Can Your Doctor Refuse to Treat You on Moral Grounds?

This is a topic I read about in a recent issue of one of my many magazines, and I can’t find the one: doctors refusing to prescribe birth control and other treatments because it conflicts with their religious beliefs.For religious reasons, I as a patient refuse certain treatments, but I was shocked to learn that doctors can say that they won’t treat me because of a religious objection. The religious side of me understands where they’re coming from, but the patient side of me doesn’t give a rat’s patootie. If you sign up to provide medical care, you have to do it. At least, that’s what I think.Check out this video from CNN Health. What do you think?

Contents © Copyright 2007 Kristen King

Share This Post:
    • Ashley

      I disagree completely. All doctor’s are required by the Hippocratic oath to provide emergency care – if your life is in danger, they must do whatever is necessary to care for you (even when they know that they will not be paid for emergency appendectomies if the patient does not have insurance). And they do. But a doctor should not be required to violate his personal morals in order to provide care that you could receive elsewhere, from another doctor.

    • gigi

      I’ve recently heard of a case where a woman was raped. when she called police, they had to arrest her due to a warrant for unpaid traffic tickets from yrs prior. While in the jail (and obviously traumatized) the nurse refused to administer the morning after pill because it was against her religion. This is ridiculous and selfish of any caretaker, doctor or nurse. It is cruel and unfair to expect a rape victim to not only have to worry about catching a disease from the monster who raped her, but also preventing a pregnancy. People who cannot have an open mind should not be in the health field.

    • http://n/a Nan

      Hello all. So what do you do when you have severe arthritis, go to a family doctor who is young and inexperienced – and she shuffles you around to twenty + tests, exams, specialists and excessive, expensive & invasive treatments, etc. and then will not give a proper and adequate pill for relief of the spasms, pain and inflammation – because, Get This – because I am abusing aspirin by taking 3 to 4 tablets , 3 or 4 times a day to take the pain off.
      If she would REPLACE the aspirin with a pill that was given at E.R. during ‘the day it started’..and worked – I would gladly give up aspirin. But until I can pass a blood test, & pee test that I have not been taking aspirin – I can’t get the right med. ?!
      So what’s she expect ya to do while you give up aspirin and still hurt ? Gee, she forgot to explain how I am feeling while I wait ? Does the bad back just miraculously be quiet because it’s her method ? Is she gonna pay my bills ? hmmmm?

      Oh help.
      I just needed to rant, and your blog came up really high in the search engine !
      Thanks a ton my angels for listening.

    • Jill


      Yesterday I was in the exam room waiting to meet my new doctor because I’m looking to get artificially inseminated. He refused to even meet me because I’m not married.

      I wouldn’t mind him following his beliefs, if he in turn wasn’t prescribing birthcontrol and helping young women or teenagers get abortions. His opinion on his religious beliefs should be accros the board. Follow it or don’t.

      He doesn’t know my personal history which has lead me to want to do this on my own. If he did, he might help me.

      I did tell the nurse that I respected his honesty, as he could have just turned me away to another doctor with out explanation.

      It is what it is right?

    • carol h

      I was seeing a doctor in NJ for 23 years. He is in a group practice with 4 or 5 other doctors. I sought out “other opinions” about 3 years ago and he dismissed me using the excuse “that I would not take my medicine” that he had prescribed 10 years ago. Is this legal?? I need to see one of the other doctors in his office who is excellent I called made the appt. as they take my ins. I had a call back that I was not allowed back per: the doctor who dismissed me! Please help as I need a kidney doctor NOW and can not go all the way to NY for treatment in pain. Tank YOU!

    • carol h

      P.S. I was scheduled for an appointment the following month after I was dismissed so I could not have been dismissed for “lack of taking my meds” also when I was dismissed I was taking the medication for 2 weeks and left with no doctor and unstable B.P. thanks to his childish attitude!! Also 3 other world renown doctors disagreed with his 23 year diagnosis!! Please help me. Thank you! Carol

    • Trish G

      Hello all!
      I have been seeing the same doctor for about two years now. She is Russian and all of the doctors, medical assistants, and secretaries are Russian as well. I have Medicaid for the time being as I have a lot of health problems and a 19 month old son so I have to work from home. Anyway. My doctor is always singling me out making me pick up written prescriptions when she can easily send them via fax, computer, or call them in. She also started doing things like not returning very important calls about my health concerns. Today, I received a letter from her stating that she was no longer going to treat me and that I need to find a new doctor within the next 30 days. She offered no explanation. I am at a total and complete loss because I take ongoing prescription medications and have existing medical problems that I’ve had for years. Can she legally do this without an explanation? What happened to the people that went into the medical field because they have a heart and want to help people. I feel like they’re all obnoxious, know it all’s that think they deserve some kind of medal and should be treated like a god because they went to medical school. Half the time, they’re GUESSING what’s wrong with you and ordering a bunch of tests because they get paid big money for that!!!! I’m sorry this is such a long rant but I am very upset. Also, I am very close to having a nursing degree and I am currently a medical assistant so I know all about the system and what they did to me was flat out WRONG! If anyone has any insight or advice It would be greatly appreciated!


    • http://none Mark

      My Niece has cleft palette. My sister has been seeing a doctor for her for a long time. However, just recently she went to see another doctor just to get a 2nd opinion. Not to change doctors. Just like most people when you are about to go into surgery. You want to ask more than one person about it because it will determine a part of your life that will always be with you. It turned out that her main doctor found out about her getting a 2nd opinion and will no longer treat her. Also, it seems that the doctor has a lot of friends because now no cleft palette specialist in the city will see her. Now my sister has to drive 300 miles to see a doctor. Is this legal?

    • Peggy Rowland

      Mark, I don’t know what the law is where you live and it would be best to consult a lawyer on this question. However, in general, a doctor has the right to refuse to treat a patient, except in emergency situations or if the reasons constitute discrimination.

      I find it odd that other doctors are refusing to see this patient! It reminds me of the Seinfeld episode when Elaine had a rash and she was black-listed by the AMA! Not trying to make light of the situation, but that’s odd. Has anyone tried asking these doctors why they don’t want to treat this patient?

    • Mark

      We are in Texas. I don’t want seinfeld. so I don’t know about that one. But, the doctor is one of the best in the city. And it turns out that he is friends with all of the other doctors. At the current moment. This is all the information I have. My sister has been very busy lately and I have not been able to talk with her.

    • Gee

      I have a two month old daughter. My husband refused to vaccinate her due to philosophical believes. The doctor tried to convince us that there is absolutely no danger of vaccines but redness and slide muscle ace at the injection side. He did not mention any other side affects and it is his duty to inform us of all danger connected to them. However, instead he was really pushy and finally he sad that if we don`t choose to vaccinate her by the time she turns 6 months old ,he will ask us to find another doctor. In the hospital web site clearly states that no treatment will be refused and that the patient has the right to make decisions that you feel are best for body and mind. Is this right and can he refuse to see us just because we choose not to vaccinate her?

    • Samantha

      there seems to be quite a lot of patient dumping going on – something new to me. I just saw a doc 2day who insisted that unless I had a mammogram, pap smear and colonoscopy (as part of the AMA guidelines for being over 50) he would refuse to see me and wouldn’t fill prescriptions for pain meds that I’ve been on for 15+ years. He was also a rude a-hole and didn’t even look at me while he typed on his computer (I felt like I was being interrogated) while he grunted out answers. I got fed up and walked out and told him he belonged in another profession. I left feeling two things – 1) is this legal of him? and 2) is this my body or his? All he had to do was note in the chart that I didn’t want to have those tests/procedures (particularly the colonoscopy at this time, as this is not something I am ready to tackle at this moment). Am I going to run into this b.s. from hereon in with every doc I see? Being romped on and denied meds for a fully diagnosed and documented medical condition? I think this is becoming a growing problem where these guys (and gals) just wave their hands at us and kick us out the door. Would love to hear more comments and feedback about it….

      • OldGal

        I’ve had the same experience, usually in a clinic that’s having cash flow problems or needs to pay for new equipment.

    • TZ

      ok, but what if one doctor dismissed you as a patient and you live in a very small town with only 2 family practices and since everyone knows everyone, the OTHER family practice will not see you either. Is it fair that a patient has to drive almost 3 hours for any type of dr. appt. simpply because every dr. in town is in cahootz???