“So long as it does not contradict Catholic principles”

Ok new item to contemplate in slack-jawed horror and then shout the place down about. A Twitter friend alerted me to the fact that the University of Texas at Austin medical school recently partnered with a Catholic hospital group, Seton, and the students were told they have to comply with the ERD.

I can barely get my head around it. It’s a state school. And the ERD tells hospital and medical staff that they may not perform abortions ever.

A publicly funded university is ordering its med students to comply with church rules. In the United States, in 2013.

From the Austin Statesman a year ago, December 2012.

Plans to establish a medical school at the University of Texas and train its students at a Catholic-owned teaching hospital have rekindled debate over public health care services for women and the impact of Vatican rules against birth control.

Local health and university officials said they don’t see a problem with a partnership between UT, the Seton Healthcare Family and Central Health, Travis County’s hospital district. Services for women will continue to be offered in the same way they are being provided now, officials said.

Except for the Catholic part. This was a year ago, so it was weeks after the news about Savita Halappanavar came out. You would think health officials would be paying attention.

More recently here is Catholic Watch this past August.

Below is a message sent out by the University of Texas at Austin that contains a line of such unadulterated BS that it’s making CatholicWatch’s head spin.  For those in the know, the University of Texas is trying to justify its partnership with Seton Health Care Family (which requires compliance with the ERDs) to train future physicians.  You can read more about ithere.

Here’s what Executive Vice President and Provost Steven Leslie had to say about the deal that is so mind-boggling:  ”It is true that the doctors employed by Seton must abide by Catholic directives while practicing medicine in those facilities, including rules on birth control, abortion and end-of-life care. However, those same directives also require that patients are fully informed so they can give free consent, which requires doctors to share the full range of information about medications and procedures, including contraception.”

Now it’s clear that Leslie has either never read the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care or he read them but didn’t comprehend what they actually say.

Here’s what the ERDs say on this point, starting with an excerpt from Directive 27:  ”Free and informed consent requires that the person or the person’s surrogate receive all reasonable information about the essential nature of the proposed treatment and its benefits; its risks, side-effects, consequences, and cost and any reasonable and MORALLY LEGITIMATE alternatives, including no treatment at all…..The free and informed health care decision of the person or the person’s surrogate is to be followed so long as it does not contradict Catholic principles.”

Which means a person who enters into a Catholic hospital automatically is deprived of THE RIGHT TO FREE AND INFORMED CONSENT because no procedure can be done that violates Catholic principles and no information about alternatives that are not deemed “morally legitimate” in the eyes of the Catholic Church need be discussed either.

This is such an outrage.




  1. Claire says

    The state legislature might have outlawed the Travis County Hospital District, which pretty much existed solely to provide a full-range of reproductive services (including tubal ligations and such) within the Seton building but “separate” from it. Something about prohibiting counties from funding abortions through county taxes? (Travis was the only one in the state with this kind of setup. They loooove to micromanage appallingly-liberal Travis County from the state lege.) This legislative session was such a clusterfuck in so many ways.

    I can’t remember what the solution ended up being…so many things to keep track of.

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

    I’m pissed.

    I was already pissed that you could get away with not informing people of treatment options (and hopefully the Michigan suit against MHP will end that) in a private, Catholic hospital. But a publicly owned university, in trust for all the people, run by the government, doing a Catholic morality test on treatment options and then holding students in that government run program to the Catholic speech codes?

    Completely outrageous. I don’t know the words strong enough to condemn this.

  3. says

    Claire – funny you should say that, because I just remarked on Twitter “I can’t keep up with all the things.”

    Thanks for alerting me to this. It’s just enraging.

  4. besomyka says

    *headdesk* We’re just going to end up wasting money on the lawsuit and it’s not like the University systems here in Texas are flush with cash.

  5. Al Dente says

    I’ve been noticing that a lot of religious clerics, particularly conservatives and/or fundamentalists, want everyone to follow their particular particular beliefs and prohibitions, even people who aren’t members of that cult or sect. These ecclesiastics also claim that not allowing them to force their dogma on unbelievers is a restriction on their religious freedom. Someone in the UUK blog noted that religious freedom means restricting someone else’s freedom.

  6. John Morales says

    Catholics can be pragmatic (if sophistic!) when it suits them (cf. “principle of double effect”).

  7. says

    LSU has a new partnership with Our Lady of the Lake hospital, an enormous Catholic hospital in Baton Rouge, because Bobby Jindal is privatizing the state’s public hospitals due to reduction in Medicaid funding (*facepalm*). Currently, LSU’s medical school is at the New Orleans campus (which does not currently partner with Catholic hospitals), but I believe part of this new partnership is to extend the med school to the Baton Rouge campus and OLOL. It will be something to watch in the next few years…

  8. Stella says

    If medical schools follow the Catholic ERDs, won’t that mean that upcoming OB/GYN/ER docs will not be taught to properly handle miscarriages? Will torture and the possibility of death become standard medical treatment? Doctors in medical facilities will have no experience in dealing with miscarriages, other than to let the women suffer and risk dying.



  9. says

    So, I guess this is another front of the war against women. First, they try to outlaw it directly. When that fails, they try to restrict access to clinics and harass doctors. Now, they’ve found a new way; prevent doctors from ever being properly trained in how to do the procedure in the first place.

    Catholics can be pragmatic (if sophistic!) when it suits them (cf. “principle of double effect”).

    Of course. After all, this isn’t really about abortions. The idea of double effect is fine because it still maintains the most important part; the woman doesn’t get to make decisions about her own body. She has to ask permission from the men.

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