Skepchick Quickies 12.19

  • Rule shields health workers who withhold care based on beliefs – There’s an article about this law taking effect in my local paper this morning.  The state gov. is freaking out because of the possible implications of this incredibly broad and vague law.  Steve G., who sent this in, has an interesting take, though- “What would happen if skeptically-minded pharmacists start refusing to sell homeopathic products, on the grounds that selling ineffective medicine violates their moral beliefs?” Is there such a thing as a no-OTC homeopathic product, though?
  • Airborne makers paying out another $7 million for lying – They already agreed to pay $30 million in a settlement with the FTC earlier this year.  Thanks Steve.
  • The world’s not flat any more – Indexed continues to kick ass.
  • How to be an atheist ally – I love this post by Greta Christina so so much. 
  • And for Cute Animal Friday we have a Cute Animal Christmas Song video!  Okay, a little creepy with the mouths but the sax playing squirrels are pretty damn cute.
  • Spawned by yesterday’s hilarious Tree Lobster comment thread, Steve DeGroof has made a Tree Lobster skeptical comic.  It is a thing of beauty the likes of which I have never seen before.     


Amanda works in healthcare, is a loudmouthed feminist, and proud supporter of the Oxford comma.

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  1. Steve should get a special Skepchick award for his efforts. That’s fantastic.

    I’m not even going to say anything about that health care provider thing. I’m so furious about it, it would take more than a comment for me to express it.

  2. You have to love how Bush waits until the last possible second to create this new regulation, and yet religious conservatives still think he cares about them.

    I’d love to see them extend this rule to other industries… Imagine a bank CEO’s reaction when one of his workers decides that denying a loan to a high-risk applicant would violate their conscience.

    @Andrés Diplotti: I’m tempted to go to college for seven years to become a doctor, get hired by a hospital, convert to Christian Science (that religion where people refuse all medical treatment and instead pray to God to heal them) and refuse to treat absolutely anybody. I will then sit in my fancy office all day and watch the money roll in.

  3. @Jen: Yes, Steve is the awesome. :)

    The “personal belief” law is so vague that almost any type of medical personnel is covered. EMTs, medical office receptionists, etc. Can you imagine? “No, I’m sorry, it’s against my personal beliefs to schedule a gynocological exam. You might ask for birth control.”

  4. Ok see this is the thing. Every health professional is mandated to follow a certain code of ethics for that profession. If they can’t follow that code of ethics and provide treatment, they shouldn’t be that profession. Nothing to do with religion – it’s to do with professionalism and not being able to do your job. Sure, ok so it’s lawful for them to not provide services, but their regulatory bodies should just refuse to license them.

    Nice comic, Steve!

    And yay! Airborne is one of the many banes of my existence (mostly because way too many of my colleagues – who are theoretically supposed to know better – think it’s awesome).

  5. “The state gov. is freaking out because of the possible implications of this incredibly broad and vague law.”

    I think this is exactly what Bush intended with this law. It will muddy the water and make it difficult to get all kinds of things that he doesn’t agree with. You could easily have pharmacies refusing to sell condoms, much less morning-after pills, for example. A small-minded pharmacist can hide behind this law even to deny a woman birth control pills, too. I wonder if they’ll just direct women to the coat hanger aisle?

    I’m so disgusted with this underhanded, snarky chimp pushing all these garbage rules through at the last minute. I hope the incoming Administration can do something about it. Perhaps Obama can turn the tables and use signing statements? ;-)

  6. My husband mentioned that people in the industry should just start refusing to perform all sorts of random duties and say it violates their ethics. See what happens then.

    I find it interesting that they are claiming that this prevents ‘discrimination’ for two reasons. One is that they are specifically being allowed to discriminate against others. The second is that this could potentially lead to people saying they should be hired for all sorts of jobs that they are not prepared to fully execute for ‘ethical’ reasons.

    The most horrifying thing is that it really is just reiterating/requiring enforcement of laws that were already on the books from the 70s.

    What a steaming pile of dumb.

  7. Amanda, thanks for the link to the “atheist ally” post. Greta wrote a good, well-argued piece. I have tried to raise the issue of bigotry toward atheists at my church several times, but never anything formal. Her article/posting makes me think that I need to do a better job on that.

    I see nothing but disaster ahead from that stupid “religious shield” law. It’ so obviously flawed that it’s hard to know where to start critiquing it!

  8. @stacie:
    The only problem with your husband’s idea is that if your boss fires you over your refusal, you’d have to go to court to get your job and back pay. Good luck with that. Let us know how it turns out. ;-)

    Yeah, it’s a steaming pile of dumb, all right. But what should we have expected? A sudden, brilliant burst of honorable, above board behavior in his final month in office?

  9. Next thing you know Chiropractors will be able to refuse to cure cancer!!

    And those are some smart Treelobsters! They’d make for an interesting pubic infestation.

  10. And to think all this time I thought tree lobsters were just another term for pubic lice, like crotch crickets, or crabs. Next thing you know someone’s going to tell me that pickels really are bumpy, and that doesn’t refer to herpes.

  11. “Is there such a thing as a no-OTC homeopathic product, though? ”

    I don’t think so, but the “morning after pill” is OTC, yet pharmacists refuse to sell it all the time.

  12. “And those are some smart Treelobsters! They’d make for an interesting pubic infestation.”

    That makes me want to reach for a can of Raid or a baseball bat. Not sure which… :-o

  13. @marilove: Yeah, but now they have a “law” to hide behind.

    Maybe non-believing doctors can refuse to treat believers under the cover of this law, saying that their illness is merely evolution in action. Why would we want to tamper with it? ;-)

  14. @stacie:
    I’ve always wanted to ask you this:
    Why is the Easter Bunny standing on your shoulder? Or is that the Oester Bunny? Or should we just ignore him because that’s Harvey…?

  15. Ah, I understand now. Never seen one before.
    Does this mean she’s superstitious, as they are supposed to bring good luck? ;-)

  16. Actually beyond birth control pharmacists could refuse to fill prescriptions for ant-retroviral drugs because they are used to treat aids. Doctors could refuse to conduct aids tests or any kind of a test for any std. That would make your tree lobsters a little less funny. I can only hope that Adam Smith’s invisible hand of the market will drive these principal objecters into bankruptcy.

  17. “As an atheistic pharmacist/medical provider, I refuse to dispense any modern medical technology of any kind to a religious fundamentalist, as it is against my science-based beliefs.”

    “You tell everyone else to pray for God’s blessing and healing. Therefore, it would be a waste of a perfectly good, scientifically-based treatment on your sorry ass. Let’s see if your faith-based solution works for you.”


  18. Answering Amanda – Yes, because Bizarro World is actually OUR universe and not an alternate universe, there IS such a thing as prescription homeopathic medicine.

    Here’s a quote from an FDA web page:

    “However, homeopathic products are not exempt from all FDA regulations. If a homeopathic drug claims to treat a serious disease such as cancer it can be sold by prescription only. Only products sold for so-called self-limiting conditions–colds, headaches, and other minor health problems that eventually go away on their own–can be sold without a prescription (over-the-counter).”

    So, people have actually gotten formal warnings from the FDA for illegally selling prescription-only homeopathic products over the counter. (I’ll try to hurt your brain this badly no more than once per week.)

    Here’s the FDA web page. Recommended reading for all – Half informative, half infuriating:


  19. What I am interested in is can health care practitioners refuse to treat bigots? War criminals? Homophobes? Pedophiles? Accident victims? If it is God’s will that a car crashed and a person was injured, how can it be moral to try and undo what God has done?

    Muslims? If it is ok to discriminate against one religion, surely it must be even better to discriminate against all religions.

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