As I write in this week's paper, Catholic hospitals are flourishing in Washington State, which is impacting end-of-life care for dying patients, as well as reproductive health care for women:
To understand Catholic health care, it's important to know the rules that guide Catholic hospitals, otherwise known as Ethical and Religious Directives (ERDs). These directives are drafted and tweaked by the rotating cast of mostly white, mostly celibate bishops couch-surfing at the Vatican. ERDs operate like a code of conduct that medical staff in Catholic hospitals agree to abide by, regardless of whether or not a particular staffer is Catholic. For the most part, the directives aren't suggestions—they're prescriptive.
... As you'd expect, the directives pertaining to women's fertility read like a misogynist romance novel or found art from the Middle Ages: "Catholic health institutions may not promote or condone contraceptive practices." Emergency contraception can only be given to rape victims, and even then only "if, after appropriate testing, there is no evidence that conception has occurred already." Vasectomies and tubal ligations are also prohibited. Egg and sperm donors are deemed "contrary to the covenant of marriage," surrogate motherhood is prohibited because it denigrates "the dignity of the child and marriage," and doctors at Catholic hospitals can't help infertile couples conceive artificially—using their own eggs and sperm—because test-tube babies "separate procreation from the marital act in its unitive significance."
Then there's this: "Abortion... is never permitted."
Now the ACLU of Washington is seeking testimony from patients who've been denied reproductive health care or end-of-life services at religious-based medical facilities. As their website states, "We also would like to hear about any experience of discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity and expression in seeking or accessing health care services, counseling, or referrals in Washington state."
To submit your testimony, go here.