Doctors are the new slaves

I don’t write about politics too much, because the sheer greed, incompetence and selfishness endemic to much of the profession tends to infuriate me too much, but this is too easy to pass up.

Kentucky senator Rand Paul asks: If health care is a right, does that make doctors slaves?

Let the absolute lack of logic in that question sink in for a little bit. Keep in mind here that Rand Paul is one of the potential contenders for the Republican presidential nomination for the 2012 elections. Cry a little for the future of the US.

Look, it’s not possible, in our current legal system, to sell yourself into indentured servitude. If you don’t want to be a doctor and be compensated at an above-average rate to do a job–just a job!–then you can quit. To equate “providing an essential service voluntarily” with “slavery” is to trivialize not only the tragic history of slavery within your own country, but also the very real existence of slavery in less-well-off countries around the world.

One of the basic responsibilities of the state is to provide for the security of its people. Does that mean that the officers in your constantly expanding police force are slaves? Does that mean that the soldiers in your voluntary military waging billion-dollar wars across the world are slaves?

If you want to argue that health care, the basic physical well-being of your citizens, is no longer a right, then you might as well dissolve your state. If you think that you’re better off without government interference, feel free to go off into a volcanic rock in the middle of the ocean and start your own anarchic empire. But please leave the rights of the sane people alone.

(Never mind that even revolutions must be bureaucratized in some form to be sustainable, but…hey, we don’t need those high-falutin’ sociologists anyway, right?)


Paul also asked why community health centers offer family planning services when Planned Parenthood offers the same type of services. There’s so much packed into this one question that I’m not even sure where to begin.

First off, the Republicans voted to remove federal funding of Planned Parenthood because it was “too aggressive on abortion”, even though only approximately 2% of its activities are actually abortion related. If you do just a little bit of digging, you’ll see why the religious fundamentalist stance on abortion doesn’t actually have much to do with preserving life and maintaining the best interests of the child so much as punishing women for having sex for pleasure.

(In short: if you’re concerned about killing fetuses being akin to murder, maybe you should also be concerned about welfare for orphanages and single mothers, sex education so unwanted pregnancies don’t happen, and the threats of violence against abortion providers, hmm?)

Abortion is illegal in a lot of states in the US, so in many places, the issue of Planned Parenthood offering abortion is already a non-issue, especially as abortion-providers come under so much personal attack anyway. So let’s take abortion off the table, and focus only on the aspect of family planning that has to do with things like testing for sexual health and contraception.

Let’s be clear: taking contraceptive options off the table isn’t going to stop people from having sex. It’s been proven time and time again that if you reduce abortion rates by improving sexual education and access to contraception, not by pretending sex doesn’t exist and/or that only evil people do it. Taking contraceptive options off the table just means that people going to be less safe about sex, nothing more.

Not only have Republicans removed funding for the best resource for scientific and objective information about sex and pregnancy, but now they’re arguing that this component of public health shouldn’t be public at all… in other words, that family planning shouldn’t be a concern for the health of adults.

In other words, that sex isn’t an active component of many people’s lives, and that sex should only occur for the sake of procreation.

That is, of course, the fundamentalist view of looking at the issue of sex. The Pope certainly thinks you shouldn’t use contraception of any sort. But come on, the United States was founded on a principle of separation of Church and State. I realize that at this point the US barely even maintains a semblance of this facade, but when 1/4 of the country simply doesn’t buy your Christian principles, how can you in good conscience impose your religious views on policy decisions that will averse affect those other 75 million people? Especially when allowing certain activities don’t harm you in any way: no one’s forcing you to have abortions.

Christians might say that they don’t want their tax-dollars to pay for fundamentally non-Christian activities, but… that’s not really how a collective representation works, right. Non-smokers can’t say that they refuse to fund lung cancer research. People with a clean bill of health can’t refuse to fund diabetes research. Why? Because it’s short-sighted and stupid. It’s basically saying “fuck you, got mine“. I’m healthy, why should I care about my neighbour’s lack of health insurance?

Well, you may be employed/healthy/happy now, but you might not be always like that, and you probably haven’t always been like that. You’ve benefited from the state in the past, so you’re in no moral to deny those benefits to other people simply because they might not apply to you at that specific point in time.

The point of coming together as a nation isn’t so the government can do your specific bidding, but so that the quality of life of everyone in the nation is improved collectively. Otherwise, why not remain in a state of nature?

Also, might I point out that contraception has been linked positively to economic development in too many studies to count? Are you honestly trying to mire the advancement of your country?

But I’m probably preaching to the choir at this point.


One thought on “Doctors are the new slaves

  1. Ryan says:

    Brilliant! This is really the jarring kind of commentary that political discourse in a democratic society needs Jenny, so kudos for undoing just a little of the “sheer greed, incompetence and selfishness”.

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