Family Practice physician Hiram L. Beasley reports that he has been the target of increasing intimidation and harassment because of his deeply held religious beliefs.
“My pioneer ancestors were persecuted for living their religion, and it is terrifying to see that such intolerance and hatred are rearing their ugly heads again in the 21st century,” Beasley said from behind the desk in his modest office.
The persecution began slowly, when Beasley decided that he could not offer some medical services that violated provisions of his faith. “I felt that I had an obligation as a disciple of Christ and as an American to stand up for my First Amendment right to practice and express my religion according to my conscience.”
Beasley says he was first impressed by pangs of conscience for having prescribed birth control to women whose marital status wasn’t clear. “I hadn’t paid much attention before, and then I realized to my horror that many of these women might not have been married. I could have contributed to extramarital sexual relations, meaning I was winking at sin, perhaps even condoning it. I knew I needed to repent and use my medical skills to promote wholesome and righteous behavior.”
From then on, Beasley made a point of not performing any gynecological exams or prescribing birth control medications until he was sure he was treating faithfully monogamous, married women.
“I lost quite a few patients,” he said wistfully. “But I stood up for the right. These God-fearing hands were not about to do a pelvic exam or Pap smear on a promiscuous vagina.”
Within days, however, Beasley faced a quandary when a woman (properly vetted as a married mother of three) came in complaining of painful vaginal discharge. “As I suspected,” Beasley noted, “she tested positive for gonorrhea. I didn’t know what to do. Was she the one at fault, or had she contracted it from her husband?”
After sending that patient to another physician who was “more accommodating of her lifestyle,” he came up with a 10-page questionnaire for each patient to ensure that he would not be treating those whose medical issues had not been the result of violating the commandments of God. “How would I be able to look my Lord in the eye and tell Him that I had looked the other way when His children were entering into grievous sin?”
The questionnaire was a great success, Beasley says. Receptionist Dara Swensen agrees: “We saw a 70% decrease in the number of patients the doctor was seeing after we implemented the new policies, so we could be confident we were only seeing people with high moral standards. Sure, we lost business, but Dr. Beasley says he doesn’t want that kind of business, anyway.”
Some people slipped past the questionnaire, he said, so he relied on promptings from the Holy Spirit. “You know, sometimes you look at a guy, and you just know,” he smiled. “I’d walk in and see a guy with an earring and impeccable grooming, and I’d just say to myself, ‘I am not doing a prostate exam on that guy.’ You know what I mean.”
The harassment really took off when Beasley also decided to stop treating patients whose conditions resulted from drinking alcohol, coffee, or tea; or from using tobacco products, which also violate the tenets of his faith. “I had a guy come in here with emphysema, and I told him, ‘Sorry, no can do. You brought this on yourself. Go and sin no more.’ See? I’m helping these folks. Can’t they see that?”
But patients have apparently not understood Dr. Beasley’s positive goals. “That guy, the one with emphysema, he called me an ass and some other language you wouldn’t be able to print,” he said, shaking his head sadly. “I’m just trying to help.”
Since then he’s faced a lot of angry patients, ranging from a man with a eczema who, for reasons known only to himself, refused the doctor’s instructions to quit drinking coffee, to the young woman with strep throat who nonetheless refused to remove her second pair of earrings before having her temperature taken.
Now Beasley is facing the wrath of the entire community for refusing to come to the aid of a city councilwoman who had suffered a heart attack in a local movie theater. Viola Biggs, 57, died in the lobby of the Mainstreet Cinema after Beasley refused to enter the theater in which she had collapsed. “We could have saved her had he helped out before we got there,” said EMT Bryan Travers, “but he wouldn’t even go in and see her. What a f$#@ing jerk.”
“I couldn’t go in there,” explained Dr. Beasley. “She was watching ‘American Sniper,’ and I wasn’t about to go into a theater where they were showing an R-rated movie. What would the Savior have thought of me? It’s not my fault it took them so long to carry her out to the lobby. By the time I saw her, it was too late. She was already gone.”
Beasley fears he will have to shut down his once-thriving practice simply because he has stood up for his religious beliefs. “People don’t even look at me when they see me in the store, or they just call me a bad name. It’s not right. It’s not American.”
“I’m considering a lawsuit against the city, the chamber of commerce, and the movie theater,” the doctor said. “I’m not a litigious guy, and I don’t like suing people, but someone needs to be held accountable for the way I’ve been treated.”
City Attorney Dave Campbell chuckled when asked about the prospects for such a suit. “All I can say to Dr. Beasley is, uh, good luck with that.”
Reached by phone late Tuesday, receptionist Swensen confirmed that the practice is shutting down. “I’ve already lined up another job,” she said. “It’s just as well. He wouldn’t prescribe my birth control, anyway.”