Although I may have hinted at my political beliefs in past columns, I am usually not the type of person to engage in a political discussion in a setting like this. However, I was recently scrolling through Facebook and saw a photo post that read “Tragic day in Texas. SB17 has just passed. Medical professionals may now refuse LGBT people treatment based on religious values.” As a person who is hoping to become a pediatrician, I was immediately outraged and decided to read more about the proposed Senate Bill 17.
The bill was introduced by state Senator Charles Perry (R-28), my senator from back home in the West Texas area, and as of the most recent update I have seen, it has passed the Senate and is currently being deliberated in the House of Representatives. SB17 seeks to allow licensed public service professionals such as doctors, lawyers, counselors and educators the right to use their religious beliefs as a defense in case they wind up in an administrative proceeding and face their license being revoked.
While the bill obviously doesn’t encourage discrimination outright, in my opinion it has the potential of promoting licensed professionals to deny services to those they don’t want to serve, and then use the defense of religious freedoms and not face any repercussions. It could create a license to discriminate against anyone and then use religious beliefs as a defense for doing so.
Growing up Catholic, I have been taught that service is the appropriate response to the Bible. That is why I am choosing to go into the medical field, to provide care for ALL who need it, no matter the differences we may have. I am disheartened and saddened that this bill has passed the Texas Senate floor. If it goes any further, it will potentially legalize discrimination. Further analyzing the medical field aspect, there is a strong possibility that people (especially members of the LGBTQ+ community) could die due to being denied proper treatment because of their providers religious ‘freedom’ and I am heartbroken. And it is inaccurate for lawmakers to say that this would never happen if this bill passes, because I have actually heard another student who also wants to be a pediatrician say they would never treat a transgender patient, and under this bill he would have the right to use religious beliefs as a defense for doing so.
Here at Our Lady of the Lake University, we are continuously learning in our programs to embrace diversity and accept that everyone comes from different backgrounds. It is important to not let our own ideologies get in the way of providing care, treatment, counseling and/or education for these diverse groups of individuals. As a future medical professional, I refuse to let my religious stance get in the way of providing the necessary care and treatment to save lives and promote the patients quality of life, and I encourage others to write their lawmakers to stand in firm opposition of this immoral and nasty bill.