Friday, June 20, 2008

Just do your damn job!!

I ran into the following disturbing news item yesterday:

They went to the doctor's office for an exam, but a same-sex couple said they got a lecture on lifestyle instead.

Ashleigh Haberman and Erica Schaub have made a life-long commitment to one another after getting married in Canada.

The openly lesbian couple has been together for nearly two years. They say their lifestyle and raising four children from previous relationships has its challenges, but they had never experienced discrimination, they say, until now.

"He asked who I was to her and I said, 'She's my partner,'" said Haberman.

The discussion took place at Spectrum Health South Pavilion Urgent Care Center in Grand Rapids. Schaub was there to get checked out for a lingering cold.

But instead of her symptoms, they say the doctor was more interested in the couple's relationship and how they felt about the recent California ruling allowing same-sex marriage.

"And he proceeded to give his opinion on how he felt that marriage, gay marriage, shouldn't be called a marriage because it's a religious based word, and he's a Christian, and there's no way that marriage could be considered legal in the gay sense," said Haberman.

While the couple's marriage is not legally recognized in Michigan, they say that's not the point, rather, the doctor's office is not the time nor place for a debate. They were there for an exam - not a lecture on lifestyle.

What's more disturbing were some of the comments on the page. Some have said that the doctor was in the right because of the alleged "health problems of homosexuality."

But no credible studies has ever said that the lgbt orientation is indicative of negative health problems.

Studies actually say that outside factors can lead to members of the lgbt community developing bad health choices. For instance, studies done by Drs. Elizabeth Saewyc and Robert Garafalo (talked about on this site at various times) blame homophobia for the rate of suicide amongst lgbt teens.

But more to the point of this article, the American Cancer Society have said that lesbians do have a greater risk of developing cancer. However, the group also says this is partly due to:

Many health insurance policies do not cover unmarried partners. This makes it harder for many lesbian and bisexual women to access quality health care.

Some women may not want to tell their health care providers that they are lesbian or bisexual because they don’t want discrimination to affect the quality of health care they receive.

Past negative experiences with providers may cause lesbians and bisexual women to wait too long before seeking health care. As a result, they may miss out on early detection tests and have cancers diagnosed at a later state, when the disease is more difficult to treat.

That last point is apropo to this situation.

Just like African-Americans who are less likely to trust physicians due to incidents in the past, such as the Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment, members of the lgbt community face potential danger if they cannot trust members of the medical community to do their jobs.

I only hope that the physician in question receives a serious reprimand for his breach of ethics.

The sad thing is that members of the anti-gay industry will most likely come out on the side of the physician, while at the same time exploiting the possible negative consequences of his unprofessional behavior.