Conscience clauses are parts of laws that allows various types of healthcare providers to opt out of doing any actual providing of healthcare to certain patients over whatever religious or moral qualms they may have. Normally, this is limited to such cases as pharmacists refusing to provide abortifacients (drugs that induce abortions) and nurses refusing to assist in abortion procedures. (In other words, yeap, it’s nearly always about abortions.)
While this is troubling enough as it is, further abuses can also occur, such as in this case, where a self-righteous pharmacist may have nearly killed a patient when she refused to fill out a prescription for crucial medication over fears that said patient may (or may not) have had an abortion:
A nurse practitioner at an Idaho Planned Parenthood called a local Walgreen’s pharmacy to fill a prescription for Methergine, a medicine used to prevent or control bleeding of the uterus following childbirth or an abortion. The pharmacists refused to fill the prescription unless the nurse told her whether or not the patient had an abortion. Because of patient confidentiality laws, the nurse refused to disclose that information, and asked for a referral to another pharmacy. The pharmacist hung up.
The regional Planned Parenthood branch has filed a complaint with the Idaho Board of Pharmacy over the bullheaded pharmacist’s behavior. This is a perfect example showing how conscience clauses are not only wrong on logical and ethical levels (if a chosen profession includes tasks that you find morally wrong, then for crying out loud, choose another one rather than go in half-assedly), but also when it comes to possible, if not likely, risks to patient well-being. When ideologues are allowed to choose who gets healthcare and who doesn’t based on fickle moral (or especially religious) issues, then there needs to be a serious change in who is allowed into such important positions and what legislation exists to restrict such dangerous behavior.