ENGLEWOOD, Colorado, March 21, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – Another Catholic hospital is drawing fire for upholding Catholic principles in patient care.
St. Anthony Summit Medical Center in Frisco, Colorado, declined to permit Jennifer Versailles' doctor to sterilize her after her March 15 Cesarean section, according to an RH Reality Check report, prompting an international abortion activist group to claim the hospital was breaking federal and state law and allege sexual discrimination as well.
The Center for Reproductive Rights (CRR) took what's become regular aim at the U.S. bishops' guidelines for Catholic health care institutions to maintain Catholic morals in treatment approach, also charging that the hospital put the patient at risk due to the Catholic principles.
“It is our understanding that St. Anthony has refused to authorize Ms. Versailles's doctor to perform a postpartum tubal ligation at the time of her delivery, and that this refusal is based on the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops' Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services,” the abortion group wrote in a March 4 letter to hospital leadership. “Denying Ms. Versailles a postpartum tubal ligation in these circumstances violates the standard of care by subjecting her to additional and medically unnecessary health risks.”
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In claiming that St. Anthony was in violation of the law and guilty of discrimination, the CRR fell back on the pro-abort presumption that pregnancy is a condition in need of treatment with either termination or prevention.
“Further,” the abortion group stated, “both federal and Colorado law prohibit a hospital like St. Anthony from denying Ms. Versailles medically indicated pregnancy-related care, as doing so constitutes sex discrimination.”
Versailles's doctor requested the sterilization procedure December 28, 2015 and received a denial in a December 30 email from Father Godwin Nnamezie, of the hospital ethics committee, who clarified from the Catholic directives that procedures that induce sterility are allowed at the facility only to cure or alleviate any serious illness of the patient.
St. Anthony Summit Medical Center is part of Centura Health, a health care provider in Kansas and Colorado formed in 1996 through a merger between Adventist Health System and Catholic Health Initiatives.
Centura Health provided LifeSiteNews with a statement from senior vice president of community health and values integration James Corbett confirming the system's observance of the bishops' Catholic directives.
“We cannot discuss specifics about a patient due to federal patient privacy laws,” it said. “St. Anthony Summit Medical Center is among the Centura Health hospitals, which adhere to the Ethical and Religious Directives (ERDs) for Catholic Health Care Services.
“We uphold our faith-based mission and strongly respect the patient-physician relationship,” the statement continued. “In instances where a patient cannot obtain a requested elective procedure at a Centura Health hospital under Catholic sponsorship, we encourage the patient and physician to work together for a solution.”
The CRR's senior staff attorney disputed that St. Anthony respects the doctor-patient relationship and criticized the Catholic guidelines.
“They say that they value a doctor-patient relationship, but policy suggests otherwise,” Autumn Katz said. “This is absolutely interference in a very disturbing way in the doctor-patient relationship, because this is the care that Jennifer's doctor and she have decided is best for her health. The hospital for other reasons is denying her ability to access that care.”
The CRR requested contact from St. Anthony no later than 5 p.m. March 11 confirming the hospital's intent to authorize Versailles's doctor to perform the sterilization, or the abortion group would “investigate all of Ms. Versailles's options.”
With Versailles's delivery date having come and gone, it remains to be seen whether the pro-abort activist group would pursue legal action against the Catholic hospital, though Katz took the opportunity to infer that Catholic principles were dangerous to women.
“We will evaluate all options,” she said. “We will talk to Jennifer in the next few weeks and see how she is feeling.”
“I don't expect this to be an isolated incident,” Katz stated. “And it's a danger to many women. It has repercussions beyond this procedure, for a hospital to dictate medical care from religious directives rather than what's the best medicine for patients.”