Back in the days when I used to spend a lot of time in bars listening to drunken arguments, I came to the conclusion that Americans believe they have an inherent legal right to do whatever the hell they want. This latest round of legal insanity only reinforces my belief. The scary thing is, do we know for sure she won't win?
A nurse in Florida does not want to prescribe people birth control, but wanted to work at a family health center where prescribing people birth control is a job requirement. After not getting the job on the grounds of refusing to do the job, the woman is now suing for alleged discrimination. Meanwhile, a writer in New York is about to pass out from exasperation over the absurdity of this claim. (That writer is me.)
Sara Hellwege is a member of the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists who believes that birth control can “cause the death of a human embryo.” As such, she is able to “counsel women regarding all forms of contraception,” but not prescribe it “unless pathology exists,” which is exactly what she told the director of human resources at Tampa Family Health Centers. She then inquired about available positions as a laborist or antepartum nurse.
The director responded with a polite emailinforming her that no such positions were available, and that her stated refusal to meet the requirements of the position of certified nurse-midwife would be a barrier to her moving forward with the application process.
Hellwege’s complaint against the medical center alleges that she was “told she could not apply for the positions of certified nurse-midwife by Tampa Family Health Centers [...] explicitly based on her religious beliefs and moral convictions in opposition to prescribing certain drugs that she believes can cause the death of a human embryo.”
Now I’m not the hiring director at this medical center, but if I were, I would question the willingness of a woman with self-described moral objections to contraception to “counsel” others in an unbiased and medically accurate manner about contraception. Particularly when this woman’s view — sincerely held though it may be — is that birth control “causes the death of a human embryo.” (Even putting aside the language, this is not how birth control works. There’s nothing up for debate about that.) What would medical counseling from this woman look like? I’m going to wager that it wouldn’t look so great. Would she “counsel” patients who want a prescription for birth-control pills that she viewed this choice as a moral aberration? Would she “counsel” patients who want an IUD that she believed such a device amounted to murder?