The Washington Post has published an article that, like so many others, laments the expansion of Catholic health care. Why? One reason: abortion. WaPo and so many others in the media and among our political class are concerned that Catholic hospitals provide health care according to Catholic moral principles. That means they don’t perform abortions. Oh, the horror! Neither do they provide contraception or “gender-affirming care,” and they don’t perform sterilizations and sex re-assignment surgeries, either. But the big issue is abortion.
So, the scare is on. Claims that ectopic pregnancies will not be properly treated at Catholic hospitals abound, even though the Catholic Church has no moral qualms about treating ectopic pregnancies, which are incompatible with life for the child and a serious risk to health and life for the woman. Reports are published of women who failed to have their IUDs replaced after delivering their babies. Reports are published of women who don’t know that they’re being admitted to a Catholic hospital (those sneaky Catholics!). Reports are published of women who couldn’t get their tubal ligation after delivering what they wanted to be their last baby. All of these women were forced … FORCED! … to go elsewhere for these elective procedures because of the anachronistic and oppressive moral dictums of men in funny pointed hats! They were compelled to make phone calls to other offices and to actually get in their cars and drive to a different hospital to get the procedure that is their right! And, because it’s their right to have these services and procedures, it is the duty of Catholic hospitals, doctors, and nurses to perform them, because hospitals, doctors, and nurses are tools of the state and take an oath that demands that they renounce their morality and shelve their personal consciences in order to receive their licenses … don’t they?
No. They don’t. But that is basically what these kinds of articles from the Washington Post and others are arguing. Catholic hospitals must be Catholic in name only, but may not, or ought not, be Catholic in practice. Why? Because our laws and our culture allow for these procedures and, as such, anyone ought to have the right to go anywhere to receive them. All despite the rights and responsibilities of Catholic hospitals, administrators, doctors, nurses, and bishops. In other words, if you work in health care, you don’t have the right to say “No” to whatever your patient asks. You must comply. Even if you think — even if you know — that what they ask for is contrary to their health and wellbeing, or the health and wellbeing, even the life, of their unborn child.
But why stop at abortion? Why not give that Boston Cream Pie to the diabetic whose blood sugar is 445? Why not allow the psych patient who just tried to kill himself and his family access to the knife he requests? Why not prescribe opioids to the woman who demands them because they help her sleep at night (and during the morning, and the afternoon, and the evening). Why not order antibiotics for the child who has a cold because his mother insists on it, just in case it’s a bacterial infection? Why should a doctor or nurse allow her or his values to determine what a patient eats, whether he lives or dies, whether she wants to be awake or asleep on any given day, or what’s in the best interest of a child over the objections of a mother?
The bottom line is: If the Catholic Church is going to be involved in health care — and she has been for a lot longer than the state — and, if we’re going to insist that the state have a large role in health care — as we Americans decided some decades ago — than the state is obliged to accommodate Catholic principles when it comes to providing health care according to Catholic moral teaching. It is not the place for the state, a relative newcomer in providing and paying for health care, to tell the Church that has been providing health care for a couple thousand years, that it is the Church that must change her two thousand years-old teachings to make the state happy. No one is forced to go to a Catholic hospital for their health care (though the profit motive does inspire few secular organizations to open hospitals in rural and out of the way areas, but that’s hardly the Church’s fault).
The Catholic Church has a long and impressive record of providing health care to those in need, even when they couldn’t pay for it, and has been doing so long before the U. S. government invented Medicaid and Medicare. These articles have little to say about the professionalism, the excellent care, the service provided to all that is inspired by the best of Catholic faith and principles. Is all of that to be scrapped for the sake of the abortion agenda? Fully one in seven people receiving health care from a hospital in the U. S. today receive their care from a Catholic hospital. The WaPo thinks this is ominous. The patients receiving the care think it’s great. In any case, I hardly think that secular, for-profit hospital conglomerates are going to be eager to fill that void if our government decides to shut down Catholic hospitals for refusing to surrender to its demands. Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that.
Be Christ for all. Bring Christ to all. See Christ in all.