Last month I spoke at a pro-life conference in OR and mentioned that a large west coast Catholic health care system, Providence Health & Services, was committing induced labor abortion.
I received the following letter via email while on vacation and didn’t spot it until yesterday (click to enlarge):
This issue goes back to 2004 when I received a call from Catholic news reporter Tom Szyszkiewicz, who had published an article in Our Sunday Visitor in March 2004. There he wrote….
An Our Sunday Visitor investigation has revealed that some Catholic hospitals perform a procedure called “early induction for fetuses with anomalies incompatible with life”… or simply as “early induction.” This procedure induces a woman into labor after her unborn child reaches viability around 23 to 26 weeks in cases when the child is known to have a condition that makes death inevitable soon after even a full-term birth. The child born in this way is made comfortable and often held by the mother until death.
The two most common conditions for which this procedure is performed are anencephaly, in which the child’s brain and skull fail to develop beyond the brain stem, and renal agenesis, in which the kidneys and lungs are underdeveloped….
Neither presents an immediate danger to the mother….
Those Catholic hospitals that OSV found using the… procedure are Providence Alaska Medical Center in Anchorage, Alaska, part of the 10th-largest Catholic health system in the country, and Loyola University Health System in Chicago.
After I spoke with Tom I called both Loyola and Providence and confirmed what he was saying was true. Both systems admitted they committed, “early induction of labor” for fatally ill babies but insisted these were ethical. Providence stated not all its hospitals were involved, but the system approved the policy. Loyola even sent me its position paper (verbiage below). I wrote a total of 3 columns on Loyola/Providence: here, here, and here.
Reporter Maria Kennedy of the California Catholic newspaper San Francisco Faith read my columns and conducted an investigation of the entire Providence system. She wrote in November 2004:
Dan Boyle, communications director for Providence Saint Joseph in Burbank… said he had called Providence’s corporate headquarters in Seattle for directions on how to respond to any media calls regarding the story. Providence Health Systems issued a statement, which even Boyle called “vague.” The statement says that Providence Health System:
“follow[s] the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services, approved by the Vatican in Rome for use in the United States. In individual cases where difficult decisions regarding such issues as early induction during pregnancy occur in a Providence hospital, an ethical review process is undertaken at the institutional level to assure that practices are consistent with the Ethical and Religious Directives. As concerned providers of care we realize that women and families in this situation are suffering greatly. We strive to extend to them respectful, compassionate care throughout a very difficult decision-making process.”
When this reporter pressed Boyle on whether or not late term abortions were performed at Providence hospitals in the San Fernando Valley, he said, “I did check with our corporate headquarters, and I’m very limited in what I can say.” According to Boyle, “this procedure is done rarely; it’s a private procedure. If this procedure is necessary, we conduct an ethical review to make sure we are in compliance with the Ethical and Religious Directives.”
Clearly, Providence was involved in induced labor abortion. I also contacted the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, which was already aware that some Catholic hospitals were twisting the Catholic Church’s sanction of full-term or crisis induction of labor so as to induce premature labor before a baby was viable for the express purpose of provoking unnatural death of the baby, i.e., killing the baby.
The USCCB sent me 2 documents clearly stating the Catholic position, “National Council of Catholic Bishops Statement on Early Induction of Labor,” which it issued 4 days after Tom’s article was published, and “Moral Principles Concerning Infants with Anencephaly.”
If Providence has since changed its position, it can clear this matter up by sending me its revised policy. Otherwise, the system still sanctions induced labor abortion.
Loyola’s “early induction of labor” policy, sent to me in September 2004:
Early induction is performed at LUHS only if the fetus has reached 24 weeks of gestation – currently accepted as the stage of viability – which is consistent with the Ethical and Religious Directives for Health Care Services. In addition, early induction for fetuses with anomalies is only performed at Loyola if the fetus has anencephaly or Potter’s disease (underdevelopment of the brain and kidneys, respectively). Both of these conditions are fatal to the fetus.
UPDATE, 2/22, 12:10p: Tom Szyszkiewicz has sent me the link to a Catholic Anchor article indicating Providence Alaska Medical Center has mended its ways. But why is it refusing to release its new policy? Still not convinced.
Meanwhile, both Maria Kennedy and I confirmed the Providence system condones the practice and has 3 other hospitals in AK as well as 20 hospitals in CA, OR, MT, and WA. Until it produces a revised policy it is condemned.