When are adults not adults?

Few things annoy me more than busybody bureaucratic attempts to interfere with people's privacy and tell adults what to do. Especially where it comes to personal matters like human sexuality. It amazes me that a society which is supposedly concerned with getting the government out of the bedroom would countenance (much less encourage) a system of telling mature adults when and with whom they can have sex, but more and more that is the pattern.

Perhaps neither doctors nor their adult patients are not considered mature adults; I don't know. What I do know is that this sort of condescending nonsense is further evidence that we are living in a national kindergarten:

When a Texas internal medicine physician began a consensual romantic relationship with one of his patients, the state medical board meted out a $10,000 fine and 10 hours of ethics education as a punishment for professional misconduct.
(Via Glenn Reynolds, who notes that the penalties for having sex with patients are more severe than those imposed for medical malpractice.)

The assumption seems to be that there is a "power imbalance" which overcomes the patient's ability to consent.

Relationships between patients and...physicians may also include considerable trust, intimacy, or emotional dependence. The length of the former relationship, the extent to which the patient has confided personal or private information to the physician, the nature of the patient's medical problem, and the degree of emotional dependence that the patient has on the physician, all may contribute to the intimacy of the relationship. In addition, the extent of the physician's general knowledge about the patient (i.e., the patient's past, the patient's family situation, and the patient's current emotional state) is also a factor that may render a sexual or romantic relationship with a former patient unethical.
The same thing could be said about an attorney-client relationship, a student-professor relationship, an employer-employee relationship, or even a hairstylist-customer relationship. (Anyone remember Shampoo?) I am not saying that sex is a good idea when there's a working relationship; only that it should be up to the parties involved. The assumption here is that they are not adults and are incapable of deciding for themselves. I see little difference between that and the idea that homosexuals are "enslaved" by their passions (and thus in need of protection against temptation by sodomy laws).

It might not be a good idea for a woman to have sex with the attractive young man she hires to remodel her house (as it would tend to contaminate the working relationship), but whose business is that? A bureaucratic contractor's licensing board?

And while we're on the subject of power imbalances, why should a patient have more right to have sex with his or her doctor than the other way around? Suppose the patient is sexually irresistible, whose mere presence turns the doctor into an awkward, stammering, quivering mass of jello. Who has the "power imbalance" there?

If you said "the patient," then go to the head of the class!

(Let your teacher shake in fear of your power....)

posted by Eric on 04.25.09 at 12:15 PM


If the patient was making an effort to teach me HTML I might get very distracted.


But that might be a dodge. The doctor could claim to be learning HTML with his fingers.

M. Simon   ·  April 25, 2009 5:40 PM

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