Friday, February 29, 2008

Imagine no religion

Imagine yourself being attended to in the ER: your blood pressure has dropped to a dangerously low level, your white blood cell count has shot through the roof, you want to say something but you're too weak to even move your lips. You slip in and out of consciousness, though at one point you distinctly hear wailing around you (sounds like your wife or daughter) and you're able to make out what looks a priest at the foot of your bed. That last bit makes your heart race, if only your body had enough strength to make it race in the first place. You would've heard the EEG go monotone but you'd already blacked out a full minute before they started CPR ... to no avail.

A week after the funeral your family finally receives the autopsy report. You succumbed to a most virulent form of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). How did you get the superbug? Well, speculation among the hospital staff has it that you probably got infected when you had your coronary bypass surgery a few weeks ago. You see ever since they started accepting female Muslims the number of surgery-related infections such as MRSA has gone up by over 400%. Does that mean these females are carriers of MRSA? Well, not exactly. The fact of the matter is that these Muslim women vehemently oppose the standard hygienic practice of scrubbing their hands and arms before entering the operating room and handling patients. Specifically, these women did not wash and scrub their forearms to rid themselves of various pathogens nor did they follow the standard practice of having bare forearms when performing and assisting in surgery. It's quite possible that one of those women had inadvertently infected you.

Now merely a psyche--a soul--being ferried by Charon across the River Styx you see your family filing a malpractice suit against the hospital. But you nearly dash across the water when you hear the judge dismiss the suit on grounds that the Muslim women were merely exercising their religious rights. The fact that it was against their religion to expose their forearms during the scrub and in the surgical theater is more than enough reason to exonerate these women and the hospital. In this age of political correctness and appeasement, religious sensibilities trumps science, rationality and patient welfare. If medical practices and procedures conflict with religion then we must respect the latter and cross our fingers the pathogens respect and spare the lives of the patients. Could you have avoided the fatal infection had you insisted on a surgical team sans Muslim women? Certainly not, for that would've definitely been construed as religious intolerance and prejudice, an offense which could very well have landed you in court!

The above is fictional, but look at how we may be inching toward such a scenario:

Medics in hospitals in at least three major English cities have refused to follow the regulations aimed at helping tackle superbugs because of their faith, it has been revealed. Women medical students at Alder Hey children's hospital in Liverpool objected to rolling up their sleeves when washing their hands and removing arm coverings in theatre, claiming it is regarded as immodest. Similar concerns were raised at Leicester University -and Sheffield University reported a case of a Muslim medic refusing to "scrub" because it left her forearms exposed.... [T]he Islamic Medical Association insisted that covering all the body in public, except the face and hands, was a basic tenet of Islam. It said: "No practising Muslim woman - doctor, medical student, nurse or patient - should be forced to bare her arms below the elbow." The new Department of Health guidance was introduced this month in a bid to restrict the spread of potentially fatal infections such as MRSA and Clostridium difficle. [link]

If religionists could have it their way, Jehovah's Witnesses would ban all blood transfusions and organ transplants, Muslims would forbid all women from exposing, scrubbing, and disinfecting their forearms, and Christian Scientists (who believe that only prayer can cure) would shut the pharmaceutical industry down, close down all medical schools, and force all doctors to switch careers.

We must not bow down to religion. Irrational beliefs, beliefs that have no foundation in reality do not deserve respect. They deserve unceasing criticism and derision.

Appeasement of Muslims, immigrant or otherwise, is not the way to go. People, whatever their creed may be, must submit to the will of secularism. No ifs, no buts. No special privileges, no special treatment.


Note: The various symptoms and other circumstances that accompany MRSA infection are just made up. The symptoms and course of the disease may not be so.

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