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For the last several weeks, all eyes have been focused on the high-profile clash between Catholic bishops (if not their parishioners) and the Obama administration over mandated insurance coverage for contraception at their non-church institutions.  But in cities and towns across the country, a second battlefront is jeopardizing access to essential reproductive care for millions of American women.  As the New York Times and the New Republic each recently documented, the expansion of Catholic hospitals nationwide is putting women's reproductive care  - and in some cases, their lives - at risk.

For over a hundred years, Catholic hospitals have been one of the cornerstones of the U.S. health system, providing care to tens of millions of Americans of all faiths, races and ethnicities.  TNR's Jonathan Cohn explained just how big a role they play and the public support they enjoy in return:

Today, Catholic hospitals supply 15 percent of the nation's hospital beds, and Catholic hospital systems own 12 percent of the nation's community hospitals, which means, according to one popularly cited estimate, that about one in six Americans get treatment at a Catholic hospital at some point each year. We now depend upon Catholic hospitals to provide vital services--not just direct care of patients, but also the training of new doctors and assistance to the needy. In exchange, these institutions receive considerable public funding. In addition to the tax breaks to which all nonprofit institutions are entitled, Catholic hospitals also receive taxpayer dollars via public insurance programs like Medicare and Medicaid, as well as myriad federal programs that provide extra subsidies for such things as indigent care and medical research. (Older institutions also benefited from the 1946 Hill-Burton Act, which financed hospital construction for several decades.)
But increasingly, Cohn cautioned, "the dual mandates of these institutions--to heal the body and to nurture the spirit, to perform public functions but maintain private identities--are difficult to reconcile."  For many communities, a Catholic facility is already the only choice.  And with the accelerating trend of hospital mergers and partnerships, policies forbidding contraception, abortion and sterilization are becoming the norm at formerly public hospitals.  In cities around America, the result is growing confusion for physicians and greater risk for their patients.

As the New York Times detailed, over just the last three years about 20 new partnerships combining stand-alone hospitals or smaller systems with larger, financially stronger Catholic institutions is adversely impacting the availability of common reproductive health care services.  For example:

In Seattle, Swedish Health Services has offered elective abortions for decades. But the hospital agreed to stop when it joined forces this month with Providence Health & Services, one of the nation's largest Catholic systems.
And when Seton Healthcare Family in Texas, a unit of Ascension Health, began operating Austin's public Breckenridge hospital in 1995, it curbed reproductive health care services available to its patients:
In that case, Mr. [Charles] Barnett [of Ascension Health] says the system never agreed to provide services like elective abortions and sterilizations, and public officials and hospital administrators initially struggled to find a compromise. Although another system eventually offered sterilizations on a separate floor of the hospital, complete with a separate elevator, another hospital now provides those services.
Increasingly, the clashing requirements of the Catholic hospitals public mission and religious tenets are putting patients, doctors and staff at risk.  In 2007, physician Ramesh Raghavan wrote in the Journal of the American Medical Association of his wife's experience.  As Cohn explained the horrifying episode:
[Raghavan's wife], a woman, also pregnant with twins, whose pregnancy was failing, threatening infection that could jeopardize her ability to have future children and perhaps her life. Distraught, she and her husband decided to terminate the pregnancy--only to learn the Catholic hospital would not perform the procedure.
A few years later, New Hampshire waitress Kathleen Prieskorn went to her doctor's office after a miscarriage--her second--began while she was three months pregnant.  She quickly learned that her emergency was not one for which treatment would be available from her hospital's new operators:
Physicians at the hospital, which had recently merged with a Catholic health care system, told her they could not end the miscarriage with a uterine evacuation--the standard procedure--because the fetus still had a heartbeat. She had no insurance and no way to get to another hospital, so a doctor gave her $400 and put her in a cab to the closest available hospital, about 80 miles away. "During that trip, which seemed endless, I was not only devastated but terrified," Prieskorn told Ms. "I knew that, if there were complications, I could lose my uterus--and maybe even my life."
Perhaps the most notorious case, as both the Times and the New Republic reported, involved Catholic Health West and one its hospitals in Phoenix.  A 27-year old woman, 11 weeks pregnant and suffering from "right heart failure" came to St. Joseph's Hospital and Medical Center.  What happened next may be a frightening omen of things to come:
Physicians concluded that, if she continued with the pregnancy, her chances of mortality were "close to 100 percent." An administrator, Sister Margaret McBride, approved an abortion, citing a church directive allowing termination when the mother's life is at risk. Afterward, however, the local bishop, Thomas Olmsted, said the abortion had not been absolutely necessary. He excommunicated the nun and severed ties with the hospital, although the nun subsequently won reinstatement when she agreed to confess her sin to a priest.
The growing crisis for women's care resulting from the partnership and merger movement is leading to a backlash and some sadly creative solutions.  Catholic Health Care splits its network into 25 Catholic and 15 non-Catholic facilities under the new name, Dignity Health.  In Kentucky, Governor Steve Brashear blocked "a bid by Catholic Health Initiatives, another large system, to merge with a public hospital in Louisville, in part because of concern that some women would have less access to contraceptive services."  Meanwhile in Rockford, Illinois, there is growing resistance to let the Sisters of the Third Order of St. Francis buy a local hospital because of "new restrictions that would require women to go elsewhere if they wanted a tubal ligation after a Caesarean section."

Still, the worrying trend is creating problems for all parties.  Sister Carol Keehan, president of the Catholic Health Association of the United States, which represents the nation's roughly 600 Catholic hospitals, said of Americans' increasingly dependence on her organization's facilities, "That is a constant challenge.  It's a challenge we take very seriously."  But for American women, the challenge of getting reproductive care isn't just serious; it could be very dangerous.  AS Jill C. Morrison, of the National Women's Law Center worried, the new restrictions mean "women simply don't know what they're getting."

If, that is, they can get it at all.  As Lois Uttley, director of MergerWatch explained, "There are a lot of rural places that now have only a Catholic hospital."  Arizona obstetrician Bruce Silva, who lamented that he can no longer provide routine services like a tubal ligation, worried about his lower-income patients:

"If you're wealthy, you go up to Tucson and you get a hotel. But a lot of people can't even pay for the gas to get up there."
Which makes for the final, tragic irony of the expansion of Catholic hospital networks across the United States.  In refusing to provide basic reproductive services and even life-saving care, more and more they will be neglecting the "least of these."

* Crossposted at Perrspectives *

Originally posted to Jon Perr on Thu Mar 08, 2012 at 11:41 AM PST.

Also republished by Pro Choice, Abortion, Street Prophets , and Community Spotlight.

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Comment Preferences

  •  I Remember From the 60's Talk of Pregnant Women (40+ / 0-)

    carrying notifications "in case of injury do not transport to Catholic facility."

    Seems like an essential medical warning once again.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Thu Mar 08, 2012 at 11:49:40 AM PST

  •  Rec list this diary! (7+ / 0-)

    Rec the diary, rec the diarist's TJ, don't rec this comment (I'm not the diarist).

    "Minus two votes for the Democrat" equals "plus one vote for the Republican." Arithmetic doesn't care about your feelings.

    by G2geek on Thu Mar 08, 2012 at 11:52:37 AM PST

  •  here's the risk: (34+ / 0-)

    The present pope, right-winger and culture-warrior that he is, could subsidize the expansion of the Catholic hospital system in the US as a means of "cornering the market" in many areas and thereby driving out reproductive health services from those areas.

    Don't think it can happen?  

    Did you think we'd be debating contraception in the 21st century?

    "Minus two votes for the Democrat" equals "plus one vote for the Republican." Arithmetic doesn't care about your feelings.

    by G2geek on Thu Mar 08, 2012 at 11:55:24 AM PST

  •  Although we had a Catholic hospital within (22+ / 0-)

    walking distance of our house, my mother had to go to another hospital to deliver her fifth child because she could not get her tubes tied at the Catholic hospital.  Thankfully, there was another hospital only about a half hour away and the delivery was uneventful, but her health was put at risk because of the refusal of Catholic hospitals to allow a full range of reproductive care.

    Sad to hear the situation is even worse today.

    “when Democrats don’t vote, Democrats don’t win.” Alan Grayson

    by ahumbleopinion on Thu Mar 08, 2012 at 12:08:28 PM PST

  •  Amazing that UT, WY, VT, and NC have something in (9+ / 0-)

    common: No Catholic Hospitals.

    Happy little moron, Lucky little man.
    I wish I was a moron, MY GOD, Perhaps I am!
    —Spike Milligan

    by polecat on Thu Mar 08, 2012 at 12:15:34 PM PST

  •  There are two hospitals in my community. One (9+ / 0-)

    is Catholic and the other is Protestant.  A friend of mine had 3 miscarriages in the 5th or 6th month of pregnancy.  The Catholic hospital refused to help remove the fetus (would if it were the 9th month and she was about to fall over dead).  She had to go to the Protestant hospital.  The friend very much wanted these children, they just couldn't survive.  She's not sure when the heartbeats stopped.  She is also a Catholic and obviously a selective practicing one.

  •  Fix a link? The New York Times link for (6+ / 0-)

    "As the New York Times detailed, over just the last three years about 20 new partnerships combining stand-alone hospitals or smaller systems with larger, financially stronger Catholic institutions is adversely impacting the availability of common reproductive health care services. " Doesn't work.

  •  Raghavan article only available to subscribers (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    NogodsnomastersMary, cai, Lujane

    to the JAMA, so the link in the diary is no help.

    If it's
    Not your body,
    Then it's
    Not your choice
    And it's
    None of your damn business!

    by TheOtherMaven on Thu Mar 08, 2012 at 02:22:27 PM PST

  •  My mother gave birth to me in 1949 (13+ / 0-)

    at the local Catholic hospital. My Dad told the obstetrician that if it came to a choice between me or Mom, to save my mother's life.  He was right.  The Jewish doc agreed with him. The nuns already disliked that doctor because he believed in pain relief during labor rather than following God's dictum that women were to bear their child in pain.

    I'd never go to a Catholic hospital. EVER. Unless I was unconscious and unable to express my wishes. I reached this conclusion after soem MA hospitals were refusing to supply Plan B to rape victims.

    The last time we mixed religion and politics people got burned at the stake.

    by irishwitch on Thu Mar 08, 2012 at 02:23:45 PM PST

  •  Ain't that the truth! (16+ / 0-)

    I remain furious at what the Catholics did to Swedish Hospital in Seattle when they merged.....Swedish had to separate out "icky procedures on icky lady parts" to a totally DIFFERENT building.  Oh noes, can't do icky lady part things in a now-Catholic hospital.,..... gah!

    As of 02/22/2012 in Washington State pharmacists can exercise their "religious freedom" by denying women access to Plan B because the judge thinks there aren't any bigots in this state.

    by FlamingoGrrl on Thu Mar 08, 2012 at 02:55:46 PM PST

  •  Excellent AA. I have also noticed the trend (9+ / 0-)

    as well as the shrinking resources in rural communities.  Rich people have always been able to get what they want regardless of where they live, laws or religion.

  •  no offense but (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    why do people think that any religious institution would want to engage in practices that are antithetical to their doctrine? These hospitals will be forced to close or sell in about a year I'm afraid. I hope the law of untended consequences doesn't result in a loss of access to healthcare for those who rely on them now.

    •  The point of the diary is (12+ / 0-)

      there is already a loss of access to critical parts of healthcare for people.

      Democrats give you the Bill of Rights; Republicans sell you a bill of goods!

      by barbwires on Thu Mar 08, 2012 at 07:58:40 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  No Offense Taken (11+ / 0-)

      The public health challenge is that current trends in the health care market are leading small hospitals or system to seek partnerships with or acquisition by larger hospital networks.  The result is that many public and private facilities that today provide a broad range of reproductive services will become Catholic-run institutions and so end most or all of those services.  As the examples above illustrate, American women will increasingly find themselves unable to access reproductive health care in ways that could put their health - and even lives - at risk.

      Some creative solutions are going to have to be found to avoid making this growing dilemma worse.  One approach, which TNR referenced, is to set-up quasi-independent clinics within the larger Catholic institutions that could provide services the hospital will not:

      But sometimes institutions have been able to reconcile religion and medicine with creative solutions. When a secular hospital in Kingston, New York, merged with a Catholic institution, in effect reducing the community’s hospitals from three to two, administrators set up a separate maternity unit in the parking lot. It provides a full range of reproductive services, including abortion. In Troy, New York, leaders of a newly merged secular-Catholic hospital came up with a different solution: The maternity unit operates on the second floor, as a “hospital within the hospital”—complete with its own financial operations.
      •  It appears to me that these hospitals within (0+ / 0-)

        other hospitals are becoming more common.

        When my husband was in hospital X a couple of years ago, his doctor decided he needed 6 weeks of an antibiotic infusion as an inpatient. For this care, he was transferred to rehabilitation hospital Y, which was actually in the same building but on a different floor. After he'd been there a couple of weeks, rehab hospital Y announced it was closing its unit in hospital X and all patients would be transferred to a rehab hospital Y in hospital Z. Sorting out the bills was crazy making.


        Eliminate tax breaks that stimulate the offshoring of jobs.

        by RJDixon74135 on Fri Mar 09, 2012 at 07:27:29 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Because the Catholic Church should not (19+ / 0-)

      expand its business lines into our healthcare network if they intend to exclude women from healthcare and let us die.

      There is no reason for the investment and gorging upon our hospital networks by the Catholic Church if they intend to force their religious dictates upon non-Catholics.

      Healthcare is a basic right. Not a religious attitude.

      And, if you think you are so special because you are a white man and you will never feel the pinch of denial of care by a Catholic hospital... so you don't care... you better think carefully about that.

      Because right now poor women are the scapegoats who have and will die, but in the most unforeseen circumstances and when you most critically need the care... it may very well be denied to you. Too.  

      You shouldn't wait until the shoe pinches your own foot before you even think about what it's like to walk a mile in that other shoe.

      One may live without bread, but not without roses.
      ~Jean Richepin
      Bread & Roses

      by bronte17 on Thu Mar 08, 2012 at 08:06:42 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  chill (2+ / 0-)

        "Because the Catholic Church should not" according to you? Are you the arbiter of what institutions and individuals shall and shall not do? What other decrees do you propose when you are supreme ruler?

        yeah I am teasing but your tone (" if you think you are so special because you are a white man", "so you don't care.", ) is quite presumptuous and condescending.. I am not "white" by the way. But I am "male". So adjust your prejudices accordingly.

        •  Please do not take the tone argument. (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          cosette, Voiceless, kyril

          It is odious.

        •  What? I have as much right to say "according" (6+ / 0-)

          as the Catholic Church bishops do. It's my life and it's valuable. Just like my niece or my mother or my sisters or my friends. We are all worthy of living.

          Who the hell made the Catholic Church "supreme ruler" over life and death for standard healthcare procedures across this entire country?  Did you anoint them? So it's okay-dokey to deny normal life-saving measures for women because...???

          And, yeah, my bad for the "white" since the Catholic Church membership is most likely predominately NOT white. But, otherwise my "observations" (not "prejudices") are spot on.  

          One may live without bread, but not without roses.
          ~Jean Richepin
          Bread & Roses

          by bronte17 on Thu Mar 08, 2012 at 11:25:02 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  I'd be willing to (0+ / 0-)

            have a discussion if you are seriously interested in another point of view?

            •  If you think it's OK (0+ / 0-)

              for any institution to deny urgent life-saving medical care that their employees are trained, certified, and equipped to provide and entirely capable of providing, then it is not appropriate to dignify your shameless disregard for human life as a "point of view."

              "Let’s just move on, treat everybody with firmness, fairness, dignity, compassion and respect. Let’s be Marines." - Sgt. Maj Michael Barrett on DADT repeal

              by kyril on Fri Mar 09, 2012 at 02:24:25 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

            •  The floor is yours (0+ / 0-)

              It's wide open and you are free to occupy it.

              One may live without bread, but not without roses.
              ~Jean Richepin
              Bread & Roses

              by bronte17 on Fri Mar 09, 2012 at 02:24:57 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  Thanks (0+ / 0-)

                My disagreement is much more legal than doctrinal. While nominally Catholic I am not 'perfect" nor an absolutist in practice. Basically my view is that historically (until this mandate was interpreted by the HHS) an exemption for religious organizations (and often individuals) has been granted when their core beliefs and doctrine are compromised. I would ask if this language would be agreeable to you for pruposes of requiring employers to provide health insurance for their employees?

                  `Nothing in this title shall be construed to--

                       `(1) prevent any individual from purchasing a standard benefits package which excludes coverage of abortion services, if the individual objects to abortion on the basis of a religious belief or moral conviction;

                       `(2) prevent any employer from contributing to the purchase of a standard benefits package which excludes coverage of abortion or other services, if the employer objects to such services on the basis of a religious belief or moral conviction;

                       `(3) require any health professional or health facility to perform or assist in the performance of any health care service, if the health professional or facility objects to performing or assisting in the performance of such a service on the basis of a religious belief or moral conviction; and

                       `(4) require any commercial insurance company, Blue Cross plan, integrated health plan, or any other organization that assumes health insurance risk to offer a package including abortion or other services, if the health plan sponsor objects to covering such services on the basis of a religious belief or moral conviction.

          •  Nobody. (0+ / 0-)
            Who the hell made the Catholic Church "supreme ruler" over life and death for standard healthcare procedures across this entire country?
            They're not. You are more than welcome to go to a non-Catholic hospital. Good luck...
            •  And the Catholic Hospital has zero right (0+ / 0-)

              to take taxpayer dollars in Medicare and Medicaid as well as insurance monies that we ALL pay.

              The Catholic Church does not get to be a licensed healthcare facility if they cannot abide by the rules of this nation wherein equality rights are indisputable.

              The Church needs to be a Church and not a hospital if they intend to dispense religious doctrine along with medieval medical practices. They don't get to be licensed and collect taxpayer money if they want to be medievalists.

              Otherwise, they need to go back to being charitable institutions supported solely by their congregations and serving themselves and the destitute poor who cross their doors.

              They don't get to burrow into our taxpayer-funded healthcare system and gorge on the profits while denying full access to life-saving healthcare to all people.

              One may live without bread, but not without roses.
              ~Jean Richepin
              Bread & Roses

              by bronte17 on Sat Mar 10, 2012 at 08:24:37 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

          •  Of course, bronte17, you're right (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            I don't mind however other people choose to practive their religions as long as they don't force it on me.

            The problem is, they use the same argument when they say, "We don't want our doctors and nurses performing procedures and providing care that violates their religious belief."

            This standoff actually started several years ago when Plan B became available but some pharmacies refused to dispense it, and from there, some pharmacies refused to dispense any form of birth control.

            Just last month in Think Progress,

            Yesterday, a George W. Bush appointed judge declared unconstitutional a Washington state law that, among other things, requires pharmacies to dispense birth control and emergency contraception. While it’s not impossible that the law should be blocked on very narrow grounds, Judge Ronald Leighton’s opinion overreaches in ways that could undermine many efforts to protect women’s health and potentially render religious objectors immune to the rule of law.

            This lawsuit was brought by pharmacies and pharmacists who objected to dispensing emergency contraception on religious grounds. Yet, as conservative Justice Antonin Scalia explained in a Supreme Court opinion more than twenty years ago, a law does not suddenly become unconstitutional because someone raises a religious objection to it. Scalia explained that “the right of free exercise does not relieve an individual of the obligation to comply with a ‘valid and neutral law of general applicability on the ground that the law proscribes (or prescribes) conduct that his religion prescribes (or proscribes).’” In other words, so long as a law does not single out people of faith for inferior treatment, they have to follow they same laws as everyone else.

            Leighton, however, suggests that a law must also exempt religious objectors if it also contains exemptions that are unrelated to religion:

            [A] pharmacy can decline to stock a drug for a host of secular reasons: because the drug falls outside the pharmacies’ chosen business niche (i.e, it is a pediatric, diabetic, or fertility pharmacy); the drug has a short shelf life; the drug is expensive; the drug requires specialized training or equipment; the drug requires compounding; the drug is difficult to store; the drug requires the pharmacy to monitor the patient or register with the manufacturer; the drug has an additional paperwork burden; or simply that the pharmacy has a contract with the supplier of a competing drug. … A pharmacy is permitted to refuse to stock oxycodone because it fears robbery, but the same pharmacy cannot refuse to stock Plan B because it objects on religious grounds. Why are these reasons treated differently under the rules? Both pharmacies refuse and refer, both refusals inhibit patient access, yet the secular refusal is permitted and the religious refusal is not.

            I think that's about the "fair use" limit, so I'll just say that the Think Progress author does offer a fair rebuttal. I think you'll want to read it at the link above.

            Eliminate tax breaks that stimulate the offshoring of jobs.

            by RJDixon74135 on Fri Mar 09, 2012 at 08:19:29 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  The "secular" refusal is actually a protective (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              refusal to not be physically harmed or injured because of stocking the narcotics. There are certainly stats on the probability of robbery because of that stock.

              And it may very well have something to do with the demands of the insurance company. Insurance companies rule the world now and our lives circle around the dictates of insurance companies.

              Stocking Plan B on the other hand is not a dangerous enterprise. Women do not go about mugging pharmacies to get a dose of Plan B. The insurance premiums of a business do not increase because of Plan B.

              That judge was completely out of line in using that analogy.

              This is not secular versus religious in the stocking of pharmaceuticals and that judge just hoisted our legal system up onto that theocratic fulcrum.

              Where is that judge's outrage over the stocking of landmines or the use of clusterbombs or white phosphorus on civilian populations? Where is the outrage from the religious hypocrites?

              Women compose more than 50% of our population and for 40+ years of their lives, they are fertile and vulnerable. Plan B and birth control are as common in usage as aspirin or penicillin and just as necessary for women's health and very lives.

              Women died frequently years ago when they had to bear child after child. And women's life expectancy in the US has fallen in recent years. This is a core component of why that has happened.

              One may live without bread, but not without roses.
              ~Jean Richepin
              Bread & Roses

              by bronte17 on Sat Mar 10, 2012 at 08:44:34 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

      •  Or just as likely, have your health care directive (5+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Debby, bronte17, kyril, susanala, Wood Dragon

        directives ignored when you are dying.

    •  The important thing to realize is that they're not (16+ / 0-)

      "religious institutions" when they go into business as hospitals.  At that point, they're businesses.

      What does this mean?  Catholic hospitals they can't refuse to hire people based on religion (or any other protected category).  They can't fire unwed mothers or adulterers.  They have to serve people according to the laws of the state and country, because they're operating as businesses, not churches, at that point.

      •  And to clarify, anything outside of pure (9+ / 0-)

        religiosity makes it a business, so it applies regardless of whether the hospital is run as a charity or not.

        •  This a new regulation (0+ / 0-)

          (the "madate" that is) that has overturned precedent and existing exceptions for religious organizations. Even the Clinton era health reform proposal gave wide exceptions for religious reasons. No one is asking people for forego contraception, abortion or any other health services. The sole issue is the (new) requirement that religious organizations be forced to pay for services that is antithetical to it's doctrine.

          As for "Catholic hospitals they can't refuse to hire people based on religion (or any other protected category).  They can't fire unwed mothers or adulterers." They are not requesting an exemption for any of that.

      •  Religious institutions vs. businesses (0+ / 0-)

        That relies on an excessively narrow view of what constitutes religious practice, doesn't it?

        Wouldn't you consider a church that taught that simple attendance at religious services was sufficient?  Or does religious attendance that does not lead to any tangible consequences in your life constitute empty ritual?

        Can you be a "true Christian" whatever that is, without putting yourself out to heal the sick? The Church considers hospitals and clinics to be an integral part of their mission.

        So this is a sticky wicket, isn't it?  Not so one dimensional as people want to make it.

        We are the principled ones, remember? We don't get to use the black hats' tricks even when it would benefit us. Political Compass: -6.88, -6.41

        by bmcphail on Fri Mar 09, 2012 at 02:35:41 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Are these hospitals willing to forego (7+ / 0-)

      all public financial support so that they can practice their religion?

      •  Sure (0+ / 0-)

        Maybe they could do as I fear. Close and then leave untold numbers without ANY health access. That would be so much better. (snark).

        •  Undermining the Constitution (0+ / 0-)

          is even better.  Why not?  

          If they are viable businesses providing a needed service they will not close.  Yours is a scare scenario.  I doubt a Mrs T or Ms T would agree with you that healthcare for women based on the religious beliefs of some and supported by taxpayer dollars is acceptable.

          •  oh really? (0+ / 0-)

            "undermining the Constitution"? Since when? Why were these organizations NOT undermining the Constitution until HHS interpreted a mandate to narrow the Religious exemption that was, you know even broader in the Clinton era health reform proposal? Was Clinton also undermining the Constitution?

            And no one is trying to deny anyone healthcare. There are options and choices to be made. But forcing by government fine and tax penalty, a religious institution to violate their own doctrine and cannon is, well, hard to square with centuries of religious freedoms.

            •  I have always thought many of them (0+ / 0-)

              have been undermining the Constitution for decades.  

               Religious freedom is being able to have and express those views, not impose them on others using their dime.

              •  who is imposing (0+ / 0-)

                their religion on whom and how? I'm not being snarky but no one is forcing or trying to coerce anyone to practice a religion.

                •  If you are being denied insurance (0+ / 0-)

                  coverage because of an organization's or employer's religious beliefs, one that receives government funds, you are being forced to accept someone else's religion and subsidizing it to boot.  By giving such coverage, no one is being forced to do anything.  They don't have to avail themselves of the services that are covered.

                  •  I would respectfully disagree (0+ / 0-)

                    One might not be avowed of the health services that the PAYER (employer) finds evil according to the tenants of their faith. This does not deny one access, only denies access by the religious employer themselves.

                    Forcing a religious employer to pay for such things is compromising their religion.

                    This has been precedent for decades and there was no hue and cry when Clinton's health care reform proposal explicitly exempted religious organizations (indeed ALL employers very much like the Blunt amendment) from having to pay for services that were counter their religious conscious.

                    as for government funds do you mean tax exempt status?

  •  My mother almost died (12+ / 0-)

    thanks to a catholic hospital when I was five. Much like the woman above, the baby was dying, rotting (it had already lost both arms and legs), but she didn't miscarry on her own,yet it still had a heart beat. She was being poisoned by the dying child inside her. The catholic hospital wanted to try and save the baby, despite the fact that my mother was dying. Her doctor pulled her out and sent her to a community hospital where she did not have practicing rights. My mother lived to bear two more daughters, and see her grand children growing (and still growing, she's still with us thankfully).

    As a result I went to the catholic hospital that knew me for things like my asthma, but not for anything female.

    "Madness! Total and complete madness! This never would've happened if the humans hadn't started fighting one another!" Londo Mollari

    by FloridaSNMOM on Thu Mar 08, 2012 at 07:53:42 PM PST

  •  We go to the Catholic hospital because (8+ / 0-)

    they will write off our care, or at least a percentage of it. Given that our income is about $200 a month from one person donating plasma, this is useful.

    When you come to find how essential the comfort of a well-kept home is to the bodily strength and good conditions, to a sound mind and spirit, and useful days, you will reverence the good housekeeper as I do above artist or poet, beauty or genius.

    by Alexandra Lynch on Thu Mar 08, 2012 at 08:42:59 PM PST

  •  from Swedish to Group Health (13+ / 0-)

    I recently switched my Medicare plan from a Swedish clinic to Group Health. This switch based, in part, because of the repressive Catholic terms for Swedish Hospital's teaming up. Reproductive services is not in my health requirements, but I sure as hell won't support an organization that deprives my younger sisters and brothers of these services. We have seen a steady encroachment of Vatican  Catholicism into our society. We need to end this institutional encroachment. There are many wonderful Catholics who are exemplars of fine citizenship. But the official organization is an embarrassment.

  •  This is why I am skepticle (12+ / 0-)

    of hospitals being run by Catholic organizations.

    Also, since they recieve public funding via Medicaid and Medicare, they should comply with the law.

    The NYT article says that in rural areas, the only hospital within miles is a Catholic hospital. When a catholic hospital becomes the primary hospital in an area, then it should provide all types of health care, not use it's monopoly power to deny those types that it does not approve of.

  •  wow. Sisters of Charity trying to buy control (7+ / 0-)

    I was preparing a comment and found this Denver Post story.
    buying control Since the Post is a pretty crappy newspaper I never read it and missed this story.

    St. Josephs is a beloved Denver institution and contracts with Kaiser HMO: this is a HUGE share of Colo. medical market.  I am disgusted that they can receive federal dollars and NOT offer full women's health care services.

  •  Huge issue - and there are others. (11+ / 0-)

    The one I deal with is the hypocrisy of the Catholic hospitals' attitudes towards unions and workers' rights.  The bishops have an excellent statement on the right of workers to organize.  But, Surprise! - none of the Catholic hospital chains act on it and they practice some of the nastiest union busting around when you try to organize their workers.  And, in addition to all the usual fearmongering that union busters practice, you get elderly nuns coming around in tears begging the workers not to vote for a union.  Sick.
    But these chains are growing fast and controlling an ever-growing swath of the health care market.

    "Wouldn't you rather vote for what you want and not get it than vote for what you don't want - and get it?" Eugene Debs. "Le courage, c'est de chercher la verite et de la dire" Jean Jaures

    by Chico David RN on Thu Mar 08, 2012 at 09:33:50 PM PST

  •  Mostly I am not a fan of going back.... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    nchristine, cai

    but I wish Catholic Hospitals would go  back to what they would do in the early 7os.
     I worked in a local Catholic hospital on  a GYN floor while working my way through nursing school. There were middle aged women coming in for diagnostic D&Cs but I am sure it was often about perimenopausal pregnancies. (The pill had only been on the market for about 10 years)
    No one ever said anything; the pt and docs made the decison, insurance would pay , and everyone would go about their  business.
    Sometimes, the old ways are best.

    What do we want? Universal health care! When do we want it? Now!

    by cagernant on Thu Mar 08, 2012 at 09:55:54 PM PST

  •  Thanks for this diary (10+ / 0-)

    This has been a hobby horse of mine for some time.  I had the misfortune of giving birth to my 3rd child in a rural Catholic hospital.  I think the doctor (who was my regular doctor's stand-in due to illness) interned on the local farms delivering calves and piglets.  This was in the early '60's.  There were three other women in the L&D section.  Previously I had given birth in a Level I Lutheran-affiliated hospital and a Jewish hospital so I had experience with excellent care previously, something my mates on the unit didn't have.

    The next day I loudly bitched the doctor out for the traumatic experience and that I wanted to be fitted for a diaphragm.  When I asked for pain meds for the post-partum pain, I didn't get any, surprisingly enough.

    I have never understoood why Catholic hospitals get away with taking Federal money while imposing sectarian protocols on their unwitting patients instead of generally accepted medical practice.  I have advocated for truth-in-healthcare laws so that women patients know beforehand that Catholic medical practice is not like other medical practice. The workarounds devised by various healthcare providers to get around harmful-to-women protocols seems cultish to me.

    Don't look back, something may be gaining on you. - L. "Satchel" Paige

    by arlene on Fri Mar 09, 2012 at 06:42:57 AM PST

  •  University+Santa Rosa talk collapse (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cai, Anna M

      Here in San Antonio, TX:  University Health System was in talks with Christa Santa Rosa (catholic) to have a joint project to build a Children's Hospital.  Those talks recently collapsed, UHS walked away.
       There was no reason given, so if anyone has details please add comment.  I wonder if Christa made some demand re:  woman's health that is provided by UHS.

       University Health System is the large public hospital, a Level 1 trauma center (only one) that serves 5 counties.  

  •  My older brother works at a Catholic (8+ / 0-)

    hospital in New Mexico. He said the church is buying up all the health care facilities. The care they give is not the best as they slash the number of health care workers and even housekeeping. Pure bottom-line calculations.

    When all the hospitals in an area are run by the Catholic Church, there are no alternatives.

    If they can't give people the kind of care the patient needs and wants, the Church needs to get out of the health care business.

    Still trying to think of something thought-provoking or hilarious for this space.

    by LuLu on Fri Mar 09, 2012 at 08:31:58 AM PST

  •  What happened to the Ten Commandments? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Especially the one saying to "honor thy Father and thy Mother".  Republicans are attacking their Mothers.  They are disrespecting their mothers in front of their Mother's grandchildren.  They are disrespecting their wives in front of their children.  They are disrespecting teachers in front of their students.  They are disrespecting women in front of everyone.  They are setting a very poor example that can only result in abuse of women now and in the future.  There are sure going to be a lot of Republicans spending their futures in HELL.  And some of them may already believe they are in HELL or soon to be there.  This is really the way to practice your religious freedom and to save our education system, guys!  It seems your Dads raised you to be SOOOOOOOO smart.

    And the interesting thing is that the disrespecting is accelerating and you are so addicted to it that you cannot stop.  Ladies, we are witnessing the suicide of the Republican Party.

  •  Some drugs require the use of contraception (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I remember a time when I was in the Army and a doctor I had wanted to put me on Accutane for acne (a side effect from PCB exposure).  In order to take the drug I would be REQUIRED to use 2 forms of birth control.  Verifiable by regular blood tests.  Never mind I wasn't married or sexually active.  The drug had a risk of very serious birth defects which mandated the use of contraception.

    I ended up declining that particular "treatment", but now I wonder how many other drugs can also cause birth defects, and are they restricted for use in a Catholic (or other religious) hospital to only men and girls and elderly women who have no risk of becoming pregnant?  

  •  Catholic healthcare puts EVERYONE at risk. (0+ / 0-)

    Not just women; men too, children, the elderly. Health is agnostic; there are no sectarian microbes, evangelical tumors, orthodox fractures.

    Just people who want to be well, who want the best quality of life they can get regardless of faith, dogma, or doctrine.

    "No special skill, no standard attitude, no technology, and no organization - no matter how valuable - can safely replace thought itself."

    by xaxnar on Fri Mar 09, 2012 at 05:29:47 PM PST

  •  Male Control (0+ / 0-)

    What I also find interesting is who is making these policy decisions at the hospital.  The example posed by the author of this post: the nun who recognized that the life of the mother was at risk and made the health care choice to allow the exception.  She was excommunicated! until she confessed to a male priest about her wrong choice.  

    Look at that: how many levels of male opression is in that action.

    The church has made the choice to enter the health area.  They should be made to do so without exception.  If they don;t like it they can go into some other type of work.

  •  Ok, if we accept that a Catholic "hospital" does (0+ / 0-)

    not have to provide the full range of generally accepted  medical care in a community, let's change the definition of "hospital."

    Let's call Catholic hospitals "Hospital Lite" or "Hospitalette" or "Micro-Hospital."

    Or maybe "For Men Only."

    /only slightly snarking here....

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