April 21, 2007
A lot of noise in the blogosphere about Gary Merrill, a Christian “doctor” who refused to treat a young child’s ear infection on the, er, “religious grounds” that her mother has tattoos and body piercings. Whatever: wingnuts will be wingnuts, and this particular specimen (I’m choosing my words carefully here) should simply be relieved of his medical license. End of story—except that the American Medical Association and other doctors appear to be defending Merrill. Which is what the blogosphere should really be getting worked up about.
Tasha Childress [says] Dr. Gary Merrill wouldn’t treat her daugh-
ter for an ear infection because Tasha has tattoos.
The writing is on the wall – liter-
ally: “This is a private office. Appearance and behavior stan-
For Dr. Gary Merrill of Christian Medical Services, that means no tattoos, body piercings, and a host of other requirements – all standards Merrill has set based upon his Christian faith.
“She had to go that entire night with her ear infection with no medicine because he has his policy,” Tasha Childress said.
Merrill won’t speak on camera, but said based on his values and beliefs, he has standards that he expects in his office.
He does that, he said, to ensure the patients he does accept have a more comfortable atmosphere.
According to the American Medical Association and other doctors, he reserves that right.
“In the same sense that any other business person has the opportunity to decline service, be it a restaurant if they’re not dressed properly, be it any other type of business,” said Dr. Ronald Morton, Kern County Medical Society.
Most parents will tell you that forcing a toddler to spend the night with an untreated ear infection is a little different from missing out on a fine dining experience.
Morton said certain ethics apply if a person’s life is in danger, but besides that, there is no requirement to serve anyone they don’t approve of.
“I felt totally discriminated against, like I wasn’t good enough to talk to,” Tasha Childress said, “like he didn’t have to give me any reason for not wanting to see my daughter because I have tattoos and piercings.”
… Merrill said he will continue to enforce the rules he has in place, which even include no chewing gum in his office.
He said if they don’t like his beliefs, they can find another doctor.
Must be a section of the Hippocratic oath that I missed. Along with the part of the bible that deals with tattoos and piercings.
[Recycled post: I’m traveling. Originally published on February 28th 2007.]
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