Separation Of Church And Hospital

-Submitted by David Drumm (Nal), Guest Blogger

Savita Halappanavar, a 31-year old dentist, had the bad fortune to have her pregnancy go wrong in Ireland, referred to, by hospital officials, as a “Catholic country.” Savita was 17 weeks pregnant when, on October 21, she arrived at University Hospital Galway complaining of back pain. She was found to be miscarrying.

Savita was in severe pain for three days in the hospital and requested a termination. Savita and her husband were led to believe that the law would not allow a termination until there was no fetal heartbeat. Savita died of septicemia a week after entering the hospital.

Women in El Salvador and Mexico have been jailed for both abortions and “suspicious” miscarriages. Nicaragua has implemented a total ban on abortion.

In the United States, approximately 20% of hospital beds are at religiously-affiliated hospitals. A study of doctors at religiously-affiliated hospitals, published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine, found that 86% would encourage patients to seek the recommended intervention at a hospital that permits the intervention. Only 4% would risk their hospital privileges and provide the prohibited treatment.

For many patients, going to another hospital may not be a viable option.

In Doe v. Bolton (1973) a 7-2 Supreme Court held that:

The interposition of a hospital committee on abortion, a procedure not applicable as a matter of state criminal law to other surgical situations, is unduly restrictive of the patient’s rights, which are already safeguarded by her personal physician.

The interposition of a religious committee on abortion would likewise be unduly restrictive.

Health care procedures should be governed by the best science-based medical knowledge available. We need a wall of separation between church and hospital.

H/T: LGM, AAFP, Irish Times, Jodi Jacobson, Dr. Jen Gunter, Peter Lipson, ACLU, Pharyngula.

43 thoughts on “Separation Of Church And Hospital

  1. I think a big malpractice suit might change some minds and possible criminal prosecution for this poor woman’s death. These folks are motivated by money mostly, and taking their cash and freedom will change their minds about how they practice medicine.

  2. When Ireland went into the EU, it started to become a secular state and the longer it has been in the more secular it has become, but there are still many laws and customs leftover from the theocratic state.

  3. There’s a long history in Ireland of hospitals abusing their female patients based on religion:

    “Symphysiotomy survivors gather to recount stories of torture”

    “The limp is a common ailment in women who have suffered through symphysiotomies, a painful surgical procedure used in maternity hospitals across Ireland in the 20th century. Other problems include chronic back pain and incontinence.

    Often performed in the place of the more commonplace Caesarean section, symphysiotomies involved breaking the woman’s pelvis during childbirth. The Survivors of Symphysiotomy (SOS) group claims that the operations were carried out without prior knowledge or consent “mainly for religious reasons, by obstetricians who were opposed to family planning.””

  4. Catholic hospitals in the US are working to ‘consolidate’ particularly in rural areas. They are buying & closing competing hospitals. Private companies are doing this also as there is very good money to be made, particularly when you have a monopoly. The difference is the privates are only interested in revenue whereas the church has a religious agenda in addition.

    This model of crushing competition in rural areas so that you have a monopoly was really pioneered by Wal-Mart and I believe it will work very well for its owners but very, very, badly for its customers. The fact that women will die because of it is just the septic cherry on top of the poop sundae.

  5. Nal,

    I’m glad you did a post on this story. I had planned to do one–but didn’t get around to it. I think the story in this country goes beyond the separation of state and hospital. We have a number of state and national legislators trying to pass laws that would make terminations of troubled pregnancies like this one illegal:

    War On Women Continues: Ohio Revives Extreme Anti-Abortion Bill
    By Tara Culp-Ressler
    Nov 9, 2012

    Last year, anti-choice advocates in Ohio pushed extreme legislation to ban abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected — which often occurs as early as six weeks, before many women may even know they’re pregnant. So-called “heartbeat” bills like HB 125 are so radical that they often divide the anti-abortion community, and this particular legislation has been stalled in the Ohio Senate since June 2011.

    But now, thanks to significant pressure from the anti-choice groups who were the biggest proponents of the heartbeat bill last year, HB 125 may be up again for consideration in Ohio’s Senate as early as next week:

    Mired in the Ohio Senate since June 2011, HB 125 is getting another look, Senate President Tom Niehaus, R-New Richmond, told The Enquirer Thursday. He said a substitute bill is being prepared. […]

    [Anti-abortion group Faith2Action] took aim at Niehaus and other legislators, including Sen. Shannon Jones, R-Springboro, trying to pressure them into moving the bill. They and other legislators were inundated with telephone calls, emails and post cards from supporters of the bill. TV ads, billboards and even an airplane circling the statehouse dragging a sign targeted legislators. […]

    Niehaus said he set conditions for reconsidering the bill. He would not say what those conditions are or whether the bill’s proponents had met them. That’s what he’s going to consider next week, he said.

    If passed, Ohio’s bill would be the most restrictive abortion ban in the nation — far surpassing a bill in Arizona that currently earns that unfortunate distinction by banning abortions after 20 weeks. HB 125 would criminalize all abortions after the fetal heartbeat is detected without even the narrowest exceptions in cases of rape, incest, or the mental health of the woman.

  6. Some of these so called religious hospitals are no different than corporate for profit hospitals as far as their practices are concerned. Often they wrap themselves in a cloak of an illusion of their Catholic roots or whatever religion in order to cast a false image that they subscribe to the tenets of charity. The reality is they are just as ruthless as any other badly managed corporation.

    Not all are like this, but many are.

  7. I am reminded of two stories. One is my own and the second one comes from that great movie called Blazing Saddles. My story is situated on Coney Island in the sixties. I was chatting with four nuns who had just come over from Ireland. They were living in a convent and had gotten a day off from smacking kids with rulers. It was saturday at Coney island. Two of the four nuns walked over to the Hot Dog stand and came back with a soda pop and a wrapped up food item on a plastic plate. The first nun unwrapped what appeared to be a hot dog with relish, mustard and onions. She looked over at nun number two and as that one unwrapped her meal the first one says in a strong Irish accent: What part of the dog did you get?

    The Blazing Saddles story is one that shows how democracy can sometimes fail us. The bad guys and their bad guy Indian allies were gathered outside the town in the old West and the townspeople had just been made an offer by a group of freedmen who said they would come in and defend the city if they could become citizens. The one white guy is there, I think the Mayor, considering it and says something to the effect: Ok, But Not The IRISH. There was some booing and catcalling and then he relented. So everyone could come in and be a citizen of that fair town. A hundred plus years later they are still fighting over women’s rights and those two nuns from Coney Island who later left the nunnery and got married and moved to that Wild West town had offspring who run the hospital. We got our own problems over here.

    I would advise all pregnant woman in the world to not even fly over Ireland.

  8. This hospital is responsible for the MURDER of this woman….. and should be prosecuted as such. When, and in which universe, did we hand over the lives of women to blobs of cells?

  9. Frankly
    1, November 18, 2012 at 9:44 am
    Catholic hospitals in the US are working to ‘consolidate’ particularly in rural areas. They are buying & closing competing hospitals. Private companies are doing this also as there is very good money to be made, particularly when you have a monopoly. The difference is the privates are only interested in revenue whereas the church has a religious agenda in addition.
    Part of the problem is that now those Catholic hospitals are the only competition to the for profit model chains (w/rare exception…). This is consequence to the hostile takeover of non-profit and sane profit hospitals built with public money and forced into private sectors. The boards became shareholders and the patients were very quickly mis-named as ‘clients’…….
    …a s far as reliious agenda goes, that is just a poor excuse when looking for a scapegoat to the US healthcare problem. Don’t like abortions? Don’t support an economic model that makes it difficult to afford children. Don’t like the way Catholic Hospitals are run? Don’t allow the parasitic corporate raiding of public infrastructure. This is also what is happening to schools. The profit takers are NOT the ones who built these institutions but the quality of healthcare and education and the lives of Americans are suffering because of the sick sense of royalty these corporate creeps are encouraged to display. Spank them.

  10. We dodged a major bullet in this election. .Akin, Mourdoch, Romney and Ryan and the rest of the crew were ready to take away reproductive freedom in the US. There will still be efforts in the states that must be resisted.

  11. Swarthmore mom
    1, November 18, 2012 at 9:53 am
    The Irish nuns in the US got on the bus and helped Obama and the pro-choice forces win the election.
    some are being ostracized now because of it….but there is a huge wave of enlightenment in the Hallowed Halls and the old school is beginning to suffer from the same ideological rot as the Republican party….change is happening. In healthcare, while this storm happens, the church has become an easy way to divert attentions and exploit markets of need….

  12. I saw this story on the news a couple days ago. We have focused on the Catholic priest scandal in the US primarily because we are a provincial country. I have followed the Catholic priest scandal in Ireland via BBC and other foreign news sources. It is every bit as bad and arguably worse when you consider how much smaller a country Ireland is to the US. I surmise the reason the scandal is worse in Ireland is because they were “good” Catholics, attending church, unlike other European countries. Well, that has changed quickly. Tragedies like this will accelerate the exodus, while the Pope fiddles.

  13. Dogma is an offensive word to some. There is something called The Dog’s Truth. The Dogs Truth is always true. If you want to describe the insanity of the Catholic religion you may simply say Catolic. Sorry you cats out there who read or hear this blog but catolic but its more accurate than dogma.
    Why would anyone but a nexus between one’s dog and one’s ma is beyond me. Perhaps the illusion is to a canine mother not the human female pal of a dog. If you want to describe some old withered doctrine then just say granma. Most humans when given the choice at Saint Peter’s Pearly Gates ingterview will opt to come back as a dog. And that is the truth. No granma about it. So quit thrwoing aspersions against dogs. There is no point in equating any dumb thought process of a catolic with that of a dog’s mom.
    Nuff said.

  14. Thanks David. Great job. The amazing part for me in this story is that hospitals that claim that they are founded on Christian ideals would let anyone die that didn’t need to. Would Jesus have let Mary Magdelene die, just because she was a sinner?

  15. “Beverelliee
    1, November 18, 2012 at 10:57 am
    Abortion itself is murder. Or have we forgotten that?”

    Technically so is taking a blood sample. In fact more cells than are killed by a day-after pill,

    And the circa 25 percent natural miscarriages which terminate pregnancies. Is God to blame, Did he kill
    the “baby”? And why did he do that?

    Womankind like men are given the power, together, to reproduce. ´But it is the mother who bears the life burden. Nature gave her also a brain. Did it mean that the brain wss not to be used to see to that birth occurs when desired, and not as a slave to the biological monthly calender.

  16. Elaine M. 1, November 18, 2012 at 12:49 pm


    Women are considered to be second-class citizens by many religions.
    Religions that have no class I might add.

  17. Anonymously Yours 1, November 18, 2012 at 1:13 pm


    Could you expand upon that…. Por fa vor….
    Not sure what you are in reference to, however, if it is that then here is this:

    that   [that; unstressed thuht] adverb; conjunction pronoun

    1. (used to indicate a person, thing, idea, state, event, time, remark, etc., as pointed out or present, mentioned before, supposed to be understood, or by way of emphasis): That is her mother. After that we saw each other.

    2. (used to indicate one of two or more persons, things, etc., already mentioned, referring to the one more remote in place, time, or thought; opposed to this ): This is my sister and that’s my cousin.

    3. (used to indicate one of two or more persons, things, etc., already mentioned, implying a contrast or contradistinction; opposed to this ): This suit fits better than that.

    4. (used as the subject or object of a relative clause, especially one defining or restricting the antecedent, sometimes replaceable by who, whom, or which ): the horse that he bought.

    5. (used as the object of a preposition, with the preposition standing at the end of a relative clause): the farm that I spoke of.

    7. (used to indicate a person, place, thing, or degree as indicated, mentioned before, present, or as well-known or characteristic): That woman is her mother. Those little mannerisms of hers make me sick.

    8. (used to indicate the more remote in time, place, or thought of two persons, things, etc., already mentioned; opposed to this ): This room is his and that one is mine.

    9. (used to imply mere contradistinction; opposed to this ): not this house, but that one.

    10. (used with adjectives and adverbs of quantity or extent) to the extent or degree indicated: that much; The fish was that big.

    11. to a great extent or degree; very: It’s not that important.

    12. Dialect. (used to modify an adjective or another adverb) to such an extent: He was that weak he could hardly stand.

    13. (used to introduce a subordinate clause as the subject or object of the principal verb or as the necessary complement to a statement made, or a clause expressing cause or reason, purpose or aim, result or consequence, etc.): I’m sure that you’ll like it. That he will come is certain. Hold it up so that everyone can see it.

    14. (used elliptically to introduce an exclamation expressing desire, a wish, surprise, indignation, or other strong feeling): Oh, that I had never been born!

    15. at that,

    a. in spite of something; nevertheless: Although perhaps too elaborate, it seemed like a good plan at that.

    b. in addition; besides: It was a long wait, and an exasperating one at that.

    16. that is, (by way of explanation, clarification, or an example); more accurately: I read the book, that is, I read most of it. Also, that is to say.

    17. that’s that, Informal . there is no more to be said or done; that is finished: I’m not going, and that’s that!

    18. that way, Informal . in love or very fond of (usually followed by about or for ): The star and the director are that way. I’m that way about coffee.

    19. with that, following that; thereupon: With that, he turned on his heel and fled.

    Origin: before 900; Middle English; Old English thæt (pronoun, adj., adv. and conjunction), orig., neuter of se the; cognate with Dutch dat, German das ( s ), Old Norse that, Greek tó, Sanskrit tad

    (Dictionary). I could also go into Bill Clinton’s dissertation on “is” …

    It is no wonder that one 4 letter word takes a book to fathom, because the English rebellion makes that language not all that it is cracked up to be.

  18. Oh wise and knowing dredd…..

    I now know more about that than I ever wanted to know about that…….

    Reference is to ” Religions that have no class I might add”…,, in reference to Elaine’s posting…..

    Why don’t we do the Johnny Carson monologues next….. I see an envelope being placed near the pineal glad….. What does it reveal……

  19. Abortion kills?
    Abortion would have saved this womans life so she could live and possibly have another baby in the future with her husband. Now the husband is alone without his wife.

    Which of those 2 outcomes mirror ‘family values’?

  20. Religious people wanted Jesus dead being jealous of him because people were beginning to follow him. Penal code only knows how to piss on people. Both are without Christ in it.

  21. Phuck family values! One can live and have a life without a family. Except on deserted islands, the chance may come.

    But human values are needed by all. Even this poor woman who they, in the name of their Dog, killed deliberately and coldly and heartlessly.

    JC, cry on your cross for those you tried to save.
    Failed again.

    (Thanks to shano for the reminder)

  22. According to the Catholic Church the only life worth saving is that of a fetus that hasn’t been born yet. Women are expendable. In Catholic teaching by some of the Fathers of the Church women are the source or the gates of hell. With a philosophy like that in your history what can you expect from men whose life seems dedicated to control not service or than helping the poor .
    A Catholic Hospital in this country would be just as likely to do the same and pay any malpractice award with our tax dollars.

  23. The gates of the city of God will be the gates of hell to those not being like Jesus is not teaching the truth. God is in that city being hell to the wicked outside of that city. Revelation 20 KJV says fire. The wicked see Gods light as fire that will be the end of them consuming them.

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