The ERD part 2

The US Catholic bishops’ orders to Catholic health care providers.

Page 20 still.

28. Each person or the person’s surrogate should have access to medical and moral information and counseling so as to be able to form his or her conscience. 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.

Doesn’t that sound familiar. [Read more…]

Start at the beginning

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. [Read more…]

Hospital administrators interfered

More detail, from the full report by the National Women’s Law Center.

the Study revealed four serious lapses in care resulting from religious restrictions:

  • Doctors performed medically unnecessary tests, resulting in delays in care and additional medical complications for patients. These tests were done solely to address hospital administrators’ concerns that the treatment complied with religious doctrine.
  • Doctors transferred patients with pregnancy complications because their hospitals’ religious affiliation prohibited them from promptly providing the medically-indicated standard of care.
  • Hospital administrators interfered with doctors’ ability to promptly provide patients with the standard of care. [Read more…]

It’s not just Ireland

I’ve been re-reading the National Women’s Law Center report on religious restrictions at hospitals that put women’s lives at risk, from January 2011. It’s about what happened to Savita Halappanavar last month and what happens to a significant (but unknown) number of women because of religious bullshit surrounding the termination of pregnancy. It’s about hospitals substituting religious bullshit for technical medical understanding and experience.

The summary is Women’s Health and Lives at Risk Due to Religious Restrictions at Hospitals, New Center Study Shows.

What it tells us.

The Center’s report, Below the Radar: Ibis Study Shows that Health Care Providers’ Religious Refusals Can Endanger Pregnant Women’s Lives and Health, demonstrates that certain hospitals, because of their religious beliefs, deny emergency care, the standard of care and adequate information to make treatment decisions to patients experiencing miscarriages and ectopic pregnancies. The study and report focused on cases where no medical intervention was possible that would allow the patient to continue her pregnancy and where delaying treatment would endanger the woman’s health or even life. [Read more…]

A custody fight

NPR’s god-besotted religious affairs reporter Barbara Bradley Hagerty shyly points out that bears shit in the woods and the Catholic church is not the most liberal institution in the world. She’s very careful about it but even she can’t hide the scary.

Perceiving its core beliefs to be under threat from popular culture, the White House and even Catholics themselves, the Vatican and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops are pushing back.

She sure does give it her best shot, though. Here, Vatican, take this handy excuse with you before we spell out how you are “pushing back”: you are doing it all because you perceive your core beliefs to be under threat from popular culture, the White House and even Catholics themselves. No one can blame you for pushing back under those circumstances. [Read more…]


It’s about time. Sarah Posner reports that – at last! – a judge rules for the ACLU in a challenge to the stinking meddlesome theocratic US Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Late yesterday a federal court in Massachusetts ruled [PDF] in favor of the American Civil Liberties Union in a challenge it brought against the Department of Health and Human Services over contracts with the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops under the Trafficking Victims Protection Act. When the ACLU first brought the case in 2009, HHS permitted the USCCB to prohibit the referral of victims of sexual assault to be referred for contraception and abortion services. Although HHS did not renew the USCCB contract last year, the ACLU proceeded with the case “to ensure that taxpayer dollars are not misused to impose religious restrictions on vulnerable trafficking victims that receive U.S. aid,” according to a statement.

And the judge ruled against theocracy.

Judge Richard Stearns agreed the case was not moot, and in holding that the policy permitting the Bishops to restrict trafficking victims’ access to reproductive health services violated the Establishment Clause, noted, “[t]o insist that the government respect the separation of church and state is not to discriminate against religion; indeed, it promotes a respect for religion by refusing to single out any creed for official favor at the expense of all others.”

It does that and it also promotes respect for and freedom of people who follow no religion. It rules, in short, against theocracy.

And now a word for the laydeez

Another treasure from @UCCB – a patronizing ode to wimmin, from a boss of an organization that excludes women from all power and thinks its “God” is a man. You know what it says without reading it. Women are special, women are lovely, women raise the children, bless their little hearts and their soft heads.

During this month, our minds turn toward the great gift of what Blessed John Paul II in his letter Mulieris Dignitatem calls the feminine genius and its positive impact on the life of the Church and society.

Uh huh. Let’s have a look at good ol’ muley dig, shall we?

even the rightful opposition of women to what is expressed in the biblical words “He shall rule over you” (Gen 3:16) must not under any condition lead to the “masculinization” of women. In the name of liberation from male “domination”, women must not appropriate to themselves male characteristics contrary to their own feminine “originality”. There is a well-founded fear that if they take this path, women will not “reach fulfilment”, but instead will deform and lose what constitutes their essential richness.

Plus we’ll have to share our toys, and they’ll tell us we’re wrong about stuff. We don’t want them. They have to stay inside with the children. Next question?

We are blessed in our archdiocese that everywhere we look, we see the stamp of women who have responded faithfully to God’s call. First and foremost, in our mothers who nurture the faith of our children. The history of our archdiocese is marked by the many communities of religious women who have established a rich network of Catholic education and welcomed lay women to partner with them in continuing to serve our schools…

As a Church we can take great pride in the fact that hospitals established by religious women remain the largest private provider of healthcare in the country. They continue to be staffed by religious and lay women who faithfully bring the healing love of Jesus to their professional work.

They make just the best assistants. Amen.

The marketers advise them

Deep breaths taken. Onward. Cardinal Timothy Dolan, formerly archbishop of New York Timothy Dolan, tells us what keen supporters of women’s rights he and his friends in the church are. He also explains how unfair it all is, and how hard done by they all are, and how mean everyone else is, and what whoppers everyone tells about the church.

I could go on and on:  if you want to see creative, daring, lifegiving healthcare for women and their children, look at what the Church is doing.

And now understand why Catholics rightly bristle when politicians and commentators characterize the Church as backwards and insensitive when it comes to women’s health.  Yes, the PR experts advise them that this tactic is a proven ploy to take the attention off the current urgent issue of religious freedom.  The marketers advise them that, if they can reduce the issue to one of contraception, stereotyping the Church as opposed to women’s rights, they have a chance of clouding the towering issue of the First Freedom.

Other way around, dude. Your tactic of yelling about your “religious freedom” is a ploy to take attention off the way you interfere with secular government and what ought to be secular laws in order to impose your warped views on the entire population.

And the issue is one of contraception, along with other things. Without contraception women’s rights are never secure, but it is your church’s settled view that contraception should not exist, period.

But more than that: don’t you dare pretend to be a defender of human rights when you bar women from all positions of power and authority in your organization, and when you treat attempts to give women such positions as a terrible crime, deserving the worst punishment in your arsenal. Don’t you dare.

Bishop to hospitals: let women die, that’s an order

Yes really. This isn’t my usual hyperbole, it’s exactly what the bishop of Phoenix, Thomas Olmsted, tells the president of Catholic Healthcare West in an official letter dated November 22, 2010.

I now ask that CHW agree to the following requirements by Friday, December  17, 2010. Only if all of these items are agreed to, will I postpone any action against CHW and St. Joseph’s Hospital. Specifically, I require the  following in order for me to postpone any further canonical action directed  against St. Joseph’s Hospital:

1. CHW must acknowledge in writing that the medical procedure that resulted in the abortion at St. Josephs’ hospital was a violation of ERD 47, and so will never occur again at St. Joseph’s Hospital.

The medical procedure that resulted in the abortion at St. Josephs’ hospital was done to save the life of the mother when the only alternative was that both the mother and the fetus would die.

People don’t believe this when you tell them.