Emergency!

By Boston, Rob | Church & State, October 2000 | Go to article overview

Emergency!


Boston, Rob, Church & State


How A City-Owned Hospital In Florida Wound Up Operating Under The Catholic Bishops' Control -- And What Americans United And Its Allies Are Doing About It

Sister Pat Shirley was not happy. The Roman Catholic nun had just learned that a local woman whose fetus had Down's Syndrome had received an abortion at St. Petersburg's Bayfront Medical Center.

Sources familiar with the situation say an angry Shirley marched into the next meeting of the hospital's ethics committee, of which she is a member, waving around an edict issued by the Catholic bishops and insisting that no more abortions take place at Bayfront.

She soon got her way. Bayfront's policy on abortion now mirrors Catholic dogma.

In a separate case, a woman in her seventh month of pregnancy had a sonogram that revealed that her fetus had no bladder or kidneys and severely under-developed lungs. She requested an abortion, but Bayfront refused. The woman was forced to carry the fetus to term; it lived about 30 minutes.

Situations like this might have been expected at a Catholic hospital, since those institutions routinely ban all abortions as a violation of church doctrine. But Bayfront isn't a Catholic hospital. In fact, it is taxpayer supported, occupies land owned by the municipal government and, although managed by a private group, is considered a city-owned hospital.

How did a Catholic nun get the power to determine health care at a publicly supported medical institution like Bayfront? Critics of the situation in the Tampa-St. Petersburg area are asking the same question. And, not happy with the arrangement, they've enlisted Americans United's help to put a stop to it.

A number of dramatic changes have occurred at Bayfront since 1997. Ethical decisions about the medical care doctors could provide at the facility used to be made on the basis of standard medical criteria. Now they are made by an "ethics committee" that includes Shirley. The hospital used to provide elective abortions. Now the facility bans all abortions -- even when the pregnancies are the result of rape or incest.

Employees at Bayfront used to answer to medical codes of ethics as they performed their duties. Now every doctor, nurse, health care professional, student intern, staff member and volunteer is required to sign a statement pledging to abide by a series of restrictive health-care regulations promulgated by the Catholic bishops.

What happened at Bayfront isn't unusual. In recent years, dozens of non-sectarian hospitals have merged with Catholic institutions. In the process, the non-sectarian hospitals have often agreed to abide by Catholic teachings on reproduction and other issues. This means no abortions, no distribution of contraceptives and no sterilizing operations such as vasectomies and tubal ligations. In addition, the hospitals have agreed to follow church doctrine on end-of-life issues and may ignore a patient's living will if it is deemed in conflict with church dogma.

What is unusual is that Bayfront operates as a city hospital, in a city-owned building and is subsidized by taxpayer funds. Therefore, opponents of the merger charge, the 300-bed hospital had no legal right to agree to subordinate health care to Catholic doctrine. In fact, they believe the hospital is violating the separation of church and state and have gone to court to make that argument.

On Aug. 16 Americans United and three other advocacy organization joined forces to put an end to the merger. AU and the other groups, the National Organization for Women Foundation, the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida and Planned Parenthood of Southwest and Central Florida, joined as plaintiffs with four local residents. Among them is Elizabeth Lindenberg, the St. Petersburg woman whose decision to abort her fetus in November of 1997 made Shirley so angry.

Lindenberg told Church & State that a hospital employee who attended the meeting filled her in on what happened. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Emergency!
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.