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Conscience exceptions are for people with a conscience

Written By: - Date published: 6:00 pm, July 14th, 2013 - 63 comments
Categories: families, feminism, health, religion, sexism - Tags: , , , , ,

The ability of doctors to refuse to provide proper healthcare if God says it’s bad is again in the spotlight, with a Blenheim GP refusing to prescribe the Pill to a patient because he decided she needed to have babies, and her views on the matter didn’t mean shit.

Oh wait, sorry, I mean his ~Catholic conscience~ wouldn’t ~allow~ him to ~interfere~ with ~God’s plan~.  And her views on the matter don’t mean shit.  Which, because patriarchy, is something we protect under law.

Sorry, Dr Joseph Lee, but as far as I’m concerned, you don’t have a fucking conscience.

People who think that they get a controlling vote in the reproductive choices of others don’t have a conscience.  People who think that their personal religious beliefs should be enforced on others – especially other who don’t share those beliefs – don’t have a conscience.

Medical professionals who advise teenagers to use the incredibly faulty “rhythm method” because it’s their “destiny” to get pregnant at 16 seriously do not have a conscience.  Medical professionals who also refuse to prescribe condoms, because their religious extremism means they’d rather their patients get sexually transmitted infections which, super-irony-alert, might harm their fertility?  Yeah, no conscience there either.

Medical professionals who say

The only circumstances in which he would prescribe the contraceptive pill would be if a woman wanted space between pregnancies, or had at least four children.

“I think they’ve already done their reproductive job”.

have no fucking conscience either.  It’s not your fucking job to assess whether or not a patient has ticked enough of God’s boxes to access healthcare, you fucking shithead.  You’re meant to be a fucking doctor.  Fucking act like one or get the fuck out.

Oh, and “lead GP” Dr Scott Cameron, who thinks it’s okay to just have a “pamphlet” advising that “some” of your staff won’t provide contraception, and thinks getting reception to “screen” patients is good enough to protect them from being bullied by your religious fanatic employees?  You don’t have a fucking conscience either, mate.  You’ve enabled a religious bully.  I hope you’re happy with yourself.

There is no conscience involved when a brave 23-year-old has to step forward and expose the underhanded, bullying shit going on at Wairau Community Clinic – except for hers.

Here’s the thing about “conscientious objection”:

Medical Council guidelines say personal beliefs should not affect the advice or treatment offered, and should not be expressed in a way that exploits a patient’s vulnerability or is likely to cause them distress.

You don’t think letting a doctor lecture a 16-year-old about how she must have babies because God says so is bullying?  You don’t think that the setting of a community clinic, which, when opened, was heralded as “[making] it easier for those people who struggle to access health care” means the people there are vulnerable?

A truly conscientious doctor would look at the patient in front of him and say, “I’m sorry, I personally don’t agree with contraception.  Here is the number of a doctor who can help you.”  A truly conscientious doctor would have a sign on the door saying “I am not available to prescribe contraception or refer for abortion services.  You can contact [number of a doctor who will].”

But this is never about real matters of conscience.  This is about bullying people, especially women, into making the choices which are approved by patriarchal religious bullshit, choices which will permanently affect their lives, choices which will – because we do not support teen parents well, we do not support unemployed parents well, we do not support working parents well – limit their options and constrain their potential.

Dr Joseph Lee wants to control women.  And Dr Scott Cameron, and everyone at the Wairau Community Clinic who supports him, are letting it happen.

That’s not fucking conscientious.  And it deserves no protection under NZ law.

~

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63 comments on “Conscience exceptions are for people with a conscience”

  1. One Anonymous Knucklehead 1

    Dr. Joseph Lee, oathbreaker.

  2. RedLogix 2

    Most doctors in this country will have pulled major muscle groups mass cringing at this doofus.

    • weka 2.1

      And yet most doctors will sit and do nothing. The medical fraternity (sic) is extremely conservative in the sense that it looks after its own, or looks the other way unless there is something so obvious that it can’t be ignored.

      • Populuxe1 2.1.1

        The Medical Council says best practice is to refer to a doctor without the moral conflict. That this didn’t immediately happen suggests that the doctor in question should be investigated

  3. red blooded 3

    Another angle – unwanted children tend to get pretty shitty lives. How does that sit with the good doctor’s conscience?

    • JK 3.1

      they don’t care about the actual LIVES of the baby and mother, its just important to them that the babies are born. And it doesn’t matter to them if they’re born into poverty or not. Nor does it matter to them if the mother dies in the course of childbirth. But of course, they WOULD like the babies to be brought up catholic ! This is a re-play of what used to happen in the 1960s, 1970s ……. sick.

  4. Rajiv 4

    QOT,

    Despite our recent differences of opinion, I completely agree with you on this one.

    It is outrageous, unprofessional and depraved of this “Doctor” to refuse any kind of contraceptives (including condoms) to people who depend on his professional services. Recommending “rhythm method” is adding insult to injury!

    Not that you’re interested or care, but I would like to add that there is nothing “Biblical” and “moral” about Catholic Church’s official position on contraceptives. Rather, it is a political matter for the Church and this is how they exert their power. Apparently, “pro-life” slogan has an emotional (and political) appeal and they exploit it to maximum.

    As another commenter said, unwanted children suffer horrors of neglectful upbringing and abuse. In countries like the Philippines Catholic ban on contraceptives has led to catastrophic population increase that cannot be sustained or fed properly.

    It is immoral to force women–and men– to produce children as if they are animals in a Catholic pen. But thankfully, such deranged and unprofessional Catholics as Dr. Lee are in minority.

    Most enlightened Catholics do not agree with the Church’s official position and openly defy it. I say Amen to that.

    • QoT 4.1

      I would like to add that there is nothing “Biblical” and “moral” about Catholic Church’s official position on contraceptives.

      Gee, Rajiv, please continue to tell me something that I, as a longtime prochoicer and lapsed/cultural Catholic, do not know anything at all about.

      • Rajiv 4.1.1

        Ms. Thorny,

        Okay, you’re a smart person and already know all of this. Fine.

        The term “lapsed Catholic” means that once you were a practicing Catholic. So maybe, as a kid you got to play with those rosary beads. I envy you at least in that.

    • mikesh 4.2

      “Not that you’re interested or care, but I would like to add that there is nothing “Biblical” and “moral” about Catholic Church’s official position on contraceptives.”

      I would think that the only method of birth control practiced in “biblical” times would have been infanticide, which I believe was widely used, not so much to get reluctant parents off the hook, but to control population growth (eg Exodus chap. 1.) However Abraham, in refraining from sacrificing his son Isaac, according to the well known account in Genesis, seems to have initiated an anti-infanticide tradition within Judaism which presumably passed into christianity, and which eventually evolved into the church’s current pro-life attitudes.

      • QoT 4.2.1

        mikesh, you have absolutely no idea what you’re talking about.

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Contraception#History
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_abortion#Prehistory_to_5th_century
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Judaism_and_abortion

        Please refrain from spouting uninformed bullshit in my comments in future.

      • Rajiv 4.2.2

        @Mikesh

        Child and human sacrifice–in order to bring about better times, better crop etc.– has been practised randomly in many historical cultures, especially non-Judeo-Christian ones. As per those cultures, the ritual killing of an odd baby or child is not considered immoral or evil, but perfectly normal for the great good of the community.

        The Old Testament mentions how the earliest Jews distinguished themselves from the contemporary child-sacrificing pagan religions and cultures.

        As for contraception, my guess is that in pre-contraception times a common method of contraception would be to align sexual activity with female’s menstrual cycle or “the rhythm method” Catholic Dr. Lee recommends to his patients.

        Another method would be coitus interreptus, that is, right before his orgasm the male pulls out and ejaculates outside (this method is widely used in many porno movies, as you would know). Interestingly, in the Bible we read that Onan did exactly that because he did not want to make babies.

        I’m sure somewhere some Pro-Procreation Catholics burn Onan’s effigies every Sunday after the Holy Mass. Maybe Dr. Lee comes from that secret Catholic cult. You never know.

  5. Visubversaviper 5

    That doctor should be registered as an agent of a foreign power. And a dickhead!

  6. emergency mike 6

    This is a quality rant, albeit on an admittedly easy target.

    “Teen pregnancy might be a girl’s “destiny”, he said, and it was certainly not as bad as same- sex marriage.”

    Laughed out loud.

    • QoT 6.1

      As many have pointed out on Twitter, surely same sex marriage can’t be that bad, as it’s almost always going to be far more effective than the rhythm method.

      • emergency mike 6.1.1

        Good point. My wife and I are using contraception as we do not wish to have a baby at this time. But we didn’t consider same sex marriage as an alternative.

  7. Rosetinted 7

    Thus sort of thing has happened in country districts where there has been no choice for the woman. A case of a bigoted, ;fine, noble, principled’ practitioner, who imposes his/her culture on her.

  8. mikesh 8

    He’s not really “putting her health at risk” by refusing her the pill. It’s sexual activity that puts her health at risk; but then that’s her choice. The doctor I think is entitled to refuse on concientious grounds. The woman can either abstain from sex or find another doctor.

    Mind you, I think he is being a bit of an idiot refusing the necessary prescription in this day and age.

    • weka 8.1

      “He’s not really “putting her health at risk” by refusing her the pill”

      True. He’s putting her health at risk by refusing to prescribe contraception, pushing his own personal beliefs on her, and not being upfront about his unwilingness to provide normal health care and referring to her to another practitioner who can give her adequate health care. Did you read the actual post?

      • Rosetinted 8.1.1

        mikesh
        It’s sexual activity that puts her health at risk; but then that’s her choice.

        You’re really amusing but stupid coming up with this. Being sexual is built into us, it’s why you and I exist – because our parents acted on these strong impulses. It is part of our bodies, our chemistry, and sometimes we push it aside, but there are side-effects of this. One is to be found in the warped aspect of the Catholic church and it’s bias against females, but the acceptance of enjoying a release of sexual emotion and feeling with boys under the priests care.

        There is something that psychologists call sublimation, and there is also displacement. If one can be so wrapped up in a particular interest or obssession or project, it can dominate the mind to the extent that sexual impulses remain absent or disregarded. There is also something called loss of libido. These are interesting because they are exceptions to the rule.

        • mikesh 8.1.1.1

          I agree that we are hardwired for sex, but that is not a rebuttal of my argument ie that it is the sex itself that causes any problems, not the withholding of a prescription. All I am saying is that the doctor is entitled to act in accordance with his conscience, even if his conscience is giving him a bum steer.

      • mikesh 8.1.2

        Yes. I read the original post and I agree he shouldn’t be lecturing her on sexual morality. I also think that if his concience wouldn’t allow him to prescribe contraception he should have referred her to another doctor. I was merely pointing out, in the interests of clear thinking, that refusing contraception does not in itself cause damage. Presumably any damage that eventuates results from the sex act itself.

        • wtl 8.1.2.1

          By that logic if my mechanic refused to fix my car brakes and instead told me to ‘drive slowly’, then it would be purely the driving that caused me to crash, not the dodgy mechanic*. You might be able to argue that from a purely causative point of view but it is so stupid it is ridiculous.

          *Edit: Not to mention that it wouldn’t have been totally wrong for me to take the mechanic’s word for it and decide that it would be safe if I drove slowly. After all, he is an expert, right?

          • mikesh 8.1.2.1.1

            This is really an inapropriate analogy. The situation would be analogous only if you knew that the brakes hadn’t been fixed. But in that case you could hardly blame the mechanic for any prang that you might have.

            • wtl 8.1.2.1.1.1

              No it is very appropriate. You seem to have a problem reading. So let me spell it out for you:

              You need your car’s brakes fixed. You go to your mechanic. He refuses to fix your brakes (maybe it is against God’s will to “defy gravity”?) and instead tells you to drive slowly (analogous to the proposing an ineffective “rhythm method”). You follow his advice (he is a mechanic after all, he knows best, right?). You crash into another car because you are unable to stop in time due to the problem with your brakes (driving slowly to stop a crash is unreliable, and so is the rhythm method to stop pregnancy). By your logic, the fault is now entirely due to driving and nothing to do with the mechanic.

              As I said, technically you could argue that the immediate event leading up to the crash was the driving. But we humans are smart enough to evaluate all the circumstances leading up to the crash, and can easily see that the mechanic did, in fact, contribute to the crash by refusing to fix your brakes.

              • mikesh

                I doubt whether any court of of law would force the mechanic to reimburse for the damage caused by the crash.

                • felix

                  Ah, I see what you mean now.

                  You mean you don’t know what an analogy is.

                • rosy

                  I doubt whether any court of of law would force the mechanic to reimburse for the damage caused by the crash”

                  There may be criminal charges if the driver wasn’t referred to some other mechanic who could fix the problem that was known to exist when it was known that it might cause a crash.

            • rosy 8.1.2.1.1.2

              You might be right if the doctor didn’t advise the rhythm method of contraception, which he does. IMO it’s a rather apt analogy.

              Lee also does not prescribe condoms, and encourages patients as young as 16 to use the rhythm method.

              And so the girl and her partner use the rhythm method, which is even less successful than usual for younger women whose menstrual patterns are not fully established. But the do this, because like the mechanic, the doctor is the expert, right?

        • Rosetinted 8.1.2.2

          mikesh
          The point that if a prescription is required and this GP is acting as a gatekeeper rather than a medical advisor about the suitability of the medication for the patient (whether it might incline her to heart problems etc.) means that the GP is acting as an agent who decisions could result in damage, which would have been avoided.

          ‘Clear thinking’ saying that avoidance of personal actions will likely avoid any effects would seem right. But living requires activity and participation and some risk. One would end up otherwise like Charles Dickens character, Miss Havisham, isolated in retreat from the rude world.

          When you go to a GP it inevitably is about something that has happened in life that caused damage. This happens while you are living life and people have to cope with various aspects of their body and its life. The wise person tries to manage these. Sexual expression has to be managed as well. But the argument of not having sex when of a reasonable age, as the only method of managing the problems that it can bring, is simplistic.

        • QoT 8.1.2.3

          One word: rape.

    • NZ Femme 8.2

      Just so you know Mikesh, if that homophobic fuckwit of a doctor refused “me” contraception, he would be putting my health at risk. Oral contraception is used to help prevent recurring ovarian cysts in some of us. And for the record, it also reduces the risk of ovarian cancer.

      • mikesh 8.2.1

        OK. But doesn’t seem to have been the case in this situation.

        • NZ Femme 8.2.1.1

          I realise that, but the doc made it clear, “…The only circumstances in which he would prescribe the contraceptive pill would be if a woman wanted space between pregnancies, or had at least four children…” I think that’s pretty cut and dry.

  9. expatriot 9

    It’s funny that all the other drugs and procedures he prescribes as part of his job are (I assumed) part of God’s plan but contraceptives most definitely are not.

    Someone so in tune with the will of God is wasted in the medical profession.

  10. Rajiv 10

    Sorry, I’m not trying to Spam the comment section, but I really wanted to Re–post my comment left on Kiwiblog’s post ( http://www.kiwiblog.co.nz/2013/07/gps_duty_is_to_their_patients.html )

    **

    There are certain issues where it would be stupid to side exclusively with “Left” or “Right”. I also find it amusing that so many “right wing” people read The Standard’s posts. I didn’t even know that it existed until a week ago. In the end, what matters is not huddling together in a political ghetto, but listening to a diversity of opinions and exercise one’s common sense.

    In my opinion that sanctimonious “Doctor’s” action was so horrendously stupid and unprofessional that it merits condemnation from all sides.

    If he believes in this anti-contraceptive thing to a degree that he would endanger his patient’s life and liberty then I suggest he should quit the medical profession and join Catholic priesthood (As a good Catholic, He must know the Church is crying out to fill vacant Priest positions).

    On the other NARROW end of the spectrum there are geniuses like Lucia Maria. I am sure Virgin Mary came into her vision lately and asked her to post that comment. But I will exercise my right to disagree and strongly object to her half-baked cuckoo theories.

    [lprent: Don’t worry about it too much. The mods will happily warn or even ban you when they think that you are doing things that are edging outside the policy.

    But it pays to just leave the brackets off links as it confuses the auto-linker. Corrected it. ]

    • felix 10.1

      Yeah cos if there’s one thing the priesthood needs it’s another patriarchal megalomaniac.

    • Rajiv 10.2

      How delightful to hear from someone who can post comments in BOLD. That’s cool.

      I think I should be fine, as long as the “mods” don’t apply the man-ban.

      Cheers.

      [QoT: Rajiv, especially given our interactions on TDB where you routinely derail, accuse me of lying, and generally act like an asshat, be on notice: on TS, *I* get direct moderating power. And that means you shouldn’t make assumptions about “being fine”, especially if you’re going to immediately insinuate that you’re being victimised because of your penis.]

      • Rajiv 10.2.1

        Hi Qot

        I do not believe in personally abusing anyone (unless they do it first.). However, I reserve the right to disagree with people’s political and personal beliefs. And I often do. On the other hand I respect their right to disagree with me.

        Thanks for your advice. And I hope you won’t feel that I’m victimizing you just because you have a vagina. That’s not my game.

        Live long and prosper.

  11. Winston Smith 11

    This sounds like something out of Father Ted

  12. If god gave Dr. Joseph Lee those ears to bear, then Dr. Joseph Lee will see to it that low income teens get unwanted babies to bear.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UAwBKjz91F0

  13. red blooded 13

    Interesting (if incensing) to her some “pro-life” addle-brain wittering on about abstinence as being the best choice for women who don’t want to have children, on Morning Report. Guess the gender of this expert on female sexual choices?

    On the plus side, I think the level of scorn and indignation aroused by this little man (Dr Lee) is a good barometer of a shift in social attitudes in recent decades. He is out of touch with all but the single-issue extremists on this one. I agree with a previous commenter that this is not a matter of Left or Right, it’s a remnant of a slowly withering patriarchy. Or at least that’s the “glass half full” view.

  14. Augustus 14

    I wonder about the scientific (medical) credentials of anyone who also professes to believe in invisible friends in the sky. It just doesn’t mix. Meaning to say I wouldn’t trust Dr Lee with my big toe.

    • Colonial Viper 14.1

      Spiritual health is a crucial part of human well being. Maori know this and the UN knows this. Prayer has been shown to lead to better health outcomes. Please catch up.

      • Populuxe1 14.1.1

        But Tariana Turia’s reasons for wanting to ‘protect’ young Maori women from Family Planning seem to be for completely different reasons…

      • Augustus 14.1.2

        Only if you believe it does…, I don’t think it would work if it’s forced down your throat.

        • weka 14.1.2.1

          You’re letting your prejudices get in the way there Augustus. Pot, kettle, black.

          • Colonial Viper 14.1.2.1.1

            Augustus seems to believe that the effects of religious and spiritual life on peoples wellbeing is down to the placebo effect, or perhaps some kind of self imposed psychological delusion.

            • weka 14.1.2.1.1.1

              I bet they also believe that they themselves don’t have any irrational beliefs ;-)

            • Psycho Milt 14.1.2.1.1.2

              Augustus seems to believe that the effects of religious and spiritual life on peoples wellbeing is down to the placebo effect, or perhaps some kind of self imposed psychological delusion.

              Is there some reason not to believe that? A plausible one with some evidence to support it, I mean.

              • weka

                Yes. Go read some psychoneurology then read from the overlaps between neuroscience and spirituality (yes, real scientists do actually think about these things and do science on them). It’s fine to not believe in god, and it’s fine to think that people who believe in god are mistaken about what is really going on (even though there is no way to prove who is right). But denigrating it as invisible friends, placebo effect, delusion is being a dog in the manger.

                • Augustus

                  I hadn’t noticed these comments, so to spare you the guessing and the betting, I think CV summed it up in a nutshell for me (14.1.2.1.1).
                  Yes, I have read about the effect of prayer on spiritual wellbeing (just then on google) and it wasn’t difficult to find rebuttals there either. “Placebo” sums up the workings quite appropriately I find.

                  I’ve also heard that “no way to prove who’s right” argument somewhere before, but lets not go there. You use reason, logic and probabilities in other contexts I notice.

                  • Colonial Viper

                    Religion and spirituality is an important component of human wellbeing. Don’t moan just because its not in your textbooks.

  15. Sable 15

    I’d be inclined to change GP’s.

    • QoT 15.1

      This is not an option for everyone, Sable. If you bother to read the post and click the helpful links provided, you’ll see there’s something of a shortage in the clinic’s area, which means for a lot of people the options are (a) see a shitbag religious extremist or (b) get no primary healthcare at all.

  16. Treetop 16

    I suppose there is a charge for the consult when the prescription is refused, I’d feel scammed.

  17. Roy 17

    Why did this doctor go into general medical practice? He must have known, before he chose that career path, that he would be asked to provide contraception. If he was really acting on conscience rather than wanting to behave as a religious bully, he would have chosen another form of medical practice.

  18. Rodel 18

    Just listened to the ‘right to life’s Kenn Orr? interviewed on the topic by a smart woman interviewer. RNZ Monday morning.
    Never heard him before. She, without much effort completely demolished him…..something like ‘God doesn’t want us to have sex for recreation….God’s plan is for sex to make women pregnant…’.
    Can’t believe such people still exist in this country and in this century with such 13th century beliefs.Maybe 12h century??
    He was nearly as obtuse as Fox News reporters.
    Well done RNZ

  19. millsy 19

    If Ms Pont wants to bonk her man without worrying about a little bundle of joy popping up 9 months later, then she should be able to. Plain and simple. A woman should be able to choose when she wants to have children, without god bothering pricks like this doctor getting in the way. For too long we have seen the likes of McCroskie, Orr, Lee, McVicar, Lucia Maria, Craig, etc petition the government to curtail our social, sexual and reproductive freedoms in the name of their 2000 year old fairy story.

    Next they will be stoning her for sleeping with her partner outside of marriage, or having a threesome, or dressing sexy, or experimenting with other women.

    Conservatives bitch and moan about muslims, yet they seem to be wanting to set up an Iran-style theocracy right here.

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