Catholic dominance over hospitals endangers women

My latest at Al Jazeera America is about how Catholic health care services put women’s health at risk:

Tamesha Means, a Michigan woman, had a different, more terrifying experience. Her water broke at 18 weeks, too early for the fetus to be likely to survive. A friend drove her to the closest hospital, a Catholic facility where medical providers told Means the baby would probably not live, but they refused to terminate her pregnancy. She went back a second time and was sent home, despite being at risk of infection and in excruciating pain. The third time she went back, this time bleeding, in pain, running a fever and suffering from an infection from a miscarriage in progress, she was again directed to go home. She went into labor while filling out hospital discharge paperwork. Only then did hospital employees begin to attend to her. She delivered, and the very premature infant died shortly thereafter.

The ACLU is now suing on Means’ behalf. But most stories like hers are not told. And the smaller, non-life-threatening decisions — the refusals to provide contraception, in vitro fertilization or sterilization — fly even further below the radar, tinged with the humiliation of someone seeking medical care and receiving moral judgment.

Proponents of Catholic health care say that which services religious hospitals offer is a First Amendment issue and that the separation of church and state requires the government to remain hands off. Catholic hospitals provide necessary care to the sick and in need, through a well-funded religious institution with many devotees and volunteers who do excellent, important work.

But Catholic hospitals receive enormous amounts of state and federal funding, in the form of large tax exemptions, Medicare and Medicaid dollars and specific grants for certain types of care. In 2011, Catholic hospitals received $27 billion in public funding, not including tax breaks — nearly half their revenue. Catholic hospitals employ and serve populations that are not predominantly Catholic. One-fifth (PDF) of physicians at religious hospitals reported facing a “clinical ethical conflict” in which their medical judgment was at odds with the hospital’s religious policy. Because Catholic hospitals receive public funds and care for a diverse population, they should have a duty to serve the actual health needs of their patients and the ethical obligations of their staffs over church dogma.

Instead, they put the dogma first. As a result, rape victims are routinely refused emergency contraception in Catholic hospitals. Women with life-threatening ectopic pregnancies, which are easily ended by a shot of methotrexate or a minor surgery, often find an entire fallopian tube unnecessarily removed — decreasing the odds of future pregnancy — if they seek care at a Catholic facility. And, as Means discovered, even in life-threatening emergencies, Catholic hospitals regularly refuse to terminate pregnancies and may face penalties, including removal of church-affiliated status, if they do so to save the life of the mother. In one case in Arizona, a pregnant mother of four went to a Catholic hospital’s emergency room with a condition so life-threatening that her chances of imminent death without an abortion were nearly certain. She was too ill to transfer to another facility, so the hospital’s administrator, a nun, approved an emergency termination. The woman lived. The nun was excommunicated. Her standing with the church was eventually restored, but the hospital lost its 116-year affiliation with the Catholic Church.

Full piece here.

Author: has written 5272 posts for this blog.

Jill has been blogging for Feministe since 2005.
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41 Responses

  1. trees
    trees February 10, 2014 at 9:51 am |

    @Jill

    That’s one hell of a read. Well done.

  2. TomSims
    TomSims February 10, 2014 at 11:55 am |

    >

    That said it all.

  3. Lolagirl
    Lolagirl February 10, 2014 at 12:32 pm |

    This is a huge issue in the area where I grew up. All but one of the region’s hospitals are affiliated with the RCC, and not surprisingly the one non-Catholic hospital is often well over-capacity because residents have so many reservations about those other hospitals. When my dad was sick, I spent an outrageous amount of time waiting to get him admitted to the non-Catholic hospital on two separate occasions, and the staffers there were pretty upfront about why they had such a heavy patient load.

    Also, my dad was a staunch Catholic, and even he had serious reservations about the level of care at the nearby RCC hospitals. Not only are they shitty about denying patients reproductive related care, they aren’t so good at providing care for any other emergent, life threatening conditions to their patients. Religion should have no place in providing medical care to patients in need, regardless of what that care might be. It’s absolutely reprehensible.

  4. Sharon M
    Sharon M February 10, 2014 at 6:44 pm |

    Funny how their religious views effect women only. Jill, excellent piece, albeit enraging. The fact MYTAX DOLLARS support any religion is outrageous.
    *headache*

    1. DannyChameleon
      DannyChameleon February 11, 2014 at 4:17 am |

      Their religious views do not affect only women! They affect men, and they most certainly affect non-bianary peoples.

      1. Sharon M
        Sharon M February 11, 2014 at 7:44 am |

        Apologies DannyChamelon. I get myopic at times.

    2. emily
      emily February 11, 2014 at 9:20 am |

      I don’t want to derail this conversation, but it’s also not only reproductive rights issues. They also don’t respect end of life decisions a patient might make. Here’s something I found doing a quick google search on the issue: http://www.kaiserhealthnews.org/stories/2010/february/24/catholic-directive-may-thwart-end-of-life-wishes.aspx

      1. Sharon M
        Sharon M February 11, 2014 at 6:52 pm |

        Experts say no other large health systems in the U.S. have nutrition and hydration policies like those governing Catholic facilities.

        Please tell me how this isn’t a violation of the Establishment Clause?

        Forrow also said Catholic health facilities haven’t met a key ethical test — adequately informing the public of their policy. If they don’t do so, “patients and their families will arrive at the hospital in crisis and find that the care they want and need and have a right to as Americans is being refused.”

        Conscience clause>> Medical treatment, respecting individual human rights.

        Weinandy said “obviously the public should know what the directives say,” and patients and relatives “can easily download the directives or get a copy.”

        Of course!! Because that’s on the forefront of their minds during a emergency! Your child hit by a car? Your first priority is the hospital directives right? Not if they’re going to live, if they’re going to have massive brain damage.
        Goddess no!

        This people make me sick. I don’t think it’s derailing, far from it: how dare they force us to practice their beliefs on our bodies and lives.

        No one has that right. I just don’t know how we can fight back.

  5. Angie unduplicated
    Angie unduplicated February 11, 2014 at 7:09 am |

    The Catholic hospital at Chattanooga does not deliver babies, and does the least amount of charitable treatment of any hospital in the county, including for-profit facilities. They’ve been caught sending ambulances containing indigent patients to other hospitals. This is Catholic conscience in action.
    Why, oh why, do we give preferential treatment to religious opinions over secular opinions? This is not 1800.

    1. TimmyTwinkles
      TimmyTwinkles February 11, 2014 at 10:20 am |

      Particularly an institution as degenerate and corrupt as the Catholic Church. We should never forget how large parts of their bureaucracy and leadership were/are complicit in protecting child rapists, and even shuttled them around to other dioceses so they could find new children to molest. And the Vatican’s role in helping high-ranking SS members escape Germany post-WW2 and make it to the Middle East and South America. Including the scum of the scum, concentration camp doctors. I can appreciate the new Pope’s attempts at reform, but it would take decades and even centuries to wash the blood and human misery off the Vatican’s hands.

      1. TomSims
        TomSims February 11, 2014 at 11:20 am |

        @TimmyTwinkles

        You are absolutely spot on. The RCC is a despicable bunch.

  6. emily
    emily February 11, 2014 at 9:22 am |

    As soon as I got pregnant, I started carrying around a card in my wallet rubber banded to my ID saying that I do not consent to be treated in a Catholic hospital or by the employees or independent contractors of a Catholic hospital. It makes me feel like a bigot, but I’m a consumer and I know what type of care I want, even if I’m not conscious at the time these decisions have to be made for me.

    1. Sharon M
      Sharon M February 11, 2014 at 6:56 pm |

      It makes me feel like a bigot

      No, no, no. We don’t have a choice about race, genders, sexuality, et al. We do have a choice regarding what religion to practice, what occupation… They are not the same.

      That is an excellent idea btw.

      1. macavitykitsune
        macavitykitsune February 11, 2014 at 7:16 pm |

        We do have a choice regarding what religion to practice, what occupation… They are not the same.

        Wait, what? You can’t be bigoted against someone for a choice they made?

        Not that I disagree with emily’s point at all because of her healthcare situation, but HOLY SHIT, saying that people can’t be bigoted if it’s about religion or occupation – go tell that to Muslims or sex workers or abortion clinic escorts. And BTW as a bisexual person I’m really uncomfortable with the notion that no one can be bigoted against me if I only choose to date the (apparent) opposite sex, which is really only one step out from your attitude.

        1. Molly
          Molly February 11, 2014 at 9:43 pm |

          It’s not that you can’t be bigoted against someone for a choice that they’ve made, it’s that you can judge the hell out of someone for a choice that they’ve made, including a religious choice, and it doesn’t automatically make you bigoted (in the way that judging the hell out of someone for an identity category they didn’t choose automatically would be).

          It’s certainly not impossible to be prejudiced or oppressive or shitty towards marginalized religious groups, but the thing that distinguishes religious choices from the parallel you’re drawing with choices about whom to date/have sex with/r/partner with/form primary attachments to is that one of those things is mostly value neutral and the other is not.

          Being/choosing to be oriented and/or act on any of that orientation toward any gender(s) of people is more or less a value-neutral thing, and one that generally doesn’t affect anyone but the people directly involved, and I think, for the most part, that whatever choices people make are roughly equally valid. I just don’t believe all religions, and the choices people make to adhere to them, are equally valid in the same way. Some religions are oppressive and shitty and it’s not bigoted to to judge someone for adhering to a shitty religion.

          [apologies for delay in attending to moderation queue ~ Moderator Team]

        2. Donna L
          Donna L February 11, 2014 at 10:31 pm |

          Yes, seriously. Religious bigotry, now, let me see, haven’t I heard something about that sort of thing directed at my family and my ancestors going back a little while?

          Plus what if somebody does believe — as some do — that they made a choice to be gay? Not everyone believe in the “born this way” viewpoint. Does that make it OK to discriminate against them?

          None of this has anything to do with whether it’s OK to make a choice to pursue a particular occupation and then decide you can’t do what’s necessary to that occupation for religious reasons. Different issue, I think.

        3. Tim
          Tim February 12, 2014 at 12:46 pm |

          Yes, this — the reason emily doesn’t need to feel like a bigot is that she is reacting to explicitly stated policies of an organization, ones that will adversely affect her healthcare decisions and needs, not merely who or what they are. If her wallet card said, “don’t take me to a Catholic hospital because Catholics are icky,” it would be more apt to call that bigotry.

        4. Sharon M
          Sharon M February 12, 2014 at 1:55 pm |

          Wait, what? You can’t be bigoted against someone for a choice they made?

          Not that I disagree with emily’s point at all because of her healthcare situation, but HOLY SHIT, saying that people can’t be bigoted if it’s about religion or occupation – go tell that to Muslims or sex workers or abortion clinic escorts. And BTW as a bisexual person I’m really uncomfortable with the notion that no one can be bigoted against me if I only choose to date the (apparent) opposite sex, which is really only one step out from your attitude.

          I LOVE the way you assumed bad faith on my part.

          I don’t like Christians very much right now, and for damn good reason. It doesn’t hurt them because they have Christian privilege.
          I really don’t like law enforcement (an understatement) because of their record of brutality.
          Boo hoo for them: they have the power of life and death literally over us, so my fear and dislike of them is justified.

          Hating Muslims is tied in with racism and xenophobia, hating sex workers, and abortion clinic workers IS NOT the same as disliking cops, because these occupations are marginalized.

          Yes, seriously. Religious bigotry, now, let me see, haven’t I heard something about that sort of thing directed at my family and my ancestors going back a little while?

          Plus what if somebody does believe — as some do — that they made a choice to be gay? Not everyone believe in the “born this way” viewpoint. Does that make it OK to discriminate against them?

          Do you really think that’s what I was saying DonnaL?

          I had a cop tell me that stereotyping all cops as bad was the same as his dislike of a certain woman, and him stereotyping all women based on her.

          Thank you very much for assuming bad faith on my part both of you.

          TL,DR: I am bigot against any organization/occupation or culture that treats people like shit, including the Catholic church. That is a far cry from what you two are talking about.

        5. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune February 12, 2014 at 2:12 pm |

          I didn’t assume bad faith, I assumed a weird line in the sand. As I said, there is nothing wrong with wanting to avoid a group because of their stated policies, but extrapolating from that to “nothing wrong with choice-based bigotry” seemed a bit over the top to me.

          Tim sums up my position on things better than I did.

          Thanks for your capslock.

      2. Tim
        Tim February 12, 2014 at 5:28 pm |

        I don’t like Christians very much right now, and for damn good reason.

        Believe it or not, there are leftist, feminist, pro-choice Christians out there.

        Hating Muslims is tied in with racism and xenophobia

        So, it is OK to hate white, U.S.-born Muslims? There are some, you know.

        hating sex workers, and abortion clinic workers IS NOT the same as disliking cops, because these occupations are marginalized.

        There must be some borderline cases — do you ever have to consult occupational handbooks, labor statistics or salary surveys to decide which occupational groups of workers to hate?

        I had a cop tell me that stereotyping all cops as bad was the same as his dislike of a certain woman, and him stereotyping all women based on her.

        Well, he is pretty much right about that.

        1. Sharon M
          Sharon M February 12, 2014 at 6:16 pm |

          Believe it or not, there are leftist, feminist, pro-choice Christians out there

          Maybe they should speak out louder against the fundamentalists.

          So, it is OK to hate white, U.S.-born Muslims? There are some, you know.

          Yes, that’s exactly what I said. ~sarcastic~ Your average teabagger hates Muslims because of what I said above. Where did I say it’s ok to hate Muslims?
          You’re twisting my words around.

          There must be some borderline cases — do you ever have to consult occupational handbooks, labor statistics or salary surveys to decide which occupational groups of workers to hate?

          Having fun? See below

          Well, he is pretty much right about that.

          CN: animal abuse, police brutality
          No. He doesn’t have to be a cop, a field that seems to attract racist, sexist, homophobic, dog shooting types.

          I didn’t choose to be born female. He choose to be in LE, and this was the same guy who shot Leon Rosby’s dog Max, in front of him, while Mr. Rosby was begging for Max’s life.

          He also kicked a suspect who was handcuffed, facedown, in the jaw. That cost Hawthorne City a million bucks.

          So yes, I really don’t like cops, and comparing Law Enforcement to sex workers, abortion clinic et al is not the same.

          I am “allowed” to not like bigots, and I do not tolerate intolerance from anyone or any organization.

          I’m sure the dogpiling will continue.

        2. SophiaBlue
          SophiaBlue February 12, 2014 at 6:44 pm |

          Where did I say it’s ok to hate Muslims?

          I don’t think anyone is arguing you actually think it’s ok to hate Muslims. But statements like this:

          No, no, no. We don’t have a choice about race, genders, sexuality, et al. We do have a choice regarding what religion to practice, what occupation… They are not the same.

          imply that it’s ok, since being Muslim is just as much a choice as being Christian. Again, I don’t think anyone thinks you’re actually arguing this, just that your statement was overbroad. I agree that it’s ok to hate/fear/avoid Christians and cops, but because they are both groups that have power in US society and use that power to hurt marginalized groups, not because they are choices.

        3. Molly
          Molly February 12, 2014 at 7:08 pm |

          I honestly don’t get what’s difficult about this. Religions have content. Not all religious choices are of equal value.

          Employment choices have content. Some of that content– like Christianity, and the criminal industrial complex– is oppressive and shitty. Just to pull an example out of thin air, here– some religions advocate providing substandard healthcare and then lying to people about their options. I’m a-okay with hating people for choosing to align themselves with shitty, oppressive institutions . It does not follow that it’s okay to hate people for making religious/employment/whatever else choices that aren’t oppressive and shitty.

        4. Brennan
          Brennan February 12, 2014 at 8:20 pm |

          I honestly don’t get what’s difficult about this. Religions have content. Not all religious choices are of equal value.

          Employment choices have content. Some of that content– like Christianity, and the criminal industrial complex– is oppressive and shitty.

          Christianity is big and diverse. Here’s a list of things I heard in my oppressive, shitty church last Sunday:

          -”Tomorrow we’re having a seminar on understanding, accepting, and serving the trans community. Don’t be late.”

          -”Remember to vote in the primaries; it’s especially important this year since there’s a ballot initiative to ensure that subcontracted workers here in Redacted City are paid a living wage and offered benefits.”

          -”Please donate to our faith-based community organizing network. They’re gearing up for a push to end Redacted City’s collaboration with the ICE.”

          -”Mark your calendars; next Sunday we’ll have a very special guest preacher: Redacted Former Pastor. He’ll be talking about his experience with being defrocked for performing a gay wedding.”

          -”Happy Black History Month! This year we’ve decided to focus on the important contributions of black individuals in our own community. Watch this video interview where one of our members describes her work advocating for the aging starting in the 1950′s.”

          -”Isaiah 58: 6 and 7: ’6 Is not this the fast that I [God] choose: to loose the bonds of injustice, to undo the thongs of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke? 7 Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover them, and not to hide yourself from your own kin?” (This part was heard in churches across the country, most of which are not nearly as liberal as mine; it’s part of the Revised Common Lectionary read every three years in various mainline denominations.)

          -”Please stay after the service. There’s soup and we’ll be playing Apples to Apples in the social hall!” (Yes, I go to church with a bunch of dorks. ;) Leftist, pro-choice, justice-minded dorks.)

        5. EG
          EG February 12, 2014 at 8:39 pm |

          Oh, please. I like liberation theology and the role the black churches have played in strengthening black freedom struggles as much as anyone, but Christians as a group have been bathing in blood up to their eyeballs for eons, and that’s that. Christianity may be big and diverse, but when it comes to numbers and effects on non-Christians, you tend to blur together into one big haystack with damn few non-homicidal pins.

          If the proof of the pudding is in the eating, and Christ said it was (by their fruits shall ye know them), Christianity is a hateful, murderous, torture-happy ideology, and hearing the adherents of its inoffensive segments whine “But we’re not all like that” is exactly as unbecoming as it is for individual males to demand that women not say negative things about men as a group, or white feminists to get all hurt fee-fees every time a WoC notes the racism of mainstream feminism.

          Christians spread and enforced their dominance in Europe and the Americas at the point of the sword, it is still overwhelmingly dominant and disproportionately powerful in the US, and now some of you are upset because a few of us characterize your group as shitty? Cry me a fucking river and console yourself with the thought that the rest of America thinks that a belief in the divinity of Christ is a prerequisite to deserving any respect at all

        6. pheenobarbidoll
          pheenobarbidoll February 12, 2014 at 8:41 pm |

          Please please dont act like your church erases one damn thing that Christianity as a whole has done . It’s a colonized religion and is still active in genocide of the indigenous in this country. That religion has almost single handedly eradicated indigenous religions and beliefs. No matter how nice your church board reads, it’s existence here is colonizing and oppressive.

        7. Molly
          Molly February 12, 2014 at 8:47 pm |

          Will it help if I say that not everything every Christian institution has ever done anywhere is oppressive and shitty? Because of course that’s true. But it doesn’t change the fact that Christian institutions, on a broad, systemic, and historic level, exercise power in a way that is frequently– and not by mere coincidence– oppressive and shitty. Your game of apples to apples, while very nice for you, doesn’t mean a pregnant person can get adequate healthcare at a Catholic hospital. Nor does it obviate the systemic and institutional factors endemic to Christianity as an institution in this historical context that lead to the institutional policies that not only legitimate but require that substandard medical practice.

          If your belief system is so bound up with the identify of an institution of power that is oppressive and shitty– in a way that you don’t agree with– that you are unable to distinguish a criticism of the institutional exercise of that power from your personal experience of soup and board games, then maybe it’s time to find a new belief system.

        8. Brennan
          Brennan February 12, 2014 at 9:00 pm |
          Believe it or not, there are leftist, feminist, pro-choice Christians out there

          Maybe they should speak out louder against the fundamentalists.

          Being one of those people, I hear that a lot. I don’t know what kind of influence people think we have over the fundamentalists, but the reality is that we have less than none. If we told the fundies that the sky is blue, they would want a chapter and verse proof-text, would spend an hour arguing that it’s actually orange, and then would spend the next month denouncing the lies and heresies of those audacious blue-sky-claiming so-called Christians. They consider us the lowest of the low–far worse than the so-called “heathens” since we’ve read the same book as them and then dared to suggest that God doesn’t work the way they preach. They take great delight in informing us of the grisly fates that supposedly await “false prophets.” Conversations with true right-wing fundamentalists tend to be incredibly frustrating endeavors. I suppose we could put out a press release every time one of them says something obnoxious (“Breaking News: Church Says Gays Don’t Cause Hurricanes”) but even if we did it wouldn’t get much traction since we don’t get nearly the media coverage that they get. At the end of the day, we tend to choose the battles where we have greater than a snowball’s chance in hell of winning.

        9. Brennan
          Brennan February 12, 2014 at 9:30 pm |

          Will it help if I say that not everything every Christian institution has ever done anywhere is oppressive and shitty? Because of course that’s true. But it doesn’t change the fact that Christian institutions, on a broad, systemic, and historic level, exercise power in a way that is frequently– and not by mere coincidence– oppressive and shitty. Your game of apples to apples, while very nice for you, doesn’t mean a pregnant person can get adequate healthcare at a Catholic hospital. Nor does it obviate the systemic and institutional factors endemic to Christianity as an institution in this historical context that lead to the institutional policies that not only legitimate but require that substandard medical practice.

          No argument here. I didn’t mean to imply that I’m not privileged as fuck or that the history and much of the present for Christianity isn’t deeply and sometimes horrifically problematic. I just don’t like seeing “Christian” used as a shorthand for “right wing patriarchal fundamentalist” and I occasionally like to remind people that people like me exist. I did it the wrong way here. What I should have said was “liberal Christians such as myself believe the prevailing Catholic position on health care is utter bullshit” and then left it at that. Instead, you became the target of my insecurities and I unintentionally derailed the conversation. For that I apologize to you, Molly, and to the entire commentariat.

        10. trees
          trees February 12, 2014 at 10:31 pm |

          I had a cop tell me that stereotyping all cops as bad was the same as his dislike of a certain woman, and him stereotyping all women based on her.

          Well, he is pretty much right about that.

          It’s really not the same thing.

        11. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune February 12, 2014 at 10:55 pm |

          I agree that it’s ok to hate/fear/avoid Christians and cops, but because they are both groups that have power in US society and use that power to hurt marginalized groups, not because they are choices.

          This is my take on this.

        12. Denise Winters
          Denise Winters February 13, 2014 at 12:26 am |

          @Brennan
          This is one of the things that really irks me about some Christians. You completely ignored that Molly specifically said “some” in their comment. The very part of the comment you highlight includes the caveat of “some.” Yet you chose to go on about how great your particular institution is. To me, this comes across just like when men complain about how “not all men are like that” or when white people complain “not all of us are like that.” Even in a comment that makes it clear that not all religious institutions or people are being discussed, you decide to come in and get defensive and make it all about you and your group. I am so disgusted with Christians constantly denying their priveledge and demanding that anyone who critiques or criticizes Christianity explain that they don’t mean all of them. Except in this case, even that wasn’t enought because the poster added a caveat and was still met with a berage of bullet points on how lovely some religious institutions can be. And this kind of attitude and response is so typical of supposedly leftist/liberal Christians whenever the religion and its institutions are criticized. If a Christian can understand why a white man coming in and saying “but we aren’t all like that” is a problem, but can’t get why a Christian saying “but we aren’t all like that” in a discussion like this and on this particulas issue is a problem, then they are at the very least preventing a honest criticism of Christian institutions.

        13. shfree
          shfree February 13, 2014 at 7:09 pm |

          I do have something to add, but I’m doing it in spillover. Hopefully it won’t take me too long to type, as I fucked up my finger a bit at work.

      3. Tim
        Tim February 13, 2014 at 1:05 am |

        I apologize for my overly snarky block-quoting and sarcasm. We may be misunderstanding one another. More than that probably belongs in spillover, as this has kind of gone off-thread. It’s really late but I will try to post something there tomorrow which people can read or not as they like. Best wishes all.

      4. Tim
        Tim February 13, 2014 at 5:27 pm |

        FWIW, I did leave another comment on spillover 13. Read if interested.

        Thanks

    2. Tim
      Tim February 12, 2014 at 12:59 pm |

      [content note: mention of moderately invasive medical procedure] Another scary thing about this is that the affiliation of a given healthcare facility isn’t always that clear. A couple of months ago, my partner had a routine-checkup colonoscopy at a suburban “surgical center” and I went as his driver. It had some bland name like [Suburb Name] Surgery Center. I wondered about it because it was right next door to that suburb’s branch of the local Catholic megahospital organization. I wondered further when I sat in the waiting area and I overheard the intake registrar asking my partner and other people, “do you have a living will or advance directive?” and when they (usually) said no, following up with, “that’s OK; we don’t honor them anyway.” I was thinking WHUT? but didn’t ask because the procedure is pretty routine but if something had happened … I’m planning to be more careful about checking this stuff out in the future.

      Also, on your feeling “like a bigot” : don’t think you have to for reasons stated below.

      1. TimmyTwinkles
        TimmyTwinkles February 12, 2014 at 2:30 pm |

        Also, on your feeling “like a bigot” : don’t think you have to for reasons stated below.

        Exactly. The Catholic church officially backs the things we have problems with. These are not rogue hospitals or outliers. It’s mainstream Catholicism in action, and I totally reject it and openly label it for what it is: a bastion of intolerance and hypocrisy, with a lot of blood on its hands.

        1. TimmyTwinkles
          TimmyTwinkles February 12, 2014 at 2:34 pm |

          Bigot is a term for an intolerant person. But being intolerant and rejecting something/someone because they’re wrong in a moral/ethical sense are two completely different things.

  7. recombination
    recombination February 12, 2014 at 3:29 pm |

    Great summary of a huge healthcare access problem. One question:

    “Women with life-threatening ectopic pregnancies, which are easily ended by a shot of methotrexate or a minor surgery, often find an entire fallopian tube unnecessarily removed — decreasing the odds of future pregnancy — if they seek care at a Catholic facility.”

    What minor surgery are you talking about? I’m only familiar with laparoscopic salpingostomy and salpingotomy (removing the ectopic pregnancy without removing the fallopian tube) as an alternative to salpingectomy if surgical management is needed for a tubal ectopic. And while I’ve definitely heard horrifying accounts of Catholic hospitals not using methotrexate in situations where it should really be the standard of care, I’m not sure characterizing salpingotomy/salpingostomy as a “minor surgery” compared to salpingectomy makes a ton of sense: they’re both usually performed laparoscopically, have basically the same recovery time, and appear to have the same impact on future fertility (http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0140673614601239). Not trying to nitpick, obviously your point still stands, just wanted to point it out because while intuitively salpingectomy seems like it would have a bigger impact on fertility and be a much bigger deal, that’s not really true!

  8. tinfoil hattie
    tinfoil hattie February 12, 2014 at 8:18 pm |

    Excellent article. Lays it out very nicely.

  9. smrnda
    smrnda February 17, 2014 at 12:03 pm |

    Another example of a market failure, thanks to a wealthy entity throwing around $. Given that most Catholics don’t buy the Catholic church’s teachings on abortion, birth control or much of anything else, pretty much no health care consumers want their care restricted by the teachings of the church. So the church throws some money around to eliminate choices so you’re stuck with Catholic hospitals with Catholic teachings.

    This makes me wonder if religious organizations should even be allowed to own or operate hospitals. I’d really prefer there to be zero such affiliated hospitals since I don’t think conflicts of interest can be eliminated. If religious organizations want to be generous in health care, they can donate $ to hospitals that aren’t under their authority.

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