Friday, June 22, 2007

I'd be better off on a soapbox

I am so on my soapbox this afternoon.

THIS is what caused it.

The Hippocratic Oath is a rite of passage for most medical students.  It reads as follows:

    I swear by Apollo Physician and Asclepius and Hygieia and Panaceia and all     the gods and goddesses, making them my witnesses, that I will fulfill according     to my ability and judgment this oath and this covenant:
    To hold him who has taught me this art as equal to my parents and to live my     life in partnership with him, and if he is in need of money to give him a share of     mine, and to regard his offspring as equal to my brothers in male lineage and         to   teach them this art - if they desire to learn it - without fee and covenant; to     give a share of precepts and oral instruction and all the other learning to my         sons and to the sons of him who has instructed me and to pupils who have         signed the covenant and have taken an oath according to the medical law, but     no one else.
    I will apply dietetic measures for the benefit of the sick according to my ability     and judgment; I will keep them from harm and injustice.
    I will neither give a deadly drug to anybody who asked for it, nor will I make a     suggestion to this effect.  In purity and holiness I will guard my life and my art.
    I will not use the knife, not even on sufferers from stone, but will withdraw in         favor of such men as are engaged in this work.
    Whatever houses I may visit, I will come for the benefit of the sick, remaining     free of all intentional injustice, of all mischief and in particular of sexual relations     with both female and male persons, be they free or slaves.
    What I may see or hear in the course of the treatment or even outside of the         treatment in regard to the life of men, which on no account one must spread         abroad, I will keep to myself, holding such things shameful to be spoken about.
    If I fulfill this oath and do not violate it, may it be granted to me to enjoy life         and art, being honored with fame among all men for all time to come; if I             transgress it and swear falsely, may the opposite of all this be my lot.
In other words: people who take the Hippocratic Oath state that they are willing to keep the health and well-being of the patient at the forefront of what they are doing.
Right.  Which means that refusal to treat someone based on your personal religious beliefs, in turn potentially putting a patient in severe or life-threatening risk, is NOT in the best interest of the client.
The trauma associated with a rape is more than enough for any woman.  But to be humilated at the doctor's office at the hands of a holier-than-thou doctor who won't prescribe the morning after pill (EC) is completely uncalled for.  Or how about the woman who was told to GO HOME with an ECTOPIC pregnancy, which has ZERO chance of survival and EVERY chance of severely harmin the mother, and to come back when she had an infection or the fallopian tube had ruptured, because then the "morals" and "ethics" of the Catholic hospital could be assuaged.  But to treat the ectopic pregnancy alone was to be contrued as an abortion. I'm sorry...what?? The "morals" and "ethics"?  WHAT morals and ethics?  By intentionally putting a woman in harms' way, by refusing to treat someone that is legitimately in need of care--that's a gross breach of "morals" and "ethics" in my book.
(Not to mention the Hippocratic oath...)
I'm not going to touch the abortion debate, because, though most people know where I stand on that particular issue, it's not what I'm on my soapbox about.  Though I can preach and preach about it all day long, I can and do see both sides of the issue and can see where the line can be drawn. 
When it comes down to birth control...and I'm not referring to the still-somewhat-controversial EC, but your everyday "pill" is, in all 50 states, a legal and acceptable choice for a woman to make.  I can understand that those from the Catholic persuasion choose not to take it.  But regardless of your personal beliefs, a woman should never be denied access to contraceptives.  Regardless of your own personal choices, a woman has the right to choose whether or not she wants to have children. (I know, this is on a very slippery slope toward the abortion talk.  But...NO.) It is not your place, my place, or her doctor's place to decide her religious beliefs nor stand in judgment of her choices.
If your religious background and beliefs stands between you and your patient, you are in the wrong profession.  If you cannot do what is obviously necessary, or if your religion won't allow you to treat a patient to the best of your ability, join a religious order.  But don't endanger women, many of whom naively believe that they're getting the utmost in care and treatment, when in reality they're only getting half of the story.
What it essentially boils down to is, and I quote: It's okay to discriminate against someone, so long as it's for religious reasons.

Apparently, we've backslid so far that we're back to our witch-hunting, stake-burning Puritanical roots...and then some.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

drink, drank, drunk

This morning on the Today show, this story was mentioned.
A two second synopsis: should kids be allowed to drink at home under the supervision and guidance of their parents? Or should parents who let their kids drink be punished and possibly serve jail time?

I have a problem with the idea of parents being thrown in jail for doing what, in my opinion, is considered to be doing the right thing. If kids are going to drink anyway...and ask any high school student, and they'll mostly affirm that conclusion...wouldn't "being responsible"mean keeping them from drinking and driving? From putting themselves...and their potentially dangerous situations?

The current legislation regarding underage drinking is one of the most detrimental things we could do for today's kids. To go from a "zero tolerance" to "anything goes" is doing more harm than letting kids be accustomed to alcohol. To say that 21 is a magic age when kids are suddenly prepared to indulge in what, until this point, has been the 'forbidden fruit,' is irresponsible at best and dangerous at worst. Drinking and driving, date rape, and alcohol poisoning are only a few of the pitfalls.

It seems to make more sense to me to allow kids to be around alcohol, to drink with their parents, to not treat alcohol as some forbidden temptation, Anyone who has ever been told that they can't have something knows that that only serves to increase temptation. Have wine with dinner, champagne on holidays. Let kids drink in moderation under their parents' supervision. Don't treat alcohol as some forbidden that can't be touched until 21. If kids drink at their parent's home, take their keys, keep an eye on them, and know that they're not drinking and driving. If they're going to do it anyway...and they smart about it.

Don't put parents trying to be responsible in jail. Put the irresponsible ones who let their kids drink and drive and hit someone in jail.