Texan Catholic Hospitals Accused of Ethical Lapses
Bishops Looking Into Possible Sterilizations, Abortions
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HUNTINGTON, Indiana, JULY 7, 2008 (Zenit.org).- Catholic hospitals in Texas may have been allowing procedures opposed to ethical guidelines, namely contraceptive sterilization and abortion, according to an analysis of reports on inpatient data.
An anonymous report posted online was highlighted in the July 13 edition of the Indiana-based magazine Our Sunday Visitor. The report indicated that government data from hospitals revealed at least 9,684 sterilizations and possibly some abortions may have been performed at 23 Catholic institutions in Texas between 2000 and 2003.
According to the Texas Catholic Conference, the state's bishops have begun a process of verifying the data and requesting more information from the hospitals, the magazine reported.
The groups who run the hospitals and the Catholic Health Association of Texas released a statement affirming their commitment to ethical and religious directives and noted that some of the data might be interpretable to indicate procedures that do comply with moral guidelines. It stated that Catholic health care providers in Texas do not permit or perform direct abortion.
The communiqué further affirmed that the report is being investigated and that the health care ministries are in "direct conversations with their bishops."
The four-person group who did the study is remaining anonymous, but Our Sunday Visitor spoke with one of the researchers through an intermediary. She explained that the group did the research and posted the results because they wanted the Catholic hospitals, and the religious sisters who own them, to be more transparent and accountable.
The researchers noted their concern that this situation could be widespread, and not confined to Texas.
The report was compiled based on coding used by hospital personnel and insurance companies for every medical procedure. The researcher told the magazine that they found 9,684 patient records with the ICD-9-CM code V25.2 that reads, "Sterilization -- admission for interruption of fallopian tubes or vas deferens."
The group acknowledged that the coding for abortion is complex and could indicate procedures that did not involve the killing of a live baby.
The online report explains that the government data files compiling the hospital reports must be purchased for research, and that is why their report only covers 2000-2003. The researchers said they expect that "results for 2004-2008 should be similar."
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