A new low for the Catholic Church

Remember Thalidomide ? Given to patients as a sedative in the 50s and 60s, before it was withdrawn after it caused catastrophic effects when taken in pregnancy. Birth defects like malformed limbs, severe neurological side effects, you name it.
Thing is, Thalidomide and some of its chemical derivatives are really effective and potent drugs for certain hematopoetic cancers, like Myeloma and some Leukemias. It’s just that they should not, under any circumstances whatsoever, be taken while pregnant or trying to fall pregnant, and that goes for men and women. You can probably guess what’s coming.

CANCER doctors are on a collision course with a Catholic health organisation over new religion-based rules which prohibit them recommending contraception to patients taking a drug derived from thalidomide, which can cause severe birth defects.

Under a clampdown at Newcastle’s Calvary Mater Hospital, doctors recruiting patients into clinical trials may no longer distribute information about contraception. Instead they are allowed to offer a ”statement of reproductive risks”, which advises participants to avoid pregnancy but gives no information on how to achieve this.

Let’s cut to the chase here. It is the duty of care of phycicians to give their patients the best health advice, free of restrictions from religious dogma, in particular when this involves vulnerable cancer patients. It is completely unacceptable for this Hospital to ask their medical staff to not give out advice on how to achieve contraception during treatment with this drug.
What are the Catholics thinking ? That they are doing god’s will by not telling cancer patients how to avoid pregnancy ? It’s not that most people wouldn’t probably know how to achieve this anyway, it’s the ludicrous and morally reprehensive way the Catholics are once more going about it that is so galling.

But Martin Laverty, chief executive of Catholic Health Australia, defended the hospital: ”Scientists, ethicists, academics should feel very free to criticise it, but appreciate a Catholic hospital is built on those [ethical] foundations.” The Newcastle situation had been ”a legitimate testing of the boundaries of that ethical decision-making process”.

This is why a secular state should not have to rely on religious organisations to provide health care. I think that is the real issue here. When Catholics are given the power to apply their dogma to sick and vulnerable people in need, bad things happen. The “ethical foundations” of Catholic healthcare are exactly why there should be no Catholic healthcare in the first place.

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