Catholic healthcare systems adhere to Catholic teaching, a new NPR story recently confirmed. While that might seem obvious to Catholics, it isn’t always clear to many in the media.
On November 26, NPR published a health piece with the headline, “For Doctors Who Want To Provide Abortions, Employment Contracts Often Tie Their Hands.” Family physician and NPR’s health and media fellow Mara Gordon identified Catholic healthcare as the culprit.
That’s because Catholic hospitals are, well, Catholic. They adhere to the teaching that each person has intrinsic value and worth, beginning with the unborn baby.
But Gordon didn’t focus on Catholic reasoning – or why Catholicism challenges abortion. Instead, she highlighted that the faithful are protected against being forced to provide abortions, while the doctors who want to provide them are not. (Never mind the cases of nurses who testified in 2017 about being forced to either help with abortion or risk unemployment).
“Religious hospitals are also protected,” Gordon added, before warning that “these protections are starting to have consequences for doctors who do want to perform abortions — even as a side job.”
While she cited several experts, Gordon’s piece centered on National Women’s Law Center lawyer Noel León, who was hired specifically for “physicians who want to be abortion providers.” One of León’s clients, Dr. Kimberly Remski, was refused a job because she wanted to perform abortions on the side for a clinic.
“They’re being told, ‘We can’t provide the care we went into medicine to provide,'” León told Gordon. “We shouldn’t be putting providers in the position of caring for their patients or keeping their jobs.”
And this is happening when there’s a “net increase in Catholic ownership of hospitals,” Gordon pointed out. “The restrictions may have ramifications not only for physicians but for many clinics that provide abortions.”
In response to Gordon’s piece, Jezebel staff writer Ashley Reese called the “increasing Catholic monopoly of hospitals” an “incredibly subtle chokehold on abortion rights nationwide.”
“Did you know that one in six hospital patients in the United States is treated at a Catholic facility?” Reese began. “And did you know that Catholic ownership profoundly limits the set of medical procedures that can be performed in these hospitals, most glaringly when it comes to reproductive healthcare?”
This isn’t a new move against Catholic healthcare. Many in the media have long complained about hospitals adhering to Catholic teaching on abortion – while twisting the meaning behind it.
Here’s what the Catechism of the Catholic Church states on the matter:
Human life must be respected and protected absolutely from the moment of conception. From the first moment of his existence, a human being must be recognized as having the rights of a person – among which is the inviolable right of every innocent being to life.
That “inalienable right to life of every innocent human individual,” the Catechism stresses, “is a constitutive element of a civil society and its legislation.”
In other words, Catholic teaching doesn’t aim to “tie the hands” of doctors. It wants to open them to a respect for life – life from the very beginning.