Sunday, November 22, 2009

Dear Goddess-Please, Please Never Let Me Go "Brain-Dead" in a Catholic Hospital

Really, this new directive from Roman Catholic Bishops crosses the line. I hope I never end up, either due to dying from breast cancer or simply an auto accident, at a Roman Catholic hospital, in a "persistative vegatative state."

"This story won’t get as much publicity as the Catholic Church’s efforts to insinuate its doctrines on abortion into the health care bill, but the bishops also declared this week that Catholic hospitals must provide the equivalents of food and water even to patients in a persistent vegetative state.

The new directive extends to patients “in chronic conditions (eg., the `persistent vegetative state’) who can reasonably be expected to live indefinitely if given such care.” In English, what this means is that if you are unlucky enough to be taken to a Catholic hospital, and you have experienced a seizure or traumatic accident that puts you in a vegetative stage from which there is no hope of recovery, the hospital will force-feed you through intravenous tubes—even if you have a living will that specifically rejects nutrition and hydration in such circumstances.

Why, you may ask, does this matter? After all, no one is forced to use a Catholic hospital. Except people are forced to do just that, in the many areas of the country where Catholic hospitals have merged with secular hospitals and have successfully demanded, as part of the price of the merger, that health care rules approved by the church be followed in the merged hospital. For more information, visit MergerWatch is a nonprofit organization that has been tracking the effects of these unions between secular and religious hospitals for more than a decade. "

This ran on The Washington Post's website today. Here's the link: On Faith.

Good to know. CJ and I have Living Wills dictating that if either of us ever end up in a "persistative vegatative state," to unplug us. If we end up in a Catholic hospital, our families or Elizabeth will have to shell out extra money to have us transferred to a non-Catholic hospital in order to be allowed to die? (And now I worry that the Church would pull some stupid crap like fighting the family in court, refusing to release/transfer the patient to another hospital because it would be "assisting murder?")

Why should my religious beliefs on being allowed to die be negated by theirs? The principle (stemming from the First Amendment) that all religions must receive equal treatment in the law is one of the US's legal achievements. One faith cannot be legally preeminent over another. Good; let's keep it that way.

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