“All persons shall have full and free liberty of religious opinion; nor shall any be compelled to frequent or maintain any religious institution” – Thomas Jefferson, 1776
CatholicWatch is all about keeping watch on Catholic Health Care. The Catholic bishops are focused on expanding the reach and influence of Catholic Health Care and on using control of Catholic hospital systems (now self-described as “Catholic Health Care Ministries”) to impose health care restrictions on Catholics and nonCatholics alike. These Catholic health care systems and hospitals are heavily supported with public tax dollars, and in many cases, with direct tax subsidies.
The Catholic hierarchy (which includes the bishops, the Vatican, and their advisors) is well-funded, motivated, and strategic. Within the health care realm, they are experts at policy, communications, branding, and image management. The high level goal of the Catholic bishops is to ensure that all Catholic-owned and/or controlled health care entities adhere closely to the Catholic Bishops’ Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care so that through control of those facilities, Catholic-based health care doctrine can be imposed on everyone who comes into contact with a Catholic health system, all of which are supported with taxpayer funding.
The Bishops’ Directives forbid:
- vasectomies and tubal ligation
- abortion under any circumstances, including an ectopic pregnancy, which is a life-threatening condition
- most fertility treatments
- new treatments (e.g., for Parkinsons or Juvenile Diabetes) that make use of embryonic stem cells
- any participation or referrals for patients who want to exercise their legal rights under Death with Dignity laws
The Bishops’ Directives require:
- tube feeding in the case of a persistent, vegetative coma (similar to Terri Schiavo) regardless of any Advance Directive to the contrary
- employees to override patients’ Advanced Directives if they conflict with the Bishops’ Moral code
- adherence to all of the Directives by all employees associated with a Catholic hospital (or health ministry, the preferred language)
The Bishops assert:
- that they are the absolute moral authority on all ethical decisions. This is how and why a bishop in Arizona could excommunicate a nun for authorizing an abortion that was necessary to save a woman’s life. BTW, that decision was upheld by ALL of the Catholic bishops, as reported here.
If Catholic hospitals were privately financed or if Catholic hospitals treated only conservative Catholics, this position might be completely acceptable. However, hospitals and other medical facilities – which include labs, physician practices, primary care clinics, hospices, rehab centers, and now even insurance companies, run on public dollars. The government’s share of all health spending is currently 46%. Among some Catholic health organizations, it’s much higher. Judith Persichilli, the interim president and CEO of $13.3 billion CRE – Trinity Health, said in December 2013 that government payers supply 60-65% of all funding to the empire she oversees. In some cases, property taxes directly subsidize Catholic hospitals that then impose religiously-based restrictions.
In many geographies, the only health care facilities are Catholic controlled. In Washington State, for example, almost half the acute-care hospital beds are under the “moral” control of the Catholic bishops. In several Washington State counties, the only hospitals and associated systems (which includes clinics, labs, physician practices, etc.) are Catholic run. In addition to imposing health care restrictions on patients and providers, the Catholic hierarchy is also intent on fighting antidiscrimination laws as they apply to Catholic hospitals. Their stance seems to be “These are religious institutions. We control them. We have the absolute right to impose our will and to hire or fire anyone we want on any basis whatsoever. Now please keep sending us very large Goverment checks.”
By educating legislators, journalists, activists, medical professionals, and patients, this site seeks to return the American health care system to one that respects the Constitutional rights of all citizens. Because health care is so intertwined with government, American taxpayers have a right to demand that health care policy should be evidence-based and beyond the control of religious extremists, including a Catholic hierarchy that would forbid contraception to the 99% of women who choose to use it at some time in their lives.