It Was Never About Wedding Cakes

The fight over the “right” of bakers to not bake wedding cakes for a gay couple was never about wedding cakes. It was about discrimination. It was about lunch counters. It was also a way to open the door to this:

This week, Politico reported that the agency is considering regulations that would shield health care workers from professional consequences if they discriminate against patients for “religious” or “moral” reasons.

While advocates for this policy dress it up as protecting the religious freedom of health care workers, health care and legal experts that spoke to Salon said that most health care workers already have freedom of conscience.

“The existing standard under law already requires employers to accommodate people of faith unless it imposes an undue hardship,” Louise Melling, director of the Center for Liberty at the ACLU, explained to Salon.

The ACLU has questions:

Are the exemptions being granted even as to [dispensing] information?

Are the exemptions being granted even in emergency contexts?

Are the exemptions being granted without any provision or assurance that somebody else can provide the care?

My guess is yes. Yes, health care workers could withhold medical information that goes against their “religious” beliefs. Yes, health care workers could refuse to work on an LGBTQ person in the emergency room. Yes, health care workers could walk away from a patient and not worry if someone else could treat them. After all, if they couldn’t do these things, what’s the point?

I’m waiting for the GOP bill that denies emergency room treatment to people without insurance. I’m certain that’s coming.

As most, if not all, people who object to gender confirmation care or comprehensive reproductive care tend to opt out of taking jobs in those professions, the most likely effect of a “conscience clause” would not be on clinics that specialize in these services. Instead, it would come up in situations where people show up at hospitals or clinics seeking more basic forms of care and find themselves denied because a health care provider disapproves of their existence or their personal choices. [emphasis mine]

That’s exactly what will happen. If your “religious” beliefs conflict with gender confirmation or comprehensive reproductive care you most likely won’t be working in those fields. Although, I’m waiting for a “religious” person to get a job in those areas only to refuse to do the job they applied for. We’ve seen this happen with pharmacists.

A TPM commenter asks: “So this is the office I should go to for help when I get in trouble because my sincerely held belief in the teachings of the koran lead me not to treat patients who consume alcohol or pork products? Or my buddhist commitment to nonviolence prevents me from treating members of the military or the police forces?

(Not saying adherents of those religions would actually behave in such egregious ways, albeit the religious connection would be at least as strong as that of the forced-birthers.)”

Others expand on the point:

“Where does this end? So if a firefighter is a non believer they can refuse to extinguish a fire in a church?”

Of course not, silly! Only a Mosque.



4 comments on “It Was Never About Wedding Cakes

  1. This is going to get ugly, and I think we all know the areas of the country where it will be the worst. Will be interesting to see the reaction to healthcare workers refusing care based on religion, I’m no optimist but I suspect the vast majority will be appalled and disgusted. Likewise I am sure as well the Republicans will try to allow ER’s to refuse people without insurance. Then again that would kill their famed argument about the millions who they deprive of insurance and their battle cry of “well they can go to the emergency room!”.

    • Agreed. It’s going to get ugly.

    • cassandram

      Ugly. Because what seems to be left out here are the employers. And if your employer makes it a condition of employment that you treat everybody (except in undue hardship), is the Government really going to beat up Target (say) for that? Because they’re going to want to know where the line stops. Do they have to allow a Muslim cashier to refuse to checkout a customer who has pork products in the cart?

  2. A major employer here in Delaware has a policy that you can excuse yourself from providing the service requested/needed if it conflicts with your religious beliefs ONLY IF another provider is available to fulfill the service.

    My personal belief is that if your religion prevents you from doing your job, you’re in the wrong job.

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