Michael Sauder


Amish; Mennonite; complementary and alternative health; religion and health; medical ethics


The idea of patients as autonomous agents dominates the medical ethics literature in Europe and America. I maintain that Plain Anabaptists allow their communities to influence medical therapy decisions more than the typical American does. They choose differently whom to trust. This is relevant to medical professionals interacting with them, especially when Plain Anabaptists make decisions at variance with standard medical recommendations. The typical American doctor will often mistake the area of disagreement, assuming that the presentation of more facts will sway the patient. However, the emphasis on community and acceptance of authority means that Plain Anabaptists will have a correspondingly different approach to decision making. It may be true that the patient does not have all relevant data or does not realize the relative trustworthiness of different information sources. Yet, often Plain Anabaptists will come to a different decision because of a different value system. They are making their own decision about who or what to trust. [Abstract by author]