David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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on writing prescriptions. These two reasons indicate why there are obvious repercussions for those who do not have reasonable access to physicians’ services. Of course, the word ‘reasonable’ is important here. After all, there is the old joke—for those who enjoy gallows humor—that the U.S. has universal access to healthcare so long as one is willing to commit a crime to see the county jail’s physician, or make one’s self sick enough to qualify for emergency services. Putting aside such extraordinary measures, at least some deficit in accessing physicians’ services can be made up through consulting written medical knowledge. Many libraries have medical textbooks, and the Internet has many good sites that contain medical knowledge. Of course, all the knowledge in the world is not going to do much good if treatment requires a prescription. The physicians’ monopoly on writing prescriptions means that nothing (legal) can be done in terms of treatment if one does not have access to the services of a qualified physician. This state of affairs is unjust. A just society cannot have it both ways: legislation cannot say both that the expertise of physicians is so precious that only they can prescribe medicine AND not everyone is guaranteed reasonable access to their services. If there is no guarantee of reasonable access then physicians should not have a monopoly on writing prescriptions, and if there is a monopoly on writing prescriptions then people should have reasonable access to their services.
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