Ben Johnson

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Catholic hospitals in seven states conducted 20,073 sterilizations in three years: study

Ben Johnson
Ben Johnson

WACO, TEXAS, February 27, 2012, (LifeSiteNews.com) – A multi-year review of 176 Catholic hospitals in seven states found that 48 percent have performed direct female sterilizations. The author of the study, Sandra Hapenney, warns this could undermine Catholic health institutions’ ability to invoke conscience clause protections to opt out of performing sterilizations.

To earn a Ph.D. in Church-State Studies at Baylor University, Hapenney requested data from 1,734 hospitals in California, Illinois, Indiana, New Jersey, New York, Texas, and Washington. Of these, 176 were Catholic hospitals that offered obstetric services.

By tracking medical codes in hospital records, she discovered nearly half of these institutions had performed female sterilizations.

That amounted to 20,073 sterilizations.

The “Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services” issued by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) in 2009, states, “Direct sterilization of either men or women, whether permanent or temporary, is not permitted in a Catholic health care institution.” Only indirect sterilizations, which result in infertility while treating another medical condition, are permitted.

In 2008, Bishop Alvara Corrada, then in the diocese of Tyler, Texas, forced two Catholic hospitals to stop performing tubal ligations. Hapenney found his efforts successfully ended the practice at those institutions.

After making her full dissertation available online at her website, CatholicHospitals.org, Hapenney found herself on the receiving end of criticism from the Catholic Health Association (CHA).

Fred Caesar of the CHA wrote, “We put no credence in the study” and told reporters that other health specialists said the report contains unspecified “gross errors.” Carl Middleton, vice president of theology and ethics for Catholic Health Initiatives, added that bill coding was subject to human error, although he did not point to any specific error.

Dr. Hapenney told LifeSiteNews.com her critics had not pointed out a single error in her dissertation.

Her critics charged “that the study contained ‘gross errors’ – without finding them or stating what these gross errors might be,” she said.

“There is no real doubt about the validity of the type of data used in this study since it is provided by the hospitals to the State in compliance with regulatory laws and is regularly used by researchers,” she wrote in a press release countering the objections.

“I’m asking for a retraction,” she told LifeSiteNews.com

(Click “like” if you want to end abortion! )

When she first posted the data, Hapenney says she over-counted the number of sterilizations in Indiana by five. “I immediately rechecked my data and corrected it before publishing the dissertation,” she told LifeSiteNews. “I had Baylor recheck everything, [to] assure all the data was correct.” They found she had under-counted the number of sterilizations in California by 14.

Hapenney’s faculty adviser was Dr. Francis J. Beckwith. “She went through the data very carefully, discovering only one very minor mistake that was corrected before she submitted her final version to the graduate school dissertations holdings,” Dr. Beckwith said in a statement e-mailed to LifeSiteNews.com. 

Hepenney tracked the number of patient records that used the medical code V25.2, a code that always indicates a voluntary sterilization. If it were an indirect procedure allowed by Catholic theology, another code to indicate the emergency would have been used, she said.

“Some Catholic health insurance policies identify the V25.2 code as something they will not pay for,” he told LifeSiteNews.com. “Med-Cal of California also saw it as an elective surgery.”

“My whole goal was to try to get the truth out,” Dr. Hapenney said.

The fact that some Catholic hospitals perform voluntary sterilizations may threaten the ability of Catholic hospitals to refuse to do so if forced, Hapenney writes. Her dissertation notes, “such diversity may pose judicial and political problems for providing protection under the conscience clauses.”

The issue has roared to life since the Obama administration’s health care reform mandates that all health insurance plan cover sterilization.

CHA President Sr. Carol Keehan had advance knowledge of the administration’s “accommodation” and offered her organization’s early support.

“I’m hoping that the bishops will now know what’s going on and will be able to come up with better or more enforceable ERDs [Ethical and Religious Directives]” so they “can look at what’s actually going on in the hospital and hold them to higher standards.”

Presently, there is no mechanism to compel anyone who sees an ethical violation in a Catholic hospital to report it. “I’m hoping that by demonstrating the magnitude of the problem, [the bishops] can develop mechanisms which will help them oversee the issues better and act on them.”

Her good intentions have not spared her heated, if imprecise, scrutiny.

“I don’t understand the harsh criticism of Dr. Hapenney’s work, since you would think that Catholic health care professionals would welcome her research as an opportunity to remedy whatever problems they may have inadvertently missed over the years,” Dr. Beckwith told LifeSiteNews.com.

“Each of us, no matter where we find ourselves in the church’s ministries, should welcome correction with humility and grace. For without that mutual oversight, we lose touch with what it means to be one body, one spirit in Christ.”

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Lisa Bourne

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Pressure mounts as Catholic Relief Services fails to act on VP in gay ‘marriage’

Lisa Bourne
By Lisa Bourne
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Rick Estridge, Catholic Relief Services' Vice President of Overseas Finance, is in a same-sex "marriage," public records show. Twitter

BALTIMORE, MD, April 24, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) -- Nearly a week after news broke that a Catholic Relief Services vice president had contracted a homosexual “marriage” while also publicly promoting homosexuality on social media in conflict with Church teaching, the US Bishops international relief agency has taken no apparent steps to address the matter and is also not talking.

CRS Vice President of Overseas Finance Rick Estridge entered into a homosexual “marriage” in Maryland the same month in 2013 that he was promoted by CRS to vice president, public records show.

Despite repeated efforts at a response, CRS has not acknowledged LifeSiteNews’ inquiries during the week. And the agency told ChurchMilitant.com Thursday that no action had been taken beyond discussion of the situation and CRS would have no further comment.

"Nothing has changed,” CRS Senior Manager for Communications Tom said. “No further statement will be made."

LifeSiteNews first contacted CRS for a response prior to the April 20 release of the report and did not receive a reply, however Estridge’s Facebook and LinkeIn profiles were then removed just prior to the report’s release.

CRS also did not acknowledge LifeSiteNews’ follow-up inquiry later in the week.

“Having an executive who publicly celebrates a moral abomination shows the ineffectiveness of CRS' Catholic identity training,” Lepanto Institute President Michael Hichborn told LifeSiteNews. “How many others who hate Catholic moral teaching work at CRS?”

CRS did admit it was aware Estridge was in a “same-sex civil marriage” to Catholic News Agency (CNA) Monday afternoon, and confirmed he was VP of Overseas Finance and had been with CRS for 16 years.

“At this point we are in deliberations on this matter,” Price told CNA that day.

ChurchMilitant.com also reported that according to its sources, it was a well-known fact at CRS headquarters in Baltimore that Estridge was in a homosexual “marriage.” 

“There is no way CRS didn't know one of its executives entered into a mock-marriage until we broke the story,” Hichborn said. “The implication is clear; CRS top brass had no problem with having an executive so deliberately flouting Catholic moral teaching.”

“The big question is,” Hichborn continued, “what other morally repugnant matters is CRS comfortable with?”

While the wait continues for the Bishops’ relief organization to address the matter, those behind the report and other critics of prior instances of CRS involvement in programs and groups that violate Church principles continue to call for a thorough and independent review of the agency programs and personnel.

“How long should it take to call an employee into your office, tell him that his behavior is incompatible with the mission of the organization, and ask for his resignation?” asked Population Research Institute President Steven Mosher. “About thirty minutes, I would say.”

“The Catholic identity of CRS is at stake,” Hichborn stated. “If CRS does nothing, then there is no way faithful Catholics can trust the integrity of CRS's programs or desire to make its Catholicity preeminent.” 

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Thousands of marriage activists gathered in D.C. June 19, 2014 for the 2nd March for Marriage. Dustin Siggins / LifeSiteNews.com
The Editors

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Watch the March for Marriage online—only at LifeSiteNews

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WASHINGTON, D.C., April 24, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) -- At noon on Saturday, the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) and dozens of cosponsors, coalition partners, and speakers will launch the third annual March for Marriage. Thousands of people are expected to take place in this important event to show the support real marriage has among the American people.

As the sole media sponsor of the March, LifeSiteNews is proud to exclusively livestream the March. Click here to see the rally at noon Eastern Time near the U.S. Capitol, and the March to the Supreme Court at 1:00 Eastern Time.

And don't forget to pray that God's Will is done on Tuesday, when the Supreme Court hears arguments about marriage!

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Ben Johnson Ben Johnson Follow Ben

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Hillary Clinton: ‘Religious beliefs’ against abortion ‘have to be changed’

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By Ben Johnson

NEW YORK CITY, April 24, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Speaking to an influential gathering in New York City on Thursday, Hillary Clinton declared that “religious beliefs” that condemn "reproductive rights," “have to be changed.”

“Yes, we've cut the maternal mortality rate in half, but far too many women are still denied critical access to reproductive health,” Hillary told the Women in the World Summit yesterday.

Liberal politicians use “reproductive health” as a blanket term that includes abortion. However, Hillary's reference echoes National Organization for Women (NOW) president Terry O’Neill's op-ed from last May that called abortion “an essential measure to prevent the heartbreak of infant mortality.”

The Democratic presidential hopeful added that governments should throw the power of state coercion behind the effort to redefine traditional religious dogmas.

“Rights have to exist in practice, not just on paper. Laws have to be backed up with resources, and political will,” she said. “Deep-seated cultural codes, religious beliefs, and structural biases have to be changed.”

The line received rousing applause at the feminist conference, hosted in Manhattan's Lincoln Center by Tina Brown.

She also cited religious-based objections to the HHS mandate, funding Planned Parenthood, and the homosexual and transgender agenda as obstacles that the government must defeat.

“America moves ahead when all women are guaranteed the right to make their own health care choices, not when those choices are taken away by an employer like Hobby Lobby,” she said. The Supreme Court ruled last year that closely held corporations had the right to opt out of the provision of ObamaCare requiring them to provide abortion-inducing drugs, contraceptives, and sterilization to employees with no co-pay – a mandate that violates the teachings of the Catholic Church and other Christian bodies.

Clinton lamented that “there are those who offer themselves as leaders...who would defund the country's leading provider of family planning,” Planned Parenthood, “and want to let health insurance companies once again charge women just because of our gender.”

“We move forward when gay and transgender women are embraced...not fired from good jobs because of who they love or who they are,” she added.

It is not the first time the former first lady had said that liberal social policies should displace religious views. In a December 2011 speech in Geneva, then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said perhaps the “most challenging issue arises when people cite religious or cultural values as a reason to violate or not to protect the human rights of LGBT citizens.” These objections, she said, are “not unlike the justification offered for violent practices towards women like honor killings, widow burning, or female genital mutilation.”

While opinions on homosexuality are “still evolving,” in time “we came to learn that no [religious] practice or tradition trumps the human rights that belong to all of us.”

Her views, if outside the American political mainstream, have been supported by the United Nations. The UN Population Fund stated in its 2012 annual report that religious objections to abortion-inducing drugs had to be overcome. According to the UNFPA report, “‘duty-bearers’ (governments and others)” have a responsibility to assure that all forms of contraception – including sterilization and abortion-inducing ‘emergency contraception’ – are viewed as acceptable – “But if they are not acceptable for cultural, religious or other reasons, they will not be used.”

Two years later, the United Nations' Committee on the Rights of the Child instructed the Vatican last February that the Catholic Church should amend canon law “relating to abortion with a view to identifying circumstances under which access to abortion services may be permitted.”

At Thursday's speech, Hillary called the legal, state-enforced implementation of feminist politics “the great unfinished business of the 21st century,” which must be accomplished “not just for women but for everyone — and not just in far away countries but right here in the United States.”

“These are not just women's fights. These have to be America's fights and the world's fights,” she said. “There's still much to be done in our own country, much more to be done around the world, but I'm confident and optimistic that if we get to work, we will get it done together.”

American critics called Clinton's suggestion that a nation founded upon freedom of religion begin using state force to change religious practices unprecedented.

“Never before have we seen a presidential candidate be this bold about directly confronting the Catholic Church's teachings on abortion,” said Bill Donohue of the Catholic League.

“In one sense, this shows just how extreme the pro-abortion caucus actually is,” Ed Morrissey writes at HotAir.com. “Running for president on the basis of promising to use the power of government to change 'deep seated cultural codes [and] religious beliefs' might be the most honest progressive slogan in history.”

He hoped that, now that she had called for governments to change religious doctrines, “voters will now see the real Hillary Clinton, the one who dismisses their faith just the same as Obama did, and this time publicly rather than in a private fundraiser.”

Donohue asked Hillary “to take the next step and tell us exactly what she plans to do about delivering on her pledge. Not only would practicing Catholics like to know, so would Evangelicals, Orthodox Jews, Muslims, and all those who value life from conception to natural death.”

You may watch Hillary's speech below.

Her comments on religion begin at approximately 9:00. 

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