On Friday morning, President Obama granted hospital visitation rights to individuals who are not married or blood related to patients, including homosexual couples. While the Catholic Heath Association supported the move, the Family Research Council expressed concern that the directive “undermines the definition of marriage.”
President Obama's Friday statement mandated that the Department of Health Human Services prohibit discrimination in hospital visitation. In a memo he noted that across America, “patients are denied the kindness and caring of a loved one at their sides,” be it a widow with no children, members of religious orders or “gay and lesbian Americans who are often barred from the bedsides of the partners with whom they may have spent decades of their lives.”
In a statement on Friday, Sr. Carol Keehan, executive director of the Catholic Health Association, voiced her support of the mandate.
“The Catholic Health Association has long championed the rights of all patients to designate who they want to speak for them in health care decisions when they are not able to speak for themselves,” Sr. Keehan said. “Having that person clearly designated is not only a basic human right, it also greatly facilitates care.”
“All persons of goodwill can understand and agree that when a person is sick, they deserve to decide who they want to visit them,” she added. “The Presidential Memorandum issued by President Obama reaffirms these basic human rights for each person at most critical points of their lives.”
Peter S. Sprigg from the Family Research Council, however, criticized the move and expressed concern that the effort is part a larger agenda to undermine traditional marriage and appease the gay constituency who supported the president during his campaign.
“In its current political context, President Obama's memorandum clearly constitutes pandering to a radical special interest group,” he said Friday in the Washington Post.
Though Sprigg clarified that his organization does not take issue with granting gay couples the power of attorney in cases of hospital visitation, he stated his belief that the “memorandum undermines the definition of marriage.”