Ghost? In hospital visitation rights story?

As is often the case, the mainstream press was handed a fascinating church-state separation case today and didn’t seem to realize it. Here’s the top of the A1 report in the Washington Post:

President Obama mandated Thursday that nearly all hospitals extend visitation rights to the partners of gay men and lesbians and respect patients’ choices about who may make critical health-care decisions for them, perhaps the most significant step so far in his efforts to expand the rights of gay Americans.

The president directed the Department of Health and Human Services to prohibit discrimination in hospital visitation in a memo that was e-mailed to reporters Thursday night while he was at a fundraiser in Miami.

Administration officials and gay activists, who have been quietly working together on the issue, said the new rule will affect any hospital that receives Medicare or Medicaid funding, a move that covers the vast majority of the nation’s health-care institutions. Obama’s order will start a rule-making process at HHS that could take several months, officials said.

Now, as the battles over abortion and health-care reform made clear, there are more than a few hospitals in America that have religious titles in their names, yet they have moved past the doctrines of the groups that founded them. That’s obvious and, yes, as this story noted, funds from Medicare and Medicaid have certainly helped untie some of the religious ties that, for generations, used to bind these institutions to churches.

But note that the story also said that the law would impact the “vast majority of the nation’s health-care institutions.”

So there are at least two interesting religion ghosts in this story (and I would argue that there are several others, too).

First, there are clearly some hospitals that have not signed up for the government funds. What do the leaders of these institutions — especially the religious hospitals — think of this new policy?

The second story is much trickier. What about the hospitals that are impacted, because of their government financial ties, yet are somehow linked by history and tradition to religious groups that may have doctrinal objections to this change? Do their trustees and administrators have any options? What about employees that work in these institutions? Are there any conscience clause provisions planned for them?

Now, please note that it matters little what one thinks of the core issue here. I am sure that there are plenty of people in all of these institutions that would have no problems at all making this change, if they have not made the change already. And, as the Post story noted, there are other legal options for traditionalists, other than a mandatory acceptance of gay unions:

Gay activists have argued for years that recognizing same-sex marriage would ease the stress associated with not being able to visit hospitalized partners. But opponents of same-sex marriage have called the visitation issue a red herring, arguing that advocates want to provide special rights for gays that other Americans do not have. A spokesman for one group said the president’s move was part of a broader effort to appease gays and to undermine the institution of marriage.

“In its current political context, President Obama’s memorandum clearly constitutes pandering to a radical special interest group,” said Peter S. Sprigg, a senior fellow for policy studies at the Family Research Council. He said that his organization does not object to gays giving their partners power of attorney but that it questions Obama’s motives.

Notice that this report (interestingly enough, the Los Angeles Times took precisely the same approach and even quoted the same voice from the same conservative organization) frames this issue in terms of politics and human rights, with no mention of any religious liberty angles. Where are the hospitals? The hospital chaplains?

And what about the other side of that argument? You could argue that this story could also contain a religious-liberty angle for churches on the left that recognize gay unions. That’s another perspective that should be included in the debate.

But here is my main point: Why talk to the Family Research Council, alone? Why not talk to hospital executives and trustees with faith-based medical groups and ministries that will be impacted?

It is true that the Washington Post did make some kind of attempt to reach one obvious group in the world of faith-based health care, as shown in this passing reference:

A spokesman for the American Hospital Association did not return calls and e-mails. Efforts to reach a spokesman for the Catholic Health Association of the United States were unsuccessful.

But come on.

Google “Baptist, hospital” and you get a mere 1,690,000 references (yes, I admit that many of them are international). There have to be some names and telephone numbers in there somewhere. Look for the names of trustees. Look for the names of churches involved in programs at the hospitals, then search for their telephone numbers. Call a few church-state experts on the left and right.

Come on. Just do it.

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About tmatt

Terry Mattingly directs the Washington Journalism Center at the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities. He writes a weekly column for the Universal Syndicate.

  • Deacon John M. Bresnahan

    Whether you agree or disagree with the policy, it clearly proves what those who have been caricatured in the media as “extreme right” are–again–proven totally correct. The more the federal government controls every nook and cranny of financing our institutions, the more absolute power it gains over our institutions–even religious ones supposedly protected by the First Amendment– and the politicians gain virtual dictatorial power in the process. Even those in favor of this policy should wonder what future governments and politicians might do with their growing, seemingly absolute powers. The media needs to regularly look at this aspect WHENEVER the government exercises its elephant-in-the-room powers, not just when the hated President Bush is using federal power.

  • Julia

    Powers of Attorney can be granted to ANYBODY. You can have your neighbor be your health care agent, or your minister, or your best friend – it doesn’t have to be a spouse or next of kin. Why not a gay friend or partner? Straight folks who have a partner instead of a spouse also need a Power of Attorney.

    Is Obama saying that hospitals are not honoring Powers of Attorney if granted to a gay person? That sounds goofy to me. I did thousans of POAs, many for gays, and never heard of one being rejected if it was properly done.

    There was a short bit on the radio news this morning that this was occasioned by a gay person who said her partner died all alone because she wasn’t allowed in the room. This doesn’t sound right. I have heard of a comatose dying person’s family keep out gay partner. But if a patient is all alone why would hospital personnel keep out a friend who is a non-relative? That makes no sense. Would a hospital keep out my best female friend? Why? On what authority?

    This isn’t about religion that I can see unless hospitals, on their own, are checking people’s sexual orientation at the door and turning away the ones who acknowledge being gay for some religious reason. What religious teaching would apply? I can’t think of one.

  • joye

    Ghost? In hospital visitation rights story?
    It’s more likely than you think.

  • dalea

    Julia says:

    Is Obama saying that hospitals are not honoring Powers of Attorney if granted to a gay person? That sounds goofy to me. I did thousans of POAs, many for gays, and never heard of one being rejected if it was properly done.

    Stories of this type have been reported in the Gay press for decades. They almost never make it into the MSM, but they are there. This topic has been almost exclusively a Gay press feature. The neglect by the MSM here allows people of goodwill like Julia to be surprised.

    Yes, this has happened to thousands of GLBT people with all sorts of properly drawn up documents. I have had medical personnel reject my proxies and powers of attorney when my partner was dying. And I have met dozens of other Gay men who went through the same process. The problem is common and widespread but reporting of it is not.

    I suspect that the hospitals not medicare affiliated are small and highly specialized in elective surgeries. Think plastic surgery, alcohol and drug rehab, penis augmentation and gender reassignment. By avoiding public funds, they can be highly selective in picking their patients.

  • Judy Harrow

    Julia (#2)

    You’re right about Powers of Attorney, but, sadly, mistaken about hospital visiting rights.

    In some places, only “immediate family” are allowed into intensive care facilities. Here’s a link to a fairly recent egregious example . In fact, this was one of the major reasons behind the movement for marriage equality for gay people — to make sure that people who are hurting and perhaps dying would have a legal right the comfort of their loved ones presence and support.

    Frankly, it’s hard for me to understand how people who claim to follow a compassionate God would deny this basic comfort to suffering people. And I certainly don’t want my tax dollars supporting such meanness.

  • Judy Harrow

    It looks like the link I tried to post did not come through. The article was in the Miami Herald on Sunday, February 8, 2009. I found it by Googling “gay” + “hospital visitation.” Apologies for the inconvenience.

  • http://ingles.homeunix.net/ Ray Ingles

    Judy, here’s a link to the disposition of the lawsuit in that case, which pretty much makes the case for this new order:

    http://thelpkids.com/lawsuit-info/

    Ms. Langbehn informed the admitting clerk at Ryder that she was Ms. Pond’s life partner and offered to provide relevant medical history and information. She also indicated that she was the family member who was to receive information about Ms. Pond’s condition, explained that the children were their jointly adopted children, and emphasized her need to be with Ms. Pond as soon as possible. The admitting clerk, who controlled family members’ access to emergency personnel attending patients at Ryder, rejected Ms. Langbehn’s offer to provide information about Ms. Pond.

    She also refused to provide Ms. Langbehn with information about Ms. Pond’s condition, and over the next eight hours, denied the family the ability to see or be with Ms. Pond. Subsequently, Garnett Frederick, a Jackson social worker, spoke to Ms. Langbehn. He told Ms. Langbehn that she should not expect to be provided any information about or access to Ms. Pond because they were in an “anti-gay city and state.” Mr. Frederick also told Ms. Langbehn that, because it was a holiday weekend, she would not be able to get before a court in order to secure the legal papers necessary for her to get information about or access to Ms. Pond… At approximately the same time, Ryder personnel received, by fax, a copy of Ms. Pond’s executed power of attorney, which allowed Ms. Langbehn to act as Ms. Pond’s guardian and make medical decisions in case of incapacity. That document was then placed in Ms. Pond’s patient file. Despite receipt of the power of attorney, no one at Ryder, including the defendants, acknowledged the legal effect of the document, or allowed Ms. Langbehn to have information about, or access to, Ms. Pond.”

    The judge ultimately dismissed the case because legally the hospital didn’t have a “duty, or obligation, recognized by the law, requiring the[m] . . .to conform to a certain standard of conduct”.

  • Judy Harrow

    Thanks, Ray! So, it’s actually worse than I thought? Even having a Power of Attorney places no legal obligation on a hospital in certain jurisdictions? Stuff like this makes me want to really ask “what would Jesus do?”

  • Bern

    Visitation “rights” don’t exist, and as the Lenghben case shows, if such are not legislated specifically than the person interpreting the rules can basically do what they please. It would have been good to have some comment from hospitals–both secular and religionsly-affiliated–on how and why visitation policies are developed and enforced. For example, hospitals routinely bar children and non-blood relatives and limit visiting hours. But I’m sure that they are–or should be–flexible. And it’s not just non-heterosexual people who are affected: believe me. As the presidents’ e-mail said:

    “The presence of loved ones is more important during a hospital stay than at any other time, Obama wrote in his memo. Yet widows and widowers with no children are often denied the “support and comfort of a good friend,” he said, as are members of religious orders.”

  • http://commonsensepoliticalthought.com Dana

    From the linked Washington Post story:

    President Obama mandated Thursday that nearly all hospitals extend visitation rights to the partners of gay men and lesbians and respect patients’ choices about who may make critical health-care decisions for them, perhaps the most significant step so far in his efforts to expand the rights of gay Americans.

    To designate who may take crucial health care decisions is to assume that the patient is incapable of deciding or articulating his decisions himself. Unless there is a written directive, in advance of the loss of ability to decide or communicate, what President Obama has done may be to tell hospitals to violate the law. The law is already settled as to whom can take such decisions in such cases, with spouses having the pre-eminent right, followed by parents if there is no spouse. The President seems to be encouraging hospitals to allow someone who is not a blood relative and who has no legal status whatever to the patient to be considered the decision-taker of first authority.

  • Suzanne

    @Dana — I don’t believe that’s the case. If you read the directive, it says hospitals must respect existing advance directives, such as durable powers of attorney and health care proxies. I assume that’s because of the cases that have been put forward showing that some hospitals have ignored them.

    Personally, I don’t see the religion ghost here. All this does is tell hospitals that patients should be allowed to designate who can visit them, and to obey existing federal regulations regarding health care decisions.

    I can’t see a religious objection to that, even if the couple involved is same-sex. It’s not like they’re having sex in the hospital bed.

    During the debate about gay marriage, nobody even put forward the argument that same-sex partners shouldn’t be able to visit one another in the hospital; they just said marriage wasn’t the proper way to extend that right. Even now, the principal objections have been about government overreach.

  • Judy Harrow

    Bern (#9): Hospitals have never barred all non-blood relatives. Legal spouses have always been admitted.

    Dana (#10): In the Florida case, which was only last year, proper written directives were presented — and ignored.

    I would assume that a partner seeking admission would need to show some documentation of their relationship, either a Power of Attorney, as in this case, or proof of registered domestic partnership or marriage in states where same-sex sex marriage is recognized. Of course, a conscious patient could simply state their wishes.

    All Obama has done is to mandate that the wishes of patients, however expressed, be honored. It’s shocking that this was even necessary. I can’t believe people are more interested in legal rationalizations than in allowing comfort to those who are suffering.

  • Northcoast

    Maybe I’m just out of it here, but I don’t see why people at any significant number of institutions would be bothered by this mandate. I can understand why, without the mandate, they would be reluctant to deal with non-family without prior arrangement; they could find themselves in the crosshairs of late arriving family members. With the mandate they should be shielded from the wrath of family members. WWJD.

  • Martha

    So does this mean that heterosexuals who are cohabiting but not married are treated the same way regarding visitation rights?

    I can imagine things would get fraught if the hospital is caught between blood relations such as parents and siblings on the one hand and partners on the other, with the immediate family demanding that the partner be kept out, and I suppose for fear of lawsuits the hospitals might stick rigidly to a policy of “immediate family only, no P.O.A. unless our lawyers say we won’t be sued down the line for allowing you to make medical decisions”.

    And yes, I imagine there probably is prejudice at work in certain decisions.

    But if it can be shown that Hospital A allowed Jane, the heterosexual partner but not spouse, to visit Joe but didn’t allow Sally, the lesbian partner of Jill, to visit then yes, anti-discrimination policies would apply. However, if both Jane and Sally are kept out, I don’t think you can say it’s bias due to religious or other grounds.

  • Dave

    What about the hospitals that are [...] linked by history and tradition to religious groups that may have doctrinal objections to this change?

    To what, precisely, doctrinal objections would a hospital be bound in visitation, if it did not involve (a) redefining marriage or (b) condoning sex outside of marriage? If there’s a religious ghost here it’s about as serious as Casper.

  • Judy Harrow

    @ Martha (#14)

    Why shouldn’t the patient’s wishes be determinative? If the patient is conscious, they should get to decide who can be with them. If the patient is not conscious, and they have done the proper legal documentation, that should be followed. If hospitals follow the patient’s wishes, they should be legally protected. If they are not legally protected, that law should be changed.

    Oh, wait: isn’t that what the President just did?

    No, he went beyond mere protection — he mandated that hospitals follow patients wishes. Which, of course, takes away the excuse for disrespect and meanness towards suffering people.

  • Ron Bernard-Rivera

    It is hard to see another side in the argument. Either you let each person identify the person to be with them in a time of crisis or you don’t. I sure wouldn’t want to argue that a moral position is to discriminate against someone at the lowest point in their life. I would think that treating others the way you want to be treated would be a better moral position to hold.

  • dalea

    The looming issue here is ‘end of life directives’. What does this mean for a RC hospital trying to abide by the bishops recent decreed when there is a conflict with an end of life directive? The story misses this by focusing on LG partners, which is a vital part of the story but not the whole thing.

  • Julia

    The law is already settled as to whom can take such decisions in such cases, with spouses having the pre-eminent right, followed by parents if there is no spouse. The President seems to be encouraging hospitals to allow someone who is not a blood relative and who has no legal status whatever to the patient to be considered the decision-taker of first authority.

    If there’s a POA or Health Agency designation, that’s the patient’s right. Default rules get trumped by POAs and Health Agencies.

    I must say that I’m truly shocked that some hospitals are ignoring Powers of Attorney. Of course, states can differ. In Illinois, FAX’d, XEROX’d, whatever – POAs are respected. However, I know that some states require a document with an original signature – that can be a problem.

    BTW I found out the hard way that you have to actually have the POA when a crisis hits. EMTs were called for my mother when she didn’t wake up from a nap and they worked on her relentlessly at her home even though she was getting blue and rigid; they kept at it outside in the emergency vehicle & all the way to the hospital because I didn’t have the POA on me letting me tell them to quit. It was horribly distressing to see.

    Recommendation: put the original POAs in a plastic zip-lock back in the feezer and you’ll alwlays know where they are and keep copies in your purse or glove compartment. Additionally, give copies to the doctor for his file and bring along a copy to the hospital when the patient is first admitted.

    Over-cautious medical personnel must fear getting sued by blood relatives who don’t like the designated person. Hospital people don’t want to be screamed and yelled at and be hauled into court by the family members.

    This happens when the disliked person is straight, too, even if its a relative. My late father was an internist who often remarked that relatives who rarely saw the sick person were often the ones who wanted to take over directing medical care and insisting on doing everything possible. That sets up a problem with the folks who are on the scene and know the sick person’s wishes. I can see the family of a gay person whom they have shunned, nevertheless at the last minute wanting to take over.

    I don’t see a religious ghost anywhere.

  • http://www.tmatt.net tmatt

    The ghost is the point of views of the religious institutions involved, whatever the content.

    READ THE POST. Once again, try to think in terms of a balanced presentation of journalistic information.

    If church-related hospitals say FINE to everything. That is a point of view. If they say POAs are fine, automatic recognition of same-sex marriages is not, that’s a point of view. If they insist on rejecting everything, that is a point of view.

    The article is silent on all of these points of view, left to right.

  • Jerry

    Personally I found reading the memorandum itself to be interesting and I note it’s not an “executive order” but a “memorandum” which is a different animal in terms of Presidential powers:

    …designated visitors, including individuals designated by legally valid advance directives (such as durable powers of attorney and health care proxies), should enjoy visitation privileges that are no more restrictive than those that immediate family members enjoy. … participating hospitals may not deny visitation privileges on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability. The rulemaking should take into account the need for hospitals to restrict visitation in medically appropriate circumstances as well as the clinical decisions that medical professionals make about a patient’s care or treatment.

    http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/presidential-memorandum-hospital-visitation

    I don’t see this as a church/state issue at all unless you consider everything the government does to be a church/state issue.

    It’s much more of an issue that if you take government money, the government has a right to specify parameters about how you run your hospital. I have no right to tell my boss to give me my paycheck but don’t tell me what to do. Similarly hospitals or other organizations that take federal money are properly subject to federal rules about how to spend that money.

    I also don’t think the media always has to seek out someone who is unhappy with something, no matter how small a minority, and present that opinion as in any way equal to what the majority believe. That’s a fuzzy rather than a hard line since sometimes the minority opinion is really important, but at some level of opposition that principle should come into play.

    But if there is a religion issue to be made here, at least equal weight should be given to the proposition that this rule is ethical, moral and, dare I say it, the Christian thing to do.

  • Suzanne

    Sr. Carol Keehan of the Catholic Health Association has released a statement praising the decision:

    http://www.chausa.org/newsdetail.aspx?id=2147485353

    The Catholic Health Association has long championed the rights of all patients to designate who they want to speak for them in health care decisions when they are not able to speak for themselves. Having that person clearly designated is not only a basic human right, it also greatly facilitates care.

    All persons of goodwill can understand and agree that when a person is sick, they deserve to decide who they want to visit them.

    Now in the wake of the health care reform debate her opinion may not cut much ice with traditionalists, but so far, hers is the only religious healthcare organization I’ve found that’s taken a position on it.

  • Suzanne

    And tmatt, I’m wanting to make sure I understand your argument: Are you saying that ANY story that involves gays and lesbians has a religious component that should be addressed?

    That as long as there are people of faith who have faith-based opinions about homosexuality, every issue involving gays needs to be examined under that lens (in addition to whatever other lenses the reporter employs)?

  • http://www.tmatt.net tmatt

    SUZANNE:

    No, that isn’t it at all. The key is that the story involves the government, and government funds, becoming entangled in the doctrinal affairs of religious institutions, in this case hospitals with religious ties.

    What people seem to be misunderstanding is that I am not saying that this is only true on the doctrinal right. It’s a valid component of the story even for hospitals that choose to by the gov’t orders completely. It’s a story COMPONENT on both sides.

    I objected to the story avoiding the religion angle altogether — especially linked to the large numbers of Baptist and Catholic medical institutions.

  • Suzanne

    So you’re saying it’s a doctrinal affair of a religious institution to allow patients to determine who sees them?

    It’s a doctrinal affair to require that hospitals respect durable powers of attorney and healthcare proxies?

    This is all that the directive calls for. It does not ask these institutions to recognize same sex marriages. What doctrinal issue is involved in treating a gay or lesbian patient just as you do any other patient?

    And it’s clear that the writer didn’t avoid the religion angle altogether — there was an attempt to get in touch with a religious healthcare organization and that organization didn’t respond. Sure it would have been nice if they’d gotten someone, but deadlines sometimes interfere with getting as much information as we’d like.

    Seems to me that instead of combing the phone book looking for an institution with “Baptist” in its name, a better tack would have been to contact the institution involved in this incident in Miami. They were involved in a lawsuit over it, and from what I’ve read elsewhere, only changed their policies about it a few days ago, knowing this order was imminent. Whether religiously based or not, they’re the story here.

    I absolutely recognize that religious healthcare institutions have unique issues that ought to be explored by the media. Personally, I’d love to see some work on how these hospitals handle advance directives limiting treatment, especially in the wake of recent comments by Catholic bishops. And in a state where gay marriage has been legalized, it’s definitely of interest how they deal with spousal issues in hospitals (in the absence of advance directives).

    In this case, I don’t think the lack of a religious response is a fatal flaw in this story.

  • Julia

    I don’t know of any church with a doctrine that says a duly authorized POA or health proxy shouldn’t be honored if the designee is gay. What does that have to do with anything?
    [maybe those wacko folks in Topeka, but they don't run a hospital]

    I worked in a Catholic hospital for many years. So did/does my father, ex-husband and a brother, all physicians; my sister-in-law as a nurse and daughter-in-law as a physical therapist, and many cousins in hospital jobs at Catholic hospitals. I’ve never heard a rationale given to support refusing a POA or Health agency because the designee was gay – I’ve never heard the issue even coming up.

    And I’ve never heard any scuttle-butt of such an incident happening. I have heard of family members being very upset and causing scenes about it, though. But family can also get extremely upset if a young girlfriend or new wife wants to take over grandpa’s care – that’s not rare at all.

    If the hospital says it won’t recognize,without a POA, a partner’s right to make decisions the same as a married person – if that applies to both straight and gays partners, I don’t see why it’s a religion issue. It’s a legal risk situation.

    But, if, in the absence of a POA or directive, the hospital won’t recognize a legally married gay person the same as a straight married person (for the purposes of medical visits and decisions), maybe that is a religious issue or maybe it’s just prejudice. Especially, if the patient is alert and says that’s who they want to visit and help make medical decisions.

  • Julia

    Just occurred to me that statutes regarding Powers of Attorney are often thought of as protective shields for medical personnel, merchants, banks, etc.

    Perhaps some states don’t also have enforcement laws on the books – requring acceptance of POAs with penalties for failing to do so.

    That may be the gap that Obama is filling.

  • dalea

    tmatt;

    It would be helpful to know the extent of the various religions involvement in the actual running of their hospitals. From the ones I have worked with, there is not much other than on abortion issues. And, the standards of the various professional organizations take precedence over religious concepts in the actual day to day workings. Also despite appearances to the contrary, hospitals are rarely single companies subject to one board. Instead, they tend to be a conglomeration of directly run, leased, contracted and agency operations. For example, the surgical theaters may be leased to a group of surgeons’ LLC who directly employ the surgical staff. In turn, the surgeons are also ancillary to a local medical school and provide training to students and conduct research, which frequenlty gets grants and is published.

    Nurses come from staffing agencies and are not under the direct control of the hospital. Physical therapy, food and laundry are frequently outsourced. The list goes on and on. The religion that founded the hospital has very little control over any of this. The religion really only controls the chapel, chaplains and gift shop.

  • http://www.tmatt.net tmatt

    SUZANNE:

    Read the post.

    Conservative groups are saying that they do not object on power of attorney issues. Right? You read that? In the story and that I mentioned that in the post?

    The issue discussed in the post is the definition of marriage issue. Also note that you are focusing only on the conservative side of the spectrum, while my post stresses that their are religious voices on left and right that needed to be included.

    What is your reason for not wanting the religious voices acknowledged and quoted?

  • http://www.tmatt.net tmatt

    Oh, another question I have been meaning to ask.

    Some have suggested that the Catholic church is opposed to end of life directives — period. How does that square with the Catholic church being one of the nation’s strongest supporters, if not THE strongest, of hospice care?

  • Julia

    tmatt:

    That’s a new on me. An end-of-life directive can contain a wide spectrum of instructions. They are honored all the time in Catholic hospitals unless they veer towards euthanasia.

    Similarly, people think the church bans pre-nups. Actually, the most common pre-nup is for late-in-life marriage with children from former marriages on each side – these argreement are mostly about what happens when the spouses die, not provisions for divorce.

  • dalea

    There is a current, like today, situation in Sonoma County California that involves proxies etc. A summation can be found here:

    http://www.dailykos.com/story/2010/4/18/858381/-Elderly-gay-couple-kept-apart-at-the-end-of-ones-life

  • Lymis

    It’s also worth mentioning that people are conflating the questions of Medical Power of Attorney and visitation.

    While there have been far too many cases over the years of even fully legal Powers of Attorney being completely ignored, or things like a fax copy being refused when a couple is on vacation, it doesn’t cover visitation.

    A medical Power of Attorney grants the right to make medical decisions when the primary is incapacitated. In other words, it grants access to the DOCTORS, and only then when the patient cannot make decisions for themselves.

    It says nothing about the hospital letting the designee in to see the patient – after all, if the patient is incapacitated, what is the need for the designee to see them, and if the patient isn’t incapacitated, the Power of Attorney doesn’t get activated.

    It’s pretty trivial for anyone with an ounce of empathy or common sense to see that if you have such a document and both the patient and the designee say they want to see each other then that was their intention. But if a hospital or its staff want to be obstructive, they actually can, even in the face of such a PofA.

    But the people who say that this new directive is redundant either don’t understand what a Medical Power of Attorney does or have never faced active bigotry directed against them.

    The only legal documents that make two people who were not born into a family into legal family are adoption and a marriage certificate.

  • http://www.pricebonus.com/ Michelle

    tmatt:

    That’s a new on me. An end-of-life directive can contain a wide spectrum of instructions. They are honored all the time in Catholic hospitals unless they veer towards euthanasia.

    Similarly, people think the church bans pre-nups. Actually, the most common pre-nup is for late-in-life marriage with children from former marriages on each side – these argreement are mostly about what happens when the spouses die, not provisions for divorce.


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