Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Catholic medical ethics in our parishes and institutions

Last year, I was encouraged to read that the Vatican's Pontifical Council for Health Care was expected to release a revised/updated Charter for Health Care Workers, this year  (cf., Carol Glatz, Catholic News Service, 11/13/12).  Is the new Charter still expected?  There certainly seems to be a wide variety of areas where Catholic medical ethics need to be reinforced - among Catholic parishes and institutions!

      1) there is a paucity of NFP-only physicians among OBGYNs with privileges (i.e., Only one OBGYN can be identified who is on One More Soul's list of NFP only OBGYNs);

    Catholic Hospitals and Abortifacients

    Fr. Juan Vélez is an Opus Dei priest with a doctorate in dogmatic theology and an M.D.  Along with Rebecca Peck, M.D., Fr. Juan writes:
    • "All physicians who value life, and especially Catholic healthcare institutions, have a duty to re-examine the available scientific information on Plan B. We think the data shows a small anovulatory effect and suggests a significant post-fertilization or abortifacient effect. Given this information, the Peoria Protocol, and other rape-based protocols should be abandoned, as use of Plan B during the critical fertile period, would not be expected to prevent ovulations in a majority of cases, and in fact, would lead to a significant possibility of post-fertilization effect.
    • "Moreover, as newer emergency contraceptives with better efficacies emerge, the precedent has been set for allowing agents with abortifacient mechanisms of action" ("Plan B’s Main Mechanism of Action: The Case for a Post-Fertilization Effect," Human Life International).
    In the words of Human Life International, I pray that "Catholic bishops and those who advise them in these issues will see the urgency of revisiting the approval of Plan B for treatment of women who have been raped. These women deserve the absolute best life-affirming care possible, and this care should not include drugs that only compound the violence already suffered by causing abortions." 

    "Brain Death"

    Dr Peter Colosi (a moral theologian) of St. Charles Borromeo Seminary has noted that Dr. Haas (a moral theologian) believes that "brain dead people (whole brain death) are dead," while at least two other members of the Pontifical Academy for Life - Dr. Paul Byrne (a physician) and Josef Seifert (a philosopher) - have actually cast doubt on brain death criteria (Bioethics of Organ Donation, Our Sunday Visitor, 8/19/12)!  As per Pope Benedict XVI, 
    "individual vital organs cannot be extracted except ex cadavere....In these years science has accomplished further progress in certifying the death of the patient. It is good, therefore, that the results attained receive the consent of the entire scientific community in order to further research for solutions that give certainty to all. In an area such as this, in fact, there cannot be the slightest suspicion of arbitration and where certainty has not been attained the principle of precaution must prevail....the principal criteria of respect for the life of the donator must always prevail so that the extraction of organs be performed only in the case of his/her true death (cf. Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 476)" (Address to Participants at an International Congress Organized by the Pontifical Academy for Life, 11/7/08).
    How can the faithful feel assured that there is the Holy Father Emeritus' guidance is indeed employed?


    "End of Life" Care and Information

    Concern has been expressed about the Physician’s Order for Life-Sustaining Treatment [POLST] by the  Catholic Medical Association:
      "There are reasons to believe that the process of dying, already difficult in our contemporary, complex healthcare institutions, may only get harder given the increasing challenges in our culture ranging from rising healthcare costs to ongoing secularization. To respect human life and dignity, we must bring moral commitment, ethical principles, and the highest clinical standards to end-of-life care. We need policies to guide this care and tools to help us implement it. The POLST paradigm and form are too flawed to contribute to these goals, even though they were created with the stated goal of improving end-of-life care."
    We must be concerned about what is happening with POLST and that hospitals are providing information on end of life care which is consistent with Catholic teaching.  It is my opinion that neither Saint Mary's Advanced Directives and Living Wills, nor Holy Redeemer's Advance Directive form, nor Mercy Health System's Vendor Compliance Program properly specify:

    • 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.).


    Pharmaceuticals and Anaesthetizing Consciences

    As per Pope Benedict XVI's Address to Pharmacists, "it is not possible to anaesthetize consciences... concerning the effects of particles whose purpose is to prevent an embryo's implantation or to shorten a person's life" and calls for recognition of the right of "conscientious objection...[so as to] not to collaborate either directly or indirectly by supplying products for the purpose of decisions that are clearly immoral such as...abortion or euthanasia."  I believe that support for authentically pro life pharmacists requires vigilance, to ensure that parishes are not promoting providers of morally excluded particles and devices.

    As per lists maintained by One More Soul and Pharmacists for Life International, all but a handful of pharmacies - across the country - sell abortifacients and contraceptives.  Bucks County is fortunate to be home to the St Clare Pharmacy, which is self-reported to NOT sell abortifacients or contraceptives.  Why does any Bucks County parish instead allow ads for providers of abortifacients and contraceptives?  At the present time, four parishes in Bucks County are providing such offensive ads: 
    I pray that you will instruct Rev. Michael F. Hennelly, Rev. Msgr. Joseph P. Duncan, Rev. Michael J. Lonergan, and Rev. Michael J. Davis to discontinue these offensive ads. 
Thank you,

The Beatitudes from "Jesus of Nazareth"


Use of Emergency So-Called Contraceptives in Catholic Hospitals for Those Reporting Rape

Book & Film Reviews, pt 1

Book & Film Reviews, pt 2

Blog Archive

And yup, that's me!

And yup, that's me!
(from page 1 of the NY Sun, 3/22/04)

Total Pageviews

12/12/08 Interview with Rev. Tad Pacholczyk, Ph.D. of the National Catholic Bioethics Center

March for Life 2010