Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Spiting the Face

I nearly called this post "Throwing out the Baby with the Bath Water," but I didn't. It just didn't seem right somehow. You'll see why.

The hospital closest to my part of Near Philadelphia astonished the community a week or so ago by announcing that it -- a secular institution of high regard -- was negotiating a merger with the second closest hospital, one with Roman Catholic ties. As a result of this proposed merger, the secular hospital was agreeing not to perform abortions in either facility. And this has caused a brouhaha of epic proportions Near Philadelphia.

The secular hospital is fiscally sound, has a state of the art coronary care facility, an affiliation with the leading children's hospital in the area, a powerful oncology unit, and is almost always undergoing a new building project. In short, it is a success story. The Roman Catholic hospital, on the other hand, appears to be in financial difficulty. So I get it that the bigger, more stable institution might want to absorb the other one. Especially since the Roman Catholic hospital is well known for its home care division, a perceived weakness of the larger hospital. But to make such a huge concession baffled me; I believe there is something that is unrevealed.

People are outraged. People are vocal. The plan has somehow been perceived as anti-Semitic. There are those who believe that this is the first step in a series of affronts against women, that surely it is just a matter of time until contraceptive pills, tubal ligations and God knows what else will be denied them. Others are railing out that end of life issues will become cloudy and we'll all be back in the days of Karen Ann Quinlan.We are hearing prophecies of slippery slopes and of camels with their noses under the tent. At least one person I know has declared that she will not go back to this hospital, that she will go elsewhere for all of her health care needs.

As difficult as it often is for me to take a firm stand on an issue, I know precisely where I am on this one. I believe that abortion is never an easy decision, that most people do not use abortion "as a means of birth control," and that those who make this difficult choice do so out of what they have come to understand as necessity. I have never been in a situation of needing to make this decision. But I remember the days of back alley abortions, where women's lives were put in danger -- and often lost -- because the procedure was illegal. I firmly support a woman's right to choose.

I'm not at all happy with the news of a week or so ago. And if the secular hospital doesn't reverse itself, I'll write a letter to them, indicating my disappointment.

And I'll continue to use their facilities and be thankful that I can. This is the hospital where I worked as a candy striper when I was in high school, where my mother found a job after my father's death, where I received fine care on numerous occasions, where my kids were stitched back together and had their bones set, where I first worked as a hospital chaplain.

This is the hospital that saved my husband's life.


16 comments:

Ray said...

This post gave me chills all the way to my toes. I understand, and I hear you!!

Ms. C said...

This same thing happened in Batavia, NY, many years ago. My mother was a labor and delivery nurse and organized picketing. They nurses were very worried that in a Catholic hospital, the baby's life ALWAYS takes preference over the mother's in a high risk delivery. The parents do not get a choice. In the end, the secular hospital's policies won out. Please encourage a fight for your hospital.

Denise in PA said...

OMG, hadn't heard any of this (yeah, where have I been???). I'll be keeping up on this for sure!

ytsmom said...

I agree with you 100%. You just wonder what is next. Sad, really.

creativedawn said...

Exactly, that hospital is the place that performed for you in the past. I think, largely due to their quest for excellence in health care which is supported by life saving research...stem cell to name one. The abortion issue to me also is a simple support for a woman's right to choose. When our hospitals take a giant leap back into our near distance past which is characterized by inequality as it pertains to women, an interference by "church doctrine" that restricts educational development with regard to the availability of the results of what has to be time consuming and expensive research that can eradicate diseases, congenital disorders and the like...well, you see where I'm going with this. We seem to stand on the verge of erasing the social progress made in the past 100 years. I hope you can continue to hold the hospital in the highest esteem.
hugz

Salem Stitcher said...

Hopefully they will see the error of their decision and reverse this big step back.

I just don't see why they cannot see that by taking safe abortion options away only takes the "safe" away. The abortion option will still be there, just more dangerous for all.

Cheryl Cato said...

Nancy, I have not checked in with you in ages, but this is an absolutely chilling! Like you, I have never had to make a decision regarding abortion and also like you I remember the time of back alley, illegal abortions. Everything you have said is right on the mark. Thank goodness that people in your area are vocal & that you are blogging about this. I wish your community the best in persevering to prevent this... this atrocity.

howdidIgethere said...

Nancy, as you might guess, I will have more to say in a blog post of my own, but I must address one statement: AMH did not save your husband's life. The doctors there did -- doctors who were empowered by the Hospital (capital "H") to practice the best medicine for their patients. This decision will, on the contrary, prevent doctors -- namely OB/GYNs -- from doing the same. Instead the Hospital will prescribe what procedures the doctor can and cannot perform no matter what the need of the patient -- a POLICY decision, not a medical one, dictated by a religion not necessarily practiced by either doctor or patient. And yes, I fear that if one concession is made to the religious beliefs, it becomes easier to make others.

Nancy, Near Philadelphia said...

Marsha, I have no trouble with your having a different opinion than I have.

I believe that it was the hospital -- the triage system, the keen eye of the admitting nurse, the training, the policies, and technicians, as well as the doctors that saved Joe.

The proposed ban on abortion at AMH has no impact that I can see on coronary care. If Joe were to have another heart attack, I certainly wouldn't by-pass AMH and their coronary expertise to take him -- where? To the next closest hospital that does abortions? Einstein? Heck, he'd be dead by the time we got there. No, thank you, to that.

Nancy, Near Philadelphia said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
quilt for fun said...

I share your concerns over this policy change. I acknowledge that there are differing opinions on the topic of abortion and womens health care, but I wish the anti- choice group would stop imposing their beliefs on people who don't share them.

ql said...

I've been following this issue very closely, since I too remember back alley abortions. As howdidigetthere noted, it's not just abortions that will be prohibited. Almost all forms of birth control, even discussion of what is termed "unnatural birth control" will be prohibited. While most hospitals offer Plan B as a routine matter to victims of rape, Catholic hospitals not only don't offer it, but doctors and nurses are specifically prohibited from recommending it. This is a very serious matter and I'm glad your community is staying on top of it.

Jindi's Cottage said...

Hope your hospital is saved...there needs to be secular care...there has to be choice...good luck...

Blogless me said...

From a european perspective this story borders on fiction! I very much hope your worst fears do not materialise. I would though, if I were in your position, seriously and urgently consider starting a petition agaist the proposed concession. It might be too late to start fighting after a decision has been taken. It takes usually more time and effort to reverse the status quo than to keep it,

I wish you a lot of courage, luck and a large number of sympathizers to achieve what you have the right to, namely a secular hospital!

suz said...

As a Roman Catholic I am having such a hard time with my Church. I believe in the spiritual precepts of my Church, but I'm getting really annoyed with what I call the "administrative" end of things. I don't understand how it can say it values life if, after birth, you are on your own. As you say, most woman don't use abortions as birth control and for most woman it is an extremely difficult decision. In addition, there are too many stories where the life of the mother is seriously endangered because the fetus is terminating, but nothing will be done for the mother until the fetus dies. Seriously? I would rather that women have the option for proper care for abortions. If someone asks my opinion and I think they have options, I will encourage them to do something other than abort and try and help. Keep making noise!

Yuki said...

Gee Whiz! Why are we still fighting for our rights as women?!? My x-MIL a born again Christian, was very against abortion. I asked her how many unwanted children she was willing to take into her home. She said none, that it wasn't her responsibility, but pushing her views on the world were. sigh

ttfn :) Yuki