Faith Healers

18

Catholics Are Taking Over Local Hospitals, Imposing Their Faith on Your Health Care, and Planning to Deny Certain Treatments for Patients Who Are Pregnant or Dying

I’m sitting in a crowded coffee shop and I’m making a woman cry. At least, that’s how it looks. Tears are slipping down the laugh lines in her cheeks, and one hand rests on her small belly. People around us are covertly staring.

But we’re not discussing her pregnancy, not yet. We’re talking about Savita Halappanavar, the Ireland resident who died from pregnancy complications four months ago, in a country that doesn’t believe in abortion. “Except, of course, when a woman’s life is in danger—they all add that caveat,” the woman across from me says. “Like your pregnancy is a game of chicken they can play.”

When Halappanavar was told that she was miscarrying, the 31-year-old dentist and her husband mourned the loss of what would have been their firstborn child. According to reports, they were eager to start a family. But, as there was nothing Halappanavar or doctors could do to save her 17-week-old fetus, she asked for an abortion to speed up the heart-wrenching process.

And she was denied.

According to Halappanavar’s husband, they were told, “This is a Catholic country.” Even though abortion wasn’t against the Hindu couple’s religious beliefs, they were told that her fetus still had a heartbeat, and as long as that tiny heart kept beating, doctors would do nothing to speed up her body’s inevitable miscarriage.

Still, she asked, day after day, according to her husband, as her body grew weaker, her blood pressure dropped and her fever spiked, and she became disoriented and afraid. Doctors and nurses monitored her for infections but told her husband there was nothing more they could do, even as she vomited and her breathing became irregular. Finally, on October 24, three days after being admitted to the hospital, the fetal heartbeat stopped. Doctors snapped into action, and within hours, Halappanavar delivered a dead fetus. But it was too late for the aspiring mother: Despite the steady stream of antibiotics being administered to her, infection set in, then septic shock. As Halappanavar lost consciousness, her now-empty womb bloated with infection and her skin turned blue, according to her husband’s reports. Doctors assured him that she was young and she’d bounce back, even as her body shut down, even as she could no longer breathe on her own and her body wouldn’t respond to dialysis. One week after being admitted to the hospital, Halappanavar died.

If one good can be taken from Halappanavar’s slow and likely avoidable death, it’s that the world witnessed it and an important dialogue began: Whose ethical or religious conscience reigns supreme in hospitals—the patients whose health is at stake or the institutions caring for them?

Here in Washington, 4,500 miles from Ireland and a world away from that country’s Catholic-driven politics, it’s easy to clutch your pearls and dismiss Halappanavar’s death as a horror story. After all, Washington residents voted to legalize abortion in 1970, three years before Roe v. Wade, and we’ve consistently upheld a woman’s right to access abortion services since then.

But cases like Halappanavar’s exist in Washington State. In fact, they’ve happened right here in Seattle. 

Written By: Cienna Madrid
continue to source article at thestranger.com

18 COMMENTS

  1. This is one of the most upsettting things I have learned of recently. I’m an RN in western Washington state. I was in a serious accident eighteen months ago and couldn’t work, but now I’m back out looking for a nursing job. It’s hard enough getting a job, and then to find out that most of the healthcare facilities I’ve applied to are affiliated with the Catholic church…what to do? As an atheist, do I accept working for such an egregious religious institution in order to make a living, or do I stand on my ethical principles and end up unemployable? I have an interview coming up at Swedish, but after reading this article I really spelunked the organization and its background. They do state that they’re “partnered” with Providence, but there’s no mention of any religious practice guidelines until you go over to Providence’s webpage and look at their mission statement. It reads like the website of a church – everything is about “serving God” – apparently to the exclusion of patient’s rights, especially women. I’m so upset over this…I really need a job, but I’d rather starve than work for the Catholic woman-killing, kiddie-raping Church.

  2. This is also one of the most serious arguments against privatized, corporate healthcare that I can think of: that these church-run facilities can ignore state and federal laws concerning reproductive rights and end-of-life care. What good do such laws do if state residents can’t rely on their healthcare providers to actually adhere to them? What good does it do to have a legal right to an abortion if there are no providers who will perform one in your area, and the state can’t force them to provide it? So the law says you can end your life with dignity at a time of your own choosing – but doctors at your local Catholic-monopolized facility can’t even tell you about it?
    Not only should we have universal, secular healthcare for everyone – it should be illegal for churches to own or operate any healthcare facilities.

  3. Wow! It’s disheartening to see the ovine nature of scientific institutions who willfully accept the endangerment of their clients’ health in support of their god,..money. They all need to be legislated into providing immediate abortions under unilateral health care guidelines. Screw the Pontiff! Hippocrates must be spinning in his grave.

  4. What ever became of the investigations into Savita’s untimely and needless death at the hands of the religiously insane? Buried in the quagmire of political & religious indifference I would wager?! More needs to be done to protect our inalienable human rights from the sickness of religious tenets.

  5. Sue Blue,

    I’m totally with you on this. I had no idea things were as bad as all of this. I’m in Massachusetts, a lefty liberal state and I’m not sure if our hospitals are as overtaken by the church as yours are there, but I’m sure going to look into it further. One thing I can say for sure is that last fall we had a state wide vote for Death with Dignity and it was defeated. The reason it failed is undoubtably because of railing and sputtering by Catholic Priests to their dim witted flock.

    Earlier last year I had been surprised one morning when I was ambling into my grocery store and a woman with a clipboard launched into a request for signatures to put Death with Dignity on our State ballot for the election. Between the signing of that ballot initiative and the November election, I heard very little about the issue on TV or in the news. When we got closer to the election, a Catholic acquaintance of mine told me that the Priests lost no time in delivering high pressure sermons to their congregations indicating how they needed to vote on this issue.

    The loss was a great disappointment to us secular liberals but in casual conversation since then it is pretty much agreed that whoever was organizing this effort (I mean to find out who that is) needs more help. So I have resolved to put in plenty of volunteer hours when this ballot initiative is put forth the next time. Massachusetts is a liberal state but the Catholic church is very strong here too due to a history of immigration of large numbers of Italians and Irish. They have the potential to be influential when they take the notion to do so.

    I appreciate your employment dilemma. The first thing that came to mind is that I wish you could work for Planned Parenthood. Come to think of it, I wish I could too!

  6. While lack of education prevents me from comprehending many areas of complex study, there is no schooling on earth that provides the means to understand how faith healing can be a legitimate health care modality.

    Such a tragic, tragic retelling of that story.

    At the other end of the take-nothing-and-call-me-in-the-morning spectrum, I recently learned that my local hospital (borough-owned) offers cranial-sacral therapy for, you won’t believe this, newborn feeding problems. As in newborns who aren’t taking to breastfeeding. The hospital charges $500.00/hr for this nonsense. It’s coded and billed as “neuromuscular therapy” rather than “apply a fingertip to skull pressing no harder than the weight of a nickel.”

    This isn’t my first time finding quackery at my hospital subsidized by taxes. I know the politics involved and it is a quagmire to work through. The doctor ultimately responsible for that physical therapy order is an acquaintance and when I asked her if she ever took a course in how to evaluate clinical trial methodology the conversation ended with her face turning as red as a baboon in estrus.

    Faith healing is medieval alchemy resurrected for the 21st century except instead of turning lead into gold, it’s about turning nothing into profit margins. I don’t think I could sleep at night if our local hospital partnered with Providence. I can’t imagine the grief the surviving family is going through.

    Mike

  7. regardless of your last wishes

    Does this include witnessed and notarized ‘Living Wills’? I will pull the plug myself if need be!

    As far as female patients, I don’t know where to start. I have great empathy for the women, great anger towards the “holier than thou” bishop’s interference.

    Thank Thor for Planned Parenthood. I speak from experience.

  8. Western Washington state is the bluest area of a generally blue state. We’re famous for being liberal and progressive – yet we’re home to the Discovery Institute of “intelligent design” fame (or infamy), our school districts are riddled with christian “Good News” clubs, and our healthcare facilities are being taken over by the Catholic church. I guess if the religious conservatards can’t force their medieval, misogynistic crap through our Democrat-dominated legislature, they try to sneak it through the back door by taking over businesses, schools, and hospitals.
    In reply to #5 by LaurieB:

    Sue Blue,

    I’m totally with you on this. I had no idea things were as bad as all of this. I’m in Massachusetts, a lefty liberal state and I’m not sure if our hospitals are as overtaken by the church as yours are there, but I’m sure going to look into it further. One thing I can say for sure is that last fall we had a state wide vote for Death with Dignity and it was defeated. The reason it failed is undoubtably because of railing and sputtering by Catholic Priests to their dim witted flock.

    Earlier last year I had been surprised one morning when I was ambling into my grocery store and a woman with a clipboard launched into a request for signatures to put Death with Dignity on our State ballot for the election. Between the signing of that ballot initiative and the November election, I heard very little about the issue on TV or in the news. When we got closer to the election, a Catholic acquaintance of mine told me that the Priests lost no time in delivering high pressure sermons to their congregations indicating how they needed to vote on this issue.

    The loss was a great disappointment to us secular liberals but in casual conversation since then it is pretty much agreed that whoever was organizing this effort (I mean to find out who that is) needs more help. So I have resolved to put in plenty of volunteer hours when this ballot initiative is put forth the next time. Massachusetts is a liberal state but the Catholic church is very strong here too due to a history of immigration of large numbers of Italians and Irish. They have the potential to be influential when they take the notion to do so.

    I appreciate your employment dilemma. The first thing that came to mind is that I wish you could work for Planned Parenthood. Come to think of it, I wish I could too!

  9. In reply to #7 by bluebird:

    Thank Thor for Planned Parenthood. I speak from experience.

    The thing about planned parenthood, is it is full of surprises that were not in the plan!

    (I did not plan to be the father of twins.)

  10. Sue Blue,

    Ugh, I forgot you guys have the Discovery Institute. Well, that’s a reality check. Here in blue state Massachusetts I think the impression is that west coast blue states have it made in the shade with that post-hippie, ultra casual, liberal lifestyle while we battle against our old puritanical, establishment historical roots. If this is what we’re up against in the blue states, I can’t imagine how depressing the situation is in the red states. I can’t stand to think about the poor Atheists in those places.

  11. In order to do one, you must do the other. Nurses, like doctors who take the Hippocratic Oath, vow to uphold the nursing code of ethics, of which one tenent is that self-care is a duty owed not only to oneself, but to patients as well. I refuse to work for an organization that forces me to violate a patient’s rights or my own. Healthcare facilities that do not provide reproductive and end-of-life care in accordance with state law or medical ethics (in which the patient’s right to autonomy, justice, benevolence, etc., are paramount) should not be accredited by the state.In reply to #11 by crookedshoes:

    If you work in a hospital, are you caring for patients or are you caring for yourself?

  12. I think that, in reality, most states are purple. There are religious and conservative enclaves everywhere, right alongside progressive, liberal, secular populations. For instance, right here in my neighborhood, which is mostly rural farmland, there used to be a thriving commune. I remember when quite a few of my neighbors were organic farmers living a relaxed, secular life. Then the economy went to shit, the megachurches made inroads into our little town, farms went under, and the less educated reactionaries made themselves prominent. Now I seem to be surrounded by gun-toting, Fox News-viewing, bible-thumping Rush Limbaugh fans who, whenever it’s not raining, spend several hours a day noisily and dangerously exercising their supposed Second Amendment rights in preparation for Obama’s supposedly imminent gun-grab and “govmint” takeover, while us atheist liberals meet on the sly and talk in whispers. This is spite of the fact that voters here recently legalized same-sex marriage and marijuana, and overwhelmingly voted Democrat. Go figure.
    In reply to #10 by LaurieB:*

    Sue Blue,

    Ugh, I forgot you guys have the Discovery Institute. Well, that’s a reality check. Here in blue state Massachusetts I think the impression is that west coast blue states have it made in the shade with that post-hippie, ultra casual, liberal lifestyle while we battle against our old puritanical, establishment historical roots. If this is what we’re up against in the blue states, I can’t imagine how depressing the situation is in the red states. I can’t stand to think about the poor Atheists in those places.

  13. Yes, strangely familiar. Things seemed much more secular a few years back and then the Fox newsers came out of the woodwork. It was and is alarming. Last fall we lost the Death With Dignity ballot initiative, but we won medical marijuana, go figure that.

  14. I read what you wrote earlier in the thread and both admire and respect your words.

    There is iron in your words of death; therefore there is iron in your words of life. I choose life. (paraphrased from the movie “the Outlaw Josey Wales”)….

    In reply to #12 by Sue Blue:

    In order to do one, you must do the other. Nurses, like doctors who take the Hippocratic Oath, vow to uphold the nursing code of ethics, of which one tenent is that self-care is a duty owed not only to oneself, but to patients as well. I refuse to work for an organization that forces me to violate a patient’s rights or my own. Healthcare facilities that do not provide reproductive and end-of-life care in accordance with state law or medical ethics (in which the patient’s right to autonomy, justice, benevolence, etc., are paramount) should not be accredited by the state.In reply to #11 by crookedshoes:

    If you work in a hospital, are you caring for patients or are you caring for yourself?

  15. In reply to #12 by Sue Blue:

    In order to do one, you must do the other. Nurses, like doctors who take the Hippocratic Oath, vow to uphold the nursing code of ethics, of which one tenent is that self-care is a duty owed not only to oneself, but to patients as well. I refuse to work for an organization that forces me to violate a patient’s rights or my own. Healthcare facilities that do not provide reproductive and end-of-life care in accordance with state law or medical ethics (in which the patient’s right to autonomy, justice, benevolence, etc., are paramount) should not be accredited by the state.

    I hope you use something more update, like the Declaration of Geneva. Hardly any medical school actually uses the Hippocratic Oath anymore. It’s been quite outdated by advances in medicine and morality. (Among other things, the HO prohibits proscribing a pessary to cause abortion.)

    NSW Nursing Code of Ethics

  16. We take the Nightingale Pledge (which isn’t perfect either) and vow to uphold the ANA Nursing Code of Ethics, which is reviewed and revised every few years.
    In reply to #16 by Greyman:

    In reply to #12 by Sue Blue:

    In order to do one, you must do the other. Nurses, like doctors who take the Hippocratic Oath, vow to uphold the nursing code of ethics, of which one tenent is that self-care is a duty owed not only to oneself, but to patients as well. I refuse to work for an organization that forces me to violate a patient’s rights or my own. Healthcare facilities that do not provide reproductive and end-of-life care in accordance with state law or medical ethics (in which the patient’s right to autonomy, justice, benevolence, etc., are paramount) should not be accredited by the state.

    I hope you use something more update, like the Declaration of Geneva. Hardly any medical school actually uses the Hippocratic Oath anymore. It’s been quite outdated by advances in medicine and morality. (Among other things, the HO prohibits proscribing a pessary to cause abortion.)

    NSW Nursing Code of Ethics

  17. In reply to #15 by crookedshoes:

    I read what you wrote earlier in the thread and both admire and respect your words.

    There is iron in your words of death; therefore there is iron in your words of life. I choose life. (paraphrased from the movie “the Outlaw Josey Wales”)….

    In reply to #12 by Sue Blue:

    In order to do one, you must do the other. Nurses, like doctors who take the Hippocratic Oath, vow to uphold the nursing code of ethics, of which one tenent is that self-care is a duty owed not only to oneself, but to patients as well. I refuse to work for an organization that forces me to violate a patient’s rights or my own. Healthcare facilities that do not provide reproductive and end-of-life care in accordance with state law or medical ethics (in which the patient’s right to autonomy, justice, benevolence, etc., are paramount) should not be accredited by the state.In reply to #11 by crookedshoes:

    If you work in a hospital, are you caring for patients or are you caring for yourself?

    As spoken by Chief Dan George.A great film.

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