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The Alarming Trend to Deprofessionalizing Medicine


Doctors are becoming less physicians and more "service providers." Patients are now akin to customers. In Canada, this may soon require doctors to kill certain patients on demand.

This has many societal ramifications, brought up in a very good column in the LA Times about a controversy about a Catholic hospital refusing to sterilize a woman because it violates Catholic medical ethics. From "Why a Catholic Hospital Shouldn't be Obliged to do a Tubal Ligation," by Fordham University bioethics professor Charles A. Camosy:

When healthcare providers are forced by law to violate the values that make them who they are -- because of the request of customers demanding goods and services in the free market -- it signals the end of medicine as a professional practice.

It makes medicine just another exchange of goods and services, and puts patients in the role of customers, ordering whatever they want from physicians. In such a world, an orthopedic surgeon would be forced to cut off a patient's perfectly healthy leg rather than insisting that his bodily integrity identity disorder be treated instead. Someone with only months to live could order a knee replacement. And nothing could stop those who are merely "tired of life" from demanding a prescription for a deadly dose of medication.

As I have been warning about for years, that is exactly where we are heading. The jurisdiction of healthcare is expanding from purely medical issues to what I call "consumerist" services, e.g., procedures using medical means for a not strictly medical purpose, such as to fulfill lifestyle desires or enhance happiness.

But I also oppose Futile Care Theory that allows doctors to refuse wanted life-sustaining treatment. Isn't that deprofessionalization, too?

No. Life-sustaining treatment -- keeping a patient alive when that is what she wants -- is purely medical. It is not elective, but necessary to sustain life. (Hit this link for more details on the circumstances in which I think doctors should -- and should not -- be allowed to say "no.")

Camosy makes a strong appeal to allow Catholic hospitals to be Catholic:

If that [the above quote] sounds wrong to you, then you have to say there is no justification for refusing healthcare providers -- including Catholic hospitals -- the freedom as professionals to determine their own answers to these vexing questions.

If instead we single out religious hospitals and deny them this freedom, it would reveal that a very serious kind of discrimination is present in our culture. And it is the kind of discrimination that not only reveals contempt for the 1st Amendment, but also for the right of all to define and express their identity.

Here's the thing. The secularists don't think it is wrong to force doctors to participate in life-taking or religiously proscribed procedures. They want to force their utilitarian values on all of healthcare -- which is one purpose to which Obamacare is being put.

Image credit: � koszivu / Dollar Photo Club.

Cross-posted at Human Exceptionalism.