Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Hearts of stone

If you’re careful enough (and lucky), it’s possible to drive down a one-way street the wrong way without causing multiple accidents. Even though doing so is decidedly ill-advised, Arizona is taking a similarly boneheaded approach in its drive to stop illegal immigration.

Per the Associated Press: "Republican lawmakers want to widen Arizona's illegal immigration crackdown with a proposal to require hospitals to check on whether patients are in the country legally, causing outrage among medical professionals who fear becoming de facto immigration agents under the law." Senate President Russell Pearce (chief sponsor of last year's "Your Papers, Please" immigration law) insists the proposed hospital bill is “part of a broader effort to crack down on illegal immigration.” ER care is not barred, but hospitals would be required, Stasi-like, to report undocumented patients to avoid being sued by the State. "It's a felony to (aid and) abet. We're going to enforce the law without apology," said Pearce.

Without apology.

What on Earth is wrong with these people? Is there even a jigger of compassion (or common sense) between them? Yes, hospitals spend millions treating sick or injured non-citizens in ERs. Using doctors as custom agents might reduce this overhead – but only at the cost of our basic humanity. The guiding ethos for the practice of medicine is: Primum non nocere ("First, do no harm"). This ill-conceived proposal violates the spirit of this ageless code. Imagine being told "Your paperz are not in order, Frau Gonzales" as you emerge from surgery or lay on your sickbed. And if you are illegal, do you then get kicked to the curb?

Pardon the cliché but at long last, Mr. Pearce, have you left no sense of decency, sir? America is better than this. I hope Arizona is, too.

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