Now. Let’s be thorough about this. I need to understand the Ethical and Religious Directives – commonly and folksily called ERD – and just exactly how they function, and why. I need to know if and how and why anyone relevant (like, hospital administrations, and medical practitioners) considers them binding. I also need to know what they say.
So let’s take a look.
The Directives have been refined through an extensive process of consultation with bishops, theologians, sponsors, administrators, physicians, and other health care providers.
That’s ridiculous, and dangerous. Bishops and theologians have nothing relevant to say.
But of course the whole thing comes from bishops. The wretched thing is on the USCCB website. It’s theirs. It’s Orders From the Bishops. Bishops are telling medical professionals what to do, as medical professionals. This is a fucking outrage.
Still page 4.
…the Directives will be reviewed periodically by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (formerly the National Conference of Catholic Bishops), in the light of authoritative church teaching, in order to address new insights from theological and medical research or new requirements of public policy.
Authoritative church teaching, theological and medical research - bad, bad, bad.
9. Employees of a Catholic health care institution must respect and uphold the religious mission of the institution and adhere to these Directives. They should maintain professional standards and promote the institution’s commitment to human dignity and the common good.
What is the status of that? Is it a condition of employment? Can the bishops fire medical practitioners who fail to adhere to these Directives? Can they force hospitals to fire medical practitioners who fail to adhere to these Directives? That was at issue with the nun who agreed to the abortion at St Joseph’s hospital in Phoenix, certainly.
Page 19 – it starts to get sinister.
When the health care professional and the patient use institutional Catholic health care, they also accept its public commitment to the Church’s understanding of and witness to the dignity of the human person. The Church’s moral teaching on health care nurtures a truly interpersonal professional-patient relationship. This professional-patient relationship is never separated, then, from the Catholic identity of the health care institution. The faith that inspires Catholic health care guides medical decisions in ways that fully respect the dignity of the person and the relationship with the health care professional.
That first sentence is very sinister. Some people – lots of people – are forced to “use institutional Catholic health care” because it’s all that’s available to them. Nobody should be forced to accept anyone’s commitment to any church’s understanding of anything as a condition of getting medical treatment. Nobody. Ever. Medical care should be secular.
Page 19 still.
24. In compliance with federal law, a Catholic health care institution will make available to patients information about their rights, under the laws of their state, to make an advance directive for their medical treatment. The institution, however, will not honor an advance directive that is contrary to Catholic teaching. If the advance directive conflicts with Catholic teaching, an explanation should be provided as to why the directive cannot be honored.
Well fuck you.
26. The free and informed consent of the person or the person’s surrogate is required for medical treatments and procedures, except in an emergency situation when consent cannot be obtained and there is no indication that the patient would refuse consent to the treatment.
Now they’re lying, because Catholic hospitals routinely don’t tell patients that they are not getting standard of care treatment for reasons of theology. They don’t require informed consent at all.
That will be part one. To be continued.