If the Catholic Church has its way, the argument over women’s reproductive rights will be won not in the courts but through business acumen. How? By quietly taking over medical facilities, nursing homes, and insurance plans. According to Stephanie Mencimer, writing for Mother Jones, the number of hospitals affiliated with the Catholic Church has grown“16 percent, while other non-profits facilities dropped 31 percent. (“Out Front, by Stephanie Mencimer, Mother Jones, Nov/Dec 2013 pg. 6) In fact, 10 of the 25 largest nonprofit hospitals in the country are Catholic and “Catholic hospitals care for 1 in 6 American patients.” (Ibid. pg. 6)
Many fail to realize that once acquired, these institutions aren’t guided by standards of the American Medical Association or even Congressional laws. These nstitutions “are required to follow health care directives handed down by the US conference of Catholic Bishops – a group of celibate older men who have become increasingly conservative over the past few decades.” (Ibid. pg. 6) Monica Harrington, co-chair of Washington Women for Choice paints an even grimmer picture. A spate of proposed buy-outs could leave Catholic facilities accounting for 50 percent of that state’s hospital admissions, allowing “three conservative bishops overseeing health care for 6 million people.” (Ibid pg. 6)
Catholic dominance in healthcare affects more than the abortion issue. Other services forbidden are infertility treatments, artificial insemination or the use of donor eggs or sperm – any procedures that “separates procreation from the marital act.” (Ibid, pg. 7.) What’s more, according to Mencimer, “Catholic hospitals may ignore patients’ requests to be removed from feeding tubes or life support, even if those wishes are expressed in living wills. In addition, many states allow religious hospitals to discriminate against gays and lesbian, both as employees and as patients.” (Ibid pg. 6)
If this trend in healthcare continues, all roads may one day lead to Rome. Perhaps it’s time for the nation to debate the extent to which religious ideologies may overrule the wishes of the patient.
(Courtesy of radiofreethinker.com)