As reported by David Dayen at Firedog Lake, the Catholic Bishops are at it again. Not content with influencing the House health care bill, they are taking a shot at destroying the rights of patients all over the world:
The US Conference of Catholic Bishops released an “Ethical and Religious Directive” this month that would ban any Catholic hospital, nursing home or hospice program from removing feeding tubes or ending palliative procedures of any kind, even when the individual has an advance directive to guide their end-of-life care. The Bishops’ directive even notes that patient suffering is redemptive and brings the individual closer to Christ. (Emphasis mine)
Closer to christ? That’s the old Mother Theresa line of bullshit so prevalent in many flavors of christianity. How any sane human being could allow one of their own to suffer indefinitely is totally beyond my understanding. I couldn’t do it, and I would not respect anyone who could.
…(T)he Church has staked out a radical position on end-of-life care, without patients of the 565 Catholic hospitals and other Catholic care facilities even knowing about it. As Barbara Coombs Lee, president of Compassion and Choices, an advocacy group, put it, “When a patient goes to one of these facilities, they don’t know that they’re choosing Catholic dogma. The bishops see the hospitals as an extension of their ministry.”
Catholic hospitals take a good deal of government money. There is no way the hospitals should be legally able to void living wills and/or ignore the wishes of next-of-kin who may not have been aware that religion is capable of trumping both law and common sense.
This substitutes the wishes of the bishops for the stated wishes of families and the patients themselves, said Coombs Lee. Even if the family can produce an advance directive or living will, Catholic hospitals and nursing homes would be expected to maintain the feeding tubes. In addition, all Catholic health care workers are required by their faith to continue palliative care, according to the document. The directive even addresses patients. “These are directives for you, from the church,” said Coombs Lee.
In many cities, this means that every hospital or medical care facility will not allow the withdrawal of a feeding tube. “In Spokane, Washington, if you don’t get Catholic health care, you don’t get health care,” Coombs Lee said. “In Eugene, Oregon, if you don’t get Catholic health care, you don’t get health care.” Coombs Lee characterized it as a kind of entrapment, with a sense of “my house, my rules.” If a patient’s family wanted to comply with an advance directive, they would have to leave the Catholic care facility, adding a level of stress and disruption to the already difficult time of aggrievement. “Decisions on feeding tubes are hard enough without adding this extra adversity,” said Coombs Lee.
The Terri Schaivo affair should have been a lesson to us all that there are no limits to how far our elected officials would not go to pander to the religious interests in this country. It is only a matter of time before there is an attempt by some Senator or Representative to give these new “directives” the force of law by writing them into the US code. Then the police power of the government can be used to overturn the wishes of private individuals and family members in dealing with end of life issues.