No Choice? No Chance.

Yesterday there was an article in the WaPo about health workers who can’t reconcile their job duties with their religious beliefs. Profiled are an ambulance driver who was fired after refusing to transport a patient for an abortion, an anesthesiologist who refuses to participate in sterilizations, an ultrasound technician who was fired for praying with a patient “to try to persuade her not to get an abortion,” a pharmacist who refused to fill a rape victim's prescription for emergency contraception, a fertility specialist who will only treat married couples using their own sperm and eggs, and a neurologist who will not work with stem cells and refuses to withhold brain-dead patients' food and fluids. The aforementioned ambulance driver has sued her employer, charging religious discrimination.

The title of the article is For Some, There Is No Choice.

This does not refer to the patients left without treatment by healthcare providers, but to the healthcare providers themselves, who “describe what amounts to a sense of siege, with the secular world increasingly demanding they capitulate to doing procedures, prescribing pills or performing tasks that they find morally reprehensible.”

Only in an environment where “freedom of religion” is deliberately misconstrued to mean “the right of a particular strand of conservative Christianity to not have to follow the rules everyone else does” could an expectation to provide legal healthcare services constitute religious discrimination. Only in this atmosphere could not being able to pick and choose which patients you want to serve, thusly redefining your entire profession on your own terms, be considered tantamount to having no choice at all.

Here’s your choice: Do what you were hired to do or get another fucking job.

This culture of victimhood among conservative Christians is ridiculous in the extreme. It is—yet again—predicated on the flawed assertions that their version of Christianity is the only version, and that it is the exclusive source from which morality can be derived. The morality of all the other Christians, all the people of other religions, and all the non-religious people who don’t have these personal issues on the job don’t figure a whit. Of course they don’t—because if they did, the barking lunatics who equate oppression with a requirement of compliance with one’s basic job description might have to face the reality that there’s not some insidious siege upon religious freedom, but instead just a minority group whose religious beliefs make them intrinsically unfit to hold positions as healthcare providers.

They want to have their cake (opposition to certain healthcare procedures) and eat it, too (be healthcare providers free to decline patients of their choosing). It just doesn’t work that way. A regional salesman for Budweiser who’s 12-stepped his way to a belief that selling alcohol is “morally reprehensible” doesn’t get paid to sit in his office doing nothing. A marketing exec for Phillip Morris who’s lost her mum to lung cancer and has a eureka moment that hawking smokes is “morally reprehensible” doesn’t get paid to sit in her office doing nothing. If you sign up to be a science teacher, you teach evolution. If you sign up to be McDonald’s manager, you sell hamburgers and fries; you don’t use your counter pulpit to recommend going home and making a salad. And if you sign up to be a healthcare provider, you bloody well provide healthcare. When your morality is inconsistent with your employer’s expectations, so long as those expectations are legal, it’s your problem and no one else’s—and it’s no one else’s responsibility to indulge your conscience.

Asking for on-the-job exemptions from primary duties based on religious beliefs is nothing less than the “special rights” conservatives are incessantly accusing the LGBT community, women, and minorities of seeking. Those groups just want baseline equality. Christians who want to use their interpretation of the Bible to rewrite their job descriptions want an inequality that caters to their personal whims. Particularly in the field of medicine, where lives depend on people who don’t hesitate, who put patients’ needs before their own desires, such a willful dereliction of duty is contemptible.

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