One knows American nuns have lost their way when Nancy Pelosi “thanked” American sisters for backing the health care bill, despite the opposition of the American bishops, who were apolitical enough to point out that it funded abortion on demand using taxpayer money. Nancy Pelosi had told the nuns they either had to back the bill or be responsible for all those deaths from no insurance. And they fell for it. Of course, this was a false choice: A simple sentence could have corrected the bill to prevent tax payer money from funding abortion and other death-making, but  never mind.


So now the nuns who “heroically” stood against the bishops are wining and dining with the President, and being praised as heroines in the press, while bishops who pointed out what was being done are facing a media orchestrated firestorm dredging up 30 year old scandals as revenge.

So the Democrats wanted their cake (i.e. support from Catholic organizations) and eat it too (craft a bill that would fund elective abortions, and could allow a government imposed change in Catholic hospital ethics, under the guise that they take government funding and must provide all “legal” services).

Didn’t read about that last part?

Well, the “stories” are starting to be planted, so watch the headlines.

The story line will go: Oh me oh my, I wanted to do X to help my patient, but my hospitals’ Catholic affiliation won’t let me do it, ergo this is an ethical challenge to me that government must address.

From American Medical News:

Doctors at religious hospitals face ethical conflicts over care

Right. Ah, but look at the details, not the spin:

One in five primary care physicians working in religiously affiliated health care organizations has experienced a conflict over faith-based patient care policies, according to a new study in the Journal of General Internal Medicine.

So the real headline is that 80% of doctors don’t have any problem with this, and most of the others would just transfer their patient elsewhere (something we do for all sorts of reasons, from needing to send a non emergency patient to a hospital which is under their insurance policy to transfer to a specialist for care).

So who is behind the spin?

The study, published online April 6, highlights how religious policies can interfere with physicians’ medical judgment, said Lois Uttley, director of the MergerWatch Project. The New York City-based group opposes health care organization mergers between Catholic and nonsectarian hospitals that result in reduced access to reproductive care services…

“This is a very urgent problem and has been understudied. Until now, the balance of research and public policy in this country has focused on physicians and hospitals that want to refuse to provide certain health services because of their religious or moral beliefs,” Uttley said. “What we haven’t seen given proper attention is the ethical dilemma facing physicians who want to provide services because their patients need the services but who are unable to do so because of institutional religious restrictions.”

Not mentioned in that article: that MergerWatch is funded by


and guess who founded them?

Family Planning Advocates of New York State was established in the 1970’s by the affiliates of Planned Parenthood of New York State…

All of this is not spontaneous, you know. The original article that was supposed to “discover” the “problem” found a minor problem, but that didn’t stop the article headline from implying it was a major obstacle.Wait a week or two, and it will hit the “echo chamber”: the ever so trendy in the pro death media, including certain medical journals, will start their own propaganda pieces that will continue the drum beat that this is a major problem.

And what about those quotes? They are a plant too: notice they phrase it as if it were the doctor’s conscience versus the Catholic ethics of hospitals?

So the doctor’s conscience to provide medical care should override the ethics of the hospital and the staff, right?

Not really, according to Uttley:

Uttley said that, with health system reform enacted, the Obama administration should take action and rescind the Bush conscience rule.

The Bush conscience rule was actually removed by the president, but until the HHS slow bureaucratic system removes it, is in limbo.

Ah, but don’t worry: our important medical organizations will defend us in this matter…except when they won’t:

The ACOG Committee on Ethics opinion says doctors whose personal beliefs may require them to “deviate from standard practices” such as providing abortion, sterilization or contraceptives should:

  • Give patients prior notice of their moral commitments and provide accurate and unbiased information about reproductive services.
  • Refer patients in a timely manner to another doctor who can provide the requested service.
  • Provide medically indicated services in an emergency when referral is impossible or might affect a patient’s physical or emotional health.

Translation: Catholic? Too bad. Refer the mom to get her elective abortion. Hindu, and forbidden to kill? Too bad: starve the old lady under your care because it might embarass her relatives if she is transferred. Muslim? Too bad. If you won’t do abortions, we won’t let you finish your residency.

So why would women of faith be naive?

Two answers.

One: They are naive.

Reinhold Neibuhr has a famous essay about the children of light and the children of darkness: warning church leaders not to be naive in underestimating the power of selfishness, and to know that sometimes we have to draw a line to stop from being coopted into supporting evil.

But there is a second problem with too many of these “modern” American nuns: They want to be prophets:

Sister Maureen Cusick..pointed out that “these are dark times. We hear it said that darkness is covering the earth. Earthquakes destroy thousands of lives and homes, volcanic ash darkens the skies, oil contaminates the seas.”

“We must address the symbols of the negative,” the nun said.

Yup. It’s really wonderful to be a prophet with honor, addressing “symbols”, because you can address symbols without getting your manicure dirty.

But you know, here in the Philippines, earthquakes, volcanic ash, oil spills and floods aren’t “symbols”, they are real.

But never mind. It’s easier to “address symbols of negativity” than to clean up garbage after a flood.


Nancy Reyes is a retired physician living in the rural Philippines. She blogs at Makaipablog.

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