Doctors take the Hippocratic oath promising to do no harm, but once that requirement is fulfilled, do they have a right to choose patients based on politics?

One Republican urologist outside Orlando has stirred up a tempest by suggesting that they do. A sign hanging this week in the office of Dr. Jack Cassell clearly states a preference for patients who agree with his opposition to the President, and to the recently passed health care overhaul.

“If you voted for Obama,'' says the taped-up sign, “seek urologic care elsewhere. Changes to your healthcare begin right now. Not in four years.''

Perhaps it was just a matter of time before the partisan rancour surrounding health care found its way into patient care. Civil rights law prevents discrimination based on sex or religion, but experts say that political differences are not specifically protected — consider it a pre-existing condition that can still be used for patient filtering.The logic for some, especially here in a contentious swing state like Florida, seems to be simple: Stand up and stay separated. If states, counties or towns can be red and blue, Republican and Democratic, why not every place within those areas? Why not make sure that even in doctors' offices people can feel secure in knowing they are sharing space with those who are share their views?

Dr. Cassell (56), could not be reached for comment. — New York Times News Service

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