Gene Dorio | Abortion Bans in Faith-Based Hospitals

Letters to the Editor
Letters to the Editor

Medical decision-making is not easy. A patient’s quality of life, including career and family, may hang in the balance. I have practiced medicine over 40 years, making medical decisions in the hospital, office, over the phone and in the middle of the night. My guide has been good training, experience, continuing education, knowing my patients, common sense, and sometimes luck.

Too often now, doctors must jump through hoops in order to obtain appropriate care for patients. Layers of red tape are included in this paper chase hoping to get specialists, testing, even hospitalization to help make a diagnosis and provide treatment. In spite of requests from well-educated and experienced health care professionals, many are rejected, typically by someone who has no medical background.

My decisions have been made without the influence and motivation of profit interfering with care. For years the public has known the medical profession has felt the onslaught and intervention by three well-known special-interest entities: Hospitals, insurance carriers and pharmaceutical companies. Unbeknownst to most, there is a fourth.

The recent Supreme Court decision of Dodd put into motion an avalanche of controversy. Most of you are not aware that doctors have already been handcuffed by clandestine rules governing certain faith-based hospitals.

Specifically, Catholic hospitals abide by Ethics and Religious Directives laid out by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. They are not doctors nor health care professionals, yet ban many procedures, including abortion. 

Even if you reside in a state legalizing abortion, many people are not aware medical professionals in some faith-based hospitals must comply with ERDs or face termination from the medical staff. There are many restrictions.

A dangerous life-threatening situation exists if a patient presents to a hospital with an ectopic pregnancy.

Typically, a fertilized egg implants in the uterus and grows to term. Sometimes, though, implantation can be “extrauterine” in a fallopian tube. Should this occur, the egg will not survive and can rupture the tube, leading to rapid hemorrhage and death of the pregnant mother. One in 50 pregnancies are ectopic.

Faith-based hospitals with ERDs restricts surgeons from removing the bleeding fallopian tube and egg as this would be considered an abortion. There is much controversy concerning this situation, but the strict religious interpretation in ERDs by Catholic bishops risks the life of the mother.

With the Supreme Court Dodd ruling, states are now responsible for protecting citizens. This is being done in real time, although the public is not aware of ERDs and the impact they have at some hospitals on medical care. Faith-based hospitals will be reluctant publicizing what they can’t do, while their public relations push what they can do. 

Yet citizens must be free to know the risks they take when seen for medical care in certain hospitals.

While state laws are evolving, information must be gathered as to which hospitals might jeopardize or withhold care using justification not found in evidence-based medical literature.

Determine if your hospital is faith-based, and whether their doctors are obligated to adhere to Ethics and Religious Directives. Obtaining this information through their website or a phone call will probably be difficult, and therefore should be a nidus for new state law.

Check with the L.A. County Public Health Department, and have discussions at city of Santa Clarita City Council or community meetings. Don’t be afraid to ask your physician for information and advice.

Making medical decisions is not easy and should be between you and your doctor. They should not be made by hospitals, insurance carriers, pharmaceutical companies, or Catholic bishops.

Gene Dorio


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