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.”
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).
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.
Institutions religious beliefs interfering with getting the best medical care possible but in this case it seems they would risk a person’s life for their religious beliefs not even telling them their options.
reply to post by Eryiedes
I think that would be the old Soviet Union you'd be seeking for an anti-religious ideology. Even the new version dropped that stupidity in the face of an overwhelming majority of their population never buying it anyway.
Fortunately our 1st covers not only the freedom of choice but freedom of practice, as well. So in this case? Well, we can either accept the fact that Religious institutions do not and never will tolerate or permit Abortions....or we can watch them literally close those facilities and just leave entirely.
Good? Better? Should major hospitals simply close up rather than decline a SINGLE procedure out of the hundreds attended to on an average day? If so, well, if the pushing keeps up we'll see what happens.
To Catholics, this is a Salvation issue..not a matter of "choice". They'll close everything before violating it in most cases ..and in ALL cases I personally know to ask an opinion for. Salvation issues transcend ANY man-made law ..as man's law only has jurisdiction for a lifetime. The law they follow before that, has it for eternity. There isn't a competition on any level, IMO...or theirs.
Ive never understood Religious people when they talk on Abortion.
reply to post by benrl
Ive never understood Religious people when they talk on Abortion.
In all honesty, that sums it up right there and without going any further. You don't and can't understand it, if you don't see their point for it being a Salvation issue or a total non negotiable point to their Belief system.
I have no concept of how Muslims can actually hold true faith to the 5 Pillars of Islam. They seem silly to me in at last 2 parts. I also can't, for the life of me, grasp the concept behind Jehova Witness prohibitions on things like a blood transfusion, even from a known source or blood relative. I understand their stated logic. I can't grasp it on a meaningful level.
The same can and will be said by many about the quirks of my Wiccan Faith.
..and so it is we have the laws and Constitution we do, to insure respect for all even if belief follows none. It's an amazing system and works quite well...most of the time.
Look I can understand that religious hospitals will not perform abortions but that isn’t what this is about. They do not want doctors to even mention it even in cases where the woman’s life is in danger.
there are no cases in which the Orthodox Church–or the Roman Catholic Church, for that matter–condones abortion. (Nor did the Episcopal Church, in healthier times.) The act is murder, and it is always murder, and there are no circumstances, whatever, in which murder is a legitimate moral option. The deliberate, directly intended killing of an innocent life is a sin that screams to heaven for vengeance. Always, in all circumstances, and with no exceptions.
no one is asking them to perform an abortion or unnecessary surgery that would cause the death of a child
You may view the hospitals as necessary ..
The case involves Dr. Michael Demos, a cardiologist at Mercy since 2005, and a female patient with a family history of Marfan syndrome, an inherited disorder of the connective tissues that has been called “one of the most feared cardiovascular complications associated with pregnancy.” In women with the condition, the strains on the body brought on by pregnancy can cause the aorta to rupture, almost always killing the mother. Thus the American College of Cardiology and American Heart Association recommend that if a patient’s aorta becomes enlarged beyond a certain point, her pregnancy should be terminated.
Seems like many posters here have not absorbed the OP or article. Especially the part where these religious hospitals are the only game in town.