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Some Doctors Object to the Pill on Moral Grounds

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?

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Join The Conversation
HollyJRockNRoll HollyJRockNRoll 6 years
I think these doctors are horrible and would not go to them. If you are old enough to get birth control, you are old enough to know when you are being advised by a quack!
ECULeah ECULeah 7 years
Someone told me a joke when talking about this topic a few years ago. It was basically about a vegan Buddhist who got a job at a sandwich shop and refused to make sandwiches with anything that didn't agree with his religious beliefs. Instead he told the customers how they were morally wrong. I think the point he was trying to make was, why even pursue a career where you know that you may have to do things that you object to? Just to force your beliefs on other people? It doesn't make much sense.
imLissy imLissy 7 years
I think as long as there is someone else there to write a prescription or perform an abortion, the doctors shouldn't be forced to do something they're uncomfortable with. But I also think it's fair for hospitals to refuse to hire someone based on whether or not they would perform their job. If they can only have one doctor there, they're kinda screwed. I don't know how you could stop doctors from passing judgment. How do you tell a patient they need to lose weight without it sounding judgmental? They should really keep their noses out of our sex lives though. When I told my gyno I slept with my boyfriend after three months she told me, well, if you're going to sleep with every guy after three months, then you're going to have a lot of partners. We're getting married in January. And when I told her he was 24, while I was getting the HPV vaccine, she says, "Oh, well, you probably already have HPV, but this will protect against the other kinds." I never went back to her. She's not there anymore though, she's on TV now.
Autumns_Elegy Autumns_Elegy 7 years
If my doc had said he wouldn't give me the prescription because he was afraid I'd turn into a "Strumpet" I'd give him the finger, a pamphlet on condoms and take my business elsewhere. It boils my blood to think that doctors judge patients on what meds they ask for. Especially because HBC is a common treatment for heavy periods.
Janine22 Janine22 7 years
Honestly? Reading information like this once again makes me so thankful to be a Canadian. Laws like this would never be put into place in Canada because the large majority of Canadians would never agree to it, nor would the large majority of Canadians ever vote for a party which supported laws like this. Birth control can not legally be refused by any doctor in Canada. I believe that laws like this which are in place in the U.S contribute to the ridiculously high levels of teen pregnancy. Canada in contrast, does not have abstinence only education or limited access to birth control and as a result has a low rate of teen pregnancy in comparison with the U.S.
totygoliguez totygoliguez 7 years
I understand that in some circumstances doctors can't go against their beliefs,but doctors shouldn't judge their patients, they are there to threat illnesses not judge, if they like judging, then medicine is not for them. I think that their jobs is to cure patients, in this case of gynecologist, meet their needs. I don't go to a doctor to tell me how should a live my life, I go there for him or her to cure me. Regardless of what their opinion is they have an obligation with their patients, and they should respect it.
GMarie GMarie 7 years
I think it's fine for a doctor to stand by his or her morals and opt not to do something, but it's NOT okay to push that on the patient. There's no call to be telling someone they're dirty or evil. Just refer the patient on to another doctor.
Ac2366 Ac2366 7 years
In my office we have refused non-emergency treatment to patients on moral grounds. As far as I know it's legal as long as you document it in the patients chart. Patients have the right to seek treatment elsewhere if they don't agree with a proposed treatment plan as well. You just have to find a doctor that's right for you. I remember going to my gynecologist to talk about going on birth control and I had barely made a peep before I had 3 months worth of free samples of the pill in my lap.
sarah-lynn sarah-lynn 7 years
While I do agree that nobody should be forced to do something that they find morally unacceptable, it seems like these situations come up more often than just in regards to dispensing the pill. The whole point of being a doctor is to do what is best for other people, not yourself, and if this were the situation, I would be looking for a new physician who does not put their beliefs before mine. I am appalled, Acorn, that I doctor would say that to you, and IMO, if they have to refer to a penis as a "thing", they probably should not be in any medical profession.
Keke84 Keke84 7 years
I think that if a doctor feels through their religion that they are killing a life by performing an abortion and that obviously goes against their Hippocratic Oath, then they are well within their rights to refuse to perform such an operation. However, the patient is well within their rights to seek out another physician.
runningesq runningesq 7 years
I wrote a paper in law school on a similar topic: pharmacists refusing to dispense oral contraceptives. It's an interesting argument: First Amend. (religion) versus right to medical care.
gigly_grl gigly_grl 7 years
If a Doctor doesn't feel right performing abortions they simply do not pursue that specialty or work where they are expected to perform that proceedure. If a Doctor withholds birth control they are FORCING their beliefs on someone else and I find that horribly disgusting and UNETHICAL in itself. Doctors are suppose to help, not judge. Unless there is a medical reason why someone should not be prescribed birth control they have no right to deny them.
mix-tape mix-tape 7 years
I think doctors and pharmacists have the right to morally object to prescribing anything they feel wrong. Most of us can just go to another doctor, but what about those who are stuck in small towns who can't simply drive down the street and pick another one? They are withheld the right to birth control or whatever else a doctor or pharmacist might find morally wrong. This is a problem with Walmart (Plan B prescription) but I still believe it's within their right to deny people that service.
Camarogirl67 Camarogirl67 7 years
WAY weird. Having never seen Mad Men, I rented on Netflix and watched the first episode this morning! But back to the subject. What would happen if most doctors felt this way? Leaving women with more restricted access to birth control and abortion? It's their little sneak attack - they are anti-choice and against contraception, but if the laws won't change, we'll just stop prescribing these things.
tiffsniff tiffsniff 7 years
The hospitals should absolutely have the right to prohibit such doctors. The doctors are entitled to their beliefs - I myself practice abstinence. But with that comes the risk that their businesses may suffer. It's up to them to hold their beliefs, and stick to their guns, but it's up to us (as consumers) as to whether we want to be treated by someone who would withhold medication on moral grounds.
sourcherry sourcherry 7 years
After reading other comments, I'm torn. I wouldn't say that a doctor should be forced to perform an abortion if it is against his beliefs, so I guess I can't say he should have to prescribe the pill when asked to, either... But there has to a line as well. A doctor can't refuse to give a patient all the meds or procedures he feels like, as to force the patient to go in the direction he wants...
AujahAcorn AujahAcorn 7 years
When I was 17 my long time Dr asked me if I was sexually active.... I said "yes" and she told me I was unholy along with telling me "its the same as his thing in you" when I said the pap smear hurt..... Not right in any way. and yes, she said "thing" when talking about a penis.
Yogaforlife Yogaforlife 7 years
I would find another doctor too. I would like to know how a physician can diagnose future "emotional" trauma (esp. from multiple partners)? What if the person needed birth control because of dysmentia (sp?) or endometriosis? Would they still refuse to prescribe B.C. because it could lead to "emotional" trauma from multiple partners. Not everyone goes on B.C. to prevent pregnancy. If my doctor said that to me - I'd make sure to post reviews of them online so that other people are aware that the doctor is passing this kind of judgment.
mamasitamalita mamasitamalita 7 years
agreeing with SKG & Chouette -- physicians have the right to dispense advice as well as prescriptions at their discretion -- as a patient, you have the right to disagree with their advice and find someone else.
medenginer medenginer 7 years
It would be time for me to find a different physician that was in agreement with my beliefs and understands my needs. If I were a physician I would be more ashamed not providing treatment/medication when it's easy justified and needed than prescribing birth control. Doctors are no more morally superior than anybody else and they shouldn't pass judgement. If I wanted a lecture from one I would attend a class. Physicians can offer options but it's the patient that decides in what direction their care goes.
Choco-cat Choco-cat 7 years
I am completely disgusted by the doctors who withhold contraception on moral grounds.
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