Catholic hospital reprimands doctor for doing his job.

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Spacers's picture
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Catholic hospital reprimands doctor for doing his job.

The American Civil Liberties Union wants Durango’s Mercy Regional Medical Center to end its policy regarding anti-abortion practices because, the ACLU said, the policy violates state and federal laws.

In a letter sent Wednesday to the state, the ACLU charged that Mercy disciplined a doctor for suggesting a patient’s condition might be fatal if she chose to continue her pregnancy.

ACLU lawyer Sara Rich sent the letter to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment asking for an investigation of Mercy’s policy against recommending abortions for women with life-threatening conditions.

Mercy is owned by Catholic Health Initiatives, and it follows the Ethical and Religious Directives for health care adopted by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. The directives include a ban on associating with abortion providers.

“Mercy Regional’s moral objection to abortion does not exempt the hospital from complying with the laws ... and the hospital cannot invoke its religious status to jeopardize the health and lives of pregnant women seeking medical care,” Rich wrote in her letter.

Mercy spokesman David Bruzzese said the hospital is aware of the ACLU’s complaint and is following up directly with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.

“We feel the statements made in the complaint are based on inaccurate information and look forward to resolving the issue directly with CDPHE,” Bruzzese wrote in a prepared statement.
Mercy is a faith-based hospital, and its employees are committed to carrying out its mission and ministry “in a manner that is consistent with our religious and ethical directives,” he said.

He added: “We take very seriously the care we provide to our patients. Those patients and our physicians are free to use all information in the medical literature to make appropriate medical decisions.”

The dispute began in early 2012, when Dr. Michael Demos, a Mercy cardiologist, examined a pregnant woman referred to him because of her family history of Marfan syndrome, a disorder of the connective tissue that can cause the aorta to rupture during pregnancy. For women with severe cases of Marfan, pregnancy often is fatal.

After an initial examination, according to the letter, Demos told the patient that if her aorta was enlarged past a certain point, medical guidelines would recommend ending the pregnancy.

Further tests revealed the unnamed woman did not have Marfan syndrome, and she gave birth successfully. But more than a year later, she complained to hospital leadership that Demos recommended abortion if she was diagnosed with Marfan syndrome, according to the ACLU’s complaint letter.

Dr. Kip Boyd, Mercy’s chief medical officer, admonished Demos and told him he is not permitted to recommend or even discuss abortion with a Mercy patient regardless of the circumstances, according to the ACLU’s letter.

Mercy declined to comment about specific allegations, saying again that the hospital planned to work directly with the CDPHE regarding the matter. The hospital also declined to release its directive or policy as it relates to abortion and recommending abortion.

When reached Wednesday night at home, Demos said he has lived in Durango since 2005 and has a vested interest in the community, its people and the hospital.

“Anything that happens is not because of nefarious purposes on my part,” he said. “I want this to be the best hospital it can be, and I want it to thrive.”

The policy, as communicated by Boyd, encumbers doctors from practicing medicine the way it’s supposed to be, at least in this case, Demos said.

“I would like to be able to practice medicine unencumbered by a policy that I don’t consider appropriate or lawful,” Demos said.

He questioned whether Boyd made a mistake in interpreting the policy, imposed his own sensibility in the matter or correctly relayed the policy as it exists.

Demos said he’s not a crusader; rather, he’s trying to do the best job he can. It’s early in the process, he said.

“I had a little visit from the administration today,” he said. “It was very amicable, very nice.”

In her letter to the state health department, ACLU lawyer Rich quotes two letters Boyd sent to the patient – one on April 23 and another June 17. In the April letter, Boyd promised to “provide education to all our employed providers, reminding them that they should not recommend abortion – even to patients who may have serious illnesses.”

Colorado law forbids hospitals from exercising control over a doctor’s professional judgment, and from interfering with a doctor’s ethical and moral responsibility to his or her patient. The ACLU also contends that Mercy’s policy runs afoul of federal rules that patients be fully informed about their care.

“By prohibiting physicians from informing patients of all alternative treatment options, Mercy Regional’s policy violates state and federal law and poses a potential threat to the health, safety and even the lives of Mercy Regional patients,” said Mark Silverstein, ACLU Colorado’s legal director, in a news release.

The ACLU wants the policy to be investigated and measures taken to “ensure that Mercy Regional medical providers are not forced to choose between employer directives and their own professional, ethical and moral obligations,” and also to ensure Durango patients are not denied “complete access to medical information because of the religious-based dictates of the hospital.”

Catholic hospitals have been at the center of controversy regarding mandates in the new federal health-insurance law that employers provide policies that include birth control – something the Catholic Ethical and Religious Directives also forbids.

Catholic Health Initiatives runs several hospitals in Colorado, including St. Mary-Corwin in Pueblo, St. Thomas More in Ca?on City, Penrose in Colorado Springs and several St. Anthony’s locations in metro Denver.

All are governed by guidelines set by church leadership.

According to the Ethical and Religious Directives, “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.”

However, the ACLU complaint is directed specifically at Mercy, not at changing policies at all Colorado Catholic hospitals, Silverstein said in an email.


http://durangoherald.com/article/20131113/NEWS01/131119849/ACLU:-Mercy-anti-abortion-policy-illegal-

Should a Catholic hospital be able to "gag" its doctors from discussing abortion as an option to save a pregnant woman's life? This doctor's patient, who had a family history of a disorder that routinely kills pregnant women, complained that he told her an abortion was one of her options if it turned out that she did, indeed, have that disorder. The doctor was reprimanded for it.

Spacers's picture
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I edited the OP because I found a different article that explains the issue more clearly, and it also states that Colorado law prohibits this. Even so, it seems that the hospital is doing it. So sad. The Catholic Church needs to get out of health care, or keep its religious views out of the health care it provides to others. I can't even imagine having to wonder if my doctor is withholding pertinent information about *MY* medical condition from me for fear of violating an edict from a freaking church.

mom3girls's picture
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If you dont like the Catholic stance on Abortion dont go to a Catholic hospital.

Spacers's picture
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In many areas, Catholic hospitals are the only option. Are you saying that Jewish people and atheists should just, what, die rather than go to their local hospital? What a choice.... :rolleyes:

They are also sometimes the only allowable option due to insurance contracts. Someone else's faith should not impact my medical care. And it's not even a someone, it's a ****ing corporation! :evil: Corporations can't have faith.

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Yes, a nearby city only has one hospital and is Catholic. If this were to happen there and it was an actual emergency that patient is a good 30 minutes to a non Catholic hospital.

Although, as pro choice as I am, I have to say I am taken aback by what was written in the article. It's written as if the doctor said that because of her potential diagnosis, that if a certain point was reached, he would suggest termination. I feel like I would rather it would be presented to me as "if you reach a certain point, your pregnancy could kill you" and allow me to ask for options. It could have been just how the wrote that but it rubbed me the wrong way.

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It seems a little early to be recommending an abortion to a woman who has not even been diagnosed with the problem yet. If it has been me I think I would have been a little upset about it too. She probably spent a lot of time agonizing over what he said when it wasn't even something she needed to worry about.

Spacers's picture
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Where are you getting that he recommended an abortion at that point. He said *if* she has this condition and *if* her aorta enlarged, THEN an abortion would be recommended because aortic rupture kills 90% of the women who experience it. I think especially during pregnancy the best thing is always to have information right up front rather than not being told what *all* of my options are given the different potential diagnoses.

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"After an initial examination, according to the letter, Demos told the patient that if her aorta was enlarged past a certain point, medical guidelines would recommend ending the pregnancy."

I said that I think it was just how the article was written but as I read it it sounds like the suggested an abortion to her and I don't agree with that. I think abortion is something that the woman absolutely has to initiate and decide on. Not be led to.

As I said before, I think the better way was to say...if your aorta was to enlarge to this point, you are at risk of death. Then let her request how she wants to proceed.

Spacers's picture
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Really???? You'd rather a pregnant woman be told that her pregnancy is going to kill her. PERIOD. Leave it at that. Let her figure out what questions to ask about it??? Damn, I'm sure glad you'll never be my doctor. What a horrible thing to do to somebody, and especially someone who is pregnant. Wow. I guess I have more compassion for a pregnant woman facing a horrible diagnosis and a horrible decision to make. I'd let her know right off the bat that there *is* hope for her.

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"mom3girls" wrote:

If you dont like the Catholic stance on Abortion dont go to a Catholic hospital.

If Catholic corporations can't offer all health care, they should not be in the hospital business.

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"Spacers" wrote:

Really???? You'd rather a pregnant woman be told that her pregnancy is going to kill her. PERIOD. Leave it at that. Let her figure out what questions to ask about it??? Damn, I'm sure glad you'll never be my doctor. What a horrible thing to do to somebody, and especially someone who is pregnant. Wow. I guess I have more compassion for a pregnant woman facing a horrible diagnosis and a horrible decision to make. I'd let her know right off the bat that there *is* hope for her.

That's not what I said at all.

I didn't say..hey you'll die. Have a nice day. Not even close. But there is a different way to approach hearing this than hey if it gets to this point most people terminate. THAT seems more callous to me than saying there is a good chance to be fatal, let's talk options that you can make.

GloriaInTX's picture
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Even IF she had it the risk was 10% or less that she would have complications, and even then it sounds like she would have other options than abortion or death. So yes I still think he jumped the gun a little in mentioning abortion before she had even been diagnosed.

What is the expected rate of complications in unselected women with MFS during pregnancy? A number of recent studies have provided information on >350 unselected pregnancies in patients with MFS and suggested an expected rate of aortic dissection of ≈3% with an estimated 1% in women with aortic diameter 40 mm, rapid dilatation, or previous dissection of the ascending aorta). It should be noted, however, that although uncommon, aortic dissections have been reported in women with normal-size aorta, and therefore an event-free pregnancy cannot be guaranteed to women with MFS even in the presence of normal aortic diameter.

Cardiovascular Problems in Pregnant Women With Marfan Syndrome

Pregnancy | The Marfan Foundation

Rivergallery's picture
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Not sure why abortion was mentioned at all to this woman.. is Gloria's point. Too many IF's a normal Dr would not have mentioned abortion to me when pregnant, at this term of pregnancy...

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"Jessica80" wrote:

That's not what I said at all.

I didn't say..hey you'll die. Have a nice day. Not even close. But there is a different way to approach hearing this than hey if it gets to this point most people terminate. THAT seems more callous to me than saying there is a good chance to be fatal, let's talk options that you can make.

Agreed - one at the point being -- if she is at risk for this issue.. of setting up a transfer to a different dr.. or hospital to properly suit her needs.

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None of us were there, but he didn't tell her to go get an abortion. He said that medical guidelines recommended ending it IF she did end up with certain conditions. I would want to be aware of what all possible outcomes could be if it were me and I don't get the objection.

When we decided to start trying to have kids, I went for a check-up, but I'd already stopped taking birth control. I had some strange symptoms that I reported to my GP and she diagnosed me with a thyroid condition. She told me the same thing, that due to my condition, if I were already pregnant, medical guidelines indicated terminating the pregnancy. She didn't say "go get an abortion", she simply spelled out how serious it was. I was very very upset by this news but not because she TOLD me. I was glad she told me.

Luckily for me, I wasn't pregnant yet, and the condition was treated, and then I got the green light to go off birth control again.

I think it is odd to complain about a doctor telling you what medical recommendations are for specific conditions. You still get to choose.

I do remember years ago, a friend of mine turned 35 while she was pregnant. A nurse from her doctor's office phoned her and said they were scheduling her for an amnio because she was 35. THAT was presumptuous. My friend asked me what I thought and I said that first of all, nothing magical changes in your body on your 35th birthday, and second, it wasn't up to the nurse to decide she should get one, and third, if knowing that something was wrong with her baby would not make her consider terminating the pregnancy, there was no reason to get the test, unless she really felt that she had prep to do. She actually chose not to have the test.

That was pushy and uncalled for. This doctor, simply spelling out standard medical recommendations? Not wrong.

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To add on to everything Laurie said, we also don't know exactly how the conversation went. In between my last miscarriage and my last successful pregnancy (Reid) I was diagnosed with a clotting disorder, and MY questions to the doctor weren't limited to simply "what does this mean right now?" but also "Hypothetically, if X happens down the road, what will we do then? How about if that leads to Y? What is the treatment at that point?" At one point I remember discussing what we would do if I needed an emergency c-section after being on blood thinners, and I wasn't even pregnant at that point. Because I wanted to know as much info as I could, and I was asking a lot of admittedly hypothetical questions. I would NOT have welcomed a dr refusing to answer my questions because "it's too premature." So for all we know, this woman was asking the totally reasonable question "If I do have this syndrome and my aorta does become enlarged, what will our options be?" That is what I would be asking in her shoes.

Either way, I think it's ridiculous to discipline a doctor for telling the truth about a patient's treatment options just because they don't align with your religion.

I also agree with whoever said that "Don't like it, don't go to a Catholic hospital" is a bad solution.

And finally, I can't believe that the Catholic church would oppose an abortion if the life of the mother was in danger. Assuming the baby is before the age of viability, if the mom dies the baby dies too. How is it better or more pro-life to have them BOTH die?

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"Alissa_Sal" wrote:

And finally, I can't believe that the Catholic church would oppose an abortion if the life of the mother was in danger. Assuming the baby is before the age of viability, if the mom dies the baby dies too. How is it better or more pro-life to have them BOTH die?

I am really trying not to get hung up on this, but I did want to answer this. I have done a lot of studying on this because of before possibly being pg with a tubal pregnancy. Although I am not Catholic, I believe their belief on abortion is closest to my own. There is a difference between delivering a baby early and having it die naturally because it can not survive on its own outside the womb in the case of the Mother's live being in danger, then there is in going inside and purposefully trying to kill the baby while it is still inside the mother.

I believe the Catholic church makes this distinction. For example, if the mother's life is in danger and they have to induce labor at say 12 weeks and viability is not an option, then THEY did not kill the baby nature (or God did). If a baby at 12 weeks along and a doctor injects them with a poison or cuts their body into many pieces, then nature did not kill the baby, the doctor did. As far as I understand it, that is the difference that the Catholic church makes when the life of the mother is involved. I believe this is also the stance of my OBGYN.

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So they would be okay with "inducing labor" at 12 weeks to save the mother's life? Can you even "induce labor" at 12 weeks? And from a practical standpoint, you realize that there is seriously no difference to the fetus whether you "induce labor" at 12 weeks or inject poison. I mean, if we could prove which one was more merciful to the fetus if they feel pain at that early stage, then that method would have my vote everything else being equal, but beyond that, dead is dead. I hate to sound callous, but that's the reality of it. Inducing labor at 12 weeks is still killing the fetus, so making these strange little distinctions just seems odd to me.

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I agree. If they induce labor at 12 weeks, that's not God or nature.

KimPossible's picture
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I do think its problematic when catholic hospitals do not provide all the information that is appropriate to provide to their patients. I do have more problems reconciling the compromising of ethical beliefs to perform procedures that an institution finds ethically unacceptable. I mean, ideally, i think that it would be best if a Catholic Institution would facilitate the transfer of a patient to another hospital that can provide the care a patient desires if they cannot do it themselves. I don't see this as a compromising of ones own ethical guidelines.

Obviously it is more problematic if its an emergency. Not sure what would need to be done then. And sure its easy to say that Catholic hospitals shouldn't exist if they aren't willing to compromise their own morals. Personally, I would not like to see what would happen right now if we ended the operation of all Catholic hospitals today.

In regards to Catholic teaching, if anyone is interested, Bonita's interpretation is not exactly right. The Catholic church believes that the termination of a life can not be the direct medical treatment of a carrying mother, but the death of the unborn life can be the indirect result of treatment directly to the mother. So you cant perform an abortion in order to save a mothers life, but if the baby dies due to a procedure that will save the mothers life, even if that death is a known result of said procedure, it is considered ok.

In reality its a philosophical level type thing...because in reality, the Catholic church does not want mothers to die due to pregnancy. So the difference between what you can and can't do, may sometimes sound silly to others...but its meant to accomplish the needed task without it being the results of primarily killing the baby.

I actually don't know for certain if Bonitas induction suggestion would be universally accepted in the Catholic teaching. I actually don't think it is. Thats not to say that won't be the suggestion you might get in some places, i'm just saying that it may not be the suggestion you would get everywhere. Despite what many think, the Catholic church is not that tightly unified under the hood, and you will find different interpretion from one parish to the next, one diocese to the next and probably even one hospital to the next.

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Also in regards to the woman in this case...i think a patient should make their wishes up front clear that they do not want to hear or consider abortion if that is truly their desire. If a patient doesn't want to consider it or hear about it, i think its within their rights to not consider it, but they should speak that desire...even at a Catholic hospital.

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"freddieflounder101" wrote:

I agree. If they induce labor at 12 weeks, that's not God or nature.

its not a God or nature thing, thats not what the Catholic teaching is. The differentiation the church wants is the termination of an unborn life as the undesired consequence of treating the mother vs the termination of an unborn life as the primary intent of the procedure in order to treat the mother.

It is a fine line that is open to a lot of interpretation. But the Catholic teaching isn't meant to be a "whatever God desires!" kind of teaching....just want to clear that up.

Alissa_Sal's picture
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So Kim, let's say that a woman was in danger due directly to her pregnancy, and there was no other hospital nearby that she could be transferred to. In that case the "treatment" for the mother really is to terminate the pregnancy - would a Catholic hospital truly refuse to do the procedure? I mean, I totally agree with not forcing Catholic hospitals to do voluntary abortions where the pregnancy is simply not wanted, but I just cannot fathom allowing a woman to die because you refuse to terminate a wanted pregnancy that has gone terribly awry.

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"Alissa_Sal" wrote:

So Kim, let's say that a woman was in danger due directly to her pregnancy, and there was no other hospital nearby that she could be transferred to. In that case the "treatment" for the mother really is to terminate the pregnancy - would a Catholic hospital truly refuse to do the procedure? I mean, I totally agree with not forcing Catholic hospitals to do voluntary abortions where the pregnancy is simply not wanted, but I just cannot fathom allowing a woman to die because you refuse to terminate a wanted pregnancy that has gone terribly awry.

I don't really know the answer to this....because i don't know enough about Catholic healthcare as a whole when it comes to how its actually practiced. But my best educated guess is that it would truly depend on the hospital that you went to and a LOT of them would do what they needed to to save the mother, while others would not.

Dont' forget about this Death of Savita Halappanavar - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

But that doesn't mean the belief is universally applied the same way everywhere. There were bishops who crticized the care she received before she died, and declared it inadequate. ETA and i know in this case, ireland law was involved, but its base don the same philosophy

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And another point i want to make...while Catholcisim officially teaches what i described, it has not officially given out any statements on alot, if not most or all specific scenarios. So, for example, there is no 'official teaching on how to treat a pregancy when the mother has marfan syndrome' or there is no 'official teaching on what to do in the case of ectopic pregnancy'

no such things exist and anyone, on either side, who tries to tell you that is lying.

That is why individual interpretation of the general teaching comes into play.

AlyssaEimers's picture
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When Pregnancy Goes Awry: Ectopic Pregnancies

Catholics United for the Faith | A Catholic Approach to Tubal Pregnancies | Teaching the Catholic Faith

I am not fully versed on the teachings of the Catholic church. When I was trying to decide myself what to do with an ectopic pg, everything I read stated that it was ok to remove the tube with the baby still inside, but the other treatments were not. I do believe that is a deeply personal decision when the life of the mother also comes in to play and you are never exactly sure what you will do until you are in the situation yourself.

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Q

KimPossible's picture
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"AlyssaEimers" wrote:

When Pregnancy Goes Awry: Ectopic Pregnancies

Catholics United for the Faith | A Catholic Approach to Tubal Pregnancies | Teaching the Catholic Faith

I am not fully versed on the teachings of the Catholic church. When I was trying to decide myself what to do with an ectopic pg, everything I read stated that it was ok to remove the tube with the baby still inside, but the other treatments were not. I do believe that is a deeply personal decision when the life of the mother also comes in to play and you are never exactly sure what you will do until you are in the situation yourself.

That is the generally accepted catholic practice (although its not 'official'), because the tube is considered pathological, needing to be removed, and resulting indirectly in the death of the embryo. (this is what i mean by such fine lines...i mean really, the fact that the baby is removed with the tube is what really saves the mother's life)

Was this just for further information? Or was it a rebuttal? I'm just not clear. It supports what i said so I'm assuming its in agreement, or neutrally informative.

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"KimPossible" wrote:

its not a God or nature thing, thats not what the Catholic teaching is. The differentiation the church wants is the termination of an unborn life as the undesired consequence of treating the mother vs the termination of an unborn life as the primary intent of the procedure in order to treat the mother.

It is a fine line that is open to a lot of interpretation. But the Catholic teaching isn't meant to be a "whatever God desires!" kind of teaching....just want to clear that up.

Yeah, I was just responding to Bonita's post.

Thanks for all the info, Kim! I don't know much about this stuff. But I still can't see reprimanding a doctor for giving out full medical information, and I don't understand how someone can complain about being told what is medically recommended.

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"KimPossible" wrote:

That is the generally accepted catholic practice (although its not 'official'), because the tube is considered pathological, needing to be removed, and resulting indirectly in the death of the embryo. (this is what i mean by such fine lines...i mean really, the fact that the baby is removed with the tube is what really saves the mother's life)

Was this just for further information? Or was it a rebuttal? I'm just not clear. It supports what i said so I'm assuming its in agreement, or neutrally informative.

It was in response to this -

"there is no 'official teaching on what to do in the case of ectopic pregnancy'

no such things exist and anyone, on either side, who tries to tell you that is lying."

I was just trying to say where I got my information from.

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"freddieflounder101" wrote:

Thanks for all the info, Kim! I don't know much about this stuff. But I still can't see reprimanding a doctor for giving out full medical information, and I don't understand how someone can complain about being told what is medically recommended.

I agree!

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"AlyssaEimers" wrote:

It was in response to this -

"there is no 'official teaching on what to do in the case of ectopic pregnancy'

no such things exist and anyone, on either side, who tries to tell you that is lying."

I was just trying to say where I got my information from.

There is no official teaching. What is generally practiced is what the community as a whole has determined to be a reasonable interpretation of the official philosophy. There is no official decree from the vatican on how to treat an ectopic pregnancy specifically. They only make it clear that you are not supposed to directly terminate the pregnancy and thats it. You are expected to interpret the general rule to fit the scenario.

Those are two very different things.

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Yes to the fact there is no official teaching. It definitely has a lot to do with the community and their interpretation as Kim said. Catholics here in the US may have a difference in how they view things compared to say Catholics in Portugal. Catholics in Mass. may be different then Catholics in New York.

Most other Catholics I know, even if they are not not pro choice, will be fine with abortion to save the mother because no mother=no baby anyway. Save the mom and she has the ability to have more children.

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"Jessica80" wrote:

Yes to the fact there is no official teaching. It definitely has a lot to do with the community and their interpretation as Kim said. Catholics here in the US may have a difference in how they view things compared to say Catholics in Portugal. Catholics in Mass. may be different then Catholics in New York.

Most other Catholics I know, even if they are not not pro choice, will be fine with abortion to save the mother because no mother=no baby anyway. Save the mom and she has the ability to have more children.

And this is why religious beliefs should stay out of health care.

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"Spacers" wrote:

And this is why religious beliefs should stay out of health care.

This is slightly interesting to me...as all health care touches upon ethics and morality. No matter what, we are using someone's moral code, religious or not religious. Ethics and morals are not set in stone no matter where they come from. There is no way of avoiding ethics all together in healthcare....people have to make ethical decisions and seeing as there is no universal ethics code, i don't know how you can say someone's right and wrong is okay because its not affiliated with a religion, while someone elses is not okay because it is. There is no proof as to who's right and wrong is the correct right and wrong.

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Definitely agree that health care is an area in which ethics are an important topic, and that everyone's ethics come from somewhere whether they are informed by religion or not. Even when you apply general credos that it seems like we should all be able to agree upon like the Hippocratic Oath there are always going to be questions of interpretations. I think it's vastly preferable to allow physicians to work within their own ethical comfort zone rather than forcing them to perform procedures that they are ethically uncomfortable with, which is why I absolutely believe that Catholic hospitals and doctors should not be compelled to perform what I think of as "voluntary" abortions. Having said that though, I don't believe that they should be allowed to with hold knowlege of valid treatment options simply because they violate their personal ethics. I mean, if a dr was a Jehovah's Witness and knew that a patient's condition would typically be treated by a blood transfusion I wouldn't expect the dr to perform the transfusion himself if he were uncomfortable with it, but I also wouldn't expect him to withhold that information from the patient so that the patient could make the decision to go elsewhere.

And I still have a hard time swallowing that anyone would have an ethical problem performing an abortion to save the life of the mother knowing that letting the mother die means letting the baby die anyway. It's not that I don't believe that it happens, but only that I can't quite fit my head into that space.

Spacers's picture
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Hospitals do not and can not have religious beliefs. A "catholic" hospital is only such because of the people inside, those who are being cared for in addition to those working. Those people are free to make decisions based on their own religious beliefs, those who are being cared for in addiiton to those working. The policy of any hospital should be to provide the medical services that its patients need and want in accordance with the patients' beliefs. If a doctor is opposed to providing abortion services, then s/he should choose a medical specialty that doesn't require that service.

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Posts: 6427

Stacey are you saying that there should be zero pro-life OBGYNs? I don't agree - I think it would be acceptable to refer the patient to another doctor if it is a service that you don't provide.

For example, my OBGYN *can* treat patients with gestational diabetes, but he was more comfortable handing off that part of my care to a high risk specialist who could give me more expert care. I still visited my regular OBGYN for normal prenatal visits, but I also saw my specialist for monitoring surrounding my diabetes. Now obviously that wasn't due to an ethical conflict, more that he wanted me to get the best care that I could, but at the end of the day, why does it matter what his motivation was. The practical end result is "I am not comfortable providing this service, so I am sending you elsewhere" - does that mean that my OBGYN is a bad doctor or should not be an OBGYN? I don't think so. I think it's understandable and preferable that a doctor send you to a specialist if it is a procedure that they can't or don't feel comfortable performing themselves.

Spacers's picture
Joined: 12/29/03
Posts: 4100

Geatational diabetes is not an obstetrical issue. It's a blood sugar issue. Abortion is an obstetrical issue. A better analogy would be an oncologist who refuses to treat lung cancer because he's morally opposed to smoking. The answer to that would be, of course not, so why do we make an exception for abortion? The fact that you, the doctor, are pro-life doesn't give you the right to withhold obstetrical services from your patients. That said, I'm actually all for early abortions being provided by properly trained nurses and medical assistants, it's been proven safe and allows for better access for a lot of women. But like anesthesia where nurse anesthetists are perfectly fine, you don't go into that field if you won't agree to put, let's say, really old people to sleep for surgery for fear the anesthesia will kill them. That's not your decision. If the patient wants that surgery, you do the anesthesia because that's the job you chose.

Alissa_Sal's picture
Joined: 06/29/06
Posts: 6427

The guy that treated me for gestational diabetes was still an OBGYN, so my dr must have considered it an obstetrical issue. He was a high risk OBGYN. Wink

AlyssaEimers's picture
Joined: 08/22/06
Posts: 6560

Stacy - Just so I understand, you seriously do not think pro-life people should be allowed to be doctors?

Spacers's picture
Joined: 12/29/03
Posts: 4100

They shouldn't be obstetricians if their "pro-life" stance means they won't perform obstetrical services to a patient who wants it. You should not choose to enter a job where you are morally opposed to providing the services that job requires. No one person being "pro-life," which is a term that I absolutely abhore since it implies that those of us who believe in women having choices about their own bodies don't care about anyone else's life or well-being, should have the right to impose their own beliefs on anyone else, most especially their patients who come to them for medical services.

AlyssaEimers's picture
Joined: 08/22/06
Posts: 6560

Well, that would be an interesting step in Woman's health. According to this article only 14% of OBGYN's are willing to do abortions. Only 14 Percent Of Ob-Gyns Will Perform Abortions. Are you going to get better care if there are 86% less OBGYNs? What if killing any child under the age of 10 was socially acceptable? Should you not be able to deliver a baby if you would not participate? This is something that I truly can not wrap my mind around. Religious freedom for only those that believe just exactly the same way you do? Being a doctor does not strip you of moral conviction.

mom3girls's picture
Joined: 01/09/07
Posts: 1535

The idea that no OB should be allowed to identify as pro-life is mind boggling. I chose my OB based on a lot of reasons, one being that he was pro-life. I wanted to know that he would not push for an abortion if any problems with myself or my baby should arise.

When I got pg with #3 after nearly 3 years of trying I had a cat scan very early in the pregnancy. He referred me out to a high risk OB. The OB stated right away without even looking at the ultrasound that I should terminate the pregnancy. Not what I wanted to hear, I went so that I could be fully informed of what issues could happen based on having the CAT scan. I have heard from 4 different people that were sent to him that he did the same thing to them.

I have no issue at all for any doctor in any field to say "I dont feel comfortable performing that procedure" and referring that patient out. I dont even think they need to have a reason. Doctors are human, and they have morals and ethics that shape who they are. They should never be forced to perform something they disagree with.

Alissa_Sal's picture
Joined: 06/29/06
Posts: 6427

To take it away from the abortion issue, I'm sure that there are some pediatricians that either don't believe in vaccinations or that believe in a delayed vaccination schedule. Vaccinations are typically considered to be a normal part of pediatric care (I daresay more commonplace than abortions); should those drs not be allowed to be pediatricians? My answer would be that they should not be withholding information about vaccinations (or spreading misinformation) but that they should also be allowed to say that they are ethically uncomfortable with administering vaccinations and send you elsewhere if you want your children vaccinated. I feel the exact same way about pro-life OBs. They should not be withholding information or spreading misinformation if their patients are interested in obtaining an abortion, but they should be allowed to say that they do not offer that service and send the patient elsewhere. I don't see what we have to gain in either forcing doctors to do procedures that they are uncomfortable performing or in barring otherwise good doctors from practice when there is a (to me) sensible middle ground of having them send the patient elsewhere if needed.

Regarding "pro-life", that doesn't bother me. The one that bothers me is one I see all of the time on FB. "IMO, anyone who is pro-choice is pro-abortion." Huge eyeroll. Like anyone is "pro-abortion." Like everytime I see a pregnant lady, I tell her she should totally go have an abortion!!!! I recommend them to all my friends!!!! :rolleyes:

Spacers's picture
Joined: 12/29/03
Posts: 4100

"AlyssaEimers" wrote:

Well, that would be an interesting step in Woman's health. According to this article only 14% of OBGYN's are willing to do abortions. Only 14 Percent Of Ob-Gyns Will Perform Abortions. Are you going to get better care if there are 86% less OBGYNs? What if killing any child under the age of 10 was socially acceptable? Should you not be able to deliver a baby if you would not participate? This is something that I truly can not wrap my mind around. Religious freedom for only those that believe just exactly the same way you do? Being a doctor does not strip you of moral conviction.

And I would say that a doctor's personal, private beliefs should not strip the patients' right to medical services. Access to abortion is a huge problem in this country and it's damaging women every single day in many ways. Every woman should be able to go to the OB that she knows & trusts and get what is a safe, legal medical procedure. Her doctor's supposed beliefs about that procedure should not have to be a part of her decision process. But the fact that we've allowed 86% of OBs to refuse to perform their job shows that obviously not a lot of people agree with me.

Spacers's picture
Joined: 12/29/03
Posts: 4100

"Alissa_Sal" wrote:

To take it away from the abortion issue, I'm sure that there are some pediatricians that either don't believe in vaccinations or that believe in a delayed vaccination schedule. Vaccinations are typically considered to be a normal part of pediatric care (I daresay more commonplace than abortions); should those drs not be allowed to be pediatricians? My answer would be that they should not be withholding information about vaccinations (or spreading misinformation) but that they should also be allowed to say that they are ethically uncomfortable with administering vaccinations and send you elsewhere if you want your children vaccinated.

You have it backwards. If a pediatrician who was personally opposed to vaccinations, refused to vaccinate your child when that was what you wanted for your child, then I think that pediatrician would find themselves out of a job and/or sanctioned by the medical licensing groups. It's fine to be anti-vaccination for yourself, but it is not OK to force your personal belief about the subject onto your patients.

AlyssaEimers's picture
Joined: 08/22/06
Posts: 6560

"Spacers" wrote:

You have it backwards. If a pediatrician who was personally opposed to vaccinations, refused to vaccinate your child when that was what you wanted for your child, then I think that pediatrician would find themselves out of a job and/or sanctioned by the medical licensing groups. It's fine to be anti-vaccination for yourself, but it is not OK to force your personal belief about the subject onto your patients.

There is no rule that says a pediatrician has to offer vaccinations. My oldest went to one that did not when she was a baby. Granted I think that doctor was a nut and switched as soon as I could, but such doctors do exists.

Alissa_Sal's picture
Joined: 06/29/06
Posts: 6427

How about circumcision? If a doctor is anti-circumcision, should you be able to force them to do it anyway?

I agree that a doctor should not strip a patient of their right to valid medical procedures, but I disagree that the patient has a right to receive that medical procedure from any specific doctor that has an ethical problem with it. In other words, my doctor can't force her beliefs on me, but I also can't force mine on her. If we have a disagreement, she can't prevent me from going elsewhere to a doctor that I agree with, but I also can't force her to do things against her will. In otherwords, we both have rights.

AlyssaEimers's picture
Joined: 08/22/06
Posts: 6560

"Spacers" wrote:

You have it backwards. If a pediatrician who was personally opposed to vaccinations, refused to vaccinate your child when that was what you wanted for your child, then I think that pediatrician would find themselves out of a job and/or sanctioned by the medical licensing groups. It's fine to be anti-vaccination for yourself, but it is not OK to force your personal belief about the subject onto your patients.

Just because someone is a doctor does not mean they HAVE to offer any service. The reasoning might be moral, or it might be because it is not cost effective, or it might be because they just don't want to. As long as they are equal in who they serve, it is still a doctor's right to decide what services they want to offer. That would be like requiring a store to sell tampons. It is the stores business what they want to sell or not sell.

KimPossible's picture
Joined: 05/24/06
Posts: 3312

"Spacers" wrote:

A better analogy would be an oncologist who refuses to treat lung cancer because he's morally opposed to smoking.

This is actually a terrible analogy.

Having an ethical issue with what the patient has done and therefore withholding treatment is NOT the same as having an ethical problem with the actual medical procedure the doctor has to perform.

Saying "I don't want to help you because I think you did something wrong" is NOT the same as "I don't want to do this because I will be doing something wrong"

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