Muslim Medical Students Refusing to Learn How to Treat Female Patients


Every now and then some conservative proposes that we staple green cards to any foreign student’s back right after he receives this diploma. I counter that proposal by proposing that stories like this be stapled to the front of anyone who thinks that’s a good idea.

The October issue of the Journal of Medical Ethics contains a case study involving Muslim medical students who refuse to examine female patients because it’s… against their religion.

A recent article published in the Journal of Medical Ethics grappled with that question in the context of male Muslim medical students refusing to learn how to examine females because they believe it is wrong to touch women to whom they are not married or related. The article argues—persuasively in my view—that medical conscience should not extend this far because it would result in future physicians lacking an “essential competency”:

And by essential competency, we’re talking about medical schools graduating Dr. Mohammed’s who have no ability or interest in treating the medical problems of half the human race. That’s about as essential as we can get.

This isn’t a minor technical issue. I blogged a few weeks ago about what the impact of gender apartheid medicine in Burundi is doing to Muslim women there.

There are only three female and 15 male gynecologists in the whole of Burundi. One of them, who wants to remain anonymous, says that she is always overbooked and that most of her patients are Muslim.

Burundi has some of the worst infant mortality rates in the world. The worst infant mortality rates in the world are in Afghanistan. Even Saudi Arabia, which is wallowing in wealth, has an infant mortality rate that is worse than the Israeli West Bank, which has access to Israeli medical services. As is life expectancy for women in Saudi Arabia.

Muslim gender apartheid has a number of troubling implications, but one of them is the denial of medical services to women. The more Muslim doctors we graduate, the more we will run into this problem.

  • Delly

    I took an EMT class recently and in a class of 45 we had two young (early 20's) self-identified muslim males ask the EMS instructor if they "had to treat ALL patients?" and "can't we refuse to treat some of them?" The older female instructor stopped, shot them a look that asked "what planet are you from" and proceeded to rip them a new one. In EMS she reminded them, you don't get to pick the victim, you have to treat ALL victims/patients the same -which according to her standard was as if the patient was your beloved FAMILY MEMBER. Luckily for American society the overwhelming majority of the class looked at these two as crackpots and wanted nothing to do with their racist, bigoted behavior. It was chilling in that they (the two guys) did not see anything wrong with their logic or opinion. I guess us *infidels* just don't know anything about the proper way to SAVE LIVES!! Gimme United States healthcare any day!

  • Thomas Wells

    Muslim medicine is an oxymoron.

  • Republican Pro

    The Arabs brag that they invented medicine! We heathen westerners and our idiotic notions of the Hippocratic Oath have nothing to bring to the table.

  • Chiggles

    Burundi, Saudi, and Afghanistan have high infant mortality rates.
    This is a problem?

    • objectivefactsmatter

      "Burundi, Saudi, and Afghanistan have high infant mortality rates.
      This is a problem? "

      When they bring that culture here and get protection from CAIR, you bet it is.

  • Jack

    The picture is priceless; I have not laughed this hard in a long time. Thanks Daniel

  • http://twitter.com/pottypol59 @pottypol59

    This also happened to a person I know in Toronto, Canada.

  • Bill

    What? Isn't camel milk and urine good enough? I guess supplies of Muhammed's urine and feces are in short supply these days. After all, doesn't the Qur'an, hadith and sira contain the entirety of the useful knowledge that any medical student needs to know? And I almost forgot, "the other half of the fly that gets in your food", a key component on Islamic disease control theory and practice.

    If the value of a women is half of that of a man in shari'a law, does that mean a Muslim doctor only gets half the fee for treating a woman? Maybe this is just a way of maximizing medical revenue for doctors eager to pay off those student medical loans?

    Anyway, Muslim women should be grateful for any treatment at all. After all don't Muslims assure us that Islam improved the lives of women, as until Mohammed forbade it, female babies were killed? One wonders where all the women came from prior to this, or who the men were having sex with in the absence of women – but I think we can guess from 'cultural' practices still practiced today by the men still unable to interact with non-familiaral women.

  • objectivefactsmatter

    It should be called "Islamic Medical Theory" to be distinguished from science-based medicines and practices.

  • Amy

    It's not clear from the piece where this refusal is taking place. The abstract seems to indicate that it's in the UK, but is it also going on in the US?

  • myname

    no you cant say that this happend >> those are indian people and i say that they couldin’t be a muslim because our prophet said that for any ill there is a medicine

    in the other hand >>only the death dose not have !!

  • Heba JR . . . ♚

    This article is completely wrong!
    I am a Muslim female, and I study medicine in Saudi Arabia. We are now study the medical ethic. In our Islamic oath, there is a statement which force us to treat the patient whatever his or her gender, religion or nationality. Put it on your mind ISALM MEANS PEACE. Here in S.A. we have good doctors can treat our Saudi patients, and we have high quality colleges which graduate each year these doctors !