Don’t let Catholics run hospitals

Imagine if you lived in a town where the only hospital was owned by the Jehovah’s Witnesses, and you were in a car accident — you’ve got a ruptured spleen, you’re bleeding internally, and your life is at risk. The surgeon is going to go in and stitch up and cauterize everything, but you’re warned that they don’t keep any kind of blood supply in the hospital, and they refuse to do blood transfusions — they have an in-house professional ethicist (who is a Jehovah’s Witness, of course) who rejects the morality of exchanging sacred blood, and the administrators have signed an agreement with the church to never, under any circumstances, carry out blood transfusions.

If you need a blood transfusion, they say, don’t worry, the ambulance will take you to a different hospital…50 miles away. You, unfortunately, are in shock, you’ve got a gusher pouring blood into your body cavity, and this is not an option. You get to die.

We would not tolerate this situation. That hospital would have a change of ownership as fast as the public could drive it, and if anyone did die because of that kind of criminal neglect and refusal to follow standard medical procedure, a malpractice suit would be the least of their worries. Someone would be going to jail.

So why are Catholics allowed to buy up and impose Catholic dogma on hospitals? Is it because their ignorant dogma does the greatest harm to women (especially those slutty ones who have sex) and bizarre rules about reproduction don’t directly harm men?

But Catholics are buying up hospitals all over the country. They’ve got declining attendance, they’re closing churches, they’re having trouble recruiting priests, but they’ve still got buckets of money, and they’re using that money to impose control in another way — by taking over your health care.

Catholic institutions across the nation are merging with secular hospitals, clinics, and even small private practices at an unprecedented rate. Optimists explain that the consolidation and shared infrastructure help reduce costs. Pessimists point out that the aggressive mergers come at a time when Catholic bishops are exerting and expanding their authority. “I see it as a conscious effort to achieve through the private market what they failed to achieve through the courts or at the ballot box,” says Monica Harrington, a San Juan Island resident who’s spent the last year fighting a Catholic hospital in her town.

Three of the largest health-care systems in the Northwest—PeaceHealth, Providence Health & Services, and Franciscan Health System—are Catholic entities, and they’re busy making new deals in our state. According to MergerWatch, a nonprofit that tracks Catholic hospital mergers across the nation, there was a record-breaking 10 mergers announced in Washington State in 2012.

It’s a chilling story. Catholics can’t get their way in popular opinion, so they’ve followed another path, buying up and limiting health care options so that you have no choice but to follow their ancient biblical rules. The linked article is an examination of the growing move to limit your medicine to Catholic medicine in the Pacific Northwest, but it applies everywhere. They interviewed doctors who reported on their constraints.

Three physicians working in Whatcom County eventually agreed to speak with me. PeaceHealth bought out the secular hospital in 2008. Since then, PeaceHealth has systematically bought up nearly every specialty clinic in the area, from cardiologists to pediatricians, hospice to oncology. The physicians who agreed to meet me for coffee talked about the mindfuck of being raised Catholic, turning to atheism, and excelling in medicine—only to wake up one day with the church as your boss. The first physician joked grimly about the religious directives being “medieval torture porn.” He talked about the struggle of trying to balance his duty to patients with the edicts of a Catholic hospital.

These religious directives are nightmarish. They aren’t always followed — these really are rules laid down by religious fanatics who have no experience or connection to the actual practice of medicine, and conscientious doctors try to find workarounds — but what limits them now is competition. If Catholics get a monopoly on health care in an area, then the trouble really begins.

To understand Catholic health care, it’s important to know the rules that guide Catholic hospitals, otherwise known as Ethical and Religious Directives (ERDs). These directives are drafted and tweaked by the rotating cast of mostly white, mostly celibate bishops couch-surfing at the Vatican. ERDs operate like a code of conduct that medical staff in Catholic hospitals agree to abide by, regardless of whether or not a particular staffer is Catholic. For the most part, the directives aren’t suggestions—they’re prescriptive.

“Any partnership… must respect church teaching and discipline,” one directive states. The church monitors the implementation of these directives through hospital ethic committees overseen by regional bishops like our very own Archbishop Peter Sartain.

Sure, in 43 pages of Ethical and Religious Directives, there’s some common-sense guidance to be found. But they’re also flush with horrifying detail. As you’d expect, the directives pertaining to women’s fertility read like a misogynist romance novel or found art from the Middle Ages: “Catholic health institutions may not promote or condone contraceptive practices.” Emergency contraception can only be given to rape victims, and even then only “if, after appropriate testing, there is no evidence that conception has occurred already.” Vasectomies and tubal ligations are also prohibited. Egg and sperm donors are deemed “contrary to the covenant of marriage,” surrogate motherhood is prohibited because it denigrates “the dignity of the child and marriage,” and doctors at Catholic hospitals can’t help infertile couples conceive artificially—using their own eggs and sperm—because test-tube babies “separate procreation from the marital act in its unitive significance.”

Then there’s this: “Abortion… is never permitted.”

Not even when the egg attaches outside the uterus and puts a mother’s life in danger: “In case of extrauterine pregnancy, no intervention is morally licit which constitutes a direct abortion.”

The short-sighted and selfish male readers out there (and we know we have no shortage of those assholes in the atheist community) aren’t possibly quite as outraged as they should be. These rules affect women, right? I got mine, let them worry over it, it’s not my fight.

Unfortunately, Catholics also have some weird ideas about LGBT relationships. Another set of people who are going to be hurt by this Catholic takeover are those who are in any kind of relationship that doesn’t fit their narrow definition of one man, one woman…and give them the power to flex their ideological muscle, and you might find yourself snubbed if you’re divorced.

So maybe you aren’t gay and your sexual relationships are conservative and conventional. The other big problem is death, which all of us will do someday. Washington state passed a death with dignity law a few years ago, allowing physician-assisted suicide in terminal cases. Guess which hospitals ignore the law and will prolong your suffering indefinitely?

Don’t let Catholics control your hospitals. Keep the church out of your health care decisions. Make Catholic Ethical and Religious Directives (ERDs) illegal — individuals may follow them at their personal discretion, but no health care facility gets to impose them on their patients, especially when they defy the law.

Comments

  1. hjhornbeck says

    Wow. Canada has some Catholic hospitals, but they’re the exception and not the norm. I’ll be sharing this one around!

  2. vaiyt says

    surrogate motherhood is prohibited because it denigrates “the dignity of the child and marriage,”

    Yet, they have no problem snatching children from the hands of single or poor mothers. Monsters, liars and monsters, the lot of them. I still hope to see the day when people just get fed up with these criminals and burn them at the stake (for irony).

  3. Matt Penfold says

    I did not know how many backwards, harmful rules they had. No surrogate motherhood?

    Nope, and no IVF either. Nor for that matter any other form of assisted conception. All that is permissible in Catholic dogma is conception via sperm delivered during vaginal sex between a married couple. And it is also not permitted to do anything to interfere with that process!

  4. says

    I am openly gay, openly atheist and HIV+, which puts me on three of the Church’s “better off dead” lists. My doctors are with The PolyClinic in Seattle, which is affiliated with the now Catholic hospital, Swedish Medical Center. So yeah: after reading this article, I’ve started switching doctors to some that practice at Virginia Mason, one of Seattle’s last secular hospitals. It is a part of the group run by the University of Washington so, hopefully, it will remain secular.

    I contacted the PolyClinic a few days ago, after The Stranger article came out. Their response was just to mention that Swedish was partnering with Planned Parenthood to provide abortion and birth control services. I sent back, asking how that would have helped with an ectopic pregnancy, or how that will make any difference when the hospital refuses to acknowledge my living will, or denies my partner the right of visitation… things that Catholic hospitals in Washington have gotten in troble for doing.

    Still haven’t heard back from them.

  5. says

    Catholic health care providers are also forbidden to provide or recommend condoms. Meaning not only unwanted pregnancy, but HIV and other STDs. Oh yeah, for men too.

    The Catholic church is the single most evil institution in the world, ahead of the Mexican drug cartels, Al Qaeda, and the Republican party, not necessarily in that order.

  6. raven says

    Word is getting out about this problem.

    You would think after 2,000 years of atrocities, the Catholic church could find another hobby.

    A large hospital group in the bay area tried to buy the local hospital in a northern California town. Residents did some digging and came up with the fact, they were owned by the RCC.

    It didn’t happen.

  7. Owlglass says

    Especially disgusting how the religious use their hospitals and their missionary work to support their claims of being extra compassionate and charitable, even though they run them like normal business where they earn money, while imposing their religious dogma onto others. They always seem to target the helpless, the poor and the weak, exploiting their situation to further their own religious agendas. Scientific medicine is pretty much “invisible” to many people or it is actually demonized as being clinical and cold.

    But when the religious run a hospital they can put up a show and make it seem it was their God (and all the “good” people) who came to help someone. People then report how prayer or God saved them, while all the heavy lifting was done by robust science. Great many people are thus under the impression that the religious are the “good team”, warm and compassionate, while science and medicine are the “evil team”, run by corporate pharmacy and emotionless doctors or mad scientists.

    And now for something different…

    Cologne (dpo) – Serious allegations against a satanic hospital Cologne were brought forward. Allegedly, the doctors of the BaphoMED Clinic refused medical treatment on religious grounds. According to hospital staff, the Satanic Church forbids them to heal the sick. The practice has drawn some criticism as the hospital is all tax funded. [...] the staff is not happy with the religious rules. A senior physician told the postilion with confidence: “This hospital employs 60 doctors, with nurses, nuns of the unholy Beelzebub and manages a total of 900 employees. But since the founding of the hospital in 1991, we have yet to treated a single patient.” The workforce report a climate of fear. Again and again, namely conservative Satanists would check with feigned injuries, whether the hospital staff really treated any patients . The staff knows: who heals, gets fired. Many employees would prefer to work in a secular hospital–without religious rules. But good jobs are scarce. However, some have stated that they like their jobs. The BaphoMED is nice and quiet and the Satanists would pay well.

    Originally written by “Der Postillon”, some sort of German equivalent of Onion News.

  8. says

    At least they have to pay for that privilege. Here in Germany the get payed for it! The churches (almost all either catholic or protestant depending mostly on the outcome of the Thirty Years’ War [1618-1648]) pay at most 10% of the cost but have 100% of control[1]. I think you might have heard abut the case of the case of the woman in Cologne, haven’t you?

    [1]Makoski, Kyrill. Kirchliche Krankenhäuser und staatliche Finanzierung:
    Geschichte, Ausgestaltung, verfassungsrechtliche Anforderungen
    . Vol. 49.
    Peter Lang, 2010.
    Google excerpt

  9. dogfightwithdogma says

    On Friday I read the following headline in my local newspaper, The Akron Beacon Journal: “Summa to join with Catholic health system.” The article goes on to report that Summa Health System, the largest employer in my hometown of Akron, Ohio has agreed to sell a minority stake in its operations to Catholic Health Partners, the largest hospital system in Ohio. I read the article and my first thought was this is going to be yet another assault on women’s health in Ohio.

    They reported that the deal was being made to strengthen the financial condition of Summa Health. This is a bargain with the devil so to speak. The president of Summa Health System, Thomas J. Strauss made the following comment:

    “We believe collectively we will help lead the transformation of health care, not only in our local markets but how the state of Ohio will move.” This is a transformation, I fear, that will take us backward not forward. Not sure what can be done to stop this deal, but I am planning at least a letter to Summa Health officials. The catholic church is one of those demons, IMO, of which Carl Sagan spoke of in the Demon Haunted World. What a better world this would be were there no priests, no pope and no catholic church. This church and its priests have been, down through the centuries, and to this day remain the source of much mischief, harm, and oppression, especially toward women.

  10. robro says

    Why all hospitals and health care facilities aren’t publicly owned and providing free medical care to everyone for anything is beyond my understanding.

  11. Gregory Greenwood says

    Owlglass @ 8;

    Especially disgusting how the religious use their hospitals and their missionary work to support their claims of being extra compassionate and charitable, even though they run them like normal business where they earn money, while imposing their religious dogma onto others. They always seem to target the helpless, the poor and the weak, exploiting their situation to further their own religious agendas. Scientific medicine is pretty much “invisible” to many people or it is actually demonized as being clinical and cold.

    But when the religious run a hospital they can put up a show and make it seem it was their God (and all the “good” people) who came to help someone. People then report how prayer or God saved them, while all the heavy lifting was done by robust science. Great many people are thus under the impression that the religious are the “good team”, warm and compassionate, while science and medicine are the “evil team”, run by corporate pharmacy and emotionless doctors or mad scientists.

    Dressing up their evil as ‘righteousness’ is an old trick of the church, as is claiming supernatural credit for the acheivements of evidence based medical science while simultaneously doing all they can to discredit and destroy the very scientific method that made those acheivements possible.

    Hypocrisy and deceit are definitely numbered among the catholic sacraments.

  12. Crip Dyke, MQ, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    Look, this is what gets me:

    Even if the policy is never implemented because not a single person shows up with an ectopic pregnancy, wants to use birth control, or wants to participate in the conception of a child using ART, the people who run these hospitals have said loudly and clearly [using their assumptions of "personhood"]:

    We sleep better at night knowing we let you die so that our sacrifice of you gave a person who was both entirely unconscious and going to die anyway an extra 10 minutes/ hours/ days… than we would if that person unconsciously died without that extra 10 minutes/ hours/ days of sleeping/coma/whatever because we saved your life.

    Any person who is comfortable making that statement is so foreign to any reasonable ethical thought I can perceive that I don’t want them anywhere near me. Who knows in what other circumstances they might prefer someone kill me.

    There’s a sexist and anti-sexworker joke that I won’t repeat here, but reveal (I won’t call it a punchline) applies quite well here:

    “We already know what kind of person you are, now we’re just talking about your price.”

    In fact, it applies *better* in my mind…

  13. Red-Green in Blue says

    And this, ladies and gentlemen is why healthcare facilities should be under public ownership and control, and answerable to all those who use their services.

    PS. How about the USA putting the Vatican City on its list of rogue states that need to be invaded in the name of human rights and democracy? (he said ironically). Rich pickings in the form of art masterpieces too!

  14. teleology says

    Wow. Canada has some Catholic hospitals, but they’re the exception and not the norm. I’ll be sharing this one around!

    Canadian hospitals are also subject to the Charter when they provide healthcare. They’re implementing government policy, after all!

    Well, that is until someone repeals the health acts, anyway…

  15. Crip Dyke, MQ, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    How about the USA putting the Vatican City on its list of rogue states that need to be invaded in the name of human rights and democracy? (he said ironically). Rich pickings in the form of art masterpieces too!

    While I would never wish war against any state, no matter how notional, it’s certainly true that if, during an invasion, I happened to walk off with a few tens of millions of euros worth of art, that’s just the “untidy” nature of freedom – the freedom to commit crimes and do bad things.

  16. jackiepaper says

    Here we can choose between the Catholic Hospital and the Baptist hospital. How do we do anything to take medical care out of the hands of religious institutions?

  17. Gregory Greenwood says

    robro @ 11;

    Why all hospitals and health care facilities aren’t publicly owned and providing free medical care to everyone for anything is beyond my understanding.

    and Red-Green in Blue @ 15;

    And this, ladies and gentlemen is why healthcare facilities should be under public ownership and control, and answerable to all those who use their services.

    It is funny that the two of you should say that, given that back in 2010 the Catholic Archbishop of Westminster, Vincent Nichols, stated that he and his corrupt, immoral church are qualified to lecture the NHS on its ‘inhumanity‘. He particularly doesn’t like the idea of relaxing laws on assisted suicide, allegedly because he thinks such moves are motivated by a fear of death (no one ever accused the catholics of making sense).

    I wonder how long it will be before the Holy See and its lackeys stop merely sniping from the sidelines and directly try to sink their talons into the NHS? I don’t imagine they will want to miss out on such a grand chance to deny essential healthcare to millions more people in pursuit of their toxic medieval superstitions.

  18. starskeptic says

    There’s a corporate aspect to this, also; two Catholic health systems in Illinois (20 years apart) made the transition from being run by the nuns to handing things over to business types – and before you could say “you got peanut butter on my chocolate…”, you’ve got the business people squeezing the system for everything they can get out of it while hiding behind the nuns’ image – and the Catholics don’t have to get their hands dirty. A match made in hell.

  19. magistramarla says

    I dealt with this ten years ago when my mother was dying.
    She was abusive to me when I was young and was finally diagnosed as psychotic in her later years.
    She was hateful to everyone, and luckily for me, she had signed a directive that she wanted nothing done to keep her alive and wanted to be cremated, mostly to be spiteful to her Catholic sister.
    She forgot about this, but I didn’t.
    When she became a menace to herself and others, I managed to place her into a nursing home.
    At the end of her life, at age 83, the nursing home sent her to the hospital that was “on call” that night, which happened to be a Catholic one. The doctor kept calling me to request permission to do all sorts of things to prolong her life. He was harassing me and trying to make me feel guilty about not wanting to prolong her life. Little did he know that it wouldn’t work on me, since I hated her. Luckily for me, I lived in another state and I was the only child, so I had control. I had all of the paperwork on file and reminded him that this was what she wanted and that I would sue the hospital if they went against her wishes.
    He threatened to file paperwork to have the state take the decision-making out of my hands, but she died before he could do that. She already had things set up with a funeral home that was secular, so the cremation went through before any relatives could object.
    It is important to know ahead of time to which hospital a nursing facility sends its patients and to place directives into the patient’s records that they must not be sent to a Catholic facility.

  20. Steve LaBonne says

    dogfightwithdogma @ 10, thanks for calling my attention to the Summa story, which I had missed. I live in Medina, into which Summa has been starting to expand, so this is a matter of immediate concern to me as well.

  21. unbound says

    Not even when the egg attaches outside the uterus and puts a mother’s life in danger: “In case of extrauterine pregnancy, no intervention is morally licit which constitutes a direct abortion.”

    This alone should put the catholic church on absolutely everyone’s shit list. Openly advocating the likely death or serious internal hemorrhaging (about 50% chance if untreated) of women in exchange for close to a zero chance of a viable pregnancy (less than 1% of these).

    In any other situation, the odds alone would create legal action and outright ostracizing of the fanatics from normal life.

  22. efogoto says

    Out here in CA, Catholic Healthcare West has rebranded itself as Dignity Health. When I hear their ads on the radio, I start singing “Hot Dignity, dog Dignity, Boom! what you’d do to me…”

  23. yoav says

    I don’t get to vote in American elections so there is nothing I can directly do about it but the US would be a much better place to live in with a lot more Ernie Chambers and a lot fewer Drew Springer at all levels of government.

  24. says

    But you will all be happy to hear that last week the German bishops decided that yes indeed, rape victims might get emergency contraception. But they need to find out if it only prevents fertilisation or nidation, too. Not that we already know that…

  25. says

    Mormon-run hospitals in Utah used to keep blood donations from white people separate from blood donations from black people. That is, when they accepted blood donations from black people.


    Up until at least the late 1950′s LDS Hospital openly marketed themselves in Utah has having a blood supply free of negro blood. They drew blood from local donors who would attest that their family tree was free of the cursed blood. Many Utah Mormons would go only to LDS hospital because of this.

    The LDS Hospital became privatized in the early 1970′s, and from then on had no “official” connection to the church. The Morg [Mormon organization] actually only bank-rolled a not-for-profit company (IHC) to take things over so they wouldn’t get sued in medical malpractice cases.

    The men who were “called” to make this privatization happen were exactly that, “called”. It was a church calling with no compensation. The brother called of God to spearhead this effort was a good-hearted (no, seriously) millionaire. He is now is in his early 80′s and is a sealer in the Bountiful temple. By the time he left, he and others had built up the IHC monopoly to include 34 hospitals and its own health insurance company. The health insurance part of the business made it so they could just transfer money from one had to the other every time someone got sick.

    Although it was no longer openly stated why, IHC continued to collect their own blood for the Mormon hospitals. In the late 1990′s the IHC blood supply operation was slapped by the FDA and told to stop all of their blood collection. IHC had not been complying with all of the required protocols to test blood for HIV. After all, they didn’t need to, right? It was coming from righteous people….

    I was working/training in the laboratory department at LDS hospital when this happened. The head of the blood program was my professor, and I know he caught hell when this happened. They had to start getting blood from the Red Cross. The blood donors were forced to trade cookies for curses of cain, oh my! What a blow to the sacred priesthood. Of course, they kept this whole embarrassing thing as quiet as possible.

    Excerpted from: http://exmormon.org/phorum/read.php?2,356435

  26. Akira MacKenzie says

    Sigh… More depressing, gut churning news. Can somebody explain to me how things are going to get better again… Please?

  27. starskeptic says

    Lynna@30 – Wow, that’s a facet of laboratory medicine that got glossed over when I was in school; I’ll bet you’ve got lots of stories to tell.

  28. otrame says

    Having nearly died at the age of 19 due to a “misdiagnosed” ectopic pregnancy, I can tell you that not only will some hospitals refuse to treat such conditions, but they won’t even tell you that you might have the condition in question. Sent home with a diagnosis of “enteritis” and no mention of a possible ectopic pregnancy, it was another day before the fallopian tube split wide open and I started to seriously bleed (it was estimated that I had been bleeding slowly for several day before it all went pear-shaped). My blood pressure when I was admitted to another hospital was 60/40. They transfused me for several hours before I had surgery, during which I coded twice. The fact that I was young and healthy is the only reason I sit here typing right now.

    Years later, I read in my then-husband’s OB textbook that any doctor who does not rule out an ectopic pregnancy when a woman presents with abdominal pain is guilty of malpractice. In all the textbooks of his I read, that was the only time such a flat statement was made.

    I cannot say for sure whether the doctor in question was incompetent or guilty of attempted depraved indifference homicide, but I point out that that first hospital was definitely a Catholic hospital and we’ve had abundant evidence in recent years that some doctors who work in Catholic hospitals are perfectly willing to let women die rather than go against the rules imposed by the religion.

  29. says

    Sorry, Lynna – I got so wrapped up in that except – I thought that was your story.

    No harm done. I’ve made the same kind of error myself. The story came from an ex-mormon who posted it on another forum.

    Here’s some backup for that story:

    In 1953, a First Presidency secretary also informed a white Mormon about the less-obvious extent of Utah’s racial segregation: “The L.D.S. Hospital here in Salt Lake City has a blood bank which does not contain any colored blood.”106 According to presidency counselor J. Reuben Clark, this policy of segregating African-American blood from the blood donated by so-called “white people” was intended “to protect the purity of the blood streams of the people of this Church.”107

    107. J. Reuben Clark to Dr. G. Albin Matson (director of Blood Grouping Laboratory, Department of Bacteriology, University of Utah), 12 April 1948, folder 1, box 378, Clark papers; also quoted in Quinn, Extensions of Power, 839. For the background of this blood-segregation, see D. Michael Quinn, J. Reuben Clark: The Church Years (Provo: Brigham Young Univ. Press, 1983), 229-32.

    Someone else noted that blood separation was common in many hospitals up to about 1970. But it seems to me that Red Cross blood donation drives were held prior to the 1970s and that the blood they provided to hospitals would not have been separated by race. I admit to some ignorance as far as this issue is concerned.

  30. unclefrogy says

    Crip Dyke thanks for the reference to Rumsfeld
    one the best rationalizes in history.

    When you include the RCC in the group of the most evil organizations do not forget “the Mafia”
    and when you think about the mafia do not forget that they originate in Italy and have operated there for centuries. There have been many scandals involving “the Church” and the Mafia and ongoing investigations now. The Mafia has always used bribery and blackmail to gain control of what they want. Considering all the revelations concerning the church what makes anyone think that the church ever was immune from that corruption at the highest level?

    uncle frogy

  31. says

    Here is some more backup for the story about LDS Hospitals keeping mormon blood banks “pure,” (free of the blood of dark skinned persons).

    Just as President Gordon B. Hinckley has said that same-sex marriage has no legitimate claim as a “civil right” in Utah or anywhere else, previous First Presidencies also stated that African-Americans had no legitimate right to unrestricted access to marriage, nor to unrestricted blood transfusions, nor to rent a room in the LDS church’s hotel, nor to reside in Utah’s white neighborhoods, nor to live near the Los Angeles Temple, nor to be in a hospital bed next to a white patient.

    Source: D. Michael Quinn, “Prelude to the National ‘Defense of Marriage’ Campaign: Civil Discrimination Against Feared or Despised Minorities,” research paper given “Special Award for Outstanding Scholarly Research and Writing,” Affirmation Conference, Long Beach, September 2001; originally published in “Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought,” 33:3, pp. 1-52; for entire article, see: http://www.affirmation.org/against_marriage_equality/prelude.shtml [from research notes provided by Steve Benson]

  32. says

    I lived through the horror of a Catholic takeover at our local hospital. They immediately fired 9 ppl over 40 and hired young cheap labor. Of course there are no unions. The fired employees started a class action age discrimination lawsuit. When it was ready to go to court the Catholics went to Sacramento and had an illegal law passed: Employees can not sue a “religious organization”. This would be overturned if it went to the Supreme Court but the ppl had no jobs or money to pursue it. We got f**ked out of our jobs with no recourse. Catholic Nazis are filthy, greedy, murdering criminals. This article told the real truth. Catholics are crazy and have no empathy for YOUR life. They suck every last dollar out of the dying and won’t let you commit suicide. THEN on your deathbed they send in a Priest who charges $2,000 to pray you into “heaven” which doesn’t exist. These mf thieving scammers rob ppl from cradle to grave. Then they get MORE money out of ppl for FUNERALS. The entire Catholic Church is a hoax. They pray to fairy gods that don’t exist and rob the poor. They still keep slaves, they’re called Nuns. Nuns get to empty bedpans, never have money or sex and work for NOTHING. The Priests get money, cars, trips to Rome and all the sex they want from altar boys. They need to lose their tax exempt status for refusing to do legal abortions and murdering women. Then they need to be FORCED to comply with the laws of the land. Sue those mfs until they comply with the law.

  33. says

    Modus Operandi outed by a post on Recovery from Mormonism: [paraphrase follows, shortened from original] The LDS Church distanced itself from the hospital business, at least on the surface, while simultaneously keeping its hand in.

    They did the same when they outsourced treating same sex attraction to Evergreen International.

    The LDS church’s cover is blown, unethical or unscientific methods are revealed, and mormon leaders give some poor sap a “calling” to carry on as before. They don’t stop unethical behavior, they just outsource it.

  34. says

    More backup for the LDS blood “purity” story:

    In 1943, the LDS Hospital opened a blood bank, one of the first in the intermountain West and the second largest in-hospital blood bank…The longstanding Mormon teaching about white racial superiority and concerns that even one drop of “Negro blood” might render a man unacceptable to enter the lay priesthood prompted the hospital’s blood bank, like the blood banks in the American south, to maintain separate blood stocks for whites and blacks….

    Although the maintenance of separate blood stocks for whites and blacks had reportedly been abandoned by the 1970s, reporters described how some patients, who expressed concern about receiving blood from black donors, continued to receive the reassurance that this would not happen.

    Source: “Flesh and blood: organ transplantation and blood transfusion in twentieth…” by Susan E. Lederer,
    page 197

  35. Lofty says

    My only run-in with a catholic run hospital was in Germany when I holidayed there as a teenager. After a fall on ice that cracked a vertebra, I went to this hospital in Munich. Shortly after being admitted Boss Nurse rushed over and demanded to see the colour of my money. After signing over some travellers cheques and waving my travel insurance papers they reluctantly agreed to treat me.
    Religious compassion my arse.

  36. Ichthyic says

    Especially disgusting how the religious use their hospitals and their missionary work to support their claims of being extra compassionate and charitable

    Hitchens I’m sure would have been happy to regale us with tales of Mother Teresa as a direct object lesson on point.

  37. Ichthyic says

    Years later, I read in my then-husband’s OB textbook that any doctor who does not rule out an ectopic pregnancy when a woman presents with abdominal pain is guilty of malpractice. In all the textbooks of his I read, that was the only time such a flat statement was made.

    Is there a statute of limitations on malpractice suits in your state?

  38. trouble says

    “In case of extrauterine pregnancy, no intervention is morally licit which constitutes a direct abortion.”

    This is code for “we’ll do something that’s effectively an abortion but cloak it in an indirectness that lets us off the hook with the rules”, not that they won’t treat it at all. This means they’ll remove a fallopian tube with an ectopic pregnancy in it, rather than try and remove the embryo on its own. Permanently compromised fertility, but no “direct” abortion. Brought to you by the same people who spent centuries wondering about how many angels fit on a pinhead.

  39. says

    I live in Whatcom County, my doctor is part of the PeaceHealth group, and I have had ZERO problems obtaining contraception. If anyone has had issues with obtaining contraception or other appropriate treatment, the fault lies with the individual doctors, rather than the corporation itself.

  40. csue says

    I can see The Onion story writing itself:

    “Nation’s hospitals taken over by Christian Scientists! National healthcare spending plummets to zero. Employers pleased.”

  41. says

    Out of curiosity…. Does their ethics manual allow a doctor to prescribe viagra or similar ED treatments? It seems to me that, if, indeed, the catholics do not want to meddle with god’s ideas about sex, then the catholic hospitals should not have any such treatments.

  42. Meister Konfusius says

    Disgusting. I think they’re getting smarter – after laws that made abortions illegal or tried to do so, now it happens in a way that completely circumvents the law – where it’s harder to stop the effort of enforcing their false morality.
    There should be a law that requires hospitals of a certain size to have a doctor on staff who is qualified to provide them. But that would be simple and good, right?
    ____
    Another little tidbit about how frustrating things can be in Europe, too: Normally, German law requires an employer above a certain business size to agree to the creation of an employee organization and appointment of representatives with certain legal privileges (they’re difficult to fire, for instance) and also generally legalizes strikes for better pay.

    If the employer is a church? None of the above. The employees are not allowed to form a legally recognized and protected representative body, and neither are they allowed to strike. Even if the hospital administrators would be willing to hear them out and begin negotiations, they can’t, because the church won’t have that. They do have a committee with some worker representatives on it that can decide on pay, but the workers lack any real power to back up their wishes.

    The really depressing part: This church privilege is written right into the damned Grundgesetz (what passes for the German constitution) and it will stay there for a long time.
    On the other hand, it does make me oddly happy that someone here took the time to translate a Postillion article into English.

  43. kayden says

    “Don’t let Catholics control your hospitals.”

    Unfortunately, I would gather that the Catholic church is buying hospitals in poorer areas where people are grateful for any medical treatment and aren’t in a position to push back. This is scary.

  44. bastionofsass says

    We have what sounds like an unusual situation in Baltimore where St. Joseph’s Hospital, which had major financial problems, has been taken over the the University of Maryland Medical System.

    The take-over has led to some controversy as to whether St. Joseph’s would be able to keep it’s Catholic-centric policies in place. The Catholic’s say “there will be no change,” while others argue that legally and ethically, UMMS cannot continue to enforce Catholic policies. AFAIK, there’s been no clear resolution of the issue and the final outcome remains to be seen.

  45. bastionofsass says

    Argh again, “Catholics” not “Catholic’s.” I blame these mistakes on the jelly beans I’m eating right now. That is my excuse and I’m sticking with it.

  46. tuibguy says

    Whenever a priest or a bishop expresses concern about “dignity,” you know that people are going to get fucked over.

    I don’t even like to admit that I was ever Catholic. My only alibi is that I was born into a Catholic family and bolted when I achieved the age of majority.

  47. Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :) says

    Oh, now “Dignity Health Medical Foundation” makes sense; they’re getting pushback and trying to hide that they’re Catholic affiliated.

    I need to stop being lazy about switching providers. I’ll make the calls after the things that are due on Wedneday.

  48. raven says

    Oh, now “Dignity Health Medical Foundation” makes sense; they’re getting pushback and trying to hide that they’re Catholic affiliated.

    Yeah. They are trying to hide the fact that they are owned by tje RCC.

    Dignity = Catholic Healthcare West.

    They were the ones who tried to buy a community hospital up north and got shot down.

    Dignity tries to avoid bad publicity. Because they cause enough of it already.

  49. says

    Having recently read Steven Brill’s article in Time about rising health care costs, I can’t help but wonder if it’s really the ideology that is driving these takeovers, or just that this is where the money is right now. Traditionally, the Catholic Church invested a lot of its money in real estate, but that isn’t really a secure market right now. The health care system, on the other hand, is doing fantastically. As Brill points out, hospitals are often the biggest employers in the area. And the reason they’re doing so well, he notes, is because health care is the ultimate seller’s market. Patients don’t choose to become customers, and they don’t have a clue about the prices beforehand. This means that hospitals can get away with charging giant markups. Creating larger conglomerates of hospitals allows for even better market positions. So Catholic hospitals taking over other hospitals seems to be part of an overall trend of hospitals merging and taking over competitors, a trend that can be seen all over the US.

    So my guess is that the motivation for expanding their network of hospitals wasn’t so much an elaborately orchestrated scheme by the Catholic Church to win the abortion and euthanasia war – although I’m sure they regard it as a major bonus – but rather the much more direct motivation of money.

  50. thumper1990 says

    So, so assisted conception, no assisted abortion, no assistance for a safe sex life… basically, no assistance. Why does this not suprise me?

  51. Tsu Dho Nimh says

    @38 – Lynna Someone else noted that blood separation was common in many hospitals up to about 1970. But it seems to me that Red Cross blood donation drives were held prior to the 1970s and that the blood they provided to hospitals would not have been separated by race. I admit to some ignorance as far as this issue is concerned.

    In the Norfolk VA area, well into the 1970s, donor blood was labeled, if you knew where to look on the label, with the apparent race of the donor. Red Cross did the collecting.

    We segregated it by TYPE (A, B, AB, O) and sub-segregated it by Rh+ or Rh- . And ran a FIFO queue with the old stuff at the front.

    We were annoyed when the race designation began to be eliminated, not because we might be unknowingly give black blood to a white person, but because if we needed blood that was negative for a certain antigen (I think it was the Lewis group) checking units labeled as having a black donor was more likely to be successful because it has a very low incidence in that group. We were being pragmatic: Lewis incompatibility was our most common non-Rh transfusion problem.

  52. Tsu Dho Nimh says

    Although the maintenance of separate blood stocks for whites and blacks had reportedly been abandoned by the 1970s, reporters described how some patients, who expressed concern about receiving blood from black donors, continued to receive the reassurance that this would not happen.

    Reassure: “Say or do something to remove the doubts and fears of someone.”

    I repaired lab equipment in various LDS hospitals in 1980s Utah, which inevitably led to chats about how different hospitals did things, and how practices had changed for us med techs (when you remember the day live animals stopped being used for pregnancy tests, you are OLD!) The blood in the blood banks was not segregated, and Red Cross had stopped labeling by race.

    If a patient in Norfolk or Utah had nervously or agitatedly asked a nurse to if it were possible that their transfusion would have “black blood”, the nurse would have reassured them that it wasn’t going to happen. And the transfusion team would have reassured them it wasn’t going to happen … and the techs in the blood bank would grab the next units off the queue for crossmatching without giving a damn what color the donor was.

    ========
    SIDEBAR: The only race-specific hospital room assignment I can remember being honored was when a 50-ish white woman with a black roommate refused to use the shower and toilet in their semi-private room. She would walk the length of the hall to use the one off the hall used by the 4-person mini-wards (yeah, black people used that one too, but who said prejudice is rational). Her surgeon asked the nuns to give her another black roommate so she would keep walking down the hall. The exercise was good for her. So they did.

    Aside from her refusal to use the fixtures, she was not an overtly hostile racist – she even chatted with her roommates, but the porcelain was non-negotiable.

  53. dianne says

    Even if we leave aside the Catholic church’s immoral positions on birth control, abortion, HIV, etc, how is this not a violation of anti-trust laws? The Catholic church is trying for a monopoly. That’s generally considered bad. Why are they being given a free pass to buy up hospitals?

  54. Ichthyic says

    I think the US doj gave up trying to enforce antitrust laws shortly after the breakup of MaBell.

    that was what… 35 years ago?

  55. texasaggie says

    “Over the pope as expression of the binding claim of ecclesiastical authority, there stands one’s own conscience which must be obeyed before all else, even if necessary against the requirement of ecclesiastical authority. This emphasis on the individual, whose conscience confronts him with a supreme and ultimate tribunal, and one which in the last resort is beyond the claim of external social groups, even the official church, also establishes a principle in opposition to increasing totalitarianism “.
    (Joseph Ratzinger in: Commentary on the Documents of Vatican II

    How times change when circumstances change! What would happen if a doctor threw this quote in their faces when they got upset with him saving someone’s life during a miscarriage?

  56. Ichthyic says

    …they’d still excommunicate them.

    because that’s actually happened in South America more than once in the last few years.

    that even I can recall; there have probably been many more.

    that said, I view being excommunicated from that criminal organization to be a good thing.

  57. Ichthyic says

    If anyone has had issues with obtaining contraception or other appropriate treatment, the fault lies with the individual doctors, rather than the corporation itself.

    I agree with Daisy; I don’t think Miss Kitteh considered that maybe the problems ARE systemic, and the reason she didn’t experience them is because of individual doctors.

    IOW, exactly the reverse of her thesis.

  58. Ichthyic says

    …that said, I also agree with the idea that the reason the CC is focusing on clinics and hospitals right now is more about money than ideology.

  59. says

    Riiiight, *I’m* the dumbass for pointing out that no, there really aren’t any problems obtaining contraception in Whatcom County.

    I live here.

    You don’t.

    So don’t fucking try to tell me something that is blatantly untrue.

    It is a FACT that abortion and contraceptives ARE widely available, and PeaceHealth HAS NOT denied women these services.

  60. The Mellow Monkey says

    WMDKitty, no one is discounting your personal experience. But when discussing a systemic problem, a single anecdote does not erase the serious, life-threatening reality that others experience. Your own experience is not the only one that matters. This isn’t a matter of your anecdote versus someone else’s. These are policies that attempt to tie the hands of healthcare professionals.

    In the OP itself, PZ observes:

    These religious directives are nightmarish. They aren’t always followed — these really are rules laid down by religious fanatics who have no experience or connection to the actual practice of medicine, and conscientious doctors try to find workarounds — but what limits them now is competition.

    [Emphasis mine.]

    The OP quotes such physicians:

    The first physician joked grimly about the religious directives being “medieval torture porn.” He talked about the struggle of trying to balance his duty to patients with the edicts of a Catholic hospital.

    Your experience is to be expected and was allowed for in the OP itself. Yes, there are exceptions. We all know that. No one has any reason to doubt your personal experience, but that does not erase the systemic problem and the religious directives behind it. It does not erase the pressure these doctors are under. Perhaps you get good care, but those giving you that care may very well be risking their jobs to do so.

    And there are many healthcare professionals who won’t–or can’t–take that risk.

  61. Yellow Thursday says

    My local hospital merged with a hospital network recently. The new name on the hospital network gives the impression that it’s secular, even though one of the founding entities was a church-run hospital. Curious, I looked on their website just now. The “about us” page clearly states that it’s a Catholic organization, even linking to a copy of the Ethics and Religious Directives document described in PZ’s post.

    The nearest secular hospital is 25 miles away from my home. 40 miles away from where I work. Not good.

    I was reading over the Directives document. There’s another section that bothers me:

    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.

    So we can file a health directive with the hospital, but they don’t have to honor it. Way to care for the “dignity” of the patient.

  62. The Swordfish, Ambulatory Memory Leak says

    Eesh. I always thought PeaceHealth was one of the less objectionable religious organizations — they pretty much run the local medical system here in Eugene, Oregon (they’re the biggest employer too, just ahead of the university) and I haven’t had any trouble with them in the five times I’ve been in the hospital over the past two years. There was one doctor who was an ass to my lesbian parents, but we actually got an apology from PeaceHealth when they complained. Then again, I’m (genetically) male and sexually inactive, so I have no idea how they treat people who aren’t…

  63. Ichthyic says

    So don’t fucking try to tell me something that is blatantly untrue.

    wow.

    really? that’s what you think went on here?

    huh.

  64. apstorm says

    These sorts of things shock me still as a former member of the church that separated ‘on good terms’, if you will. I still respect the schools I attended, at least, despite what I see being done on behalf of the organization as a whole, or what other schools foolishly and blindly taught.
    Just makes me upset that they’re making a bad name for the church; even if I don’t consider myself one of them anymore, I guess I just feel obligated to at least say not all parts of the church are as stupid with modern life as the ones that get publicity like this.

  65. Nick Gotts (formerly KG) says

    I just feel obligated to at least say not all parts of the church are as stupid with modern life as the ones that get publicity like this. – apstorm

    Perhaps not – but those in charge of it most certainly are.