On Saturday, a United States district judge ruled that doctors may turn away women who have had abortions and transgender patients on the basis of religious freedom.
In his verdict, Judge Reed O'Connor argued laws that would otherwise forbid gender-based discrimination require doctors “to remove the categorical exclusion of transitions and abortions (a condition they assert is a reflection of their religious beliefs and an exercise of their religion) and conduct an individualized assessment of every request for those procedures."
In other words, doctors would have to argue on an individual basis their refusal of a patient.
This requirement, O'Connor said, "imposes a burden” on doctors’ ability to exercise their religion. Read more
You’ve seen them. I’ve seen them. The story is going along so well. The character is critically wounded in a dramatic fight; they’re ‘rushed to the hospital’ (more on that later). Drama roils! Will they live? Will they die?
And then… And then the writer (screenwriters, I’m looking at you, too) pulls one of these tired, inaccurate tropes out from under the couch cushions, and you roll your eyes. They’ve Done the Dumb, again. You swear. kick your coffee table. How do they write such crap? Crap like…
Over the past week, two black female doctors have claimed that staff onboard Delta planes told them not to attend to passengers in need of medical care. OB/GYN Tamika Cross, MD wrote in a viral Facebook post that a flight attendant told her they needed “actual physicians or nurses” and then chose a white man to treat an unconscious man.
The Irretrievable Vacuum of Unhappily Never After.
Part of my hospital chaplaincy duties is to write a reflection
on how it’s going. Identities may be altered for privacy. All the writings are here.
No—it doesn’t always work out.
The storm doesn’t always pass.
There isn’t always closure.
Not everything will be all right.
I won’t know why.
There’s a moment in the hospital when our illusion of
safety is shattered and the stark reality sets in:
Things won’t change, they won’t get better, there won’t be a miracle, and there won’t be a happily ever after.
It looks like God has exited the building, and that maybe
He’s not coming back, and that we will never, ever know why this awful tragedy
had to happen.
Babies die. Spouses drop dead at thirty. Diseases take and
they take and they take. Prayers go unanswered. Drunk drivers walk free and
their victims die slowly in a fire. People die alone. Some people don’t know
who they are when they die; some people don’t have a single number they can
call. They’re cremated by the county without a trace.
I soon found that I was
having a series of tiny panic attacks over faith, more and more disorienting,
these little underground bombs that threw me into crisis and left me scrambling
After a particularly hard case where a young woman’s dad
shot her mom and then himself, I came home and tried to pick up some random
inspirational book from my bookcase. What I found inside was so unimaginably
distant and disgusting that I nearly threw it at the wall. I went through a few
more books, and words that had once comforted me were crass and trivial. I
couldn’t possibly believe that any of these authors had really suffered or seen
suffering. I’m sure they had—and that’s what I wanted to see. Their raw edges.
Not these luxurious, over-privileged travels and extra tips on mental
re-arrangement, completely removed from the wounded. I saw these first-world
tales as they really were: shallow, out-of-touch, and bereft of consequence.
I was lost in the whirlwind of malheur, the pain underneath our pain. I was struck by intrapsychic grief, from the loss of
what “could be” and would never come to pass. I was a wax thread in a
hot oven, my old beliefs dripping and frayed.
I suddenly understood the intensity of the Psalms, all the
anger and violence and whiplashes of doubt, encapsulating the moments when we
can no longer un-see this garish void of the
nether, the unreturned.
I wondered if maybe it was easier not to believe, because
believing was so dangerously painful.
Loss is a part of life, I know, and grief is
unavoidable—but I have to question the chaotic, haphazard, madness of it all. Loss
is a merciless beast that seems unaffected by prayer, by hope, by any fair set
of rules. No amount of good deeds or piety is saving your wife from that brain
bleed. The liver will fail. The transplant isn’t coming. The sepsis has gone
too far. The accident was out of nowhere.
No one is safe.
C.S. Lewis wrote, in his work about his wife’s death, “is not ‘So there’s no God after all,’ but ‘So this is what God’s
really like. Deceive yourself no longer.’”
One night I drove home, mad at God, mad as all hell, mad
about one more dead teenager whose lungs filled with fluid and drowned him, mad
about a pregnant mother who knew her baby could kill her and ended up killing
her and then died anyway, mad about a recently married man who came in talking
at the start of my shift and was dead before I clocked out. I demanded an
What do You even do, God?
I see doctors and nurses and machines—
—but what do You even do?
What’s Your plan?
Are You in control?
Do You care?
And I’m so tempted to end on a hopeful note, to leave you
with a glimmer of light.
But I can’t do that. Not all the time. I can’t do that to
you; I can’t do that to me.
There was one guy in his twenties, Brian, who had gotten
into a car accident and killed three of his friends. In a cruel twist, he was
the designated driver; he hadn’t drank at all. And even more, he didn’t have a
scratch on him.
The second I entered the room, he howled, “I killed
them, I killed them, I killed my best friends.” He balled up his fists and
struck his own forehead, yelling his friends’ names in long, anguished cries.
I sat down. I could only let him weep.
Thirty minutes passed. He then turned to me, as if it were
the first time he had seen me. His eyes were wide, and I knew he wanted me to
“Brian,” I said. “I’m sorry. I wish I had
some magic formula or the right series of words to make it better. But the
truth is … this is going to be terrible for a long, long time. You’ll feel it
the rest of your life. It will hit you in waves. You’ll be walking down the
street or turning a corner in your house, and something will remind you of your
friends. People will ask you a lot of questions. Some people might believe you,
and others are going to hate you. You might hate yourself sometimes. Everyone
will tell you how to be and how you shouldn’t be, they’ll tell you to ‘cheer up’
and 'get over it’ or 'it’ll be all right.’ Eventually, you might learn to live
inside your own head, but it’ll always be a fight. I’m telling you all this so
you won’t be too surprised. I’m trying to be honest with you, because maybe a
lot of people won’t be.”
Brian reached up to shake my hand. He shook it, hard. We
sat in silence for nearly an hour.
No more words. No
Or maybe I had to
I visited Sarah, who
had been in surgery forty-seven times, and her intestines had twisted up and
she needed another operation. She had a terminally ill child and her husband
was jobless; the insurance was going to run out for herself and her child; the
surgery was no guaranteed success. And she said, “But it’s okay, it’s
okay,” really fast, like I was a spiritual parole officer and that’s what
she wanted to say to sound like she had it together. I told her, “It’s
okay that it sucks right now,” and she laughed and said, “Actually,
yeah, it all sucks right now,”
and she let it all out and told me about every fear and worry and frustration
for over an hour. I didn’t tie the bow. I didn’t connect the dots on her pain
to a lesson.
She took my hand
and I prayed with her. We sat in more silence. When I stood to leave, maybe I
was imagining things, but some color seemed to return to her face.