Friday, September 21, 2007

Catholicism ≠ Ethics

A North London private Catholic hospital has been offering contraceptives and abortion referrals and is taking the heat for it. The head of the Catholic Church in England and Whales, Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, is being pressured by Catholic lobby groups to impose his “arbiter-of-ethics” status against the hospital. Two years the Cardinal wrote to the Hospital’s chairman, “There must be clarity that the hospital, being a Catholic hospital with a distinct vision of what is truly in the interests of human persons, cannot offer its patients, non-Catholic or Catholic, the whole range of services routinely accepted by many in modern secular society as being in a patient's best interest.” Contrary to the Cardinal's opinion, a patient’s best interest is completely independent of what “secular society” may feel. It’s not a secular or societal issue. A patient’s best interest is exactly that - a personal issue, a personal choice of what the best decision is. What secular society thinks about abortion or about amniocentesis or IVF is entirely irrelevant in the case of a woman’s decisions about her fertility and her body.

I reference for you, from The World Medical Association's International Code of Medical Ethics, a few important issues this private hospital is violating:

A physician shall:

be dedicated to providing competent medical service in full professional and moral independence, with compassion and respect for human dignity.

act in the patient's best interest when providing medical care.

owe his/her patients complete loyalty and all the scientific resources available to him/her. Whenever an examination or treatment is beyond the physician's capacity, he/she should consult with or refer to another physician who has the necessary ability.

Catholic Religion and Medicine cannot co-exist in a relationship where medical doctors under oath are treating the public. This catholic hospital, like the one in Saskatchewan, needs to be handed over to an authority with modern ethics and principles valuing human dignity and a woman’s rights to make her own choices about her body.

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