Sunday, July 27, 2008

Parent-free services for thee, but not for me

I have to say that if anyone who enjoys having the time to write is thinking about going to medical school, don't. I thought that during the summer, with only a "day job" doing lab research, I was going to have more spare time for blogging, but between occasionally staying late at the lab, trying to get regular exercise, spending time with friends whom my academic obligations forced me to neglect during the school year, and family obligations, it almost feels like I have had less time for blogging during the summer than I did when school was in session. And the 2nd year of medical school starts in one week.

Because I don't like neglecting the blog for months at a time, I thought I'd finish and post an old entry I'd had in draft form that's not too long or involved. I think I've mentioned before that in my weekly liberalism seminar, one of our faculty "facilitators" is a female family practice doc who works for the big downtown county hospital which provides a lot of medical care to the Holy Underserved. This woman is fully on board with the liberal practices we are taught based on individual moral autonomy, like the idea that you must offer contraception to adolescent patients without their parents knowledge or that you must kick the father of a woman's baby out of the room before informing her she is pregnant (in case she wants to make a decision about the pregnancy without him.)

Well, one morning this female doc came in complaining about the process of getting a passport for one's child. She and her husband were planning a family vacation, I believe to Bermuda, and she discovered that in order for a child to get a passport, both parents must be present. This had caused her major inconvenience in that she had to leave work to join her husband at the passport office. Obviously, this is done so that one parent who is on the outs with the other cannot abscond with the children.

I immediately thought of this woman's policy of not allowing parents to be in charge of the medical care of their children nor husbands (or, in the case of most of her patient populations, "babydaddies,") to be involved in the care of the women who are carrying their children. She doesn't want these parents to be trusted, allowing the children or pregnant women to be completely autonomous. Yet she wants US passport policy to trust her husband when he shows up without her to get passports for their children.

When I first conceived this entry, I thought this was hypocritical of her; thus the post title, which I am leaving intact. But upon further reflection, I think that both cases could be seen in the light of wanting as little parental involvement as possible. Though I'm sure she wouldn't say that a dependent minor should be able to get a passport with neither parent present, so her passport policy is not consistent with her contraception policy. This could be a classic case of an unprincipled exception--we can't have children getting passports against their parents' wishes and leaving the country, that's taking things too far.

The woman's anecdote ended with her sarcastically saying, "I love America." This reminded me of how much I hate sarcasm. You intentionally say the opposite of what you mean. You say "I love America" in order to communicate the fact that you do not love America. No doubt she thought that this was all somehow George W. Bush's fault.

Whatever the case, despite their claim to belief in absolute equality, the elites don't really believe they should have to play by the same rules as the hoi polloi.


stephenhopewell said...

I discovered your blog a couple months ago - nice to see a new entry. Nothing wrong with a hastily-written post!

This kind of thing is worth writing about. Seeing the liberal mind in action in elite settings. I have some stories of my own about that....

Hermes said...

Hi, Stephen. Thanks for linking to me. I've added your blog to my blogroll as well.

stephenhopewell said...

Thank you, Hermes! And good luck with your studies.