In the very first episode of Mad Men, Peggy Olson goes to the gynecologist seeking a prescription for the pill. Watching the scene, I cringed as the doctor grills Peggy about why she would want the contraceptive pills if she were not married. He says: "As a doctor we'd like to think that putting a woman in this situation isn't going to turn her into some sort of strumpet." Although he gave her the prescription, he tells Peggy he will take her off the medicine if she "abuses" it.
If you're thinking: thank goodness I don't live in the 1960s when doctors were allowed to pass judgment on our sex lives, think again! A recent USA Today story explains how doctors are using conscience clauses to object to the pill as well as to abortion. One doctor in San Antonio told the paper that the pill would not protect her patient from the "emotional trauma from multiple partners" or sexually transmitted diseases. She said: "I could not ethically give that type of medication to a single woman." Wow. This modern doctor goes even further than the one featured on Mad Men!
The Bush administration enacted an ambitious conscience clause that says that hospitals receiving federal money cannot refuse to hire nurses or doctors who morally object to abortion or even certain forms of birth control. These regulations, which could limit access to contraception for women who rely on public clinics or those who live in rural areas, have yet to be rolled back by President Obama as promised. What do you think about doctors who withhold contraception from women because of moral objections?