“In sexual and reproductive health matters, the responsibility of Catholic health care is to give counsel which is both medically accurate and a witness to the teachings of Christ and his Church,” the code of ethics states.In good faith (ABC News), referencing Catholic Health Australia’s Code of Ethical Standards
The 2021 census showed a continuing decline in the importance of religion in the Australian psyche, but as revealed by a recent (December 2022) ABC News story, once again we see that the Catholic Church still has more power in our modern world than we collectively think it should.
First our private schools, now our hospitals, and we all know about the institutional abuse of children by those in power in the Catholic Church.
Forget the overturning of Roe vs Wade in America. Catholic hospitals in Australia today can refuse an abortion (except if there is a “grave risk” to the mother’s life), a tubal ligation or even the replacement of an intra-uterine contraceptive device (IUD)!
One shocked doctor working in an Australian public Catholic hospital said:
[My supervisor] asked me to change the wording to say that we had supplied [the IUD] for acne, rather than birth control.In good faith (ABC News)
At least in this case, people of good conscience were trying to work around the rules I suppose… But they should not have had to!
In another case, a clinician who…
…worked at that same public hospital told Background Briefing when they booked a patient having their third caesarean in for a tubal ligation, “All hell broke loose”.
“It was a big incident. I was taken to the Director’s office, told, ‘Did I realise this was not allowed in the hospital?’ And I was like, ‘Why is it not allowed? I’m not Catholic, the patient is not Catholic, why should it matter what I do?’”In good faith (ABC News)
The ABC article goes on to quote a Catholic Health Australia official:
Catholic Health Australia, which represents the hospitals, said in a statement: “Most providers of public health and aged care will have services they do not provide … For our members, this includes the intentional termination of pregnancy. These limits are well known, given our members have been looking after the Australian community for more than 150 years.”In good faith (ABC News)
But are these limits really “well known” and what about those services “they do not provide”? Shouldn’t that mean less funding for the private or public Catholic hospital in question? MSI, a national, independently accredited safe abortion, vasectomy and contraception provider thinks so.
For Bonney Corbin, head of policy at MSI Australia, the solution is clear: redirect some of the funding from the hospitals not providing these services to the places that are.
“It’s looking at every single region at where their capacity is, and then funding those smaller providers accordingly.”In good faith (ABC News)
How did we find ourselves in a situation in which one of the most divisive and corrupt organisations on the planet has any control over reproductive rights in Australia?
The quote at the top of this post puts the emphasis upon the “teachings of Christ and his Church” and mentions “medical accuracy” (an awkward phrase) along the way, almost in submission to the teachings of Christ.
Anyway, isn’t the “and his Church” bit redundant? Are there teachings of the Church that go beyond those of Jesus? There are (it was a rhetorical question), for example The Catechism and Code of Ethical Standards referred to already. Would Jesus approve of such teachings or how hospitals declaring the name of the “one holy, catholic, and apostolic church” turn some patients away?
Here we see an example of Christopher Hitchens’ maxim that religion poisons everything. At least, it can, and currently appears to be doing so in the case of the Australian hospital system and reproductive health.
The need to resist the Church’s control over our lives still exists in the 21st century.
If you have any doubt about whether the Catholic Church is a force for good in the world, watch this debate in which Christopher Hitchens and Stephen Fry argue for the negative case. I recommend Fry’s and Hitch’s short orations starting around 48 mins 13 secs and 14 mins 56 secs, respectively. It will come as no surprise to learn that the negative side won.
In his oration, Hitch says the following, which has some relevance for the current post:
The original sin, so to say…the problem in the first place, is the belief on the part of this church, that it does possess a truth that we don’t have and it does have a God-given right, a warrant, a mandate of Heaven, to tell other people what to do, not just in their public, but in their private lives; and until that has changed, until that fantastic and sinister and non-founded claim is changed, these crimes will go on repeating themselves.Christopher Hitchens, Intelligence Squared
We no longer have any need of a god to explain what is no longer mysterious. What believers will do now that their faith is optional and private and irrelevant is a matter for them. We should not care. As long as they make no further attempt to inculcate religion by any form of coercion.Christopher Hitchens