Slave doctors

Responding to scattered reports of physicians nationwide using unsavory tactics to fight for state aid and lawsuit liability caps, House Democratic leadership is pitching a law that would prohibit Pennsylvania doctors from refusing to treat a patient based on the patient’s job, political opinions or litigation history.

It could be the first proposal of its kind in the United States, and it’s already drawing criticism from the Pennsylvania Medical Society, which said the law is unnecessary and would unfairly target doctors, when attorneys — doctors’ nemesis in the fight for lawsuit caps — are free to turn down clients as they please.

It is a very strange argument which insists that doctors must treat everyone. A right to free association, not to mention one’s own labor, dictates that a doctor can treat or not treat anyone he wants, for any reason. There is no moral claim to another individual’s knowledge, skills or labor, and I find poetic justice in witnessing physicians declining to treat trial lawyers, who are making a parasitic living off of them.

This is not to say that physicians are a collective paragon of virtue either. The AMA has probably caused more pain to more Americans through drastically reducing the number of medical schools and practicing doctors than almost any other organization outside the federal government. Watching the two sides battle is a win-win situation for the outside spectator – one rather hopes they will both lose.