Catholic Health East's arms spread much, much further than the Keystone State. Hospitals overseen by Catholic Health East can be found in 11 states, including New Jersey. In the Diocese of Trenton, both 7) Lourdes Medical Center and 8) Saint Francis Medical Center fall under Catholic Health East.
So, of eight "Catholic" hospitals in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia and the Diocese of Trenton, all but one ultimately falls under Catholic Health East. It was recently commented that "It is worth evaluating the practices of those health care systems...which also operate in states outside the study area. The practices of such systems may be reflected in the other states in which they operate" (Appeal to Conscience Clauses in the Face of Divergent Practices among Catholic Hospitals).
As per the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, "Catholic health care services must adopt these Directives [i.e., the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services] as policy, require adherence to them within the institution as a condition for medical privileges and employment, and provide appropriate instruction regarding the Directives for administration, medical and nursing staff, and other personnel."
While my parents were neither college graduates nor experts on scripture or moral theology, they were well able to understand right from wrong. They knew that we are called to be truthful and not to be duplicitous. My parents were also keenly aware of our Lord's frightening language, in saying that we 'd be better off to have "a millstone...put around...[the] neck and...be thrown into the sea than...to cause one of these little ones to sin."
While trying to be faithful, unsuspecting Catholic patients and their families - our Lord's "little ones" - no doubt take comfort in statements such as these:
- "As a Catholic healthcare provider, Holy Redeemer expects that all health care practitioners adhere to the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services at health system locations."
- "In line with our Core Values of Integrity, Reverence for Each Person and Stewardship, we conduct our affairs with an emphasis on compliance and ethics. Our mission and core values will guide the behavior of all directors/ trustees, employees, affiliated professionals, contractors, volunteers, students and others affiliated with Mercy Health System (MHS). This policy sets forth the standards by which all those above will conduct themselves in order to protect and promote organization-wide integrity and to enhance the ability of MHS to achieve its business and strategic objectives in a manner consistent with the Mission and Values of MHS, the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services (5th ed.) and applicable laws and regulations."
- "As a Catholic health system, the ERT [Saint Mary Medical Center's Ethics Resource Team] adheres to the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services."
- "Our Lady of Lourdes, a Catholic Health System dedicated to its Franciscan Tradition of serving all, will demonstrate the value of Integrity by fostering an ethical and moral environment where the behavior of associates is positively impacted by the services of the Corporate Compliance Program and this Code of Ethics Statement."
- "As a Catholic hospital operating in accordance with the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services, St. Francis Medical Center celebrates Mass and provides Holy Communion and other sacraments for Catholic patients and their loved ones."
What's My Line at Holy Redeemer?Holy Redeemer's website tells the unsuspecting: "If you’re pregnant or planning on having a baby, you’ve come to the right place. Our board-certified obstetricians offer the latest medical expertise that can help maintain your health and the health of your baby at a convenient location near you." Now, what are some of the specific parameters under which Catholic OBGYN services operate?
- "40. Heterologous fertilization (that is, any technique used to achieve conception by the use of gametes coming from at least one donor other than the spouses) is prohibited because it is contrary to the covenant of marriage, the unity of the spouses, and the dignity proper to parents and the child" (Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services).
- "41. Homologous artificial fertilization (that is, any technique used to achieve conception using the gametes of the two spouses joined in marriage) is prohibited when it separates procreation from the marital act in its unitive significance (e.g., any technique used to achieve extracorporeal conception)" (Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services).
- "52. Catholic health institutions may not promote or condone contraceptive practices but should provide, for married couples and the medical staff who counsel them, instruction both about the Church’s teaching on responsible parenthood and in methods of natural family planning" (Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services).
How could it be believably argued that Holy Redeemer is MERELY providing hospital privileges to providers of morally prohibited services under some sort of supposed duress? Holy Redeemer tells people that their "board-certified obstetricians offer the latest medical expertise that can help maintain your health and the health of your baby at a convenient location near you" and provides contact information for outside practices. Isn't Holy Redeemer actually PROMOTING providers of services condemned by Church teaching?
Catch Me If You Can at St. Mary's?
Saint Mary's claims that it is "Bucks County's most trusted and preferred maternity services" with "24 OB/GYN specialists" and "high-risk pregnancy management experts." Yet, NONE of these "24 OB/GYN specialists" (nor any of their "high-risk pregnancy management experts") are to be found on a list of NFP-only physicians. In fact, ALL of St. Mary's "high-risk pregnancy management experts" - including Dr. Stephen Smith - are associates of Dr. Frank Craparo of Abington Perinatal Associates. Abington Perinatal Associates is known for "reductions" - a euphemism for "abortions" (cf., See http://www.fertilethoughts.com/forums/selective-reduction-termination-due-health-issues/714760-selective-reduction-twin-singleton.html)!
- "45. Abortion (that is, the directly intended termination of pregnancy before viability or the directly intended destruction of a viable fetus) is never permitted. Every procedure whose sole immediate effect is the termination of pregnancy before viability is an abortion, which, in its moral context, includes the interval between conception and implantation of the embryo. Catholic health care institutions are not to provide abortion services, even based upon the principle of material cooperation. In this context, Catholic health care institutions need to be concerned about the danger of scandal in any association with abortion providers" (Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services).
- "Dr. Stephen Smith of St. Mary's performed an ultrasound on an expecting mother and confirmed that the fetus had polycystic kidney disease, a fatal condition in infants. Smith recommended an abortion.... local abortion opponents publicized Smith's advice....any pledge to support Catholic doctrine on medical matters is broadly viewed as a formality to be agreed to and then summarily ignored."
Operation at Lourdes?
- "53. Direct sterilization of either men or women, whether permanent or temporary, is not permitted in a Catholic health care institution. Procedures that induce sterility are permitted when their direct effect is the cure or alleviation of a present and serious pathology and a simpler treatment is not available" (Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services).
- Dr. Sandra Hapenney "found that between 2007 and 2009, more than 20,000 women who gave birth at Catholic hospitals in New Jersey and six other states then had their 'tubes tied.' Eighty-five hospitals - almost half of those providing obstetric services - were doing sterilizations to end fertility. Among these were...Lourdes Medical Center of Burlington County in Willingboro.... Bishop David M. O'Connell of the Trenton Diocese said in an e-mail that he had talked to hospital administrators and had 'been assured that procedures at Lourdes Medical Center of Burlington County were in compliance'" (Bishops decry Obama birth control plan, yet Catholic hospitals report sterilizations, Philadelphia Inquirer, 2/20/12).
- Dr. Hapenney also noted that "It is worth evaluating the practices of those health care systems included in the study which also operate in states outside the study area. The practices of such systems may be reflected in the other states in which they operate....Catholic Health East operates in eleven states....Four of its hospitals were studied and of them three reported V25.2 codes [i.e., sterilization codes]" (Appeal to Conscience Clauses in the Face of Divergent Practices among Catholic Hospitals).
As per Lourdes, "All of our obstetricians are Board Certified or Board Eligible by the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology or the American Osteopathic Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology." While that may indeed be the case, the fact that NONE of Lourdes' gynecologists or obstetricians are to be found on a list of NFP-only physicians should raise red flags for Bishop O'Connell and the Diocese of Trenton.
As per Lourdes, "Our maternal-fetal medicine specialists have subspecialty training in maternal- fetal medicine (high-risk pregnancy). These physicians are obstetricians with specialized and additional training in complicated (often called "high-risk") pregnancies. Such pregnancies may include women with pre-existing medical conditions (for example, diabetes, high-blood pressure, thyroid disease) or those with a problem in the current pregnancy such as premature labor or multiple gestation (when you carry more than one baby-twins, triplets, etc.)." George H. Davis, D.O. (who is also associated with UMDNJ) is the only maternal fetal medicine specialist listed in Lourdes' physician directory. It was probably seventeen months ago that the maternal-fetal medicine / perinatology euphemism of "reduction" was first introduced to many:
- "For all its successes, reproductive medicine has produced a paradox: in creating life where none seemed possible, doctors often generate more fetuses than they intend. In the mid-1980s, they devised an escape hatch to deal with these megapregnancies, terminating all but two or three fetuses to lower the risks to women and the babies they took home. But what began as an intervention for extreme medical circumstances has quietly become an option for women carrying twins....The procedure, which is usually performed around Week 12 of a pregnancy, involves a fatal injection of potassium chloride into the fetal chest. The dead fetus shrivels over time and remains in the womb until delivery....[Some] doctors refuse to reduce below twins unless the pregnancy presents unusual medical concerns. Among them is Dr. Ronald Wapner, director of reproductive genetics at Columbia and another reduction pioneer. Sometime in the late 1990s, when Wapner practiced in Philadelphia, he received his first two-to-one request" (The Two Minus One Pregnancy, NY Times Magazine, August 10, 2011)
- "Selective reduction was carried out in 46 multifetal pregnancies by means of potassium chloride injection into the pericardial region of the fetus. There were three indications for the procedure: to improve perinatal outcome and to increase the likelihood that a term infant would be born in a multifetal pregnancy (34 women); to allow the birth of a healthy infant without the birth of a congenitally abnormal coexisting fetus (8 women); and to preserve a singleton pregnancy when the woman would otherwise have the whole pregnancy terminated (4 women). Of the 80 fetuses left after reduction 75 (94%) have survived. In 3 cases ultrasound scanning showed cardiac activity in the injected fetus 20-30 min after the initial injection despite 2 min of asystole immediately after the injection; repeated injection, carried out the same day, led to fetal death in all 3 cases. Selective reduction of multifetal pregnancies for the three indications described is an ethically justifiable option for the management of multifetal pregnancy, to which there are no public policy obstacles" (Wapner R, Davis G, Johnson A, et al Selective reduction of multifetal pregnancies. The Lancet. Vol. 335: 90-93 (1990 January )).
Three Card Monte: Aren't "Catholic" Hospitals in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia and Diocese of Trenton Dishonoring the Memory of Philly Native Terri Schiavo?
- "24. In compliance with federal law, a Catholic health care institution will make available to patients information about their rights, under the laws of their state, to make an advance directive for their medical treatment. The institution, however, will not honor an advance directive that is contrary to Catholic teaching. If the advance directive conflicts with Catholic teaching, an explanation should be provided as to why the directive cannot be honored" (Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services).
- Catholic teaching with regard to nutrition and hydration, and
- that health care services cannot honor advance directives (e.g., non-specific directives to forego nutrition and hydration) opposed to Catholic teaching (cf., Pontifical Council for Pastoral Assistance to Health Care Workers, Charter for Health Care Workers, 1995; Address of John Paul II to the Participants in the International Congress on "Life-Sustaining Treatments and Vegetative State: Scientific Advances and Ethical Dilemnas", 3/20/04; Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Responses to Certain Questions of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops Concerning Artificial Nutrition and Hydration, 8/1/07; USCCB, Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services (5th ed), 11/17/09).
Are Philly's and Trenton's "Catholic" Hospitals Recklessly Playing Twister with Death, over "Conscience Protections"?
Is It Ever OK to Play These Games?When is it OK for Church leaders, ethicists, and/or pro life leaders - indeed for any faithful Catholic - to look away from the behavior of Catholic institutions? Just how does the Pontifical Academy for Life explain "cooperation"?
The Pontifical Academy for Life goes on to remind us that "cooperation" does not only involve "what I have done" but it also involves "what I have failed to do":
As did my parents, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops' Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services voices concern about scandal to our Lord's "little ones":
While Others May Be Playing the Game, Don't We Have Only Ourselves to Blame?
Protecting Our Lord's "Little Ones": "prohibit that agency from using the name 'Catholic'"Our good actions have always and will always speak louder than words! Yet, the Holy Father's recent Motu Proprio indicates that our own good example is NOT synonymous with sitting back and accepting that this is "just the way it is"! Those of us who are parents and grandparents have every right to expect authenticity in the institutions which call themselves "Catholic."
- "Art. 11. – The diocesan Bishop is obliged, if necessary, to make known to the faithful the fact that the activity of a particular charitable agency is no longer being carried out in conformity with the Church’s teaching, and then to prohibit that agency from using the name 'Catholic' [emphasis added] and to take the necessary measures should personal responsibilities emerge....(Apostolic Letter Issued 'Motu Proprio' of the Supreme Pontiff Benedict XVI on the Services of Charity).