Catholic Hospital Reprimands Doctor for Mere Mention of Abortion

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A dispute between a Colorado cardiologist and the hospital he works for has highlighted a growing area of concern among patient advocates and civil libertarians: gag rules imposed on doctors and nurses by Catholic health-care providers.

In a complaint filed Wednesday, ACLU of Colorado accused Mercy Regional Medical Center in Durango, in the remote southwest corner of the state, of illegally telling doctors and other employees that they cannot discuss abortion with patients, even if a pregnancy threatens a woman’s life. The complaint was filed with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, which oversees the state’s hospitals.

“Mercy Regional’s moral objection to abortion does not exempt the hospital from complying with [state and federal] laws,” the ACLU’s Sara Rich wrote to the health department, “and the hospital cannot invoke its religious status to jeopardize the health and lives of pregnant women seeking medical care.”

In a statement, hospital spokesman David Bruzzese said the complaint was “based on inaccurate information.” He said Mercy takes “very seriously the care we provide to our patients.”

Written By: Nina Martin
continue to source article at thecontributor.com

19 COMMENTS

  1. I’m always amazed at the fuss made over this. If a woman’s life is at risk what is that compared to the ‘potential existence’ of a foetus when the child would die without its mother were it not for modern medical intervention. In god’s plan if female mammals die in childbirth their newly borns die too. There is no med team or wet nurse or care system on hand among the other primates, whales, etc to intervene. More to the point the gibbering god pesterers at one time refused to bury unchristened child corpses in consecrated church ground and the idea of limbo was only recently put to sleep by the catholics. So much for the sanctity of life and potential person with a soul argument.

    • In reply to #2 by Vorlund:

      I’m always amazed at the fuss made over this. If a woman’s life is at risk what is that compared to the ‘potential existence’ of a foetus when the child would die without its mother were it not for modern medical intervention.

      You don’t understand. Let me explain. When the mother and the fetus die, god gets TWO souls instead of one. Win-Win! Does that help?

      ;-)

      Steve

    • In reply to #2 by Vorlund:

      I’m always amazed at the fuss made over this.

      fear pure and simple. allow even a common sense discussion about what’s right for a patient and you open the floodgates.

      the churches views on abortion are so utterly childish, based as they are on the assumptions that all embryos were little angels from heaven and all abortions are acts of wanton sinfullness by angel-killers, that the very question of a sensible discussion on real life issues is out of the question as it’ll spoil their little black and white dogma

  2. @link – Hospital officials apparently were furious. The complaint contends that Demos was reprimanded and told that he was “not permitted to recommend an abortion, nor is he permitted to even discuss the possibility of terminating a pregnancy with a Mercy Regional patient, regardless of the circumstances.”

    Later, Mercy Regional’s chief medical officer, John Boyd, assured the patient in writing that the hospital would “provide education to all our employed providers, reminding them that they should not recommend abortion — even to patients who may have serious illnesses,” the ACLU’s complaint says, quoting his letters. Boyd also reaffirmed that under The Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services, Mercy Regional’s staff was “precluded … from providing or recommending abortion.”

    The ERDs, a set of 72 guidelines issued by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, restrict a range of reproductive health options that conflict with church teachings — abortion, birth control, sterilization, fertility treatments — as well as certain end-of-life care possibilities and stem cell research. The directives also have been interpreted by many hospitals to prohibit emergency abortions for miscarriages and ectopic pregnancies as well as emergency contraception after sexual assault (which generally works by preventing implantation of a fertilized egg).

    So no change on the antiquated Catho-crap trumping of science and medical expertise, by faith-thinking bishops and “infallible” Vatican dopes!

    9 Hence all faithful Christians are forbidden to defend as the legitimate conclusions of science those opinions which are known to be contrary to the doctrine of faith, particularly if they have been condemned by the Church; and furthermore they are absolutely bound to hold them to be errors which wear the deceptive appearance of truth.” (Vatican Council I – 1869–70.)

    The directives have long been controversial with women’s health advocates and civil libertarians, and the Colorado episode, they say, underscores why. The guidelines don’t just restrict what doctors and nurses at Catholic providers may do; they can even limit what health professionals are allowed to say.

    Mercy’s policy “prevents physicians from fulfilling their ethical obligations” to patients and “interferes with patients’ rights to make informed decisions regarding their medical care,” the complaint said. The policy also violates patient safeguards under Medicare and Medicaid as well as a Colorado law protecting physicians’ autonomy, the ACLU said.

    Mark Silverstein, ACLU of Colorado’s legal director, said that by barring doctors from informing patients about all possible treatment options, Mercy Regional poses “a potential threat to the health, safety and even the lives of its patients.”

    The potential risk to patients is especially grave in communities like Durango, where a Catholic hospital is the only one for miles around, added Sheila Reynertson of MergerWatch, a New York–based nonprofit that tracks Catholic hospital consolidations and their impact. She noted that so-called “sole provider” hospitals — there are 30 of them in mostly isolated parts of the country — receive additional federal funds to serve the needs of their communities, as well as Medicare, Medicaid and other tax breaks.

    Reynertson said that gag policies like Mercy’s are “absolutely” common — and are becoming more so as Catholic health-care systems gobble up other providers in a merger boom touched off by health-care reform. “What’s unusual about this case is that you have it in writing,” Reynertson said. “Usually, the policies are not so clear cut.”

    “We’re woo-heads so we ‘know better’ and are exempt from medical codes of conduct and state laws!” is a clear statement of their delusional “faith-thinking”!
    It is probably a US symptom of having a political system, which does not have the bottle to regulate them or shut them down! – Hence one of the most expensive sub-standard health-care systems, and obese populations, in the developed world.

    http://thesocietypages.org/graphicsociology/2011/04/26/cost-of-health-care-by-country-national-geographic/

    http://www.oecd.org/els/health-systems/49105858.pdf

  3. Even here in Canada, you can every once in a while run into fundamentalist Christian doctors who impose their beliefs on you (as gay) or even refuse service. One insisted because I was gay I had to be a cocaine addict.

    Just what is a Catholic hospital? I know in centuries past churches built and funded hospitals for believers in their cult. But surely that is no longer true. Are they supposed to serve everyone? Do they get any government funding? Are you as a non-Catholic ever required to go to a Catholic hospital?

    The way I think it should work, is if they get any government funding, they should be required by law not to impose religious beliefs on patients or doctors. If it turns out they refuse to co-operate, they should be expropriated and either run by the state or sold to corporations willing to abide by the rules.

    St. Paul’s hospital in Vancouver has Catholic statues and plaques all over the place. This is probably intended to recognise its history, but I always found it said “gays not welcome here”, which is ironic since is it situated on the edge of the large gay district. I don’t know to what extent the Catholic church has anything to do with running the hospital.

  4. Given that I vowed at a young age never to spawn, it is odd that I have written so much about abortion.

    Stephen Woodworth MP (Member of Parliament) with the Conservative Party of Canada wants to debate when life begins, and expressed a hope science could provide a definitive answer. This shows a woeful lack of understanding of how human reproduction works. To science, the question is meaningless because it is a metaphysical question. Contrary to religious teaching, life does not begin with each new child! For life to begin, non-living ingredients would have to spring to life. This does not happen. Reproduction is a dance of already living cells splitting and recombining. The cells themselves are as old as life itself. A new human gradually comes into being, is born and continues development outside the womb.

    Bestowing upon a fetus the status as a human being is an arbitrary legal or religious rite, like being assigned a SIN (Social Insurance Number) number, a bar mitzvah or attaining the right to vote. Different cultures celebrate attaining human status ranging from the date of the mother’s last period to the child’s 21st birthday. For Conservatives, it marks the date when contraception/abortion/infanticide is no longer legal. What the Conservatives are doing is like asking when the continuous cycle of seasons truly begins. It is a meaningless question. The cycle does not begin. You can assign an arbitrary point, like Jan 1, in the cycle, but you could just as well pick any other day.

    My own way of looking at it is this. Becoming human is not a single definite event. It is something that gradually evolves over decades. As this process progresses we accord more and more privilege to the being. The exact dates when we provide protection from abortion, allow the vote, parental emancipation, the right to consent to sex, the right to marry, the right to drive, etc. are all just approximations to what the consensus feels they should be.

    As to the particular question about when contraception/abortion is permissible I am more liberal than most. To me, considering a blastula holy is like considering a facial mole (which is much bigger) holy. They are both just tiny masses of cells. Neither can think or react as if feeling pain. It is much more primitive than a jellyfish at that stage. It does not even have any nerve cells. Treating these microscopic blobs of cells as equivalent in importance and privilege to full grown humans is a crazy religious idea, dependent on the belief in souls and as such should not be imposed on non-believers. It is as silly as worshiping clams.

    I think a practical dividing line that even pro-choice people would find acceptable would be Could this fetus/infant survive outside the womb? If it can, it deserves protection. As technology develops, the protection would be extended to younger and younger infants.

    • In reply to #7 by Roedy:
      Love your post overall – a wonderful thought that life, once begun, never really wasn’t.

      Would like to push you a bit on your last suggestion though:

      I think a practical dividing line that even pro-choice people would find acceptable would be Could this fetus/infant survive outside the womb? If it can, it deserves protection. As technology develops, the protection would be extended to younger and younger infants.

      If an infant is only surviving (earlier and earlier) due to said technology, at what point does it impinge on the pregnant woman’s right not to have the child? – I’m thinking of the cases of those who didn’t know they were pregnant until late or are subject to delaying tactics enshrined in state laws that push their pregnancies beyond the legal limit whilst they try and organise an abortion.

      Also, keeping a baby alive, let alone well at 23 weeks is difficult, expensive and at the limit of current technology (which relies on using the baby’s underdeveloped heart and lungs). If someone manages to invent the artificial placenta and womb, would that render abortion de facto illegal since they could survive with the technology?

      The current (UK) cut-off is 24 weeks which roughly corresponds with the age at which we can keep a baby going artificially – which is also arbitrary and handily avoids the guilt of thinking we might have been able to ‘save them’ should a later termination have occurred.

      Personally I find the idea of a late abortion distasteful but I can’t bring myself to impinge further on the right of a woman to control her own body.

  5. Wouldn’t the doctors be accused of negligence if the woman or baby had died…what are they supposed to do…they seem damned if they do and damned if they don’t..
    Incidentally the woman seems a bit ungrateful to make a retrospective complaint…she had marfans syndrome that could have caused complications isn’t that a genetic condition associated often with in -breeding …just saying..

    • In reply to #8 by Light Wave:

      Wouldn’t the doctors be accused of negligence if the woman or baby had died…what are they supposed to do…they seem damned if they do and damned if they don’t..

      Isn’t the US medical system geared to spending money on expensive lawyers defending against negligence actions, rather than getting it right in the first place?

    • In reply to #8 by Light Wave:

      Incidentally the woman seems a bit ungrateful to make a retrospective complaint…she had marfans syndrome that could have caused complications isn’t that a genetic condition associated often with in -breeding …just saying..

      Um, not quite. Marfan Syndrome is dominantly inherited with variable expressivity which means an affected person may not know they have it and have a 50% chance of passing it on. Also up to a third of cases are new mutations. The child may have it manifest better, worse or the same as their parent.

      Also, the article is unclear: it sounds like the woman had family with Marfan’s and what the doctor was looking for was aortic dilitation and dissection. Strangely, dissection is most common (in otherwise normal young women) in the 2 weeks after giving birth. But yes, certainly ungrateful. You have to give a definitive solution to a condition with a >90% chance of death!

  6. If you are Catholic and do not support abortion, then YOU are OBLIGATED NOT to have one. Everyone else can live by their own rules.

    I am always weirded out by the idea of “sin” being a “choice” and heaven allowing only the folks who make the right “choice”…..Then the people who move to take the “choice” away.

    Isn’t this life a test to get into heaven? If there is no opportunity to “sin” then the next thing you know EVERYBODY will be getting into heaven. Oh, DEAR!!! We wouldn’t want that, now would we?

    If you are a Catholic and that fact precludes you from administering specific procedures in a medical setting, then DO NOT become a doctor or nurse. Can you imagine an auto mechanic who would not work on brakes because of his religion???

    “Well, Crookedshoes, I see your brakes are going to fail any minute, but, Jesus blocks me from fixing them. So, you can go crash into a family of 6. as they rush from the hospital that would’t help their dying child.”

    How about a woman who owns a deli and won’t put cheese on any of the sandwiches because her interpretation of the Koran tells her that cheese is immoral? THEN DON’T OWN A DELI.

    This issue is a CRISIS and it should have the attention of the politicians instead of fighting over the typical mundane bullshit. These institutions need to be regulated and/or driven out of business if they do not comply.

    • In reply to #10 by crookedshoes:

      If you are Catholic and do not support abortion, then YOU are OBLIGATED NOT to have one. Everyone else can live by their own rules.

      Hang on, it looks as though you are employing sensibility and rationality when talking about Catholicism. LOL. Good luck with that! :-p

      Mike

      • Sorry, i lost my head there for a moment.

        In reply to #12 by Sample:

        In reply to #10 by crookedshoes:

        If you are Catholic and do not support abortion, then YOU are OBLIGATED NOT to have one. Everyone else can live by their own rules.

        Hang on, it looks as though you are employing sensibility and rationality when talking about Catholicism. LOL. Good luck with that!…

  7. BTW,
    I worked at a Mercy hospital during summers for 15 years or so as a hematology technician. The place was nice to work at, but was understaffed and underpaid. The maternity department was closed ten years ago as was the psych ward (5th floor). the place is where one goes to die.

    We had an undiagnosed TB case where the patient sat in an open room for two months, exposing untold numbers of staff to their slow growing TB. The entire staff had to get ppd’s every 6 months to this day!!!!

    We had shootings in the ER. Not GSW’s that came in, but gun shots IN THE ER. he poor staff was not only crapped on “spiritually” but mentally and physically as well.

    And, Roedy, I really like your post (#7). It is excellent.

  8. Well a new Pope, with a new image, – but the same old reactionary crap from the RCC and its minions:

    The ERDs, a set of 72 guidelines issued by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, restrict a range of reproductive health options that conflict with church teachings — abortion, birth control, sterilization, fertility treatments — as well as certain end-of-life care possibilities and stem cell research.

    Now what’s wrong with condoms? Oh yes they spread AIDs. Every sperm is sacred, it’s just as well Onan got smited for spilling his on the ground eh ! And stem cell research is positively evil because the Vatican says so.

    I just so love to hate the RCC and its theology.

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