Go read Natasha Chart's heartbreaking piece at RH Reality Check, entitled I Had an Ectopic Pregnancy, and Anti-Choice Laws Could Have Made My Experience Much Worse.
It's stunning, and infuriating, that in addition to the heartbreak and fear a woman goes through when facing something like this, she must now think about things like, Is this hospital going to provide me with *actual* medical care, or are their decisions going to be guided by the misogynistic laws of a church I don't even belong to? Consider, for a moment, that in some regions of this great country, Catholic-controlled hospitals are all that are available if you need obstetric/gynecologic care--unless you wish to embark on some long-distance travel--and you'll begin to realize how commonplace this predicament has become.
How commonplace? The news is bad:
Between 2001 and 2011 the number of Catholic-sponsored or affiliated hospitals increased by 16 percent, while the overall number of hospitals nationwide declined. In 2011, one in ten acute-care hospitals were Catholic-sponsored or affiliated. That same year, 10 of the 25 largest hospital systems in the country were Catholic-sponsored.
With the rise of Catholic hospitals has come the increasing danger that women's reproductive health care will be compromised by religious restrictions. The Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services (the Directives), issued by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), govern care at these facilities. The Directives prohibit a range of reproductive health services, including contraception, sterilization, many infertility treatments, and abortion care, even when a woman's health or life is in danger. Moreover, they often restrict even the ability of hospital staff to provide patients with full information and referrals for care that conflict with religious teachings.Are we or are we not living in the twenty-first century?
It needs to be said, over and over until everyone in the country (especially those who occupy the governors' mansions and state and national legislatures) gets it: By placing the prevention of pregnancy termination ahead of safeguarding a woman's health and, even, her life, you are stating in no uncertain terms that women are not people, and our very lives are of diminished value. It's that simple. Trust that women are fully-realized human beings endowed with natural rights to control our own bodies and health--that we are people--and the absolute necessity of protecting choice becomes obvious.
This is supposed to be a nation of laws, not a nation of churches.
But this is the reality:
Photo via ACLU Blog of Rights; graphic via ACLU.org.
My friend Sara Robinson recommends the excellent blog Catholic Watch, which follows and reports on the various ways the church influences and controls healthcare in the United States.
The Catholic bishops are imposing their moral values upon Catholics and non-Catholics alike through their control of Catholic hospital and medical systems, which are heavily financed with taxpayer dollars.
In WA State, almost half of the acute care hospital beds (a proxy for the health care system more broadly) are now subject to the "moral authority" of three Catholic bishops. These bishops oversee medical policy and employment practices for all Catholic "health care ministries," which now includes hospitals, labs, physician practices, hospices, and even insurance companies. These bishops oppose same-sex marriage, birth control, "direct" abortion in all cases - even to save the life of the mother, fertility treatments, and Death with Dignity.
A recent article in Mother Jones showed that Catholic hospitals contributed 2.8% of total patient gross revenues as Charity Care, which is lower than the industry average of 2.9%.
CatholicWatch is committed to safeguarding patient and taxpayer rights and protecting our health care system from theocracy-based medicine.