A San Diego physician says medical professionals who refuse to provide particular treatments or procedures for reasons of religion or conscience should brace themselves for major challenges ahead.
Dr. George Delgado, medical director at Culture of Life Family Services, a non-profit medical clinic that operates from a Catholic perspective, told the California Catholic Daily that operating from one’s religious perspective will become increasingly difficult for physicians.
Delgado was commenting on the case against Drs. Christine Brody and Douglas Fenton, who are being sued by a former patient who is angry that Brody would not artificially inseminate her because she is a lesbian.
Brody and Fenton are OB-Gyns at North Coast Women’s Care in Vista, California. Their case has yet to go before the state Supreme Court. In 2003, however, the Fourth District State Appeals Court ruled against the physicians.
Most doctors would have no problem doing what Brody and Fenton refused to do, said Delgado. “A lot of doctors feel that they are at the beck-and-call of the patient and operate in an amoral vacuum,” he said.
But there are physicians who have strong personal ethical frameworks, said Delgado, and these physicians are starting to run into some challenges.
“I’ve had some difficulties already and it is only going to get worse as technology advances without much in the way of moral guidelines or ethical signposts,” he told the California Catholic Daily. “Other healthcare providers, particularly pharmacists, are having the hardest time of it right now. It’s going to become a bigger and bigger problem.”
Delgado believes the Brody/Fenton case could have serious repercussions.
“This is clearly a case where a physician has responded to a request that many people would find unreasonable and unethical. These are physicians with well-formed religious, ethical and moral beliefs that may not be followed by most Americans, but most Americans would find them reasonable,” he said.
Delgado has not performed an abortion during his 16 years as a physician, but admits to once prescribing contraceptives. He resolved to stop prescribing them after reading the Church document Humanae Vitae.