Catholic Hospital Cracks Down on Contraception Advice
by Noah Lugeons
I wish I had more trouble digging up stories like this. I’d much rather live in a world where it took me hours rather than minutes to find topical examples of the despicable overreach of religious institutions. I’d be happy if some days I said to myself, “well, nothing to blog about today… looks like those people of faith are keeping to themselves and failing to grossly exaggerate their place in society.”
But alas, we live in this world. We live in a world where thousands of atheist bloggers can still find new shit to write about everyday. We live in a world where a Catholic hospital will forbid its doctors from giving advice on contraception, even if the alternative is potentially horrible birth defects.
This story comes to us from jolly old England where Newcastle’s Calvary Mater Hospital has barred doctors from advising participants in a drug trial to use contraception while taking the experimental pharmaceutical. The drug in question is a cancer treatment that is chemically similar to thalidomide, and thus carries with it an enormous risk of birth defects if a pregnancy should develop while taking it.
Because of the extraordinary risk, the makers of this drug require 2 negative pregnancy tests before accepting any women for the trial and recommend that no fewer than two types of contraceptives be used throughout the regiment. Given the horrible malformations associated with thalidomide, it seems a sensible and necessary precaution.
Unless you’re a devout Catholic of course. Why, those women should just not have sex and try to avoid immaculate conception. They don’t need contraceptives for that. Condoms are the devils work. Apparently increasing the potential for children with limb and heart deformities is the Catholic Church’s work.
To be fair, the hospitals dogmatic overlords aren’t forbidding doctors from explaining the risks involved. They are allowed to tell them that it would be horribly, horribly bad if they got pregnant while taking this drug. The doctors just can’t go on to recommend that they use contraceptives if they have intercourse. Afterall, if the heathen patients are the contraceptive taking type, they already know about them. No need to affirm their existence in a Catholic hospital.
Doctors are understandably outraged by this decision. While it might seem reasonable to some to omit the specific recommendation for contraceptives, using a single form of contraception may not be enough. There is a high enough failure rate with any type of birth control that a redundancy is required to reach a reasonable amount of insurance against pregnancy. This is not something that the average patient will know and thus it is vital that the doctors are allowed to fully disclose both the risk and the recommended action.
The doctors further point out that the patient can still chooses not to use contraceptives and opts, for religious reasons, for abstinence. They are not insisting that these people have protected sex, they are just seeking to give their patients all the information. But for the dark overseers of this hospital, it is not enough to simply be Catholic, you must impose your Catholicism on everyone else, as well.
Straight from the horses mouth, Ingrid Grenell, a spokesperson for the hospital says, “‘It is widely known that Calvary Mater Newcastle is a Catholic hospital and all of its activities are underpinned by Catholic ethos and principles.” In other words, you shouldn’t come here if you’re expecting your health to come before our mythology.
My solution, of course, would be to tell the child-rapist-apologists to fuck off, but barring that, I’d like to propose a law. I would require any religious hospital that would allow its dogma to come before the safety of its patients to have a giant sign out front that simply read, “Second, do no harm…”