Jul 2, 2008 / 23:19 pm America/Denver (CNA).
At least 9,684 sterilizations and even some abortions may have been performed at Catholic hospitals in Texas between 2000 and 2003, a whistleblower report based on state records alleges. While Catholic ethical directives are supposed to govern Catholic healthcare systems, the report claims that “all six US Catholic hospital systems operating in Texas do not follow these directives.”
The July 13 issue of Our Sunday Visitor examines the anonymous group’s report, based upon data from the Texas government, which requires most major hospitals to file information from inpatient records. The group reportedly includes a self-described biostatistician who says she worked with four other people, including a computer scientist and a medical ethicist. The biostatistician says the group chose to remain anonymous because of “concern over job loss or retaliation.”
According to Our Sunday Visitor, the researchers said they were motivated by a desire to increase transparency and accountability in Catholic hospitals, to inform the public about practices in Catholic health systems, and to encourage accountability for the Religious sisters who own and run the systems. The researchers believe the unethical practices could be taking place nationwide.
The data used in the report covers procedures performed between 2000 and 2003 at the Texas facilities of Ascension Health System, CHRISTUS Health System, Franciscan Services Corporation, Sisters of Mercy Health System, Trinity Mother Frances Health System and St. Joseph Health System of Orange, California. The researcher said her group had to purchase the state data at a cost of $4,600 per year, with more recent data being prohibitively expensive.
The report says that, according to state data, 9,684 instances of allegedly unequivocal “sterilization for contraceptive purposes” were performed in the 2000-2003 time period. The state data also indicates 39 abortions were performed at Catholic hospitals during the same period, but such statistics may record morally licit procedures such as the removal of a stillborn baby or emergency services for an abortion performed elsewhere, according to Our Sunday Visitor.
The researcher told Our Sunday Visitor that the abortion coding used in the state data is complex and must be studied on a case-by-case basis.