BIDLACK | Medical students have no ‘right’ to reject vax COVID | Opinion
As is often the case, I sat down to write my Friday column and was faced with too many interesting stories about Colorado politics to write, so I’ll have to exercise some self-discipline. …) and only talk about one story.
Just kidding… (ed: sigh)
The first story I want to talk about is the ongoing selective outrage of the modern GOP. A CoPo cover story noted that a bipartisan legislative committee declined, along partisan lines, to seek a formal audit of Gov. Jared Polis’ personal finances. It looks like a letter was sent earlier this month by GOP State Senator Jerry Sonnenberg asking that the Office of the State Auditor take a look at Polis’ business ventures, just in case he signs any bills that impact the stocks that he owns.
There are quite a few ironies in Sonnenberg’s request. Somehow, in the weeks leading up to a gubernatorial election, he innocently decided to send his letter? I’m sure he’ll claim that the timing had nothing to do with the election (and the apparent Polis lead) and that he only wanted listeners to take a look, just to be sure. Polis has not, according to the story, placed his business interests in a trust (which he probably should have) and therefore any action taken by our Governor is apparently suspicious.
If there is a governor in the United States that the GOP should to love is Polis. Since the GOP is the party of big business, they should to like the government, which has shown remarkable business acumen and is therefore really, really rich. But, since Polis made this “choice” about his lifestyle (you know, being a loving husband and father), you can’t see the GOP loving him in any way, even if he is a great businessman.
Also, I’m willing to take Sonnenberg’s letter more seriously if he can show me where he publicly condemned former President Donald Trump for refusing to put his alleged billions of dollars in a trust. Show me where, for example, he condemned Trump’s use of his own hotel in DC to house foreign delegations that put money straight into Trump’s pocket, while he dealt with policies that had a direct impact on these countries. Show me any outrage at Trump over one of those much more massive financial decisions and I’ll take another look at a partisan pre-election letter. A quick internet search for “Sonnenberg condemns Trump” returns exactly zero matches.
But I’m not going to talk about that.
Instead, I’ll talk about another CoPo story, in which the 10th Circuit Court is considering a case brought against the UC School of Medicine over that school’s vaccination mandate. It seems that a dozen or more medical students – future doctors — do not want to be vaccinated against COVID because of their religious beliefs. A few staff members are also parties to the lawsuit. They argue that the warrant would force them to violate their religious beliefs.
Now, I’m sure these students are sincere. But I don’t care. They are there, let me repeat it, medicine School. I won’t get into their bizarre reasoning. Vaccines do not contain aborted fetal cells. Please read the article for all the details, but more fundamentally, your religious views do not entitle you to be free from any repercussions of those beliefs, when belief turns into action.
I know that if I was hospitalized with, say, cancer, and my treatments had made me immunocompromised, I wouldn’t want to have to constantly worry if the medical student or staff member who walks into my room could be a COVID spreader. Their “religious freedom” does not override my right, I don’t know, to stay alive.
In the early 1980s, when I was on my first Air Force assignment as an ICBM launch officer (the “finger on the button” guys), I was heading on high alert to one of the sites , knowing that it was unlikely, yet possible, that I would be called upon to launch my missiles that day and therefore be directly responsible for the deaths of millions of people. I took this responsibility very seriously.
But one of my squadron mates came to think about things differently. He made it all the way through missile school and into active aircrew status, but then apparently he began to have qualms about the implications of our work. He eventually decided he couldn’t “turn the keys” (the act of actually throwing) and so was removed not only from ICBM duty, but from the Air Force entirely. He then became a Catholic priest and I hope he found peace.
The fact is, of course, that his decision not to be able to do the most vital part of his job has not This means the Air Force had to modify its duty to avoid offending its religious sensibilities. He entered the Air Force freely, and when he couldn’t do his duty, he left. He did not ask for an exception to launching missiles under a religious exemption.
If you want to be a doctor, it seems to me quite reasonable that you should not be a vector of disease yourself. And these vaccines are only part of the vaccination program that medical professionals (and us in the military – let me tell you sometimes how much a typhoid vaccine hurts) sign up for. These aspiring doctors say their religious views should be respected. I do not agree. If, say, they claimed that their religious views prevented them from treating people of a particular religion, would we agree with that? What if they said as an ER doctor they wouldn’t treat a rape victim because she was dressed immodestly? The examples are countless.
Listen, if you want to be a truck driver, you have to learn how to drive a truck safely. If you want to become an electrician, you need to know which wiring plans are useful and which could injure people or cause a fire. And if you’re an ICBM launch officer, you have to be ready to launch the damn missiles.
As someone on military medicine since 1980 (and still to this day, as a retiree), I don’t want to have to worry about my doctor deciding that a key health rule isn’t for him. If these students and staff truly feel that their religious beliefs make them unable to get vaccinated, so be it. There are many, many open jobs out there where they can be “free”. But if you want to rock the stethoscope, you need to be vaccinated.
It is not your choice to put others at risk to feel religiously free.
Hal Bidlack is a retired political science professor and retired Air Force Lt. Col. who taught for more than 17 years at the US Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs.