21st December 2011

“Would you ask someone else to die for your religious beliefs? A new proposal moving through Congress makes it clear that the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops apparently expects everyone to die for theirs… In a move long sought by the political arm of the Catholic clergy, hospitals would be permitted to refuse to treat women with life-threatening emergencies.”

Nancy Northup

16 Responses to “21st December 2011”

  1. Xhim Says:

    This is at best a half truth. Check the other side at http://ncronline.org/blogs/distinctly-catholic/conscience-rights-confusions.
    Whether or not you disagree with the RC policies, it is irresponsible for Northup to state it this way. It is about as responsible as a headline reading “Local Hospital Forced to Murder Babies.”

  2. captainzero Says:

    You know Xhim, I don’t think Northrup overstates the case. She is, in fact, telling it the way it actually is in terms of its impact on the unfortunate woman who has no choice of which hospital to be treated in. Sadly, it IS the case that in many parts of the country, the only accessible medical care is at a hospital sponsored or run by a religious organization. So, if it is legal for a hospital to refuse, say, an abortion to save the life of the mother, you can expect her to die to save some misguided physician’s conscience. Let’s say your doctor is a Jew and he circumcised your son without consulting you because it’s in keeping with his religious tradition. Should we protect his right to do so rather than throwing him in jail where he belongs?

    If a doctor cannot offer you the care you need because of religious hang ups, s/he should not be a doctor. The law has no business supporting this ridiculous position.

  3. captainzero Says:

    And lest we poo poo this circumstance as too rare to worry about, lets consider ectopic pregnancies which occur at a rate of 19.7 cases per 1000 pregnancies or roughly 2,000,000 year. These are a significant source of maternal mortality in, umm, America, the ‘greatest nation in the world’.

    Bonus info for ‘intelligent design’ proponents:

    “Ectopic pregnancy presents a major health problem for women of childbearing age. It is the result of a flaw in human reproductive physiology that allows the conceptus to implant and mature outside the endometrial cavity, which ultimately ends in death of the fetus. Without timely diagnosis and treatment, ectopic pregnancy can become a life-threatening situation.

    Ectopic pregnancy currently is the leading cause of pregnancy-related death during the first trimester in the United States, accounting for 9% of all pregnancy-related deaths. In addition to the immediate morbidity caused by ectopic pregnancy, the woman’s future ability to reproduce may be adversely affected as well.”

    So, by all means, let’s let catholic doctors in dirt poor backwater towns refuse to perform medically necessary abortions to save these unfortunate women from dying according to ‘god’s plan’. Gee don’t we all feel moral?

  4. captainzero Says:

    Damn! I wrote that wrong. 2m is total mortality. 64k is the Ectopic loss. Sorry.

  5. Xhim Says:

    Captainzero:
    Ectopic pregnancies are not the issue. Note the following from a Catholic website ( http://www.cuf.org/faithfacts/details_view.asp?ffID=57 )

    “In the case of an ectopic pregnancy, the lives of both the mother and child are placed at risk. The moral teachings of the Church call for medical treatment that respects the lives of both. Most recently, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops reiterated these principles:

    ? “In the case of extrauterine pregnancy, no intervention is morally licit which constitutes a direct abortion.[2]

    ? “Operations, treatments and medications that have as their direct purpose the cure of a proportionately serious pathological condition of a pregnant woman are permitted when they cannot be safely postponed until the unborn child is viable, even if they will result in the death of the unborn child.

    “On one hand, there can be no direct attack on the child (direct abortion) to save the life of the mother. On the other hand, the life of the mother is equally valuable and she must receive appropriate treatment. It might be that the only available remedy saves the life of the mother but, while not a direct abortion, brings about the unintended effect of the death of the child. Morally speaking, in saving the life of the mother, the Church accepts that the child might be lost.”

    I’m not even Catholic, and certainly don’t agree with all of the RC’s positions in this area. But I can’t believe the cavalier attitudes toward freedom of conscience that I am hearing.

  6. Sinjin Smythe Says:

    Xhim, while obviously highly critical this is hardly a half truth. The statement in your referenced document “doctors and patients do not stand sui generis” in no way ushers in an opportunity for the clergy to stand in as an e

  7. Sinjin Smythe Says:

    -qual professional. This presumption that the clergy are on a equal plane with doctors, philosophers, or anyone necessary to the doctor patient relationship.

    This is the singularly annoying thing religionistas do, inserting themselves into places where they are frankly unqualified to be.

    Imagine if we were to defer to the judgement of the local witch doctor, or the local magi? What if we were to call in the shaman, the imam, the rabbi?

    Just because your favorite flavor of magician happens to be Catholic clergy does not elevate the person to fit within the doctor patient relationship.

    Doctors and patients do stand unique, ambient culture accepted, people have to make choices and those choices are best left to the immediate stakeholders.

    The ACLU may not be entitled to a lock on who gets to answer or ask philosophical questions but their orientation to the natural, the rational, and the scientific far better qualifies them than a bunch of clowns in phalic hats, blathering incantations to supernatural dieties in the sky.

  8. Jeff Says:

    Xhim, no matter how you argue it, this controversy can only come down to a single fact:

    You wish to be able to inflict you moral judgement on another, to their direct detriment. The DENIAL of someone housing that you bring up in your landlord problem, the DENIAL of medically needed services in this one. You object to a persons MORAL JUDGEMENT because it differs from yours, and seek to legally deny them the right to differ from you.

    Now I know that you are going to point out that much of law is based upon morality, and this is true. BUT IT IS MUTUALLY ACCEPTED MORALITY, and upon the things you wish to impose, there is MUCH disagreement. Do we allow doctors to refuse treatment to people they dislike? NO. A doctor, BY LAW, must treat the patient in front of them to the best of their ability, according to the needs of the patient. NOT to the moral judgement of the doctor, but to the best of their ability. Failure to do so is malpractice and can result in either civil or criminal liability. For specific procedures you want us to waive that. Sorry, I’m not willing to do so.

  9. Jeff Says:

    One last thought for Xhim.

    You refuse to own property due to the fact that you would be required to rent to an unmarried couple. The doctor could stop practicing medicine if he cannot meet the obligations of his profession. And a hospital that cannot give appropriate treatment to all who come through their doors should close. Sorry, but that is the only moral position on this one.

  10. Atheist MC Says:

    From Xhim’s link

    We believe an abortion harms two patients, the child who is killed and the mother who permits the killing. In fact, the harm to the mother, involving her eternal soul, is in our understanding of values, far greater than the harm to the innocent child.

    Religion really does poison everything. This is why religious institutions should not be allowed anywhere near medical, social and legal provision as they value magical thinking over people’s lives.

  11. Xhim Says:

    The issue is freedom of conscience. Should a conscientious objector be forced to go to war? If he stays home, someone else will have to face the bullets. You guys sound like freedom of conscience is good as long as that conscience agrees with yours.

  12. Xhim Says:

    You just don’t happen to be convinced that aborting that baby is murder. Good for you. but if that is the conviction of the doctor, or the hospital’s sponsoring organization, they are required to bow to your conscience at the expense of their own.

  13. Gene Says:

    Xhim –

    It’s not what you, the clergy, or the doctor believe; it’s what the patient believes. It boils down to the church forcing their misguided “morality” on everyone else. According to the bible it’s OK to murder someone because they are working on the Sabbath so don’t claim to have the moral high ground here; because you don’t. This is Fascism and nothing else.

  14. Sinjin Smythe Says:

    Well put Gene! This is a case in point of the problems that come with pretending religion is a worldview, or that faith is something other than mental illness.

    Xhim, like all religionistas, constantly angles to wedge in a space for religion to exist with rational thought. They are quite skilled at it. It does not however, once established within the collective consciousness of the mass uninformed public, become valid in a discussion with rational actors.

    Religion is illness of the mind. Those afflicted should not be awarded input into the health or well being of others for any reason. Xhim operates on the basis that a priest or minister, with rarely any scientific training, has a credential as a professional.

    This is silliness!

    History is replete with example after example of clergy offering guidance to people that was inappropriate at the least and in too many cases dangerous.

    On biblical contradiction alone religion has nothing to establish itself as even a poor commentator on morality. Honestly Xhim would you read Deuteronomy! Your boy Jesus loved it so, maybe you should familiarize yourself with it.

  15. captainzero Says:

    And let’s not forget also that this is not just about individual’s freedom of conscience but is equally about what religious organizations can FORCE their employees to do or not do. A doctor in a catholic hospital that performs an abortion is at risk of losing their job whether or not their own personal feelings come into play. People have actually been fired for this. But leaving aside abortion for the moment, a doctor can be fired from a catholic institution for getting a divorce. This IS facism.

  16. meryt Says:

    Hmm, I will only comment on the realities of ectopic pregnancies because of work related experience. Ectopic pregnancies are always treated as emergencies and the question of embryo survival is never raised regardless of the associations of the hospital involved. The overwhelming majority of ectopic pregnancies implant in the fallopian tube and there is no chance whatsoever of the pregnancy resulting in a live birth. The tubal pregnancy will abort without intervention in about 50% of cases without the mother even being aware of the pregnancy. The remaining 50% are treated with methotrexate or surgery becuase of the risk to maternal health. Other implantation sites are possible but rare and of these only an abdominal pregnancy has any chance of progressing to viablity and the odds of this happening are infintesimally small. This occurance is such an improbable event that all reports are ancedotal and in 30 years I have never seen an abdominal ectopic pregnancy and I don’t anticipate that I will ever see one. Heck in that time I can’t even recall seeing an ectopic pregnacy that wasn’t tubal. So stated policies, even in agreement, never enter the discussion of treatment for a woman with an ectopic pregnancy.