A couple of months ago, a physician in California who refused to perform in vitro fertilization (aka “IVF”, aka “Testtube baby”) on a lesbian was taken to court and sued for “discrimination”.

He contended that doing IVF on single women was against his religious beliefs, but lost the case on the basis of discrimination laws.

Essentially the court in this case said to the physicians: If you offer a service, you cannot discriminate just because a mom is unmarried or gay.

Now, I was a single mom by choice via adoption, and have had friends, both gay and straight, who opted for IVF as single moms when it appeared they would not marry.

Yet the California court case was disturbing, because it denied that physicians had the right to decide how to treat their patients, and denied that physicians can deny them services for social, medical or moral reasons.

In the past, a physician might refuse to do IVF or other fertility treatment if a woman has a genetic problem, mental instability, or health problem (for example, diabetes or a genetic problem in their family).

In the past, physicians often would refuse to help a mother on welfare, even if married, to get pregnant.

Similarly, in the past, many physicians would refuse to perform fertility treatment for an unmarried woman, one one who is  merely living with a boyfriend because a child is best raised in a stable environment with two parents. In the case of gays, traditional religions see such relationships as dysfunctional (since the child lacks a positive male role model) and unstable.

As in custody battles, often the real issue of drug use, promiscuity, or mental instability, but the in a world of political correctness, such things are ignored when the spouse claims religious discrimination, or gender discrimination.

I’m old enough to remember the Hippocratic oath. Being a physician was a profession, not a job, and the oath not only reminded us of our ties with physicians of the past, but of our duty to live and work under a strict ethical tradition that dates back 2500 years.

But when Roe V Wade was passed, all of a sudden the ethics of medicine were thrown out the window.

No longer was a physician a member of a guild vowed to perform his profession with honor.

Now the law said causing abortion, forbidden in the traditional oath, was now legal, and therefore ethical, and heaven help the medical student like myself who dared to say no.

The end result is that physicians are no longer members of a profession with ethics, but merely “health care providers” who perform a service for patients while making a profit for the corporation that hires them.

So is it any wonder that the mother of the octuplets is raising eyebrows.

She wanted a lot of kids, fine. Isn’t having children a “choice”?

She wanted to raise a lot of kids without a husband. Fine. Let’s not be judgemental about single motherhood by choice.

She wanted to raise a lot of kids on welfare. Fine. Let’s not punish the kids because mom is careless about getting pregnant: let the taxpayer pay for all of them to live (and of course let Grandmom do a lot of the hard work of raising the kids).

She wanted to get pregnant even though several of her kids had disabilities. Fine. Let’s not be judgemental. Let’s not advise a mother not to have kids simply because of genetic or health problems that might endanger her kids health.

She wanted to get pregnant by IVF even though she was single and had six kids and was on welfare.

Well, it’s her choice, and she paid money to the clinic, so why not?

In the past, a physician whose judgement went over the line could lose his or her license by the medical society for unethical behavior.

But times have changed.

First, the physician involved made no moral judgement, because as I noted, in modern days any physician who “discriminates” can be sued.

And now, thanks to President Obama, one more protection for physicians who feel they should follow ethical traditions has been removed: For he has removed the regulations that protect employees against being fired for religious discrimination (the reason he did so is obvious: too many Catholic and Muslim doctors and pharmacists refused to do abortions or to give out abortion pills…and hiring an alternative employee to do this costs hospitals money).

This is the end result of what progressive writes like RPSloan desire: Physicians who don’t make moral judgements at all, but follow the rules of political correctness. His LATimes editorial pontificated that “Healthcare providers should not be allowed to let faith interfere with delivering care.”

Ah, but who decides what is “care” and what is ethical? The clinic, who only wants to make money?

Or a President who wished to placate his pro choice constituents?

Or, if the US decides on government health care, will the “care” issue be decide by bureaucrats who see the bottom line, and insist denial of care is ethical since it saves the taxpayer money?

Hippocrates was not Catholic or Muslim or Hindu, but his ethics of “do no harm”, putting the welfare of the patient (not the budget) first, and refusing to kill are fairly universal, at least before modern ethics destroyed tradition in favor of “do your own thing”.

But one has to admit one thing: for all the criticism, Ms. Suleman was willing to risk her life to carry all eight children to give them life.

And the physicians and nurses who helped deliver for the babes and are caring for them deserve our highest praise.

As for taxpayer money: with all the billions being wasted by the government, a couple million more to raise her kids is beside the point.

Ms. Suleman is not the “poster child” for welfare queen, as some conservative bloggers are suggesting.

She is the poster child for modern medical ethics, where physicians are no longer moral agents working in an honorable profession, but merely another employee doing a job.


Nancy Reyes is a retired physician living in the rural Philippines. She writes medical essays at HeyDoc Xanga Blog.

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