Friday, 28 September 2007

Catholic hospitals to follow Plan B law

From the

HARTFORD, Conn. - Roman Catholic bishops in Connecticut have agreed to let hospital personnel give emergency contraception to all rape victims, reversing their decision days before a new state law requires it.
The church, which runs four of the state's 30 hospitals, had fought the state law requiring medical personnel to give rape victims emergency contraception, sold as Plan B, even if the women are ovulating.

Church officials had said the treatment was tantamount to abortion and had been considering legal action, but they took a step away from that position Thursday, in a joint statement by the Catholic Bishops of Connecticut and leaders of the Catholic hospitals.

The hospitals will be allowed to provide Plan B without ovulation tests "since the teaching authority of the church has not definitively resolved this matter and since there is serious doubt about how Plan B pills work," the statement reads. "To administer Plan B without an ovulation test is not an intrinsically evil act."

Bad news. I'm afraid that this is the thin edge of a wedge.

Thursday, 27 September 2007

Notice of posts elsewhere

Here is a post where I talk about Saints Cosmas and Damian. I also comment on the modern physician.

In the previous post, I commented on why I would not recommend that my daughters go into medicine.

Have a great night!

EU Court Rules Poland Must Pay For Not Aborting Child

Poland, a country where the Catholic Church plays a major role in social policies, has been forced to pay a woman who could not receive an abortion and suffered and "eye hemorrhage." From the KaiserNetwork:

The European Court of Human Rights on Monday upheld a ruling that ordered the Polish government to award damages to a Polish woman who says that in 2000 she was denied an abortion despite warnings from physicians that she could become blind if she continued the pregnancy, the Irish Times reports (Irish Times, 9/25).

Alicja Tysiac alleges that Poland's abortion law violated her rights under Article 8 and Article 14 of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, which guarantee "respect for privacy and family life" and "prohibition of discrimination," respectively. Polish law allows abortion only if a woman has been raped, if there is danger to the life of the woman or if the fetus will have birth defects. Three ophthalmologists in February 2000 told Tysiac she would go blind if she were to give birth to a third child. None of the doctors would refer her for an abortion procedure.

In April 2000, Tysiac had an appointment at a public hospital in Warsaw, Poland, where a gynecologist said there was no medical reason to have the procedure. Tysiac gave birth via caesarean section in November 2000. After her c-section, Tysiac experienced a retinal hemorrhage. Since then, "a panel of doctors concluded that her condition required treatment and daily assistance and declared her to be significantly disabled," court documents said.

Kids Medical "Rights" in the UK

Yet another example of governmental efforts to separate children from their parents:

Parents taking their children to the doctor could be asked to let them be seen alone under guidelines issued today.

For the first time doctors have been ordered to "respect the rights" of children to make decisions for themselves and refuse treatment if they wish.

Official guidance from the General Medical Council says doctors should treat children confidentially and inform them of their right to a private consultation.

It applies to all 240,000 doctors - not just GPs - and is aimed at improving medical care for children and teenagers.

Wednesday, 26 September 2007

Sts. Cosmas and Damian

Sts. Cosmas and Damian were twin brothers who were physicians from Arabia. As Christians they practiced medicine with great kindness and charity and never accepted money for their services. They were martyred about the year 287 during the persecution of Diocletian. In the eastern Church they are called the Holy Unmercenaries. They are patrons of physicians and surgeons as well as pharmacists.

Grant, we beseech thee, Almighty God that we, who observe the heavenly birthday of blessed Cosmas and Damian, thy Martyrs, may by their intercession be delivered from all evils that beset us. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God forever and ever. Amen.

Sts. Cosmas and Damian, ora pro nobis.

Physicians View Religiosity as Factor in Patients' Health

You can influence the suffering of your patients. From Medical News:

CHICAGO, April 10 -- A majority of physicians in a large survey declared that religion and spirituality, including divine intervention, affect their patients' health.

The survey of more than a thousand practicing physicians found that 56% believe religion and spirituality have a significant effect on health, researchers reported in the April 9 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine.

It goes on:
Compared with those with low religiosity, highly religious physicians were substantially more likely to report that patients often mention spiritual issues (36% versus 11%; P<0.001).

They were also more likely to believe that religion and spirituality strongly influence health (82% versus 16%; P<0.001), and to interpret the influence of religion and spirituality in positive rather than negative ways, the researchers found.

These associations persisted in multivariate analyses that controlled for religious affiliation, region of practice, age, sex, ethnicity, and specialty.

Catholic Teachers in Medicine

Here is the text of an message written by Cardinal Javier Lozano Barragán, the president of the Pontifical Council for Health Care Ministry on the profile of the Catholic teacher of medicine. In part:

If the professor of medicine is a Catholic, then this transcendence and this victory over death are not merely beautiful desires which, for many, in our secularized culture, do not go beyond good intentions and palliatives for the failure of death, but rather they are based on the same reality of an irrefutable historical event, the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ.

On professing this faith, the teacher of medicine becomes a triumphant professor. He and his students advance toward medical culture with the certainty and the joy of knowing that the progress in health science is a foretaste of the full health that they will find for themselves and for their patients in the resurrected Christ.

It is obvious that this is incomprehensible for those who do not profess this faith. For a physician who does not have faith in Christ and in his Church, nothing here means anything, and rather it is something absurd which would appear to be for ignorant and mad people as it goes against the biological experimental knowledge which they believe to be the only one valid in medicine: "evidence-based medicine." However, here is another type of evidence, even stronger than laboratory evidence, the evidence of a faith based on an irrefutable fact which is reached for the same reason, but which arises from a free and firm decision of the will of each person. St Paul already said that the announcement of a crucified Messiah was offensive for the Jews and madness for the Gentiles, but it is much wiser than all human wisdom, and what may seem to be weakness in God, is stronger than all human strength (1 Corinthians 1:23-25).

Tuesday, 18 September 2007

Catholic Physicians Stand as Targets

Here's a bit from the California Catholic Daily regarding physicians who practice medicine in a way consistent with their faith. And they have become targets of those who promote pagan values.
Nationwide, "doctors are becoming more assertive in refusing to treat patients for religious reasons,” said an Aug. 2 USA Today story. Even in California, where two doctors face a lawsuit from a lesbian refused fertility treatment, some doctors are taking a stand for conscience.

But one doctor, George Delgado, is concerned about the future of medical practice for physicians who have such convictions. Delgado, a Family Practice/OB Gyn physician, is the Medical Director at Culture of Life Family Services, a non-profit medical clinic devoted to offering medical help with a Catholic perspective. It is located in San Diego’s Hillcrest neighborhood – a name synonymous with the homosexual lifestyle.

Delgado has practiced for 16 years and has never performed an abortion, although he admits that he once prescribed artificial contraceptives. He says a deeper conversion to his own Catholic faith led him to stop prescribing them: “After reading Humanae Vitae, I was resolved to always practice according to the Church’s teachings.”

Physicians in California and elsewhere may soon lose the right to practice according to their ideals. Two such doctors, Christine Brody and Douglas Fenton, both OB/Gyns at North Coast Women’s Care in Vista, California, are being sued by a former patient who is angry that Brody would not artificially inseminate her because she was a lesbian. The case is yet to be heard by the state Supreme Court. In 2003, the fourth district state appeals court ruled against the physicians

Here's the agenda. Accept, embrace and promote our values over yours or we'll sue you too. Yes, the left is clearly the "tolerant" ideology, isn't it. (Sorry, couldn't help the rant.)

Additional Vatican Commentary Concerning Care of Those in a "Vegetative State"

Here is additional commentary from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in regard to USCCB inquiries regarding the treatment of those in a "vegetative state." In part:
2) In response to those who doubt the “human quality” of patients in a “permanent vegetative state”, it is necessary to reaffirm that “the intrinsic value and personal dignity of every human being do not change, no matter what the concrete circumstances of his or her life. A man, even if seriously ill or disabled in the exercise of his highest functions, is and always will be a man, and he will never become a ‘vegetable’ or an ‘animal’” (no. 3).

3) “The sick person in a vegetative state, awaiting recovery or a natural end, still has the right to basic health care (nutrition, hydration, cleanliness, warmth, etc.), and to the prevention of complications related to his confinement to bed. He also has the right to appropriate rehabilitative care and to be monitored for clinical signs of possible recovery. I should like particularly to underline how the administration of water and food, even when provided by artificial means, always represents a natural means of preserving life, not a medical act. Its use, furthermore, should be considered, in principle, ordinary and proportionate, and as such morally obligatory, to the extent to which, and for as long as, it is shown to accomplish its proper finality, which in the present case consists in providing nourishment to the patient and alleviation of his suffering” (no. 4).

Saturday, 15 September 2007

Concerning the Care of Patients in a "Vegetative State"

The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has responded to certain questions that have arisen regarding the care of patients in a "vegetative state."


First question: Is the administration of food and water (whether by natural or artificial means) to a patient in a “vegetative state” morally obligatory except when they cannot be assimilated by the patient’s body or cannot be administered to the patient without causing significant physical discomfort?

Response: Yes. The administration of food and water even by artificial means is, in principle, an ordinary and proportionate means of preserving life. It is therefore obligatory to the extent to which, and for as long as, it is shown to accomplish its proper finality, which is the hydration and nourishment of the patient. In this way suffering and death by starvation and dehydration are prevented.

Second question: When nutrition and hydration are being supplied by artificial means to a patient in a “permanent vegetative state”, may they be discontinued when competent physicians judge with moral certainty that the patient will never recover consciousness?

Response: No. A patient in a “permanent vegetative state” is a person with fundamental human dignity and must, therefore, receive ordinary and proportionate care which includes, in principle, the administration of water and food even by artificial means.

The Supreme Pontiff Benedict XVI, at the Audience granted to the undersigned Cardinal Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, approved these Responses, adopted in the Ordinary Session of the Congregation, and ordered their publication.

Rome, from the Offices of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, August 1, 2007.

William Cardinal Levada

Angelo Amato, S.D.B.
Titular Archbishop of Sila

Thursday, 13 September 2007


Catholic Physicians Blog welcomes Paul, who podcasts at Saint Cast. Welcome and we look forward to your contributions.

Tuesday, 11 September 2007

Psychiatrists and God


Psychiatrists are the least religious of all physicians, a nationwide survey reveals.

The study, published in the September issue of the journal Psychiatric Services, also found that religious physicians are more likely to refer patients to a clergy person than a psychiatrist or psychologist.

"Something about psychiatry, perhaps its historical ties to psychoanalysis and the anti-religious views of the early analysts such as Sigmund Freud, seems to dissuade religious medical students from choosing to specialize in this field," said lead study author Farr Curlin, an assistant professor of medicine at the University of Chicago.

Organ Donation

Here's and interesting piece by a physican concerning the ethics and practice of organ donation and the Church's call for the ethical harvest of organs. Dr. John B. Shea, MD, FRCP(C) writes:

Organs are obtained from an unconscious patient after he or she has been called “brain dead” using clinical and technologically acquired information, regarded as diagnostic. The public in general is not aware of the following serious criticisms of
this kind of organ harvesting.

The theory of brain death is highly controversial and can be used for utilitarian purposes.4 The Pontifical Academy of Sciences declared brain death to be “the true criterion for death” in 1985 and again in 1989. However, in February of 2005, Pope John Paul II called for more precise means of establishing that the donor is dead before vital organs are removed. Organ transplants, he continued, are acceptable only when they are conducted in a manner “so as to guarantee respect for life and for the human person.”5

The concept that whole brain death (irreversible loss of function of the cerebrum, cerebellum and brain stem) means the loss of integrated organic unity in a human being has been subjected to a powerful critique by neurologist Alan Shewmon.6 Some physicians question whether we can be sure the entire brain is really dead in patients declared dead in the U.S. by “whole brain,” or in the U.K. by “brain stem,” criteria.7

Neurological criteria are not sufficient for declaration of death when an intact cardio-respiratory system is functioning. These criteria test for the absence of some specific brain reflexes. Functions of the brain that are not considered are temperature control, blood pressure, cardiac rate and salt and water balance. When a patient is declared brain dead, these functions are not only still present, but also frequently active.

There is no consensus on diagnostic criteria for brain death. They are the subject of intense international debate. Various sets of neurological criteria for the diagnosis of brain death are used. A person could be diagnosed as brain dead if one set is used and not be diagnosed as brain dead if another is used.8,9,10,11

A diagnosis of death by neurological criteria is theory, not scientific fact. Also, irreversibility of neurological function is a prognosis, not a medically observable fact. There is also evidence of poor compliance with accepted guidelines of brain death.12

It's worth a read.