Free to deny health care: Rep. McClurkin’s bill isn’t good for Alabamians
by The Anniston Star Editorial Board
Apr 07, 2012 | 2459 views |  0 comments | 9 9 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Health care and who decides what will be done for patients is a hot topic. Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin’s charge that “death panels” would be part of what is being called “Obamacare” has been discredited. But the notion keeps coming up in various forms.

Recently, U.S. Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Saks, said he voted against President Barack Obama’s plan because it included a screening committee to “ration Medicare benefits,” when, in reality, such a committee was expressly forbidden.

However, the idea that someone or something could deny a patient a legal and perhaps lifesaving procedure persists because, in a sense, it is true.

This came home recently when Alabama lawmakers began considering a bill, sponsored by Rep. Mary Sue McClurkin, R-Indian Springs, that would give doctors and other health-care providers legal immunity for refusing to provide a health-care service that violated their conscience.

In other words, physicians would be free to deny health care to those who need it — a one person committee to ration care.

If the bill becomes law, doctors could not be sued if they refused to participate in cloning and stem-cell research, engage in sterilization or, most notably, provide abortions.

This is not the first time the bill has been introduced, but earlier versions, which included prescribing or dispensing birth control, were defeated. The birth-control provision has been removed, but while this may be appear to make it a better bill, it does not make it a good bill.

While no one wishes to force someone to violate their conscience, physicians — trained in medical schools and hospitals that are heavily subsidized by government and taxpayers — should not be allowed by the state to deny patients legal and appropriate procedures on the basis of religious beliefs.

Physicians make life-and-death decisions on a regular basis. These decisions are shaped by policies and practices endorsed by their governing medical board and by what, in a physician’s professional opinion, should be done for the patient.

It is not the role of the state Legislature to offer physicians a way to circumvent their responsibilities as healers.

This page hopes this bill will be defeated.
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