Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Catholic Priest Believes Conscience Fears "Overblown"

From today's San Francisco Chronicle:

"'Conscience' shield vital, many caregivers say."

"Kim McAllister, a Bay Area nurse for 31 years, knows she can recuse herself from a medical procedure with which she has a moral conflict.

If a patient wants an abortion or if McAllister sees an end-of-life decision she might question, she can discreetly find another nurse who would help the patient in the way the patient seeks.
But, like many Catholics, evangelicals and others, McAllister now worries that an Obama administration proposal to repeal 'conscience' protections for health care workers will imperil her rights....

Not everyone is so concerned, however:

The fallout has provoked uproar among religious conservatives, some of whom believe that Obama's proposal threatens their very right to be medical providers. It is provoking anxious discussions among many Catholic doctors and nurses, said the Rev. Gerald Coleman, vice president of corporate ethics at the Daughters of Charity Health System, which runs Seton Medical Center in Daly City, O'Connor Hospital in San Jose and St. Louise Hospital in Gilroy. Coleman sits on the ethics committees of all of his system's hospitals, and he believes some of the concern is overblown.

'What I think is far-fetched is if people say Obama is simply going to erase conscience clauses,' Coleman said. 'That's simply not true.'"

Well, I'm sure that's very comforting for those Doctors and Nurses on the firing line. Of course, Fr. Coleman will not be with there with them.

But anything Fr. Coleman says should be taken with a sizable chunk of salt.

Fr. Coleman was one of the two moral theologians whose opinions were used to justify the disastrous partnership bewtween Catholic Charities of San Francisco and Family Builders by Adoption that was crafted back in 2006--a partnership which resulted in Catholic Charities staffing and funding an organization that was required by contract to INCREASING the number of childresn put in homosexual households. Needless to say, this generated outrage across the Catholic world, and as of June, 2009, the Archdiocese will belatedly bring this arrangement to an end.

George Neumayr of the Catholic Word Report covered this at the time in "A Distinction Without A Difference."

So, while our Bishops (including Archbishop Niederauer) are urging Catholics to contact the Department of Health and Human Services and express their support for conscience protection, Fr. Coleman says: no sweat, everything's fine, there's nothing to worry about.

But that's what he said about Catholic Charities partnering with "the gayest (adoption) agency in the country," too.

Posted by Gibbons J. Cooney


Anonymous said...

As a nurse who has even worked in one of the institutions that cited in this post, conscience can come into place in any setting. Fr. Coleman is naive to believe this issue is not real. It is a major concern to any one in the healing professions that has a well-formed Catholic conscience. I think that this gives me even more reason to consult greater minds such as those at the National Catholic Bioethics Center for what the Church actually teaches in this arena. Just another reason to question what is printed in diocesan newspapers such as the Valley Catholic who has carried articles by Fr. Coleman.

Anonymous said...

I am a Labor and Delivery R.N. I am concerned that one day my objection to having to participate in sterilizations and abortions is not respected. At this point, there is no certainty that that day isn't coming! I mean look at Obama's record on Life issues after only 100 days. I sure hope I am wrong and that my unit will continue to respect my conscience otherwise I will be looking for another job.