FRONT ROYAL, Virginia, July 29, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) - When a child is delivered stillborn, a small flower or other token often marks the door of the mother’s recovery room to help staff recognize the loss.

According to one Catholic doctor, the same symbol was used in at least one Catholic hospital where doctors routinely induced labor to hasten the death of a child diagnosed with a genetic defect - a practice she says occurs in “a handful” of Catholic hospitals across the United States.

Dr. Lorna Cvetkovich told a bioethics conference at Christendom College in Virginia this month about her experience at one Catholic hospital she declined to name, where she says abortions had been routinely performed on disabled children for twenty years. Cvetkovich currently works at the pro-life Tepeyac Family Center and is medical director of Sanctity of Life Ministries in Fairfax, Virginia.

“They would place a little flower on the door of a woman to her room to indicate the baby had died - except they also placed a flower on the door of a woman who was being induced with a live baby,” Cvetkovich told the audience. “Most of these were hydrocephalics, or genetic anomalies, that kind of thing.”

Cvetkovich said the hospital’s policies and procedures allowed for the procedure, but were written such that “you really had to read it with a fine-toothed comb to figure out that this was allowable.”

Soberingly, Cvetkovich said the hospital claimed the protocol had even been approved by the local ordinary. “One of the hardest situations I’d ever went through was sitting in the MD’s office and having him tell me, ‘I only did what your bishop told me I could do,’” she recalled.

“It’s hard to have a response to that.”

The Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services, a document promulgated by the U.S. Bishops’ Conference, defines abortion as “the directly intended termination of pregnancy before viability or the directly intended destruction of a viable fetus,” something that is “never permitted.” http://www.usccb.org/bishops/directives.shtml The document also prohibits contraception and sterilization.

According to Cvetkovich, faithful doctors must be a “sign of contradiction” even within an ostensibly Catholic system, which have been taken over by modern sexual values and even disregard for unborn human life.

“Most Catholic hospitals, their networks, their clinics, even on the labor delivery floor, do allow prescription of contraceptives. Some also allow sterilization ... sometimes even elective sterilizations,” she said, adding that “a very few, I think a handful” perform abortions.

“On our labor delivery floor, you could go after delivery and punch in an order for depo-provera, and that is not too unusual,” she said.

After the lecture, Cvetkovich told LifeSiteNews.com that the moral theologian at her facility had justified elective sterilizations as a means of keeping patients’ business for the sake of helping other low-income patients. “He was trying to tell me that amount of money is what’s going to be their commitment to serve the poor,” said Cvetkovitch. “It’s just hogwash.”

The doctor also lamented that the problem of abortions and other immoral practices at Catholic hospitals is “very intractable” because bishops have been erroneously led to believe they lack power to reform such facilities.

“The bishops have been convinced that they have no control ove the Catholic hospitals because they are usually owned by a religious group whose authority line goes to the Vatican, not the diocese,” she said. “But that’s not really true, because there’s a canon law that says they really are responsible for every catholic entity in their diocese.”

Cvetkovich pointed to the example of Bishop Thomas Olmsted of Phoenix, who took severe national criticism last year for cutting an abortion-performing hosptial out of the diocese, as proof that such action is rare.

“They [U.S. bishops] will not move against Catholic hospitals,” she said.

In a world where even Catholic hospitals push abortion on their staff - Cvetkovitch recalled watching a head nurse “roll her eyes” when a lower nurse asked to be excused from a procured abortion - the medical doctor had dire predictions for the future of conscience rights.

“We will have the choice to either practice anti-Hippocratic, pro-choice type medicine and keep our jobs - or practice Hippocratic, Catholic, pro-life medicine and lose our jobs,” she said.

LifeSiteNews.com in 2008 uncovered that the chief ethicist for the diocese of London, Ontario admitted that its St. Joseph Catholic Hospital had performed early-induction abortions on disabled children for twenty years, and that the procedure had been approved by the bishop.