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Medical institutional changes concerning women’s health

Medical institutional changes concerning women’s health

“What is this, the Dark Ages?” ~ DeForest Kelley as Dr. McCoy (AKA Bones) in Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home

For better or for worse, in a few days I could end up unemployed again because the small business I work for, like so many in the last few years, is closing.  Although that is a problem, it is not the topic of this article, even though it led to the topic, because currently I am filling out applications at various places in order to find a new job before this business closes and I end up with no source of income to pay my bills.

Anyway, I filled out an application for a position at the hospital I delivered my younger son a month early 21 years ago.  The process of answering their questions disturbed me greatly, because the questions were in line with a particular Christian view, in this case Catholic.  These question were not involved in the application process before the recent tantrum by the Catholic Church.

The first question asked about how one felt about prayer, but not actually disturbing in and of itself because I am a humanist and do not pray.  However, I was not always a humanist.  I grew up Church of God, Anderson Indiana, which is not the same as the Worldwide Church of God, but it is Evangelical Fundamentalist and shares some characteristics, but does not share views with the Catholic Church.

After I became of age and left home, I joined the Episcopal Church before I left religion, but I still share some of their values concerning women’s health, marriage equality, and love of animals, only to name a few.  However, even though the Episcopal Church looks very much identical to Catholicism in worship and holy days, it does not have a pope nor does it share the same social and cultural views of many Catholics, or at least the liberal branch of the Episcopal Church does not.

Thus, when my younger son and I had medical problems during my eighth month of pregnancy, due to H.E.L.L.P. syndrome, religion had very little hold on my decision when the doctor asked my husband and me what we wanted him to do if the situation became so life threatening that the doctor could only save one of us.  My sons’ father and I told the doctor to save me, but I qualified it and asked the doctor to save us both, if he could.

The thing is I knew my life was not so great at the time and all I wanted to do was survive so that I could get my other son and me out of the situation we were in during my marriage to their father.  If I had died from giving birth, my older son would have been stuck with a father who abused drugs and alcohol, which risked him going into foster care, among other things, in which he would not have a mother’s touch or even a mother to save him from such a situation.  My older son needed me more than a child who never lived life and personally, I think it is not only wrong to force the mother to sacrifice her life for a fetus, but also murder, of which two people could potentially end up dead, instead one.

The other thing, aligned with my view at the time, was that my unborn son never lived life and therefore would not know what he was missing and would not endure life’s problems or even risk separation from God in death.  In other words, he would go directly to heaven if he had died during delivery, because he was free of sin, thus possessed an automatic “get out of jail free card” because he did nothing wrong.  My survival also gave me another chance to make things right in the world and it was my choice and my decision, not someone else’s denying my human rights by exerting dominance and power over me or anyone else.

Thus was my religious belief at the time, but now, my moral values and views deal more with the human than religion.  In this case, the woman’s right to choose her own health care decisions and if only women’s decisions concerning their bodies were accepted as easily as Deanna Troi choosing to carry and deliver an alien life form.

However, the Religious Reich does not want women to make their own decisions concerning their health care and will not end the discussion as easily as Picard did. Thus, you can imagine my abhorrence and horror when the hospital’s application asked me to answer, as though it were the Inquisition, if I would go along willingly with the hospital’s religious view of not saving the woman’s life during pregnancy in a similar situation to mine, given as an example. That was the next question and my choices were “willingly go along with the hospital [because they are right and anything else is wrong]”, “keep my mouth shut”, or “speak out against the hospital”.

"Sounds like a Goddamn SPANISH INQUISITION to me!" ~ Bones, Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home

Of course, even though I marked “keep my mouth shut”, which I thought was a crude way of saying “go along to get along” so that they could impose their will on women, I know would not stay silent. I cannot stay silent when I know medical technology can save the mother’s life. I also cannot stay silent when I fully believe a woman has the right and the intelligence to make her own decisions.

I fumed for days about the new application form and today I went in to see my job counselor and told her about the application.  She could not believe they could do that, but keep in mind, this is a Catholic hospital and institution, and the Catholic Church is trying to get their religious views into our political system, especially when it comes to women’s health.  The woman can just die, as far as they are concerned and they do not care how it would affect the lives of those still living, if she dies.  They do not give a damn and will damn anyone who tries to stop them.

"We're dealing with medievalism here! Chemotherapy! Fundoscopic examinations!" ~ Bones, Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home

As I told my job counselor about this new application process, I not only declared that I will not apply for another position with them, but also told her my story and said, “I’ve been there and had to make that decision.  Do not take my freedom of choice away from me, or away from any other woman, please.”

She agreed, as well as fully understood and seemed to sympathize with me, as she told me that I do not need to apply for any more position at that hospital and that I can use my degree at a more secular hospital in town.  She also said, as we discussed appalling stories, including the nine-year-old girl, concerning how the Catholic Church treats women and girls, “I don’t think God intended that.”  I smiled, as I pointed at her, and said, “Exactly!” even though I do not believe in any human created deity.

“I doubt any God who inflicts pain for his own pleasure.” ~ Bones in Star Trek V: The Final Frontier

It is not the god factor I take issue with and, as far as I am concerned, an individual can believe anything they want, as long as it does not infringe on others, kill people, or let others die for asinine reasons.  It is the human concept of a deity, as well as what people think that concept wants or does not want, especially if that concept degrades and dehumanizes women, killing them in the process.

"It's a miracle these people ever got out of the twentieth century." ~ Bones, Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home

My job counselor also said that I do not need to compromise my values, morals, or integrity to find and keep a job.  She could see that I held very strong personal values and reasons concerning a woman’s right to choose, of which she did not disagree with or even condemn me for having such a stance.  In fact, she agreed that all women have the right to choose in such decisions and did not see the scenario I gave as abortion or murder, but rather a medical procedure that saved a woman’s life.  In her opinion and for the similar reasons as mine, the mother’s life is valuable and important for many reasons.  Her life is not something others should dictate or decide is not worth saving and it goes against my conscious not allow a woman to make her own decisions concerning her life and health.

"You know, I'm really easy to get along with most of the time, but I don't like bullies and I don't like threats, and I don't like 'you', [Pope].” ~ Captain Janeway, State of Flux, Star Trek: Voyager

I not only stand with Planned Parenthood, but I also stand for the lives of many a woman, even though I past my time to worry about pregnancy.  I am pro-life in the sense that I believe a woman’s life is more important than some blastocyst, zygote, embryo, or fetus and it is not murder to terminate a pregnancy or save a mother’s life over a fetus.  Such a situation that treats and saves the woman’s life is a medical procedure during a life-threatening situation, not murder, and to save a fetus, instead of the woman, is, in my opinion, murder.

I do not care what your views or beliefs are, just do not force them on others, or insist that your views are correct and right morality.  If you think that clump of cells or that eight month old fetus is more important than a woman’s life, then I guess that is your business, but do not force that view on other women.  Let them make that medical decision themselves, without interfering with that decision through our political system or health care system.

At least my job counselor is not going to refer me to that hospital again.  Even so, I only have one thing to say to those who try to impose their views on others, making people stay silent about their barbarism, and force them to agree to primitive dehumanization of women by controlling their bodies, via an Inquisition, that causes death and does not save lives.

About Mriana

Mriana is a humanist and the author of "A Source of Misery", who grew up in the Church of God, Anderson Indiana. After she became an adult, she joined the Episcopal Church, but later left the Church and became a humanist. She has two grown sons and raises cats. Mriana raised her sons in the Episcopal Church, but in their teen years, they left the Church and she soon followed. One of her sons became a "Tao Buddhist" and the other a None, creating his own world view. She enjoys writing, reading, science, philosophy, psychology, and other subjects. Mriana is also an animal lover, who cares for their welfare as living beings, who are part of the earth. She is a huge Star Trek fan in a little body.
  • Deborah_B

    Excellent article. Even a lot of Catholics feel that it is wrong to let the mother die, as evidenced by protests in Phoenix when a hospital administrator got in so much trouble for making the choice to save a mother. I can see why the hospital asks this and other questions on job applications, but I wonder how many people grit their teeth and lie to get a job. Good for you in standing up for your principles.

    • Thanks. I found it terribly upsetting esp in light that this hospital saved our lives years ago. I could not fathom how they could let anyone die because of archaic religious views. It felt so wrong to me, as well as extremely personal as I remembered a younger version of myself not wanting to die, but to live for at least one of my children (one living and one who had not yet lived). At the same time, I could put other women in that old memory of that fight for life and it is a fight for life when you are in the mist of it. How could I support such a murderous position when I know from experience they can save the mother, who is more important than someone who's never lived life to the living? I could not stand by an watch let a woman die when I know her life can be saved. I think what we have is not a fight between Pro-life and Pro-choice, but a fight for life for those already living and I cannot give up my integrity and watch women die. Even my Evangelical mother could understand the "get out of jail free card" for an unborn child in my situation and has supported my choice, my decision all these years, but like me, is grateful they managed to save us both. As ultra-religious as she is, she says she would have chosen me, her daughter, to live also. There you have it- I too am someone's baby, but I've lived for many years even by the time my younger son had to be delivered early. She had me for 23 years and didn't want to loose me- her living baby. The living have meaning and are of more value to someone than a fetus, but of course, I'm preaching to the choir, in your case, Deborah. 🙂

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  • Jan

    I believe this to be a violation of Federal law barring employers from discriminating against current or potential employees on the basis of their religious beliefs. The question itself is not as clear-cut as the obvious unwillingness on the part of the hospital to hire anyone who answers "no." I wish someone would make a test case out of this.

    • Even my job counselor said she did not think they could do that.

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