Maybe They Shouldn't Choose a Medical Career?

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I am all in favor of medical pluralism. If Roman Catholic hospitals, doctors, nurses, and pharmacists don't want to perform abortions, use stem cells, or provide contraception that's fine with me. On the other hand, if conventional hospitals, abortion clinics, pharmacies, and university research facilities want to do these things, they shouldn't be forced to hire people who object to these treatments and procedures on moral grounds. Unfortunately, the Bush administration's Department of Health and Human Services is apparently trying to ram just such an "anti-discrimination" employment regulation through. According to the Washington Post, the DHHS justifies promulgating the proposed new regulation on the grounds that:

"In general, the Department is concerned that the development of an environment in the health care industry that is intolerant of certain religious beliefs, ethnic and cultural traditions, and moral convictions may discourage individuals from underrepresented and diverse backgrounds from entering health care professions," the document states.

If CVS pharmacies want to refuse to hire a pharmacist who won't dispense Plan B emergency contraception because he/she thinks it's tantamount to abortion, the company should have the right to that. The would-be pharmacist should seek work elsewhere. In vitro fertilization clinics and stem cell research facilities should be allowed to discriminate against people who think the services they offer are immoral and so forth.

Whole Post article here.

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  1. Likewise, we need a law protecting women who wish to work as strippers, but have religious objections to taking off their clothes.

    Fundamentalist Christians and Muslims alike are historically underrepresented in the sex-work industry. Clearly, their freedoms are being violated.

  2. If this goes through can we force onto the government an Affirmative Action program to put a percentage of people into government jobsd who think government is the problem?

  3. In vitro fertilization clinics and stem cell research faciliitiesBusinesses should be allowed to discriminate against people who think the services they offer are immoral and so forth.

    Fixed. The editing bill will be in the mail.

  4. And remember to extend the same right to Christian hospitals who refuse to hire anyone who does not consider abortion murder.

  5. If CVS pharmacies want to refuse to hire a pharmacist who won’t dispense Plan B emergency contraception because he/she thinks it’s tantamount to abortion, the company should have the right to that.

    The proposed regulation only applies to facilities recieving federal funding. How does that affect CVS drug stores?

  6. Aside from any rights-infringements issues, the whole idea of the law seems self-contradictory. Why isn’t the “the Department…concerned that the development of an environment that is intolerant of certain religious beliefs may discourage individuals from diverse backgrounds from ” purchasing the health-case they need?
    It seems to have no problem that the contaception-refusing pharmacist is intolerant of those who wish to buy contraception. This whole conscientious-objector pharmacist phenomenon sounded so bizarre to me the first time I heard of it, and keeps making less and less sense every time it comes up.

  7. Just about every issue under the sun points to property rights. If a pharmacist is self-employed he should be able to refuse business to anyone. Work for yourself and you get to set the rules. Work for someone else and you are obliged to follow your employer’s rules or seek employment elsewhere. It’s a simple concept that, over time, has become polluted to the point of being almost unrecognizable. And yes, government overreach is to blame.

  8. It doesn’t seem unreasonable to me for a potential employer to say “we will be tolerant of your religious beliefs if you will be tolerant of the types of medical procedures we perform here and do your job the way we ask you to”. Tolerance has to go both ways.

  9. Radley, you should really take CVS out as your hypothetical example. We’ve got mom-and-pop pharmacies around here that won’t carry Plan B, but CVS actually does carry it. I realize it’s just a hypothetical, but it’s misleading. If you want to use a real example, use Fruth Pharmacy.

  10. Shit, nevermind, I misread it myself. Apologies.

  11. As a Christian Scientist, I have the right to get a job as a pharmacist and then refuse to dispense any pills to anybody; I’ll just tell the sick people to pray harder.

  12. While I agree with Ron’s philosophy, there is absolutely no hope of it being adopted within the libertarian movement, let alone the public at large.

    The right not to hire Christians? Sure! But what about the right not to hire Muslims? Or Wiccans? Or hispanics, blacks, jews, etc? Yes, libertarians will profess an ideology allowing people to believe whatever they want to beleive, but ask them if they want Christian pharmacists refusing to fill abortificant prescriptions, and many of them suddenly start calling for government intervention. “They’re interferring with my right to choooooose!”

  13. Brandybuck,

    The regulation isn’t aimed at religion, it’s aimed at beliefs commonly held by some religions, but not necessarily so. There are pro-life atheists (Nat Hentoff is a the most prominent one I know of). There are pro-choice Christians.

  14. In a lengthy preamble entitled “The Problem,” the draft argues that state laws too often coerce health-care workers into providing services they find immoral.

    http://online.wsj.com/public/article/SB121745387879898315.html?mod=blog

    But nNobody forces them to be health-care workers. If they don’t wnat to provide the service then they can find some other line of work.

  15. Brandybuck, I don’t know what libertarian movement you’re talking about, but I’ve certainly believed that employers ought to have the right to hire or not for any reason at all for years.

  16. Brandybuck,

    No one is refusing to hire christians. They are refusing to hire christians who won’t do the job they were hired for. I think it is quite consistent with libertarian principles to believe that an employer should be able to hire someone who will, you know, actually do the job they are being paid to do.

  17. Hey, I want to work for your automotive engineering firm. I have a moral objection to fossil fuel vehicles so I’ll only work on electric cars.

    What? I didn’t get the job? It’s an outrage!

    Born again Christians are the most insufferable, arrogant assholes I know. That includes the Dumbshit in Chief. You don’t like what the company sells, don’t let the door hit you in the ass.

  18. Commenters seem to think this regulation will affect private employers. It won’t. It only affects people who take federal funds–just as federal funding requires educational instituions to allow the military to conduct interviews, or to follow Title VII.

    When you take the King’s shilling, you’re stuck serving the King.

  19. robc, regarding your right to discriminate comment. When things like todays story happen I am open to the idea you and others put forth: Let buisness discriminate and get punished with shame and scorn in the open market.

    IMO this would work better if the country was more diverse. Most businesses are owned and run by one gender and one race. In certain parts of the country they could exclude vast amounts of minorities and they wouldnt have any place to work. I know I know, the minorities could move and the state itself would be punished.

    I oppose quotas, dont feel great about affirmative action outside of college apps, but think anti-discrimination laws arent such a bad thing.

  20. Commenters seem to think this regulation will affect private employers. It won’t. It only affects people who take federal funds–just as federal funding requires educational instituions to allow the military to conduct interviews, or to follow Title VII.

    Maybe not, but how many purely private medical facilities are there? Does accepting payment from medicare count as federal funds?

  21. But what if I’m a doctor in a small bible belt town, and both myself and 99% of the other residents believe that Plan B is immoral? Because I receive federal funding, I must be willing to prescribe Plan B or other birth control that I find objectionable (or face a lawsuit).

    You are all focusing on the situation where someone refuses to do the job that they are “expected” to do. It is also possible that someone could be forced to do something that they are expected NOT to do.

    The problem is not with the person who won’t perform a particular duty. It’s that federal funding creates the situation where a pharmacy is forced to hire that person. No federal funding = no problem.

  22. No one is refusing to hire christians. They are refusing to hire christians who won’t do the job they were hired for. I think it is quite consistent with libertarian principles to believe that an employer should be able to hire someone who will, you know, actually do the job they are being paid to do.

    I’m not arguing with that. I fully agree that employment is a solely private matter. Hiring or not hiring anyone for any reason at any time is perfectly fine by me. Regardless of whether they are pro-life atheists, pro-abortion Christians, or amoral opportunists.

    The point is that there is a sizable segment in the libertarian (small-l) movement that want to force pharmacists to dispense abortificants. Not in so many words, but their outrage that some pharmacists fall into that camp betrays their belief. Apparent in their world the right to an easy and convenient abortion trumps the right of private economic association.

    I have actually talked with a self-professed libertarian who stated quite clearly to me that pharmacists were a special case because they might be the only pharmacist around.

    p.s. Pretending that delivering abortificants is the primary role of pharmacists is absurd. The pharmacist definitely should make that objection known during the hiring process, but refusing to hire a competent pharmacist on just that basis is silly. It’s like not hiring a chef who’s won’t serve pate foie gras: it has absolutely no bearing his his ability to cook ten thousand different dishes.

  23. This action of the administration is foolish and unwarranted. However, that doesn’t mean the people on the other end of the debate who want to force pharmacists and hospitals to dispense contraceptives and abortifacients are right, either.

  24. “It’s like not hiring a chef who’s won’t serve pate foie gras:”

    Getting or not getting foie gras in time for dinner is NOT a life changing issue. Being able to get Plan B in time for it to work IS a life changing issue.

  25. I know someone who has had a CVS pharmacist refuse to fill her birth control prescription.

  26. A company should have the right to fire anyone who doesn’t follow the company’s policy, and that in and of its self, should be non-discrimatory.

  27. “””This action of the administration is foolish and unwarranted. However, that doesn’t mean the people on the other end of the debate who want to force pharmacists and hospitals to dispense contraceptives and abortifacients are right, either.”””

    The action of the administration is foolish. However a pharmacy owner should have the right to fire anyone who doesn’t fill a script that the owner wants filled. They are losing the company money. If it’s a mom and pop pharmacy, and mom and pop doesn’t want to, that’s different and they shouldn’t have to.

  28. The point is that there is a sizable segment in the libertarian (small-l) movement that want to force pharmacists to dispense abortificants. Not in so many words, but their outrage that some pharmacists fall into that camp betrays their belief. Apparent in their world the right to an easy and convenient abortion trumps the right of private economic association.

    It’s a bit more nuanced than that, Brandybuck. Pharmacists currently serve as the government’s gatekeepers to drugs, and, of course, protected from free-market competition by the fact that it’s illegal to obtain those drugs anywhere else.

    Cut those government ties, and I’ll happily accept individual pharmacists refusing to dispense certain drugs on religious grounds. As long as pharmacists are acting as de facto agents of the government, however…

  29. It’s like not hiring a chef who’s won’t serve pate foie gras: it has absolutely no bearing his his ability to cook ten thousand different dishes.

    That’s a bit of a faulty comparison. Birth control is a big part of prescriptions–it’s like the french fries the McDonald’s worker refuses to cook.

  30. Here’s a thorny one:

    Take a cab/taxi company regulated, but not subsidized, by a municipality. Assume that one must obtain a license from the hypothetical mucnicpality in order to own and operate a cab.

    Should the cab owner/operator be forced to pick up everybody? Suppose the owner/operator loathes latinos or negros. Why should the owner/operator be forced to pick up individuals of ethnic and racial groups he detests?

  31. Should the cab owner/operator be forced to pick up everybody? Suppose the owner/operator loathes latinos or negros. Why should the owner/operator be forced to pick up individuals of ethnic and racial groups he detests?

    No. If he works for me he goddam better.


  32. Born again Christians Militant gays are the most insufferable, arrogant assholes I know.

    The most bigoted too.

  33. Speaking of cab drivers, what ever happened with the cab drivers who wouldn’t carry blind people with seeing eye dogs? I’m a little less concerned about the guy bringing home a bottle of wine but what happened there too?

  34. If there’s one thing I’ve noticed about doctors and nurses at hospitals, it’s the lack of diversity.

    Uh huh. That’s it. They’re just really concerned about diversity.

  35. Abdul,

    If any of the pharmacy’s customers are in Medicaid, Medicare, SCHIP or the VA HMO, it receives federal funding.

  36. So much for the sociocons being friends of free enterprise…

  37. Getting or not getting foie gras in time for dinner is NOT a life changing issue. Being able to get Plan B in time for it to work IS a life changing issue.

    And that is one reason why a lot of so-called libertarians are advocating state intrusion into private economic affairs. It’s almost like they’ve never heard of the non-aggression principle. It doesn’t matter how life changing the drug is, arguing that you have the moral right to compel pharmacists to hand over drugs is not libertarian. This same attitude can be used to justify price controls on pharmaceuticals. Hell, it can used to justify full blown socialized Hillarycare.

    Here’s another wacky “libertarian” argument:

    Cut those government ties, and I’ll happily accept individual pharmacists refusing to dispense certain drugs on religious grounds. As long as pharmacists are acting as de facto agents of the government, however…

    Use one instance of government intervention to justify another! Let me play this game too: “Public school teachers are most definitely agents of the government, therefore it’s okay of the government forbids homosexual schoolteachers.” Here’s another: “Store owners collect sales taxes, and are thus de facto agents of the government, so it’s okay if we impose wage and price controls on them.”

  38. Brandy,

    You missed it completely, its not two government interventions making it right. It’s getting the gov out of regulating (drugs) in the first place. I thought that was ‘libertarian’.

    The same could be said for your examples…

  39. p.s. Pretending that delivering abortificants is the primary role of pharmacists is absurd.

    The pill is not an abortificants except in the world of idiots like Kathryn Lopez, Bill Donahue and W. I’m pretty sure that the pill makes up a significant portion of a pharmacy’s cash flow. It has everything you’d want, large addressable market, recurring revenue and the only thing that will stop demand is giving up sex, deciding to have a kid, menopause or pregnancy.

  40. Longer joe:

    Abdul, the number of health care providers, including pharmacies, who don’t take Medicare or Medicaid payment is vanishingly small. I haven’t seen the draft rule, but I would be very surprised if it didn’t include Medicare/Medicaid as the federal funding that triggers the rule; there are whole volumes of the Federal Register written on this principle. So, yeah, it sounds like this rule would apply across the board.

  41. If there’s one thing I’ve noticed about doctors and nurses at hospitals, it’s the lack of diversity.

    What with all the “FMGs” (foreign medical graduates) in our health care system, health care might be the most diverse sector in the country, as far as professionals go.

  42. “””arguing that you have the moral right to compel pharmacists to hand over drugs is not libertarian.”””

    Arguing that a company has the right to fire anyone who doesn’t provide the services the company offers is libertarian. A person does not have a right to pick and choose which task they want to perform when working for someone else. A company should have the ability to hire people that can do the job, all of the job.

    I don’t think any company has a right to tell you what you can or can’t do off the clock, on the clock is a totally different story.

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