Monthly Archives: January 2018

You Won’t Like It When It’s Turned On You

So the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has announced the “Formation of a new Conscience and Religious Freedom Division in the HHS Office for Civil Rights (OCR).”

The following can be found on the HHS’s website:

OCR Director Severino said, “Laws protecting religious freedom and conscience rights are just empty words on paper if they aren’t enforced. No one should be forced to choose between helping sick people and living by one’s deepest moral or religious convictions, and the new division will help guarantee that victims of unlawful discrimination find justice. For too long, governments big and small have treated conscience claims with hostility instead of protection, but change is coming and it begins here and now.”

I’m putting up that whole quote so you can see the context of how this is all being presented.  For anyone interested in protecting the Civil Rights of Americans this sounds like a good thing right?  And honestly I don’t think anyone should be forced to do anything that is truly counter to their “deepest moral or religious convictions”.

But, if your job is to provide medical treatment to other human beings and there are specific people and situations wherein you are going to experience a direct conflict between providing that medical treatment and your “deepest moral or religious convictions” then at the VERY least that limits you as a health care provider.

It seems to me that this Federal Protection means that an employer of medical personnel should now also be protected in the process of researching whether or not any potential employees have particular deeply held moral or religious beliefs that will cause them to be unable to do the job they are hired to do.  But protection for the employer does not seem to exist anywhere in this new concept of protecting religious freedom to have a job and simply refuse to do the work you’ve been hired to do.  I’m wondering if this mean Christian Scientists can now get jobs as licensed Medical Doctors and refuse to provide any kind of medical treatment other than prayer?  Will insurance groups be forced to include those Doctors in their coverage?  Will medical groups be forced to include them in their groups without knowing that is the “care” they provide?  This really does bring up some question?

Now everyone in favor of this idea is being very careful to make sure that they are not excluding anyone who might have  “…deepest held moral or religious convictions”…because you know, they are really interested in making sure no one is discriminated against as a result of their religion as promised in the Constitution.  But at the end of the day this is about a very specific group of Christians who want to use their “moral or religious convictions” to punish specific people for either just existing or for having a need for a specific treatment that they think is bad AND wanting Government protection to inflict their morality on others.  Flat out, this is about people using their religion to manifest their personal judgement on others in the most public way they possibly can so as to bring attention to their noble stand against this…well let’s be honest, they view it as sin…their noble stand against sin.  Of course they don’t seem to mind if their noble stand against sin causes someone’s death…especially if the person who dies is a woman and/or a trans person.  That’s just fine with them at the end of the day.  That apparently is not a sin or at least not a sin that bothers them all that much.

This protection also means they could declare this same need to refuse to provide services/care/emergency medical treatment to any number of people based simply on their declaration that they have “…deepest held moral or religious convictions” that are in conflict with providing those services.  You know…black people, brown people, Muslim people, people they think are sexually deviant or promiscuous, people who are Catholic, people who are Protestant, people who are Jewish, people who have no religious faith at all, people who treated them like shit in high school and will now pay like a motherfucker.  You get the picture right?

Here’s another possible example:

What if I am a practicing Pagan?  I participate in my religious community.  I have a personal practice of faith that informs my daily life.  I have many deeply held moral and religious convictions based on the breadth and depth and history of my religion.  I am also a paramedic.  I am called to an accident site.  Bad auto accident.  People are hurt, bleeding, in danger of not surviving.  One of them is clearly a Christian.  Wearing a cross and reciting Christian prayers.  I have a deeply held moral and religious conviction that Christians are the source of all evil because historically Christians have hunted, tortured and killed thousands upon thousands of Pagans.  Now in the U.S. I am VERY likely to encounter Christians in the course of my work.  But according to this HHS Division I should be protected from any form of discrimination as a result of this rather large limitation on my willingness to perform my job duties.  It seems that my employer should not be able to ask me about this possibility, if my employer finds out about my “deepest held moral or religious convictions” they cannot negatively impact my employment in any way whatsoever without serious consequences because this would be violating my civil rights.  All while that Christian person dies on the ground because critical moments were lost in getting that person treatment due to my “deepest held moral or religious convictions”.

So I stated above that I didn’t think that anyone would should be forced to perform any sort of action that is truly in conflict with their deepest held moral or religious convictions.  I stand by that, no one should be forced to violate their deepest held convictions.  I also think that if you have caveats about who you are willing to provide legal health services to then you should change your career.  Flat out.  Medicine is not the job for you.  If your “deepest held moral and religious convictions” are more important than being a healer then get the fuck out of Medicine.

Don’t like that answer…tough shit.


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Filed under Essays - Non-Fiction, Political Commentary

Some Writing and a Dance Of Joy

So I was chatting with my friend Alana last night.  I mentioned that I was trying to come up with some ideas for regular blog posts.  Mostly in an effort to get myself writing again…I said I had been super stuck.  But then I had to be more honest than that because “stuck” isn’t the right word.  I haven’t been stuck, I’ve been avoiding, I’ve just not made space or time for my writing, I’ve busied myself with other things…so naturally there has been no progress on any of my projects.  She, being a genuinely kind and generous person, commiserated with me about how that felt.  Then she asked me how I had shifted that situation in the past.  I confessed that in the past only two things had ever really had any impact on me when I get in this place of avoidance.  One was very involved and particular and required other people to just happen to offer up something that was uniquely designed for my needs.  The other was hand writing three pages a day of anything, just stream of consciousness writing.  Her response?

“Three pages it is.”

She laughed.  I laughed.

Then just as I started to make an excuse about how I couldn’t seem to make the time for this very, very small exercise I realized something that I hadn’t before…I have always thought I had to do that writing first thing in the morning.  Now the main reason for that is the same reason most people exercise in the morning.  If you do it first thing you don’t let other tasks derail you from it.  But mornings are tough for me.  They are hurried and involve a fairly long commute in my car so delaying leaving for work isn’t a good idea and the brutal truth is I’m not really a morning person.  I am already getting up as early as I can stand (which is between 5 AM and 6 AM which I really do find to be horrifying).  But it dawned on me that the power of the writing is not WHEN it’s done it’s simply that it GETS DONE.  So I admitted this to Alana and said that I was going to go home and do those damn three pages tonight.  Then she, again being just one helluva an awesome friend, said that I should tell her when I had done the pages and she would do a dance of joy in my honor.  Well I’m no fool…I am not one to turn down a dance of joy in my honor.

So I did my pages.

And they worked.  Just like I knew they would…by the second page I was thinking up plot solutions for one of my WIPs, I was finding ways to make the conflict work better and changing the relationships so that they mattered more and increased the emotional investment overall.

Then I texted Alana and told her I had written my pages.

She danced and there was more joy in the world than there had been a moment before.

I am one lucky woman.

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Filed under Essays - Non-Fiction