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Catholic Hospitals Stop Doctors from Providing Basic Care

Catholic Hospitals Stop Doctors from Providing Basic Care

If you give birth in a Catholic hospital and want a hysterectomy afterward, tough luck. A new study, funded by the National Institutes of Health, the Greenwall Foundation and the John Templeton Foundation, shows that religion-based policy and patient care routinely clash in Catholic hospitals, forcing OB-GYNS to deny their female patients basic services like birth control and sterilization.

The study surveyed more than 1,000 OB-GYNS at religiously affiliated hospitals (not just Catholic hospitals) and found that, according to NPR, “more than one-third report they’ve had a conflict regarding religion-based policy and patient care. At Catholic hospitals, the figure was 52 percent.” Clearly, knowledge of Catholic doctrine is more highly valued in these institutions than a medical degree.

According to Catholics for Choice, the Catholic health care system controls more than 11% of the nation’s total community hospitals and more than 16% of the nation’s total community hospital beds. For people who live in an area where the only hospital is Catholic-affiliated, the lack of reproductive care services like birth control, sterilization and abortion can limit access to these services completely.

For women having a C-section, Catholic hospitals’ refusal to perform post-childbirth tubal ligation procedures can necessitate an unnecessary surgery at a different hospital. “It’s not medically good for a woman to have two surgeries when she could have one,” explained Debra Stulberg, an assistant professor of family medicine at the University of Chicago Medical School and lead author of the study.

In February, the New York Times reported that a wave of mergers between Catholic and secular hospitals could limit women’s access to reproductive services even further. As this study makes plain, there are serious consequences to having religion-based policy trump patient care, especially when the hospital is the only health care facility readily available to the patient. What happens, for example, if a rape victim is denied an emergency contraceptive at the only health care facility in her community?

The study reports that, fortunately, there have been few cases when Catholic doctrine has prevented doctors from taking all the steps necessary to treat a woman with an ectopic pregnancy, a dangerous medical situation where the embryo begins to grow outside the woman’s uterus, usually in a fallopian tube. Among OB-GYNs who practiced in Catholic hospitals, only 6% reported a conflict between the hospitals’ religious policies and what they perceived as the best treatment for the patient. Even though ectopic pregnancies are relatively rare (they occur in only 2% of pregnancies), many Catholic hospitals prohibit the use of a drug that can prevent surgery for an ectopic pregnancy, saying that it constitutes an abortion, despite the fact that a fetus cannot survive.

The bottom line is clear: Catholic hospitals serve a wide range of patients, regardless of their religious background. In life-or-death situations, physicians should not be forced to choose between adherence to religious policy and saving their patient’s life.

Related Stories:

Catholic Church Dumps Another Charity Due to LGBT Support

Catholic League Says You Aren’t a Real Parent Unless You Give Birth

Catholic Church Blocks Birth Control for the Poor in the Philippines

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Photo Credit: Ceridwen

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101 comments

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8:37AM PDT on Apr 14, 2013

you are right tammy.
This is exactly what the proposal says

5:43AM PDT on Apr 9, 2013

the Catholic church is against birth control so it seems reasonable to me that you can't get sterilized at a Catholic hospital. BUT if the doctor in charge thinks it's medically necessary then it should be allowed

5:22AM PDT on Apr 9, 2013

Basic rights should always come first

12:28PM PDT on May 31, 2012

Nancy E - Condoms break, rape is not planned for. You either believe in human rights or you don't.... don't make excuses for excluding a human's right to choose whether they have children or not, or what form of birth control they use or whether they have sex for pleasure or procreation. Life is not "black and white" and there is very seldom complete "right or wrong".

12:20PM PDT on May 31, 2012

Antoinette, your comment is far too reasonable. I am impressed.

9:20AM PDT on May 31, 2012

please why is the comments keep saying the DOCTOR... it's the hospital rules. I had a friend 25 years ago that had a IUD infecting her and the hospital policy was NO can't remove a birth control device here. lucky there is 3 other hospitals in the area that will... But to keep her in pain was inhuman. guess they don't know the Hippocratic Oath.....

7:00AM PDT on May 31, 2012

Catholicism is a religion - something made by man, therefore imperfect. Spiritual doctors who are in touch with the real God and His word, would never deny care or make a decision that leaves children motherless because to me that would go against the plan of God - but there is always this battle about what is sensible and what is faith-based - some would argue that God will take care of those children after their mother is gone, but that argument is weak. Why would He want us to let a mother die when she could have been saved to be the one to take care of her children? Of course the decisions are never easy, but God challenges us to come out of our comfort zone because that's the only way we can grow. But the decision should always be to choose life and when it comes down to the life of a mother vs the life of a child, the doctor/hospital should not be the one making the final decision.

4:05PM PDT on May 30, 2012

Putting religion before health? Those hospitals are laughable.

11:25AM PDT on May 30, 2012

BIRTH CONTROL. hysterectomyM, STERILIZATION etc, bla bla bla.
Here is the thing if you are a woman or men and you don't want to have more children or any children, HAVE YOU HEARD OF THE CONDOMS??? Oh no thats right, so we give respect and priority to the PLESURE more than what we give to our BODY. Jsut to make you think about it:

If we dont want to hear someone talking something that we dont want to hear it.. what do we do? we leave the room or politely say ..sorry I cannot stand what you are saying so I am living. Now, that will be the right think to do. The wrong thing to do will be to go to the doctor and ask to cut off our ears because we dont want to hear what other people say! WRONG!

Do you see the picture. I strong believe in humans rights, however, what give us the right to amputate part of our bodies just so we can freely enjoy SEX!!!!!

USE CONDOMS PEOPLE or make your man PULL OUT!!! is not a secret!!!!!!!!! oh no to much work I guess. We humans always trying to find a way to screw our selves.

TAKE A PILL!!!!

10:29AM PDT on May 30, 2012

"If a physician or his stuff feel bad about performing a procedure, should they be forced to do it anyway? "

If they feel bad about performing the procedure then they should at the very least try a different specialty and possibly a different profession.

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