Faith Healers

Catholics Are Taking Over Local Hospitals, Imposing Their Faith on Your Health Care, and Planning to Deny Certain Treatments for Patients Who Are Pregnant or Dying


Wow, scary stuff. Great article
They are using licensing regulations to force abortion clinics out of business in "red states". I think the most important part of this article is the stuff about state senator Kevin Ranker and his bill that would require new or expanding hospitals in the state to prove that they would provide for, or at the very least refer for, all women's health care, family planning, and end-of-life services.

In order to be a hospital, you must provide all the care and services that would imply, if you open, expand, merge or by some reasonable date in the future for existing hospitals.

It's time to start lobbying our representatives.
Does the author of this article have a list of "Affiliated" Health Care Facilities that are actually bound by the Catholic ERD's? And if memory serves, Swedish did not plan to abide by the DWD Act long before Providence came along.
Does that mean these hospitals and their employees would ignore a DNR directive?
Great article, Cienna...and frightening, too.
"Sure, a physician could theoretically refer a terminal patient to a doctor on the mainland for help acquiring life-ending drugs, but hopping a ferry for a road trip isn't practical for someone who already feels so awful they want to end their life. On San Juan Island, Death with Dignity is functionally useless."

What I'm curious about is whether the drugs would have been available at this hospital to begin with. The article would be more convincing on this front if there were comparisons to other (secular) remote or rural hospitals, and if those hospitals were indeed carrying the drugs and performing, or at least offering, the procedures.

I'm also curious, but this is more on a tangent, if the drugs used in assisted suicide are the same ones used for lethal injection in prisons. The last I heard, the European manufacturers of those chemicals had started to refuse shipment to the US, since they were being used for executions.
@ (unregistered commenter) Thomas122, yes Swedish wasn't planning on providing DWD services before Providence took them over*. That is different from Catholic hospitals not even allowing their staff to educate patients as to options.

* Swedish sold its staff on the "affiliation" as a "new kind of partnership, not a take-over". This "new kind of partnership" included a new board that was mostly made up of Providence executives and immediate changes to how Swedish operated. After about a year of working under the new system I think even the most optimistic staff are realizing that Swedish got took over and talk of "getting in line with industry standards" actually means "do more with less, so you can suffer and be closer to god".

It's especially galling to have Catholics cutting staffing and supplies to the bone so that they can make a greater profit (Catholic Health Services MAKES money) so they can use that money to gold plate more crucifixes to rape children with and then spend more money protecting those child-rapists.

We need to actually contact our legislators and got something done about these threats to the health and safety and rights of all of us.
This is terrifying. What is a woman to do? How do I make sure an ambulance takes me to a secular hospital? What can a woman on San Juan do in a medical emergency?
The lesson is "don't be a pregnant woman on SJI" because if you need an emergency abortion, the bishops will object. But it's not just SJI. After this summer (when CHI takes over the hospital in Bremerton), you don't want to be a pregnant woman on the Olympic Peninsula either....and I'd stay out of Bellingham too.
@tacohut - I don't think that Swedish has done this specifically, but there are cases of DNR's and/or Living Wills not being respected at other Catholic hospitals.

Catholics (catholic business owners) say they don't want their money to pay for birth control or health insurance that pays for abortion well I don't want my tax dollars funding Catholic or other religiously affiliated hospitals, period. There has to be some level of oversight for these institutions, otherwise they can continue to go on denying scientific fact and providing a piss poor level of care to women in general.
@6, The issue isn't whether the hospital carries the drugs, it's that the process is undermined from the very beginning by a Catholic gag order.

Before acquiring a prescription, a terminally ill person must make separate oral and written requests for the medication to his/her physician, and then potentially meet with a consulting physician and/or submit to a psychological examination.

No part of this intricate, time consuming process is possible if your acting physician isn't allowed to discuss it with you in the first place.
They're mostly WHITE!?! Oh noes!
People need to realize that the Catholic church is taking over a lot of former "for profit" hospitals across the country. Just as religion in government is bad, religion in medicine is even worse! If we follow the constitution, ie: freedom from religious persecution, then the Catholic church can have NO SAY over what procedures, whether it be an abortion or a DNR, may be performed in a hospital! To force non-Catholics to live by Catholic rules is a form of "persecution" and against our Constitution when it comes to medical help! This needs to stop and if a law must be written to stop it then let's get our Legislature to write the law!
How can we help in the fight against these government-subsidised religious hospitals that deny care to patients?
For once, I am glad I have no personal anecdotes to add to the discussion. I could provide plenty of how poorly the facilities in Whatcom specifically have been doing in recent years (constant stress due to inadequate staffing and supplies, rapid turnover in leadership, etc), but that's not the point here.
@11. Sure. I just don't have a sense here of how much the said gag order is actually changing anything. As in, it's misleading to talk about the inconvenience to the patients of traveling to the mainland for consultations and procedures if that would be the process regardless.
When I was rushed to the closest hospital because of premature labor (my twins ultimately died) the hospital refused to put the father's name on their birth certificates because we were not married. He was there for the birth and spent the night in my room with me. Turned out I was at Catholic Medical Center.. That was 25 years ago but times have not changed. It's scary to realize what the Catholics have been doing with their money.. We must lobby our legislatures to demand that all hospitals provide all health care services. Don't forget, they are also challenging the birth control coverage under "Obamacare"... too much control for the church.
The drawing at the top of the link reminds me of the crucified woman in the "Sons" sequence of JACQUES BREL IS ALIVE AND WELL AND LIVING IN PARIS(the film version).

Oh, God--this is horrible!!! Can Catholicism die? SOON??
Just when I didn't think I could despise the Catholic Church
any more than I do now....!@#$%&@%#&*^(@#^*&(@)#^#!!!!
Can we wipe out the Republican Party, too, while we're at it,
now that US women are "allowed" to go into combat, and guns
are supposed to keep our schools "safer"

I hope Halappanavar's husband sues the shit out of those idiotic
ideologist ratfuckers and rakes in a billion dollar settlement.
My heartfelt condolences.
I'm very concerned about what this might mean for transgender people who find themselves in one of these hospitals. What are the odds that a catholic institution will be willing to treat them as their target gender, or provide necessary hormones while they're hospitalized?
I am a gay, HIV+ atheist, and both my GP and my HIV specialist are with the Polyclinic and licensed only for Swedish. After reading this article, I will be changing my doctors because I do not ever want to end up Swedish, with my medical care and human dignity limited by what the Roman Catholic Church feels is moral.

Any recommendations as to which hospitals are still safe?
Virginia Mason and UW are safe.
To Orv, I believe the chances can best be expressed as Zero.
So, while not pregnant, unmarried and childless by choice at age 48,
am I totally Catholically raped and fucked against my will for signing up for WAHA, Whatcom Alliance Healthcare Access, in preparing for advanced healthcare needs and my own decision-making later in life?
"What are the odds that a catholic institution will be willing to treat them as their target gender"

Why would a hospital treat someone as other than their biological gender if a treatment is gender-specific?
This is so terrifying Im sure I will have bad dreams tonight.
Great article. This is an important topic that isn't discussed nearly enough. I live in a rural area, and the only decent hospital within hours of my home is Catholic. During my second pregnancy, I went to see my ob/gyn about some odd pains in my belly, and was told after testing that there was a small hemorrhage in my uterus and the placenta was dying. Of course, this meant that my baby, too, was dying. I was devastated, as was my husband. After asking all the usual questions and finding out that there wasn't anything to be done, I asked, "Is my baby suffering?" My doctor hesitated, and then tried to explain to me as gently as she could that at my son's stage of development, he was likely feeling his slow death. I was frantic at the idea of my boy suffering like that; I couldn't bear it. But I was told that the decision to have mercy on him was not my own, and that I couldn't do anything to speed up his ordeal unless the hemorrhage worsened and my own life was put in danger. I'm a Christian myself (though not a Catholic), and do not for one second believe that my God would have wanted my baby to suffer unnecessarily. But my own morality was a non-factor. I was unable to make a choice as a woman, an adult, or a mother. My husband and I could probably have made peace, eventually, with the loss of the baby we wanted and already loved, but neither of us will ever get over how it happened.
Ectopic pregnancy untreated is a very dangerous condition that can most certainly end in the death of the woman.

I've had this argument with my sister (who is still a practicing Catholic) and there is zero logic in the argument. There is no chance that the fetus will survive and there is every chance that the mother will die. What is the logical reason for denying ending the pregnancy? The only answer she came up with was "the woman had her chance at life and the baby hasn't."

I'm sure that the official line from the Catholic Church has some flowery explanation for the inexplicable, but I suspect that my sister has it in a nutshell no matter how nutty it is.

Pro-life apparently does not extend to the patient, particularly a woman---the descendent of the sin inducing Eve.

I doubt US law will change anytime soon. All part of the war on women.

I'm absolutely certain that the Catholic Church takeover of hospitals is exactly designed to make avenues for "sin" unavailable. The strategy was perfected by the missionaries ruthless love affair with the dark ages when questioning the Church was a crime.
Really? Our hospitals are being overrun by Catholics? Oh my. Or maybe you meant to say a Catholic organization. I disagree with Providence's anti-choice railroading of WA state patients as much as the next person, but fuck off with your alarmist anti-Catholic language. This is one giant Catholic organization. It's not a mob of Catholic individuals. Educate yourself.

What is YOUR point? Cienna Madrid's point was that Catholic hospitals are being taken over by Catholic organizations that the Catholic bishops oversee and they want everyone to follow a very rigid, conservative set of rules that forbid, among other things, abortions in the case of an ectopic pregnancy. Is that too difficult a concept for you to follow?
I'm so glad to live in a country with freedom of choice! Fuck religion!
You know, these scare tactics have been going on for years. Maybe Cienna, every woman who has a chip on her knocked-up shoulder or anyone who s dying and wants that bottle of pills should just go to another hospital. Catholics don't have the market cornered on healthcare. Frankly women are irritated with the church, not because of the care they receive, because if they really were getting bad care here in the states, they would be suing or , they'd find another hospital. No, What seems to grind their gears is the fact that its the one institution that women have yet to push their estrogen-laden, matriarchal opinion in at a leadership level and women don't like that. As a male who is a catholic, I have been criticized, more often than not because I'm a catholic and the "assumed" positions of the church and funny enough, not by catholic women. I understand what happened in Ireland was horrible and for all we know it was based on lack of knowledge or communication- which happens here in the US all the time. Maybe its time to get over it and find something else to complain about, especially when we live in a country that has something that a lot of countries don't have - options!
@29 "educate yourself" Same to you. Guess what Catholics become when they join the organization? That's right; they're part of the problem. Way to be part of the problem yourself, Aargh. And stop telling us to look in the other direction when we've recognized that the problem is right here.
@33: Your suggestion that people who don't like the level of care they are receiving just "go to another hospital" is ignorant and short-sighted. Would you care to try again?
Seattlebcc, I'm pretty sure that the reason you're criticized is because you express moronic opinions. Did you not read the article? Did you not understand that women in many areas of the state do not have a choice? Do you really believe that the woman in Ireland died because of a "communication" problem or "lack of knowledge"?

Somehow you seem to have gotten to whatever ripe old age you are without having learned reading comprehension.
This is terrible president to set for hospitals. Should we deny the use of science from the religious hospitals? How far do you want to take this concept?

Either way as a medical doctor denying services based on religious belief should be as illegal as shoeing up intoxicated to work. Perhaps even screen for religion and deny employment as they do with mandatory drug tests. BTW that It is actually legal for the religious to deny employment to the NONES thanks to the plethora of preferential treatment the religious receive through our law makers.

Any hospital holding religious rules over our governments rules should not receive government support in any way. Subject to tax and related regulation and run out of business at least loose their tax exempt status. Running a hospital on religious rules is as bad as a hospital that only helps one particular ethnic group. You decide which one.

Do you really want a hospitals that only cater to one religion, one race or hold themselves above the law because of their religion. Oh they are not one of us why should we waste out resources on that one. Can you imagine. When will we we need a cross tattoo or a religious marking to receive any treatment at a hospital. Do you have the right password my little lamb.

Preferential treatment for the religious must become illegal. It must be removed from our laws. This is proven over and over again and not just in regard to hospitals.
@36 sanjuanislander: What is your opinion of my comment in @24?
Am I truly fucked? I checked with a representative at WAHA who assured me that they would respect my right to die at home through Hospice and visiting nurses, and St. Joe's would agree to transfer me to another hospital (i.e.: Virginia Mason, UW) that would be supportive of my stated end of life choices.

I am perfectly healthy, not dying, childless by choice, not pregnant and however nutty, luckily am still of sound mind and can make carefully thought out decisions on my own.
Are the hospitals in question publicly funded in any way? If so, people who aren't catholic (the majority I presume) should be all over their legislators. If not, unless there is another hospital in the area, people who need services are in a difficult position. I live on Vancouver Island, and the hospital in my area, although publicly funded, is administered by the catholic church, and won't provide services that are legal in Canada. Appallingly provincial governments have done nothing about this. I'm travelling 30 miles to have my knee scoped so as not to use this facility. I'm able to do this; unfortuneately others are not.
I can't tell if the commenters saying, for instance, "Running a hospital on religious rules is as bad as a hospital that only helps one particular ethnic group" are trolling are not.

Historically, many many hospitals have come into existence on the basis of religious principles having to do with mandates to take care of the sick and suffering. We should bear that in mind when examining of the situation at hand.
Please also preserve sympathy when "examing of" the grammar in my previous post :(
I am a Swedish employee. I am not in administration or management. A couple of things:

1. There is no "Providence Hospital" in Seattle. Our Cherry Hill campus has not been Providence for many years. (Just saying. I like accuracy.)

2. It is true that Swedish doesn't "participate" in DWD in the sense that providers don't prescribe the life-ending "cocktail" of drugs. Why would a hospital setting be the appropriate place for this? There are no restrictions placed upon our ability to share information about DWD, and we do so freely. (Also, Swedish's decision about this predates the partnership with Providence.)

3. I don't know anything about the termination case spoken about here, but I could see how this might have been a training issue, as they said. It was also complicated by the fact that the fetus was at the age of viability. Again, I don't know the story, but I am guessing there is more to it then how it appears at first. Swedish would not refuse a medically necessary abortion. As for elective abortions, there is little reason why they would be done in a HOSPITAL setting. Again, that is more appropriate for an outpatient setting-such as Planned Parenthood.
So scary. Where is the money coming to create the mergers? I thought the Catholic Church was broke from the payouts to victims of pedophilia priests. My blood pressure rose many points while reading this article. Great work!
Secular nonprofit healthcare organizations, like Planned Parenthood, are more important than ever. After I read this article, I donated $100 to PP. Maybe some others here could do the same. The ACLU is another worthy beneficiary of your largesse.
@40 "Historically, many many hospitals have come into existence on the basis of religious principles having to do with mandates to take care of the sick and suffering. We should bear that in mind when examining of the situation at hand."

I'm sorry, are you saying that we should examine the possibility of having your health care curtailed as a doctrinal issue?


Because no pope has proclaimed the Church's teaching on abortion in a specific ex cathedra statement declaring it as an essential matter of faith and infallibly true, whereas the Catholic Church has always held to the primacy of conscience and taught that individuals must follow their consciences even when they are wrong.

In short, Vatican II would imply that this shit ain't kosher.
@45. Nope. I'm implying that it's short-sighted to act as if religious belief is out of place in a medical setting, when many medical settings came into existence in the first place because of religious belief. Sure, point it out when it's pathological and leads to them doing harm to those who are suffering (as in the cases Cienna describes), but don't act as if religious belief doesn't also work in the opposite way: medical care for those who would otherwise not receive it. This is perhaps more difficult to see because of our position in history and, for many of us, our exposure to medicine and religion in the USA.

One interesting aspect of all of this is that, according to Pew research, more than 50% of Catholics believe that abortion should be legal in all cases.
Article I, Section 11 of the Washington State Constitution: No public money or property shall be appropriated for or applied to any religious worship, exercise or instruction, or the support of any religious establishment: PROVIDED, HOWEVER, That this article shall not be so construed as to forbid the employment by the state of a chaplain for such of the state custodial, correctional, and mental institutions, or by a county's or public hospital district's hospital, health care facility, or hospice, as in the discretion of the legislature may seem justified.

So how is it legal when church affiliated, tax funded hospitals force all citizens to adhere to Catholic ideology and deny legal medical care?
Way too many religionists getting away with forcing their religion down other peoples' throats in this country. How is this different from the Taliban except in extent?

Freedom of and for religious practice includes the freedom FROM other people's religions. When running a hospital, a Catholic (or seventh day adventist or any other religious group) is operating a licensed medical facility that potentially serves the public. Doesn't matter if it receives public money or not, hospitals and clinics of this type are not like selective private celebrity rehabs, they are open facilities to anyone with insurance. They serve a public who, in a multi-cultural society, come from a variety of faith based traditions including ones that don't adhere to Catholic doctrine. Plus atheists. No such facility should EVER be allowed to have licensed health care providers' and patients' decisions be curtailed by the faith of a sponsoring religion.

Likewise, conscience objections that permit pharmacists and physicians to withhold contraception or abortion or RU-486 etc. should NOT be allowed. Too bad the article didn't talk about these -- they also affect poor women and rural women especially hard.

If you want your religion to dictate your life, enter the clergy or something similar. If you decide to become a licensed healthcare professional, OB/GYN, pharmacist, etc., you have to deal with a variety of people and respect their beliefs. Or you should lose your license.

Just as a doctor could not ethically force a Jehovah's Witness to receive a blood transfusion, a doctor who IS a Jehovah's Witness HAS to perform a blood transfusion on a patient who needs one and wants one.

I'd go so far as to say a Catholic OB/GYN should have to perform an abortion, it comes with being an OB/GYN, and absolutely a Catholic hospital should have to hire doctors willing to do this and offer the procedure 24/7 in accordance with the secular laws of the country and state -- on demand under 24 weeks or whatever it is. Plus they should have to pay for their employees' birth control. Not all their employees are Catholic. Obama's religious exemption was a cop-out. The Catholic Church has a right to deny birth control to Catholic nuns, but not to their janitors, doctors, and nurses and other non-religious employees.
As an FYI, during my orientation to Providence they were very clear that "The goal of Providence is not healthcare or education, those are simply vessels we use to teach god's love". So shove your BS up your holy hole when you attempt to educate us with your ignorance.

I had no desire to work for Providence at all, but when I was provided with a letter from Swedish's HR department that stated if I did not sign the offer letter given to me by Providence (when I never applied to work there) that I would be resigning from Swedish...that's got to be illegal! They made me sign the offer letter and agree to the new terms months BEFORE they ever sent me to orientation which is where I found out that "Providence" means "God" and when they refer to the "poor and unfortunate" they are not referring to wealth or economics, they are referring to people who are not spiritual. That's right, in their mind the "poor and unfortunate" are those who don't follow their beliefs. There should be a follow up article on how Swedish forced all of secular central services workforce to become Providence employees.

You are an uninformed shill. They also informed us in our Providence orientation, that Swedish is now "just a brand" of Providence. In other words all of the Swedish campus' and clinics are Providence. "We are one company, with two brands."

As we were all in the same boat during that orientation, I think I saw about 40 jaws drop to the floor at the same time.

Did you know that Providence has a prayer before EVERY FUCKING MEETING. That's right, like we've got all the time in the world, why don't you waste the first 10 minutes of every meeting making people fucking pray! You've already slashed the workforce so we don't have enough staffing, so we have little time as it is, and now you make us fucking pray before each meeting, even if we're not religious?!

They say there needs to be mutual respect, but the only respect they desire is for their religion. They actually have an exemption to the Equal Opportunity Employment Act that allows them NOT TO HIRE SOMEONE BASED ON THEIR RELIGION. You know why? BECAUSE THEY EXIST TO SPREAD THEIR RELIGION. They asked us at the end of our orientation why Providence exists, and guess what the answer was? "To spread god's love to the poor and unfortunate"...don't forget what they mean by "poor and unfortunate" when you read that.

Feel free to call it Swedish if it helps you sleep at night "Swedish Employee", but sticking your head in the sand isn't going to change the reality, you work for Providence too. So does all the clinical staff at Swedish. You know why? Because Swedish's clinical services are now controlled by the Catholic church.
@49. What BS am I trying to educate you with? I made a historical claim, one that is fairly straight forward and uncontroversial. You responded, but not at all in reference to that historical claim. I made and make no claims about Providence, but of course agree that, as a hospital, they should be thinking of the poor and unfortunate in physical and material terms.

Cheers. I need to go figure out where my holy hole is.
Thank you wxPDX for donating to Planned Parenthood. That act goes a long way in my opinion. More so than these hostile commentators who make themselves feel superior by having a judgmental opinion but do not act for justice. I appreciate your action.
@49 - ex-Swedish employee - I really feel for you, and also encourage you to get in touch with the ACLU. They have an intake form on their web site.

As things progress, it's going to be very helpful for them to be in touch with people who can describe what's going on based on first-hand knowledge.
I'd like to echo Aunt Grizelda's comments above:
"Oh, God--this is horrible!!! Can Catholicism die? SOON?? Just when I didn't think I could despise the Catholic Church any more than I do now..!" That's the first thing we should send our women into combat against - the MF-ing Church and its cardinals, bishops and archbishops. Get rid of all those assholes.
Wow. Am I ever glad to be a Group Health member.
Cienna - Thank you for this article. Excellent work, and so very eye opening. I go to Swedish for my healthcare and had NO CLUE about the religious affiliation.
Over the years, I've known people who've worked for Providence in Seattle -- providers, social workers, and administrators. Most were laypeople, a couple were nuns. All are liberal. Most are lesbian or gay. Many have openly opposed and rejected stupid Vatican policy. All are compassionate. My understanding has been that they, far more than the Church, typify the spirit and practice at Providence (at least in Seattle). It's a shame none of them spoke to Cienna, because their presence indicates that this situation is more complex and nuanced, and it would be great to know how, if at all, they are working (as so many Catholics do) in opposition to Vatican dictates.
Very disturbing and great work for talking about this complex issue. I sent this to the governor and Insurance commissioner. I will be emailing this to all members of the Healthcare committees in the house and senate.
@53: I agree! I wonder how the religious gun nuts would feel about having the rifle barrels pointed at THEM?

@54: Thank you for the reminder! I have Group Health coverage, too, thank Goddess. It's comforting to still have options, and mortifying to hear about all those who don't! Let's stop this white collar criminal insanity!
UW, Virginia Mason, Northwest Hospital are all secular hospitals available to Seattle residents (although all three are actually part of the same UW Network, so while they are good choices, the only non-Catholic alternative is still just one health system in seattle).

Yes, many (if not most) Catholic hospitals in the Puget Sound area receive public funding as a portion of their operating budgets. That is funding over and beyond the payments that they receive from Medicare / Medicaid. For example, "Swedish North" (formerly Stevens) remains a levy supported hospital and is largely funded by public money. The irony here is that many of the secular (UW) hospitals are *not* publically funded. Northwest Hospital, for example, despite being completely secular, receives no public funding at all beyond payments for treating patients on public health plans.
I want to encourage EVERYONE with insight into these issues to contact the ACLU. They have the legal smarts to stop this. They've got an intake form up:…
I heard a similar story about someone who was denied their wishes. This case didn't involve pregnancy or childbirth, but death itself. This person was in her last days of life and had a properly documented do-not-resuscitate order. In spite of that, the hospital insisted on resuscitation because "it was against the hospital's policy to do otherwise".
With any religiously affiliated hospital, it's "patient beware".
@60 sanjuanislander: Thank you for your helpful information and link to ACLU! I emailed them using the website address you provided, to ask about what do in an end-of-life situation if admitted to St. Joseph's.
A representative from Whatcom Alliance Healthcare Access (WAHA) assured me on the phone that St. Joe's would transfer me to a secular hospital if I requested a procedure that was against their policy, but DAMNIT, I want to be sure! It's MY life, I'm happily NOT Catholic, and I feel very sorry for women who are unhappily at the mercy of these pigheaded ideologist idiots.

By the way, how is the new medical clinic on Orcas Island?
I work for them. I have to find another job. These are our and your and their civil rights. It is 11:15 and now I won't be able to sleep but that is a small price to pay for when patients can't sleep because they are suffering for being human beings.
Any medical institution that accepts public funds for any service it offers should be required to provide coverage for all medical services the overseeing public agency determines to be in the public interest.

If however a medical institution chooses not to accept public funds in any manner it should be free to follow whatever its core beliefs dictate and deal with individuals who choose to use its services without government interference.
If the Holy Roman Catholic Church wants people who are brain dead to be fed and kept alive indefinitely, than the Holy Roman Catholic Church can PAY to keep them alive and assume all responsibility for their care. I am going to have my lawyer amend my advance directive to forbid anyone from ever taking me to a Catholic-run or Catholic-affiliated medical care facility (including Swedish). BARBARIANS!!!!!!!!!
Shame on the Swedish board of directors for handing Seattle's best hospital over to the Vatican! Shame on the Swedish physicians who put this pregnant patient through this cruel ordeal! There is no place in medicine for right wing religious ideals that harm women and prevent them from receiving compassionate and modern medical care that they should have they right to choose rather than being prevented from receiving the current standard of care because of a hospital's and physician's hateful "religious" ideals that put this patient in danger and made her and her family suffer unnecessarily! Swedish is a shell of the former institution it was prior to being acquired by Providence. Thanks for this article informing rational thinking patients that their interests are not considered when they seek care that the Vatican and its proxy Swedish deem non-Catholic in nature.

Awesome article, Cienna. Frightening and disturbing stuff. This is American, isn't it? You'd never freaking know.


Oh, and SEATTLEBCC @33, for your below comment, may I say on behalf of all of the women here:


"No, What seems to grind their gears is the fact that its the one institution that women have yet to push their estrogen-laden, matriarchal opinion in at a leadership level and women don't like that."

Let me say it again in case you missed it:


May you and your old, tired, misogynistic Catholic ass never get laid again.

Thank you for this article. I printed it out, shared in on FB and sent it via e-mail to several family members and friends. I have been worried about this for some time and spoke of it to Denny Heck last summer at a fundraiser. It now needs to be challenged by our state legislature. I hope the liberal progressive women I know will come up with a bill to do just that.
Thank you for this article. I printed it out, shared in on FB and sent it via e-mail to several family members and friends. I have been worried about this for some time and spoke of it to Denny Heck last summer at a fundraiser. It now needs to be challenged by our state legislature. I hope the liberal progressive women I know in the legislature will come up with a bill to do just that.
@33: I'm with @68: go back to your cave of ignorance and fossilize there, Rush. Assholes like you need to become extinct.

@9: Why are you ignoring my questions?? Why is this ideologic bullshit even happening in our largely progressive voter polled BLUE state??
Should I go to Mount Baker Planned Parenthood then for my death with dignity right to die when and / or the quality of my life has become unbearable? Are there truly NO secular hospitals or clinics in Bellingham??
No matter how well-intenioned a doctor is, if they ultimately choose their job security over a patient's care, no matter what external pressures resulted in that decision, then they might as well have adhered to the Hypocrite's Oath.

For the Hippocratic Oath is beyond external pressures, it is beyond ERD's, it is beyond influence, it is simply and elegantly pure, and as such should be held in the highest regards and protected with the utmost ferocity, because amongst its other guarantees, it states:

"I will not permit considerations of age, disease or disability, creed, ethnic origin, gender, nationality, political affiliation, race, sexual orientation, social standing or any other factor to intervene between my duty and my patient..."
Question.... Presumably, hospitals meet the legal definition of "public accomodation." How is it that a religious hospital is allowed to directly violate the law and place religious doctrine ahead of the patient's needs?

We would not allow this of a shopkeeper.
"Patients experiencing suffering that cannot be alleviated should be helped to appreciate the Christian understanding of redemptive suffering."

Jesus Christ. Belief in a cruel god makes a cruel man.
My experience: my father had massive stroke/heart attack. Called 911. The ambulance drivers are obliged by law to take to nearest hospital, in this case a Catholic one. All doctors agreed he was brain dead but was on a respirator. My dad had made a living will, to be taken off the respirator in this kind of occurrence. The hospital refused to do that saying he would die if they did. Which was against their policy. My family then tried to get him transferred to another hospital so his wishes could be carried out. Denied by the hospital. Reason? He was too unstable to move. One week later a court order was finally granted to remove him from current hospital to a non Catholic one so his living will could be put into effect. His body had thrashed for a week. After moving him to the second hospital he was removed from respirator and his body started breathing on his own but the thrashing stopped. 3 days later he died peacefully. This happened in the state of Indianna, city of Indianapolis. Knowledge is a powerful thing. Be aware your living will will not always be carried out in a Catholic hospital.
terribly written article
#76 They have The Stranger in Heaven?
The Roman Catholic Church should have been utterly annihilated in Europe centuries ago.
I read this article with great interest because I have some insider knowledge about Peace Health. Madrid incorrectly, twice, identifies Nancy Steiger as Peace Health CEO. A brief look at the Peace Health website would have given her the identity of the actual CEO. It gives one pause: how many other 'facts' did Madrid and her editors fail to check in this article?

@79 "I read this article with great interest because I have some insider knowledge about Peace Health."

Do tell.

Of course, one might also pause if one notes that PeaceHealth ( does list Nancy Steiger's titles as "Chief Executive Officer & Chief Mission Officer". Now, one could certainly ascertain that she is not _the_ CEO, like Alan Yordy, President/CEO, but she is not improperly addressed as CEO.

It would be interesting to know where the clear implication that CEO Steiger was _the_ CEO of PeaceHealth came from (transcription error, oversimplification or misrepresentation, I believe covers the field), but it hardly invalidates the story the way you imply.
@78: I second that!!
This isn't just about women's rights. It also impacts the rights of the men who love them. Most couples make these choices together. Not being catholic, I don't want church doctrine anywhere near my family - or my freedom of conscience.

And I have "inside" info that when Nancy Steiger wants to use the CEO title, she does. But you're right, it's actually scarier to consider that her "real" title is regional "CEO AND Chief Mission Officer" because the "mission" part of her job involves making sure that everyone who works for PeaceHealth is in alignment with the mission of the Catholic Church.
I have news for Nancy Steiger: CEO and chief Mission Officer or not, she can shove her "mission of the Catholic Church" up her ass!
For the record, there ARE alternatives to the Catholic hospital systems in Skagit County. Island Hospital in Anacortes and Skagit Valley Hospital in Mt Vernon offer high quality secular care to patients in the entire region. I live in San Juan County and our residents have traditionally used these hospitals. Emergency services in San Juan County will transfer patients to mainland hospitals of patient choice. However, the patient needs to know their options. Those with serious cardiovascular problems are usually sent to StJosephs's in Bellingham because they offer excellent cardiac specialty care. So, unless the patient specifies another preference,that will be the preferred destination.

I work at both Island and Skagit Valley hospitals and often see patients from neighboring counties who have chosen to receive their care in Skagit County because of the quality of care.

All of that said, I do have concerns about the folks who are unable to travel for care and this article gives excellent information for us who live and work in these counties. We need to be aware of these issues and be vigilant in protecting our communities from these very real threats to the quality of care we have come to take for granted here.

Sincerely, Karen Gilbert
this seems like a great topic to have a forum or follow-up story on...dont let this subject go away! what can we do? this is scary!

@85: Thank you, Karen, for sharing helpful information on secular hospitals in Skagit County. I live in Bellingham, but am considering being transferred to Island Hospital in Anacortes if hospital policy push becomes shove; I grew up on Fidalgo Island.

@86: Yes, this IS scary!
For folks on the Eastside, I believe both Evergreen and Overlake are secular safe hospitals. Really good quality of care, too.

I have one doctor I see at Swedish in Seattle, and if I could avoid that hospital entirely I would, but he's a specialist I need and I've already gone through two other doctors to find him. At least he's not an OB-GYN, right?

This is terrifying, and as a woman who wants to have children, I almost feel like I should avoid Seattle entirely if I get pregnant so I don't wind up in a bad situation. How fucked up is that?
The sky is falling! The sky is falling!
I feel bad for the women who are on a verge of miscarriage at these catholic hospitals and could end up dead like Savita Halappanava. I wish this information would reach these women beforehand so they could avoid these hospitals if they have a miscarriage or delivery complications. And if people started avoiding these hospitals maybe these hospitals would change their policy
I used to live in Whatcom County and was considering moving back for good, but this is making me think twice. What if I or my husband need medical care that the Catholic Church doesn't agree with? What if we want to have a living will taken seriously? Maybe moving to a place where all the hospitals are Catholic-run isn't such a great long-term life plan.

I sure don't want to be in a situation in which doctors feel they need to "balance" their conditions of employment with their duty to me as a patient. It's called a duty for a reason. You don't balance a duty; you perform it.
What is the status of Island and Skagit negotiations to establish a partnership with Peacehealth? Won't this have the same result as Swedish?
I had non religious Doctors that put me at death's door. You have to watch out for yourself. It does not matter what Religion that the hospital has. I had to ask for a heart cath before I could get a Doctor to believe that I was dying. I had 3 complete blocked arteries and they kept telling me it was all in my head and acid reflux.

Most Doctors are arrogant as if they are a god.


Don't blame Catholics or anyone else. No Doctor really cares what happens to you. Well, maybe one or two do.

I just found this wonderful article and although I'm responding nine months after the last commenter here, I feel it is ludicrous to give Catholic medical services a "pass" because a non-religious doctor didn't diagnose a case properly. Nice try, but I'm not buying the argument.

It's hardly the point of the author. Like all other religious apologists posting on this page, you seem to have lost the ability to judge between actual right and wrong. As in, "Does this help or hurt someone?"

Religious upbringing dulls the reasoning mind and replaces sound decision making and true mercy with counterfeit ideas that make sense only to those indoctrinated/steeped in a particular faith.

*Note: Crises tend to push the religious ones toward more insane clinging to doctrine and what they call "purity". Watch out for those that want to rise to positions of authority in order to get everyone else, "Right with God".

They often have deep-seated issues of their own and fear heavenly retribution, so they project their need for self-control onto other hapless and helpless folks, and what better place to find vulnerable people than in a hospital setting?

This article is truly frightening!