Monday, November 05, 2012

Another reason to avoid religious hospitals whenever possible

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Catholic healthcare

Is anyone really surprised that medical institutions headed by pious administrators would willfully compromise their quality of care depending on how a given patient’s situation meshes with their religious views? This is a reality faced by, among others, women with ectopic pregnancies, where the zygote is stuck in a fallopian tube (or elsewhere that isn’t the uterus) and poses a grave danger if it isn’t detected and removed before it grows large enough to tear the woman’s reproductive organs apart, usually with fatal consequences. Thankfully, modern medicine makes ectopic pregnancy casualties very rare, as responsible physicians understand that such embryos have virtually no chance of ever reaching viability and are usually quick to terminate the pregnancy before the would-be mother pays the price.

But not everyone in the field of medicine is a responsible practitioner. This is especially true if they believe that the supposed sanctity of life makes any and all forms of abortion unacceptable, even if there is absolutely no chance that the fetus will survive if the pregnancy is allowed to continue, the grown woman’s own well-being be damned. Enter Catholic hospitals:

[S]ome Catholic ethicists argue that the catholic “Directives” preclude physicians at Catholic hospitals from managing ectopic pregnancies in a way that involves direct action on the embryo. So a woman can have her whole tube removed (an unnecessary procedure that could reduce her future fertility), but she can not have the pregnancy plucked out (as is done with the standard therapy, a salpingostomy, where a small incision is made in the tube and the pregnancy removed) and she most certainly could not have the methotrexate [specialized drug that kills ectopic embryos].

And exactly how common is this habit of denying life-saving medical care? Someone actually looked at the numbers:

According to a study from 2011 by Foster e. al., (Womens Health Issues, 2011) some Catholic hospitals refuse to offer methotrexate (three in this study of 16 hospitals). The lack of methotrexate resulted in changes in therapy, transferring patients to other facilities, and even administering it surreptitiously. All of these expose women to unnecessary risks, expense and are, quite frankly, wrong.

Three out of sixteen hospitals may not sound like much, but when one adjusts that for the total number of Catholic-run medical establishments in the United States, it’s easy to imagine how there may be hundreds of women being rejected in their time of dire need every year, if not more. It’s unknown how many are unable to find any other avenues of care and end up suffering or dead as a result.

And still, that’s just a tiny little hint at what the future might hold if state or federal lawmakers enact any of the countless “personhood” amendments pushed by rabid anti-choicers to ban any termination of pregnancy, even when it would certainly result in the death of both mother and fetus, on the grotesque assumption that a parasitic blob of cells deserves the legal rights and protections afforded to grown human beings.

But then, that’s just a logical consequence of putting doctrine before humanity.

(via Pharyngula)