Right-wingers are, predictably, freaking out about this:
A hospital in northwest England has introduced a new surgical gown modelled on the burka, allowing female Muslim patients to cover themselves completely in line with their religious beliefs.
...Hospital bosses said the gown -- which covers the entire body from head to toe -- provides extra comfort and cover for patients undergoing medical procedures and whose culture or religion requires more modest attire....
The Daily Express featured the new gown on its front-page Tuesday. But the right-of-centre newspaper was critical, arguing that the gown's introduction was an example of "political correctness" and skewed priorities.
It added in an editorial that it was tantamount to special treatment for one group of people.
"If people want to live in Britain, then they must accept British standards and the British way of life... The standard hospital gown is surely good enough for everyone." ...
Except that it apparently isn't good enough for everyone, according to this British Web site for the medical community:
...The more Orthodox Jewish communities will also vary in their dress, but tend to be more formal as a rule. Men might wear a hat at all times, rather than just during prayer, and they might also grow their hair and beard long because of an old injunction against shaving. Orthodox women will also usually cover their head when outside the house, and will avoid exposing their arms and legs. If possible, offer Orthodox Jews long hospital gowns that close without gaps and also cover the arms. If these are not available, encourage patients to bring a dressing gown.
Then there's this from the U.S.:
Grace Kettering, a Mormon woman, was admitted to the hospital for facial surgery. Before entering the operating room, she was told to remove all her clothes except the hospital gown. She refused to remove her long underwear, and the surgeon refused to operate unless she did.
Devout Mormons who have attained adult religious status in the church wear "the garment." It resembles short-sleeved long underwear and ends just above the knee. While most Mormon patients will probably have no trouble removing it for surgery, having to remove the garment associated with God's protection might be very distressing for some, as it was for Mrs. Kettering.
Eventually, Mrs. Kettering's surgeon relented. In such cases, an understanding attitude and a discussion of the options beforehand are advisable. For example, the lower half of the garment could be pulled down to the patient's ankles in the event of abdominal surgery.
Incidentally, Maine Medical Center introduced a decidedly non-burka-like "sarong" hospital gown two years ago and made it available to all patients on request; according to The Washington Post,
Administrators decided to act after the hospital identified a high no-show rate for Muslim women from African countries, particularly Somalia.
(That's the same reason the burka gown was introduced in England, according to The Daily Express.)
Perhaps the burka gown seems a bit much, but here's the gown used in Maine:
As a non-Muslim, am I supposed to feel threatened by that?