What Does a Taxi Driver in the UK Have in Common with a Pharmacist in the US?
In what may or may not be seen as a victory for “One Law for All“, a Muslim taxi driver was given an official warning after refusing to transport a blind man with a guide dog. But what does that have to do with pharmacists in the US?
Abdul Hasan, a Letchworth (UK) taxi driver, responded to a call for a cab by a blind man, broadcaster Sean Dilley, who uses a guide dog. Hasan refused to take the passenger, saying he could not transport the dog for fear of “breathing in dog hairs“. Islam declares dogs “unclean”.
In something of a surprise, given the UK’s long-standing accommodationism, Hasan got his wrist firmly slapped. Seems the pendulum is swinging back.
The council gave out the [ten] penalty points and caution after accepting Mr Hasan’s explanation that he did not understand either the council’s Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Licensing Policy, the Equality Act 2010 or the meaning of the term ‘an assistance dog’.
If Mr Hasan commits a further offence in the next two years he would be called back in front of the council’s head of housing and public protection who would decide whether he is a fit and proper person to hold a licence.
Andy Godman, NHDC’s head of housing and public protection, said: “The council takes this issue very seriously and has thoroughly investigated all the legal and religious issues regarding Muslim drivers carrying assistance dogs. We hope that the penalty awarded will send a clear message that NHDC does not tolerate breaches of our policy on this matter, however we are satisfied that the case hinged on a misunderstanding on the driver’s part rather than an explicit refusal to assist a disabled person.”
Is this a victory? Perhaps. Mr. Hasan has had it made clear to him that if he wishes to perform a licensed occupation, he has to perform it whether he likes his passenger or not; whether it offends his religious sensibilities or not. If he is unwilling to perform the tasks of the job, then he is not “a fit and proper person” to hold a license.
It is quite possible, if unlikely, that Hasan didn’t understand the laws. I don’t know what the licensing requirement for taxi drivers includes in the UK, but I would imagine that an understanding of relevant laws would be part of the curriculum. Maybe it wasn’t.
Now we know for certain that Hasan understands the laws and the consequences should he choose to ignore them in the future.
So, what’s this got to do with pharmacists in the US?
This side of the pond, we don’t have so many Muslims as a percentage of the population. Shari’a law isn’t a big issue. But we’re moving away from having “one law for all” ourselves.
We see a raging battle over “conscience clauses” in health care and other areas. Pharmacists don’t want to have to dispense prescribed medications if the medication conflicts with their religious sensibilities. County and city clerks don’t want to issue same-sex marriage licenses. Doctors want the freedom not to share information with pregnant patients if that information might encourage the patient to have an abortion — and in some states, they already have that right, being protected from malpractice suits!
That last one is called “wrongful birth“. In a growing number of states, this horror protects physicians from malpractice suits if they lie about the condition of a pregnant woman’s fetus for fear she will get an abortion; for example, if the child is going to be born with a severe genetic defect. Not if they make a mistake (Arizona’s law specifies errors, not willful withholding of information or lying); they are protected if they knowingly lie.
In “wrongful death”, these scumbags are protected if they lie and don’t tell the pregnant woman–get this–that the pregnancy may threaten her life, and she winds up dead instead of getting an abortion and living another 40 years. These are state laws, on the books in several states. They allow these selfish, self-indulgent pricks to “play god” with their patient’s lives, and those of their families. The physician, not the family, gets to decide that it’d be better for Mom to die and leave Dad to raise the other three kids, than for a fetus to be aborted. Yet the physician bears no responsibility for the outcome!
They all know the laws. They know they must dispense medications as prescribed, or fill out the forms as described in statute, or provide patients complete and accurate information about their health and that of their fetuses. They don’t have Hasan’s “ignorance” excuse. They just don’t want to do what the law requires. They want to put their smug self-righteousness above doing what they signed up to do when they accepted the job.
Are these people “fit and proper” for their chosen occupations, when they openly refuse to do their jobs?
What will happen when “conscience clause” laws become even more common? Legislators are pushing them in many states these days. Even at the federal level, legislators recently tried to allow any employer to refuse to provide health insurance coverage for any procedure the employer found offensive for any reason (the Blunt amendment).
Will it be impossible for a young woman to obtain birth control pills, not for lack of funding or of having a prescription, but simply for living in part of the country where nobody will sell them to her? Will she be required to prove that she’s married and not out “fornicating” to get her prescribed birth control pills?
What about day to day life outside of the hot-button world of health care? Will landlords and hoteliers be once again able to discriminate against unwed couples? Will that Muslim taxi driver be able to refuse the blind man with his guide dog?
How about a vegan working in a deli and refusing to put meats or cheeses on sandwiches? Will the vegan be able to sue for discrimination and keep her job, even though she refuses to do it? How is refusing to put meats or cheeses on sandwiches different from dispensing pills? Job description says, “Do X.” You accept the job, that means you are willing to “Do X!”
If you don’t want to do the job you have, if you find your work offensive for personal, philosophical, religious, or other reasons, find another job. It’s really that simple.
How long before the US gets a “One Law for All” of its own?
“One Law for All
“, the UK’s campaign against Shari’a and religious laws, focuses primarily on Shari’a, because it is becoming a problem in the UK. Shari’a courts are springing up across the country, leaving women and children particularly vulnerable.
In the US, Shari’a isn’t so much of an issue; our bigger problem, at present, is so-called “conscience clause” laws. Unfortunately, those pushing such laws don’t realize the can of worms they are opening; once the majority religion can legally push its beliefs on others, it won’t be long before minority religions will demand the same right, and exercise it.