I live in Idaho. Last year the Idaho legislature passed a law stating that a doctor or pharmacist or any medical professional could put his or her religious beliefs ahead of the best interests of the patient. That's a paraphrase, but that is what is happening. This year--even though the anti-contraception bill failed in the U.S. Senate--a state bill is still alive and well and likely to pass here in Idaho.
Probably since it was settled, Idaho has had a strange religious culture. The southern part of the state is EXTREMELY Mormon (and violates the separation of church and state issue so often no one even notices any longer), and the north is Catholic. I grew up in the middle, so there was mostly a blend, so it was more moderate at that time (being pretty far from any such thing NOW).
When I got to college in north Idaho, most of my friends were Catholic, and I thought it was a refreshing change. Catholics don't send people to your door to pester you, and unlike the fundamentalist Protestant factions that were taking hold of Idaho and growing more extreme, never once did I see any Catholics using their own religion to try to determine or control what others did. So you can imagine my surprise when I found out that my grandmother was bothered when I started dating a boy who was Catholic. I was stunned. To me they seemed like the least annoying organized religion Idaho had to offer. But my great-grandfather was from Ireland, and being Protestant Irish, he hated Catholics. Hated. This has always bothered me, and to this day I think most of my friends are--or were raised--Catholic, and I never quite lose my overall sense of guilt that someone in my family could hate someone because of their religion. I know it's nothing new, but prejudice of any sort is disturbing, and probably more so because I just can't understand getting THAT upset about someone else's beliefs.
Yesterday, however, because of everything happening in Idaho, I contacted our two local hospitals to check their religious affiliations. Not out of curiosity's sake--to make sure that I can be sure that any future medical care I receive will not be influenced by anyone's religion. It turns out, St. Alphonsus (where I haven't been) is Catholic, and St. Luke's (where I feel I have become a bit of a regular) is non-denominational. So, I will now specifically go to St. Luke's because St. Alphonsus is Catholic. And having to even ask, this even becoming an issue makes me sick to my stomach. It feels slimy and prejudice and wrong, but until these laws are done away with, I will be asking the religion of any doctor I see. This is all just very, very sad.
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