Doctors and nurses in the United Kingdom who object to the use of the so-called “morning after” pill are now ineligible for specialist diplomas in sexual and reproductive health as well as for full membership in the Faculty of Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare, according to a recent report in The Telegraph. The Faculty is a branch of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists. While the diplomas are important qualifications for nurses, they are essential for doctors who want to specialize in the field.
Medical professionals in the United States also face discrimination which could result in similar guidelines by credentialing agencies, according to Dr. Gene Rudd, senior vice president of the Christian Medical & Dental Associations. In 2007, the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology stated that failure to adhere to the ethical opinions of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists could be grounds for denial of certification.
According to the College guidelines, healthcare providers with moral or religious objections to abortion still are ethically required to assist patients who want an abortion to obtain one. The guidelines go so far as to suggest that a doctor in a rural setting who does not wish to perform abortions should either have referral sources in place or should move to an area where there is an abortionist nearby, Rudd said. He believes this could be a stepping stone toward academic and state licensing boards denying credentials to doctors who refuse to perform abortions or prescribe emergency contraception.
“If you lose the right to refuse to do something your conscience says is not acceptable, any authority can come in and force you to do something against your will,” Rudd said.
Cases of discrimination against those holding Christian values in the healthcare industry are not rare exceptions. According to Rudd, 40 percent of the members of the Christian Medical Association say they, or a colleague, have had their right of conscience violated.
The Christian Medical Association website lists stories of medical professionals faced with making a choice between standing for their beliefs or losing their jobs or status. For instance, a malpractice insurance carrier told Dr. Vicki Duncan of Sonoma County, Calif., in the late 90s that if she refused to perform an intrauterine insemination for a lesbian couple but did so for a married, heterosexual couple, she would likely be sued and they would not provide coverage.
In New Jersey, nurse Fe Vinoya told the association that in October 2011, hospital managers told surgery nurses they must train and assist abortion patients or face termination. Issues also abound in pharmacies: Last July, Rite-Aid corporation issued a policy that requires all employees to accommodate the sale of the morning-after pill to customers, regardless of age.
“This is a power battle,” Rudd said. “It is a struggle for the heart and soul of our country.”