hype the resultant lack of choice as a benefit. Anyone who has ever asked for a second opinion can understand that variation among individual practitioners is a good thing.