At the intersection of Catholic politics and American healthcare

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Writing in the Guardian, Becky Garrison says:

[C]urrently there are 600 Catholic hospitals in the United States, comprising about one-fifth of all hospital beds. Also, about 45 Catholic hospitals in the US are sole providers, meaning they’re the only hospital serving a community. As reported by The Revealer, a daily review of religion in the news and the news about religion, “these hospitals are governed by 72 ethical and religious directives that are written by the USCCB and enforced by the local bishop”.

While Catholic hospitals receive about half of their funding from the Federal government via Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements, Catholic hospitals can claim exemption from federal laws through a web of “conscience” clauses. Ann Neumann, editor of the Revealer, observes: “In most Catholic health care facilities, the conscience of the church supersedes the rights of patients and individual doctors by limiting care services according to Catholic doctrine. Men, women, the elderly, the poor and the victimised – effectively, entire communities served by Catholic hospitals – suffer a drastic and often traumatic loss of patients’ rights when information or services are denied, particularly when a Catholic hospital is the only game in town.”

Bryan Cones, managing editor of US Catholic, a lay-edited national Catholic monthly magazine, places this debate within the larger framework of the ongoing discussion surrounding the intersection of Catholic faith and public healthcare in the United States. “The bishops in general and Olmsted in particular are insisting that their prudential judgment must be followed; that was the US bishops’ position on the healthcare reform bill. I think it is unprecedented in the US Catholic church that the personal judgment of a bishop on a particular ethical situation has to be affirmed by a Catholic organisation or individual.”

Is the “web” of conscience clauses too loose? Are Catholic bishops making decisions best made by patients and physicians? And if so, should the government be supporting hospitals in which this occurs with your tax dollars?

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tgflux
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tgflux

Exactly, RichardH.

For the USCCB, it's "Your rights stop at the tip of my nose, my rights extend to cutting off your oxygen [if you would be using the oxygen to have an abortion that, while it saves you, terminates the Uber-Precious 'Unborn']."

Why don't the Popoid bishops issue an edict that, henceforth, faithful Catholics must celebrate their Conception Days, not that "Culture-of-Death" invention, the "birthday"? [And then ban EVERYBODY (RC or not) celebrating their birthdays in Catholic hospitals?!]

JC Fisher

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The Rev. Richard E. Helmer
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The Rev. Richard E. Helmer

I remain fascinated and appalled by how easily the line between "conscience" and control gets blurred.

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GrandmèreMimi
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Don't get me started!

In short, the RC hospitals which are governed by the USCCB directives should not receive public money. I don't know what solution to suggest for the communities with only a RC hospital to serve them.

June Butler

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Paige Baker
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Paige Baker

Is the "web" of conscience clauses too loose? Are Catholic bishops making decisions best made by patients and physicians? And if so, should the government be supporting hospitals in which this occurs with your tax dollars?

Yes. Yes. No.

Next question: Is there anything we can do about it? And the answer is: "Probably not."

That the USCCB was able to convince members of Congress to vote against the Affordable Care Act by making totally false claims that it would allow Federal funding for abortion tells me that we don't have a prayer (pun intended) of ensuring patients' rights for those in Catholic hospitals.

It also tells me that the American public--and especially our elected officials--have the attention span of gnats and ought not to be allowed out in public alone....

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Michael Lockaby
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Michael Lockaby

It's not news that the Roman Catholic Church is moving to make itself more pure (the Vatican Bank excluded) and less relevant. I also have no problem with them taking federal money—for what it's worth, it's perfectly constitutional and has been established as such since 1899, assuming the corporate formalities are set up right, which any competent lawyer could do—especially if it's filtered through choices made by patients, rather than a direct subsidy. Regardless, though, it's rather premature to be debating this when we're still fighting to make sure all Americans can get health care of any type at all, no?

Mike Lockaby

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