Academic journal article The Hastings Center Report

Walking a Fine Line. (Letters)

Academic journal article The Hastings Center Report

Walking a Fine Line. (Letters)

Article excerpt

To the Editor: As a person of faith, I appreciate the idea of being able to introduce my deepest concerns in the medical setting. Cynthia Cohen's article, "Walking a Fine Line" (HCR September-October 2001), however, is rather "thin." There is no actual case material from either the patient's or the provider's point of view. This thinness seems most obvious in the apparent assumption that patients will only know about their physician's religious/spiritual background if they specifically ask.

Like many people, my husband and I selected two of our doctors because we had gone to church with them. Ours is a fairly small town, and we know many doctors directly and indirectly from Scouts, and other community activities. We see them at the St. John's Fish Fry and the Blintz Brunch. Doctors and their families show up in the paper as they are baptized, married, bar or bat mitzvahed, receive awards for teaching Sunday School for twenty-five years or keeping a kosher kitchen for fifty, marching in the anti-abortion parade or attending the anti-war rally.

Even if we go to the medical center in the big city, the patient forms a different impression reading Dr. Francis Xavier O'Flaherty's diploma from Notre Dame from seeing Dr. Sarah Rosenbaum's from Brandeis, or Dr. John Jones's from Oral Roberts University. (That their impressions may not be accurate--Dr. Rosenbaum may be a Buddhist, for example--only adds another layer of complication.)

I hope some clinicians will continue with this work to see how it may actually work in practice.

Anne L. Haehl, Ph.D.
Lawrence, Kans.

Cynthia B. Cohen, David A. Scott, and Sondra E. Wheeler, and the Anglican Working Group in Bioethics reply:

We appreciate Ms. Haehl's interest in our article. However, she would have had us write an entirely different article. …

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