“Mercy.” November 18, 2013

First story I read today: a cardiologist at Mercy Regional Hospital in Colorado, a Catholic-run hospital, was reprimanded for discussing abortion with a woman whose pregnancy may have endangered her life.  Dr. Michael Demos was dealing with a patient who showed signs of Marfan syndrome, a condition that can often become deadly when a woman becomes pregnant.

According to the complaint, Demos met with the patient, who was eight weeks pregnant and displayed signs of having the disorder, in early 2012. As he tells it, he recommended follow-up testing and discussed the treatment options — including abortion — should the results indicate that her life was in danger. Fortunately, an echocardiogram showed that the patient’s blood vessels were normal, Marfan syndrome was ruled out, and she went on to have a healthy baby. “I never saw her again,” Demos said.

But when it came to light that Demos had discussed the possibility of abortion he was chastised by his superiors.

Demos was reprimanded and told (in the words of the complaint) that he was “not permitted to recommend an abortion, nor is he permitted to even discuss the possibility of terminating a pregnancy with a Mercy Regional patient, regardless of the circumstances.”

Later, Mercy Regional’s chief medical officer, John Boyd, assured the patient in writing that the hospital would “provide education to all our employed providers, reminding them that they should not recommend abortion — even to patients who may have serious illnesses,” the ACLU’s complaint says, quoting his letters. Boyd also reaffirmed that under The Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services, Mercy Regional’s staff was “precluded … from providing or recommending abortion.”

The ERDs, a set of 72 guidelines issued by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, restrict a range of reproductive health options that conflict with church teachings — abortion, birth control, sterilization, fertility treatments — as well as certain end-of-life care possibilities and stem cell research. The directives also have been interpreted by many hospitals to prohibit emergency abortions for miscarriages and ectopic pregnancies as well as emergency contraception after sexual assault (which generally works by preventing implantation of a fertilized egg).

Of course, when the ACLU came knocking, the hospital sung a different tune than their previously-printed words:

In a statement, hospital spokesman David Bruzzese said the complaint was “based on inaccurate information.” He said Mercy takes “very seriously the care we provide to our patients.”

Jesus hates abortion, but lying is a-ok.

This is yet another example of how religion corrupts our charity.  It is the job of hospitals to save the lives of their patients.  But introduce religion, and suddenly their operators can become determined to withhold life-saving information on account of religious dogma.  Take religion out of the world and we’ll still have hospitals.  What we’ll lose is doctors, actual doctors, caring more about arbitrary rules than the lives of their patients.

And on top of it all, they have the temerity to slap the word “mercy” on the hospital.  It guess that had a better ring than “self-interest”.

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