As a doctor, I admire the medical field’s aim to use evidence as our guide in action and humbly exercise caution – as in “first, do no harm.”

I also admire Sen. Susan Collins, who regularly uses an evidence-based approach in policymaking. She opposes legislation that would take away Mainers’ health insurance, proposes ways to lower prescription drug prices and supports efforts to address climate change.

However, Sen. Collins used sophistry and recklessness in voting to strip Americans of our constitutional right to go to court when harmed by financial companies.

Big banks and credit card companies get away with misconduct by using the fine print of contracts to force consumer claims into arbitration. The senator “believes arbitration has served consumers well,” The Wall Street Journal reported Aug. 6.

In reality, arbitration is rigged against consumers. It is secretive, with no right of appeal, no requirement that decisions be based on the law and with arbitrators reliant on the company for business. Data from the independent Consumer Financial Protection Bureau show that in an average year, a mere 16 people nationwide receive compensation from financial companies through arbitration.

The senator claims her vote was to help credit unions and small banks. Data show that almost none of those institutions have forced-arbitration clauses. She claims it was to prevent a spike in the cost of credit. Evidence contradicts this assertion. The removal of these clauses from mortgages and Bank of America, Capital One and Chase credit card contracts did not result in cost increases.

The forced-arbitration bill is now law. Wronged consumers will be denied the option of going to court against their lender.

Sen. Collins might soon vote on a rule from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau that would rein in the demonstrably vicious payday loan debt trap. The rule is supported by the facts, which hopefully will result in the senator’s supporting it.

Laura Anderson, M.D.

Portland