Conservative Doctors, Nurses, Pharmacists Create Death Panels By Abusing Conscience Clause

Conscience is the judgment or intuition that allows human beings to distinguish right from wrong, and they are affected by social norms, principles, and religious beliefs acquired throughout a person’s lifetime. In 1973, Congress enacted conscience clauses to protect medical professionals after the Roe v. Wade decision, and since then, several iterations have surfaced to protect healthcare providers who object to birth control, stem cell research, sterilization such as vasectomies or hysterectomies, and any legal medical procedure that goes against religious dogma. There has always been fear that doctors, nurses, pharmacists, and first responders would use conscience clause protection to refuse medical care based on bigotry, and according to a lawsuit in New Jersey, those fears are not unfounded.

A gay and HIV-positive man is suing a New Jersey Catholic hospital for denying him his HIV medicine for “going against god’s will.” The court complaint says the hospital did not honor the man’s request for lifesaving medication and denied visitation rights to his sister. The hospital, Trinitas Regional Medical Center’sReverance for Lifepolicy is to “Recognize and respect the dignity and value of life in every stage and condition,” and its mission is providing “excellent, compassionate healthcare to the people and communities we serve, including those among us who are poor and vulnerable;” unless they are gay.

The man reported in his complaint that a doctor on duty asked Joao Simoes how he got HIV, and he told her “from unprotected sex.” The doctor, Susan V. Borga, closed Simoes’ medical file and asked “Is that from sex with men,” and after responding in the affirmative, she exited the room and it took three days before the hospital allowed Mr. Simoes to phone his personal physician for help getting his medication. Simoes’ doctor informed him he had already spoken to Borga and told her Mr. Simoes needed his medicine and she responded,  “You must be gay, too, if you’re his doctor,” and said “This is what he gets for going against God’s will” and hung up the phone. Simoes only got his medicine after the hospital finally allowed his sister to visit, and only because he witnessed her deliver it to the nurses’ station. The man is seeking punitive damages for discrimination and did not name Borga as a defendant in the complaint.

The decision to withhold medical treatment was not a conscience problem, it was pure bigotry against gays based on a couple of verses in the Christian bible, and it was tantamount to a judge, jury, and executioner meting out punishment for “going against god’s will.”  Punishing gays is not a new phenomenon and last week, a preacher in Kansas argued that the U.S. government should “put gay people to death” comparing gays to pedophiles and polygamists. Curtis Knapp, a Baptist  preacher said, “We punish pedophilia and we punish incest. It’s only homosexuality that is lifted out as an exemption.” When asked if people should go out and start killing gays, Knapp replied, “No, I’m saying the government should, they won’t, but they should.”

The hatred toward the gay community is not based on any laws or to protect victims, and allowing healthcare providers to withhold treatment is the dreaded death panels Sarah Palin preached about during the healthcare reform debate. In the case of the HIV-positive man in New Jersey, the panel was a doctor with a bible and it is frightening to think her hatred for homosexuals superseded her oath to heal and care for the sick. Perhaps if she had told the man her conscience would not allow her to administer lifesaving medicine and passed the patient to a real healer it would be different, but she was punishing the man for “going against god’s will” and felt comfortable telling another doctor that was her reason for withholding treatment.

The recent attempt to withhold contraception by Republicans based on moral or religious conscience grounds is further proof that Americans are being subjected to the Christian version of Sharia Law, and it portends danger for minorities, women, and gays throughout America. How long until a Mormon first responder claims resuscitating an African American accident victim goes against his moral conviction that Blacks are cursed by god, or a pharmacist refuses to dispense lifesaving medicine to a pregnant woman because they think they are seeking to abort their pregnancy? Conscience clauses are just legal cover for healthcare providers to administer biblical justice with impunity, and Republicans took it a step farther during the Blunt amendment debate by adding moral conscience to religious objections and it implies that bigotry now qualifies as a legitimate reason to withhold medical treatment whether it is birth control, CPR or lifesaving HIV medicine.

Regardless of how a doctor, nurse, pharmacist or first responder feels about homosexuality, or African Americans, or pregnant women, their religious beliefs or bigotry does not give them the right to hand down a death sentence. In March, Republicans attempted to insert a broad religious exemption into the mandate that requires most employers and health insurance companies to provide contraception coverage, and their argument was that  “It’s a moral and religious issue” according to Orin Hatch (R-UT, Mormon), and Bishop William Lori, chair of USCCB’s religious liberty committee said,  “We will not rest until the protection of conscience rights is restored.” However, when one person’s religious or moral conscience assumes power of judge, jury, and executioner, it is not religious liberty, it is a church sanctioned, one-person death panel, and in the New Jersey case, the death panel was a doctor with a bible and severe hatred for gays.


43 Replies to “Conservative Doctors, Nurses, Pharmacists Create Death Panels By Abusing Conscience Clause”

  1. This is, to use a Southernism, bumfuzzling. This doctor not only refused to treat the patient, but went out of her way to prevent anyone else from doing so. I find myself thinking of “The Nazi Doctors”, by Rober Jay Lifton. If this faction gets the upper hand, we may find ourselves with special hospitals for killing people.

  2. As for that doctor, though, I have to congratulate her on her subacuity in blatting out her bigotry and murderous intent to his physician. That’s the lawsuit and her license both. Subtler types might already have done murder; in all events, if they’re not stopped, they soon will.

  3. I have a feeling that any truly religious person who is in a position to offer help to the sick would do so.

    However I am leaning towards not including the Catholic Church as a religious organization.

    I’m also betting these people think that when I go home and pray at night that they’re going to heaven.

  4. Lifton’s book is a very gruesome read…

    However, Lifton’s thesis deals mostly with the affect of psychological “doubling” on the doctors Hitler used. The German physicians had to assume a second persona in order to do the evil deeds they were required to preform instead of being “healers”; their personal survival depended upon their ability to “shut down at work” in order to survive. Most were not there to join in the “fun” with Josef Mengele, but we’re only trying to stay alive and keep their family from being murdered by Nazis if they didn’t cooperate.

    Lifton was not on an apologist scree for these physicians (nor am I), but, I appear to be missing the connection; the doctor in this hospital case was not “following orders” from her Fuhrer…she acted-out on her own accorded.
    It is evident that she was “self-motivated” in self-absorbed righteousness. She wanted to be a hero in the eyes of her radical peers rather than a victim of coercion like the doctors under Reich control.

    Did I miss your point?

  5. So if medical professionals can deny service to anyone because of their personal behavior or who is the victim of a sexual assault because it offends their conscience, can one deny the government the money to wage war or perform executions by withholding the payment of taxes for the same reason.

  6. Assuming these accusations are true, the Doctor in question clearly violated his Hippocratic Oath and should lose his medical license. That being said, the idea that this is the treatment standard for HIV patients at Catholic Hospitals is absurd. I did rotations at Catholic Hospitals and you see HIV patients routinely. Believe it or not, there is no special HIV patient alarm bell to signal the staff priest to run in and perform an exorcism. You cannot take a single case and draw any meaningful conclusion from it. I could recite multiple cases from personal experience where an HIV patient was treated appropriately at a Catholic Hospital. There are likely many millions of other cases out there as well. It’s surprising that you can’t seem to find a single example of a Catholic institution doing any good whatsoever. Also, equating this case with conscience clause objections to abortion is a textbook non sequitur.

  7. To a degree, yes. Some of the doctors did take pride and pleasure in snuffing out “lives not worth living”. In my mind is the image of a T4 doctor, whose name may have been Pfannmüller, who (himself overweight), pulled an emaciated, expiring toddler out of bed and pointed to it as an example of how efficacious his scientifically designed starvation diet was. This was well before there was any mass induction of doctors into extermination programs. Had it not been for doctors like him, the program may not have gotten off the ground; likely it was doctors like him who designed it, and if we see it happening here, doctors like Susan Borga will have enabled it.

  8. I’d have to agree that this kind of behavior is more typical of a blue-nosed Calvinist than of any of the Catholics I have ever known, roomed with, or worked with. I have had the privilege of working with priests, nuns, and laypeople who gave their last ounce for the wretched and oppressed. The late Fr. Gerard Jean-Juste actually put his life on the line for them. I had the privilege of working with him on behalf of clients who were suffering discrimination and facing deportation because they had AIDS, and no distinction was made as to how they had contracted it.

  9. Should someone who has abused alcohol for 50+ years be entitled to a liver transplant?
    Should a smoker get a lung transplant or even chemo for his lung cancer?
    Should a New Yorker who drinks large sugared drinks be allowed to get diabetic meds?
    Should a person who practices risky sexual behavior be treated for a sexually transmitted disease?

    Finally, in any of the above situations, who makes the treatment determination?

  10. Charlie, I don’t know where you’re coming from. The number of lawfully obtained transplants is finite, and there may be reason to restrict them to young patients. All the others deserve treatment regardless.

  11. So, people who are sick because of engaging in risky behavior are entitled to treatment(unless they are elderly and in need of a transplant).

    Question: If the government is providing the treatment ala universal healthcare or a social medical plan, should money that healthy tax payers pay into the system be used to assent to the risky behaviors by paying for the outcomes?

  12. 12-yr-old “accidentally” shoots 3-yr-old sibling because parents have unsecured guns in the home (true story). Continuing with your irrational train of thought, Charlie, does the 3-yr-old deserve treatment? How about the cost of incarcerating the 12-yr-old because it wasn’t an “accidental” shooting? How about a 5-month-old fetus that was born 4 months too early and has numerous birth defects? Really, Charlie, you think we’re all not paying more car insurance because people tailgate and speed and cause horrific accidents? You wanna play god, Charlie? I suspect your omnipotent powers would be more generous when it comes to providing Viagra.

    “The government ala universal healthcare” now protects me from being discriminated against by insurance companies because I have a “preexisting condition” – thanks for asking, Charlie, I was hit from behind because I was engaging in the “risky” behavior of driving a car. Gee, Charlie, I guess I shouldn’t have been treated, by your flawed reasoning.

  13. There is no reason to get angry or to make unkind comments. I personally don’t consider the smoking of a cigarette or engaging in risky sexual activity the same as driving a car to work but if you do, that’s cool. You are free to feel that way. But, to be mean spirited is the same, in my mind, as being intolerant.

  14. Nobody lives with utter prudence; nor do you, and since you have speciously misquoted me as saying the elderly do not deserve transplants, I know you are coming from bullshit.

    Vital organs are in short supply, and until we learn to clone them, the life of a recipient means the death of a donor. For this reason, unless we want to further a black market in murder, we need to triage recipients.

    We insure each other. I don’t know your habits, but hard hearts lead to hard arteries. I am willing to insure you nonetheless. I am active, reasonably good-spirited…and I like ice cream. Abstention from extreme sports might be a reasonable condition. A perfect lifestyle is not.

  15. My point is simply this – No matter what system is charged with providing healthcare,someone has to make the decision as to who will be treated and for what. That decision might be everyone for anything or it might depend on a system of triage or it might be a system of who can pay for treatment. In all these cases there is an arbiter of treatment.

    If you want to look at auto insurance, if you have three speeding tickets, your rate or premium will be higher because your driving puts you at greater risk. Smokers generally pay higher rates for life insurance for the same reason, risky behavior. But for some reason, in the area of healthcare that is unreasonable. Smokers, the sexually promiscuous, habitual drinkers and substance abusers, consumers of fatty sugary diets should have to pay much higher premiums since their behavior will incur higher healthcare cost. Cover preexisting conditions, but at a higher rate since they will surely reap from the system.

    If and when government runs the healthcare system, a person’s tax rate should be a function of his high/low risk behavior as it relates to health as well as his income. The recipient of the benefit should pay for his own risk.

  16. I am sorry that you got angry. I shouldn’t have misunderstood you. I thought you were saying that the elderly were not entitled to organ transplants since there were a limited number. My bad. There is really no reason to be mean spirited or to use profanity. I was hoping for a civil discussion on the merits of the question. I will remain tolerant if you will.

  17. the 3-yr-old gunshot victim, Charlie?

    the 4-mo-preterm infant?

    Driving a vehicle is not risky in your judgment. Too bad health insurance companies don’t see it your way, Charlie, well, that is until the recent passage of the ACA. They don’t, er, didn’t particularly care how or why a person got cancer or lost a limb, they only cared that it was “preexisting” and therefore “denied” coverage.

    Mean spirited is a healthcare insurance corporation getting between a physician and his/her patients by denying care; unless of course, you happen to be able to pay a few hundred thousand -> million dollar hospital bill out of pocket. I believe that we have a moral obligation to see to the healthcare needs of everyone to the very best of our ability. We, the ever vainglorious “USA #1!” claim to have “the best” healthcare system in the world. Where do we rank internationally, Charlie? And why? Because some people buy into the immoral falsehoods lobbied by the very corporations that would turn their back on you the day you exceed the limitations of your policy.

    Do you see healthcare as a privilege, Charlie?

  18. DARVO??
    I simply wanted to discuss the decisions made in providing health care – You used profanity and indicated my hard heartedness. This led me to assume you were angry and those comments were thusly mean spirited. If they were not, I gain apologize for misunderstanding you.
    Not a DARVO

  19. Insurance companies are a business. They have to make money to provide jobs and to pay their employees. They are no different from Starbucks who will discontinue an item when it fails to produce profit. Why sell orange latte when no one buys it? Or if people do buy it and the price of orange juice goes to $100 then they will have to charge more for it because it costs them more to make.

    If I insure you knowing that you have diabetes, then I already know you will be filing claims. You will need meds, testing supplies, regular Dr. visits not to mention the long term effects of the disease. If I realize that I cannot charge you a reasonable premium that will allow you your treatment and provide me a profit, then I cannot insure you. It is up to you to find a less expensive alternative for insurance or to pay for your treatment. If the free market is working as it should and there is competition for your business, the alternative will be there. That is how free enterprise betters the system for everybody

  20. I see you know damned well what DARVO is. It’s been said to you a lot, hasn’t it? And you can cut out the Uriah Heep act. Everybody figured him out, too.

  21. Charlie, jackasses like you are a dime a dozen. You know how I can tell the type? When they find out I’m disabled, the first question out of their mouth is “What did you do to become that way?”

    Guess what… I did nothing – it was all in the decisions made by other people. I’ll give you a hint – a two to four year old boy isn’t allowed to make many decisions, especially about the environment where he lives.

    Other than that, I think I’m not going to tell that bit of personal history.

    Do you REALLY think everything is the fault of the sufferer? What about people born with congenital defects? What about the responsibilities of the big corporations, who use some pretty vicious psychology to get people to buy products (let’s say cold drinks filled with sugar), even though those products end up destroying their health? REALLY, whose fault is that?

    What about people whose health is bad so they cannot work and are poor… are you going to deny them any life and future? Maybe the government or the corporations that the Republicans are trying so hard to protect the profits of are the ones responsible for their bad health. Maybe their health was shattered in an accident.

    Think about that. I know, independent thought is hard for nicely programmed conservatives. Try, however. You might come to a new understanding and start learning.

  22. The mortal sin at the heart and core of all other mortal sins is said to be arrogance; hard hearts, as I noted before, breed hardened arteries. It is more likely to do him harm than any other sin, as incidents of expiring in the embrace of a vacuum cleaner are really quite rare.

  23. At least these days, you can treat Gomorrah with antibiotics. Meanwhile, Uriah Sheep appears to have left the building.

  24. A comment and a question… first of all the comment.. addictions are not a matter of choice, they are a medical condition, and should be treated accordingly.. those suffering from them require treatment, and often medications.. here is a place where single payer ultimatly makes sense, as timely treatment can save a lifetime of unhealthy consequences..

    now the question..what the hell is DARVO?

  25. DARVO is an acronym for a common tactic of abusers and offenders: Deny, Attack, Reverse Victim and Offender/Oppressor. That you didn’t know it is a good sign, because it is known to only two types:
    1. People in the fields of sociology, psychology, or lawyers who deal with abusive or oppressive situations;
    2. Perpetrators who have been called on it before.

    You notice how fast Charlie recognized it? (Already, I can hear the PaTroll leaders in the boiler rooms: Never admit you recognize DARVO!)

  26. thanks for explaining that Reynardine. This is the first time I heard or saw it. Hopefully, it is the last time as well. :)

  27. Actually, Rmuse, you have seen it and heard it in action, and will continue to do so, every time a racist, plutonomist, Dominionist, misogynist, or (these days) a Republican in general, opens its mouth.

  28. I don’t understand why you have resorted to name calling. I understand that you have an opinion that is different but that is the nature of humanity. One is not a jack*ss because one merely disagrees with you. A civil discourse is necessary to allow our system to work.

  29. I recognized DARVO because I am in the field of Social Work. You are still name calling. You could make your points (which are of some merit) without it. You are by far the most intelligent poster here so I would encourage you to stay on the high road. If you have the law, argue the law; if you have the facts, argue the facts; if you have neither, attack your detractors. You have facts to argue so personal attacks weaken what you have to say.

  30. No, it’s because I’ve seen the result of people who talk just like you, and nearly died because of it.

    You are greedy and dead wrong.

  31. Yes, Uriah Sheep, we recognize you are not only skilled at fake humility and prepared to whine the minute anyone treats you with a fraction of the harshness you advocate using on others, but you are extremely good at selective stupidity. Your skill in setting up straw men is far less convincing. For whom, and how, are you “in the field of social work”? You could be writing up talking points for right-wing stink tanks, in which case you will do no real harm. I hope you do not mean you have an actual caseload of people in distress, because I pity them all their lives, however long you judge those worthy to be.

  32. “Charlie”, you claim to be in social work? God help the people you think you’re helping!!!

    I’ve seen people who talk as you do in “Social work”, the caseworker who blames every one of his or her clients for their suffering, for instance – while ignoring the very real evidence in front of his or her eyes that it was caused by corporate greed or societal-level problems.

    The worst caseworker I’ve encountered, I think was the person who was employed to teach homeless people how to get jobs and keep them. That twit was actually trying to teach homeless people to tolerate whatever mental, emotional, AND PHYSICAL ABUSE that their boss decided to throw at them in order to keep their jobs, even no benefit minimum wage jobs. They were supposed to HOPE for better treatment or something better coming along.

    Yeah, right.

    That “social worker” yelled at me when I pointed out my own evidence of abusive employers… a scar where a “Good Christian” beat me up (7 stitches to close a completely split lip) because I dared interrupt a non-business conversation about angels (regarding a minor emergency in his shop).

    That’s what people like you support, whether you know it or not.

  33. I’m sorry. Your rant made no sense. Perhaps your boss missed the point because you failed to adequately make it clearly enough or you were just too angry at him for being a Christian that your train of thought was eroded by your anger.

    I’ve been at it for 20+ years with good success so I know how communication can break down in an angry outburst. I wish you well as you seek to work through your issues.

  34. At length, Charlie, you are referring to no discernable antecedent by no determinable person. But smugness is the sin of arrogance and the sin of sloth both. While you have been sputtering nonsense, I painted and brought in a large block of cabinets. So, yes, I’d say you have a sloth problem, in addition to your monumental conceit.

  35. Indeed, most of the nazi doctors, wardens, guards and soldiers did what they had to do OR ELSE. These people, on the other hand, seem to metaphorically orgasm on doing what they think is “God’s Will.”

    If these people were to gain the upper hand in this country, they would not hesitate to go to war, or use nukes against “the infidel.” Of course, they’ll use all the US nukes, triggering a response from other countries, notably China and Russia, and humanity will go extinct. The biosphere may even be put to death!

  36. It appears that the doctor’s actual name was Borja, the Aragonés family that gave rise to the Italian Borgias. I was actually in college with a couple of them. They are brilliant, talented, the soul of courtesy to friends…and utterly stone-hearted towards those of whom they disapprove. Those who don’t stay on old estates bottling wine nonetheless often go into medicine (shudder)

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