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Conscience rights of medical providers

Any patient seeking legal and conventional medical services should expect non-judgmental, professional, medically-approved care from every person in that facility. That’s what equal treatment means, and that’s what law and policy require.

The private beliefs of any employee may required modification during their professional duties. That’s required for the delivery of consistent care and public access. Work and personal practice may sometimes be in conflict, but that’s the trade-off between service to others and service to self. If personal beliefs withstand no ambiguity, stay home and keep it to yourself.

No one should have to guess about how they’ll be treated, or delay seeking care for fear of feeling shamed or judged. All the ethics codes of all the care providers include this concept. Why should the government overrule such long-standing policies of fairness?

Shoppers for wedding cakes can expect the same neutral service, as I understand the law. When a company advertises, it welcomes all customers, and has been warned in advance about the rights of all the protected classes who may stand at the counter. Imagine your next trip to the bakery counter: the message on Grandma’s birthday cake. Can’t you say what you want, without fear of interference by the staff? That’s freedom, and it matters. A lot.

We are often called to service for the general good, which includes individuals, not just groups of people like us. That’s what makes community possible. What we learn in the process can make us stronger, kinder and more useful. Narrow partisanship hurts each of us, and hurts us all.

John Hancock


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