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.

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