When I go to a doctor, I expect him or her to treat me, whether I have a sore throat, a stomach-ache or something more serious. So when I found out that doctors around the country are refusing to treat patients because the patients' needs conflict with their religious beliefs, I just had to look into it further.
Turns out, it's all legal. Doctors can turn down patients and they are doing exactly that. In Pennsylvania, a woman who had been raped was denied the morning-after pill, which would prevent her from getting pregnant. In the Midwest, a woman was denied the same treatment after she had unprotected sex with a boy she was dating. And in Texas, we met a woman who told us her doctor refused to give her birth control pills because he was a Catholic and it threw his moral compass off course. "He told me he didn't believe in prescribing birth control, he thought it was morally wrong that I shouldn't be having sex and he launched into a lecture about ethically how I need to rethink things," said the woman, who asked not to be identified.
We spoke with one Catholic doctor in Manassas, Virginia, who says he's rejected at least a dozen patients who asked for birth control pills. Dr. Scott Ross told us, "I think we as physicians have the right to uphold our own moral grounds and we don't have to do everything that's asked of us."
The American Medical Association agrees. "Any physician has the opportunity that if because of personal beliefs religious or moral beliefs that they can refuse to provide services, but we also believe that that physician has an obligation to provide an avenue where the patient can get the care that they're seeking," said Dr. Edward Langston at the A.M.A. We found that eight states have laws giving doctors the legal right to reject treatment.
Tell us what you think. Should doctors be able to deny patients care because it conflicts with their own religious beliefs? Is there room for both religion and medicine in the exam room? How do you think this might affect the quality of care patients receive?
And be sure to tune in soon to watch our story. We'll share some of your thoughts on the air.
-- By Randi Kaye, CNN Correspondent