Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Playing God

Yawning Bread has an excellent post on fundamentalism and its (detrimental) effect on Singapore. Appealing to the only true sensitive spot on the government body, he illustrates how fundamentalism's influence is counteractive and undermines policies intended to spur the Singaporean economy. Specifically, Christian fundamentalism and its overrepresentation in positions of power.

This isn't going to be a post about fundamentalism, Christianity, or demographically representative elected parliaments. It's just a little story that occured in NUS. However, I'm going to issue a disclaimer anyway, because I'm just so Singaporean that way, so "I dunno anything but jus my opinion ok", "just saying only, not serious" and oh yes, I have Christian friends.

(I do. And Christian relatives. Some of these Christians believe that even suggesting that Jesus Christ looked like a dark-haired man of Semitic descent is blasphemy - how can Jesus look like a terrorist?? - while others go to church every Sunday, read the Bible before bed, and simultaneously believe that it's none of their bloo- blessed business if gay people want to get married. But yeah, saying that I have Christian friends shouldn't be taken as proof that I'm not-anti-Christian, or that I don't have my own prejudices, it just means that I have Christian friends who managed to overlook my flaws. God bless 'em.)

So I have a friend, who knows a boy. And by knows a boy, I mean it in the Biblical sense. As in she knows him. Frequently. She kinda liked him, you know how these things are.

As it turns out, there was this one time Mr Durex sprung a leak. So like any sensible girl, she headed to get Plan B, also known as the morning after pill. In Singapore, you need a prescription for it, so she headed for the NUS clinic. Yes, the NUS clinic does provide them. The doctors will discuss a birth control pill scheme with you if you want, and various other options available to you. It's part of the same reason why condoms are cheaper at the NUS Co-op - because while the NUS halls of residence are great ways to get graduates to hook up and hopefully one day marry and produce graduate children, well - NUS doesn't want them to actually produce children just yet.

She goes in, and she gets a doctor - young, personable, male, around maybe three years older than she was. She explains her dilemma, condom broke, yeah, so could she get the pill that prevents an fertilised egg from taking root in her womb and causing her trouble some 18 years down the road when it starts wanting to borrow the car?



"No. I won't prescribe this. It goes against my beliefs."


"Look, I've been in this world awhile." He leans forward, fatherly fashion. "I've done a lot of wrong in my life, and I don't want to add to it."

He leans back, and as he does so, a tiny crucifix pendant slides past his open, neatly pressed shirt collar. "You'll thank me one day, and I hope you use this to rethink your attitude to.. certain things in life."

My friend gave up on him, and went off. Since she was sensible, she also knew that the pregnancy chances were pretty low for that particular day, so she got on with life. Never reported him.

I wish she had.

Because what just happened here was that a doctor, sworn to the health of the patient, told her that he didn't want to prescribe her the morning after pill, because his religion said no. His interpretation of his religion said that contraception was bad. He believed that his beliefs superceded any of her own wishes. He believed that because he believed that it was wrong, he was right to punish her. He all but called her a slut, because pre-marital sex was wrong. In his belief.

And because of his belief, she might get pregnant. She might have to face the prospect of an abortion, of an invasive procedure that is traumatising to the woman on the receiving end. She will have to make the choice that no woman wants to have to make.

Of course, if she gets a doctor who believes that women shouldn't have abortions because it goes against their beliefs, then problem solved.

But the bottomline is this - because he believed it was wrong, she lost control of what happens to her own body. She lost the choice. He believed that it was wrong of her to have sex, so guess what? He gets to punish her.

To what extent does a doctor get to deny treatment to a patient because they personally don't agree with it? Can a Hindu doctor refuse to hand out medication derived from cows?

If the medication was potentially harmful, that would be a marginally acceptable reason. But it isn't. The morning after pill has been proven, time and again to have no harmful side effects. Studies that "proved" otherwise, were found to have been sponsered by the Christian Right in America, and were denounced by leading medical journalists.

Maybe you'd like to think that I was exaggerrating things. After all, one doctor, right? Yes, it would be easy to point to him and say, oh, fundie, you always get a few of those hahahahah.

Except that in the US, there have been hundreds of cases of pharmacists refusing to sell birth control pills to women.

I've only dealt with one way he punished her, and judged her. Luckily for her, she wanted the morning after pill because of mostly wholesome activities. What if it hadn't?

There's another name for the morning pill - the anti-pregnancy pill, used in the cases of rape.

What if my friend had been raped the night before, and for reasons of her own, didn't want to go to the police? Raped - by a stranger, by someone she knew, by her own father.

And she tries to deal with life the best way she can, and tries to avoid at least one consequence - that of being pregnant with her rapist's baby. So she goes to the NUS clinic, and that same doctor tells her, "Oh you slut. I'm Christian, we don't believe in contraception. Nope, not giving you the pill. If you get pregnant, well praise the Lord!"

Because that's what he just did.

And that's my story. It happens to be true, and I didn't make it up. I know who the doctor is, but I have no intention of naming him. It happened awhile ago, and there's nothing to be done. I don't even consider him representative of fundamentalist doctors as a whole.

So I suppose that it's not that important. After all, there are other doctors around, so as long as you can do it within the timeframe of 2 days or less, you or your girlfriend or your sister or your godsis or your cousin can get the pill. Sure, she'll be a tad traumatised, what with being called a slut for getting raped and all, but hey, at least she got a pill.

I wonder what will happen if that doctor ever reaches political office?


At 12:39 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

hah.. sounds like some a.loke fella.

At 11:24 am, Blogger lbandit said...

It is sad. Most fundamentalists so often get into moral high grounds condemning others as "not taking responsibility".

Little do they realise that taking the morning-after pill or adopting plan A (A for abortion) is in fact taking responsibility.

What is irresponsible are the people who dish out "Take responsibility for your own actions", which is a lazy answer to a complicated problem, since most of the time, the 'responsibility' (and other problems) does not concern the morally high grounded person.

At 5:16 pm, Blogger Jayce said...

It's disheartening to hear such stories, as doctors, they should not judge their patients and definitely not deny treatment.

My mum's gynecologist is a Catholic and he do not believe in abortion. But instead of denying my mum of the operation, he referred her to an another doctor who was willing to operate on her.

That should be the proper conduct of doctors.

At 10:55 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Little do they realise that taking the morning-after pill or adopting plan A (A for abortion) is in fact taking responsibility."

Actually when 'fundies' say 'take responsibility,' more often than not, they actually mean 'bear the consequences' of your actions. A possible occurance of not taking the pill is in fact pregnancy.

While its true that the pill negates a pregnancy, it doesn't negate the spiritual/emotional consequences of sexual intercourse in the eyes of a Christian.

my 2 cents.

At 4:14 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

you shld get your facts right. catholics are NOT the same as christians.


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