Headscarves in the Operating Room for Any Religious Not Necessarily Muslims
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She does not want to be touched by a man who is not a family member, even as part of a medical examination. It’s a hypothetical situation, recounted in a new paper in The Journal of Medical Ethics, but the scenario neatly summarizes some of the dilemmas confronting health care workers in hospitals serving observant Muslim patients. When the traditional health care system cannot accommodate their needs, what are doctors and nurses to do?
Numerous sources of law protect these rights. These rights protect Muslim women's right to participate equally in society, whether at work, at school, at the DMV or other government offices, in the criminal justice system, or in public places. The Fourteenth Amendment and numerous federal civil rights laws bar federal and state officials and some private actors from discriminating against women who practice hijab. The Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) provides additional protection at the federal level by barring the federal government and its officials from restricting women's ability to practice hijab (either specifically or through generally applicable rules), unless the government can demonstrate that its action was the "least restrictive means" for achieving a "compelling governmental interest." Although RFRA does not apply to state governments, many states have adopted their own "mini-RFRAs" or interpreted their state constitutions to provide the same heightened protections. The Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA) bars government officials from restricting women's ability to practice hijab when they are confined to any institution that receives federal funding (such as state prisons), unless the government can demonstrate that its action was the "least restrictive means" for achieving a "compelling governmental interest."
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