ABORTION AND ROMAN CATHOLIC HOSPITAL MERGERS
||"Sterilization is evil. It is a mutilation that frustrates the purpose of the
marriage act. You can't call that health care." Roman Catholic Bishop Thomas Wenski,
American Hospitals affiliated with the Roman Catholic Church
"are the nation's largest single group of nonprofit medical
facilities, operating an estimated 621 hospitals, 367 nursing homes
and 62 healthcare systems some of which manage "public"
facilities." Church controlled hospitals total about 15% of all
hospital beds in the U.S. "1
For the broad range of medical services, this may be a positive development.
In many cities with both Roman Catholic sponsored hospitals and public or
private secular hospitals, the former are often regarded as giving better
quality of care. However, problems can arise because of a conflict over human
sexuality. The needs and wants of some women may conflict with the church's beliefs
Termination of services related to human sexuality:
The National Conference of Catholic Bishops has issued a document: " Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health
Care Services" which specifies conditions under which Catholic
hospitals are to be operated. This document forbids:
These restrictions appear to be followed by most Catholic hospitals. Catholics for a Free
Choice surveyed the emergency departments of 589 hospitals in the U.S. which
are affiliated with the Roman Catholic church. They studied the availability of emergency contraception
(EC) -- commonly misnamed the "Morning After Pill." They found that:
||82% do not provide EC, even for rape victims,
||9% had no policy on EC,
||9% supply EC to some rape victims.
Of Catholic emergency departments that deny EC treatment:
||22% provide referrals with with phone numbers upon request,
||47% provide referrals but no phone numbers, and
||31% do not provide referrals. 2
This essay continues below.
Impact on communities:
Catholics for a Free Choice
estimates that of 127 mergers involving church-run and secular
facilities from 1990 to 1998, nearly half resulted in the immediate
termination of some or all reproductive services. Some examples of the
impact that mergers between religious and secular facilities are:
||In Poughkeepsie, N.Y., a secular hospital ended its abortion services
after it merged with St. Francis Hospital.
||In West Chester County, NY, Westchester County
Medical Center and a network of Neighborhood Health Centers
suspended a range of obstetric procedures after merging with St. Agnes Hospital.
||In Gilroy, CA, Catholic Healthcare West took over the South Valley
Hospital, using money raised from government approved tax-free bonds.
At the newly-named St. Louise Regional Medical Center,
contraceptive services and sterilizations were immediately discontinued.
||In Austin, TX, Seton Healthcare Network, a Roman Catholic
into an agreement with Brackenridge Hospital, a secular facility. One part
of the contract allowed the County Health &
Services Department to offer birth control information, counseling and
other services within the hospital. The Vatican allegedly instructed the local Bishop, John
McCarthy, to break the contract, and terminate all contraception programs.
When he refused, he was summoned to Rome.
Paulin of the Westchester Coalition for Legal Abortion commented:
"While hospitals perform only a small number of abortions, very often
they are the only option for second trimester and other complicated
AANEWS reported that Roman Catholic Bishops are considering new regulations
to further " tighten control over affiliated
hospitals and other health care partnerships, including those which
are public facilities." These could restrict or eliminate women's
access to information and procedures, even at public hospitals." A woman who has her child delivered
in a 'public' hospital and then wishes to be sterilized may be
surprised when she is informed that the procedure is no longer
available, and is considered a 'sin' against church doctrine." 1
AANEWS reports that the following proposals are under review:
||Catholic run hospitals and providers would be forbidden to engage in "immediate material cooperation in
||Catholic health organizations that manage facilities for private
owners or public hospitals would have to periodically review "whether
the binding agreement is being observed and implemented in a way that
is consistent with Catholic teaching."
church-connected providers would be asked to acknowledge that artificial
contraception is "absolutely forbidden."
||According to the Miami Herald, some liberal bishops are proposing a
resolution to allow Catholic hospital and management companies to permit
some birth-control services at non-Catholic facilities. They also propose to
allow local bishops to interpretation church guidelines on medical matters.
TV Program '60 Minutes'"
On 2001-JAN-26, CBS' 60
Minutes program was titled "God, Women and Medicine."
It studied hospital closures, concentrating on the withdrawal of
reproductive services in hospitals taken over by the Roman Catholic
church. William Donahue, president of the Catholic League for
Religious and Civil Rights commented: " '60 Minutes' finds
it almost impossible to do a segment on the Catholic Church which
isnít hyper-critical." He criticized the appearance on the
show of Francis Kissling of Catholics for a Free Choice. She
had said: "It's not like the old days. Doctors are no longer
'gods.' Now we have bishops who are 'gods.' "
Related essay on this website:
The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above
essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.
"Bishops may move to tighten rules governing hospitals,"
"Emergency Contraception: Catholic hospitals routinely refuse to offer
treatment, even to rape victims," Kaiser reproductive health report, at: http://report.kff.org/
Dave Clark, "Catholic 'spokesman' denounced," Focus on
the Family, at: http://www.family.org/
Copyright © 2000to 2005 by Ontario Consultants on Religious
Originally written: 2000-DEC-8
Latest update: 2005-MAY-06
Author: B.A. Robinson