Mostly Monday Reads: My Body, My Choice

Good Day Sky Dancers!

Happy Indigenous Peoples Day! 

Many of you know that my oldest daughter is an Ob/Gyn.  She’s practicing in a Seattle suburb with the kind of hospitals available to most folks in rich suburbs.  She delivers a lot of babies. She’s also in Washington State, which means the state has a Constitution that respects a woman’s right to decide about her health. However, before she landed there, she practiced in a small hospital closer to the Canadian border in Mt Vernon, WA. The hospital was sold. Her partners there had moved from Georgia to Washington because they were appalled by the idea that they had to have a “room” in the hospital where “God can’t see.”  It was where medically necessary abortions happened because it was a Catholic hospital.  She was glad to escape the coming of that reality.

I had a high-risk pregnancy with her little sister.  She was placenta previa.  I had a friend who lost a baby and nearly died over complications as they rushed her on a helicopter from North Platte to Omaha. You can bleed to death. I delivered my youngest about a month early.  Eleven days before she was born, I started bleeding and drove myself to my nice Methodist hospital with my Jewish Neonatologist and Children’s hospital across the street.  We came out of that successfully, but the stress of that pregnancy later had me dealing with inoperable 4th stage leiomyosarcoma of the cervix. I still believe I’m the only one known to be cured of this. My nice Episcopalian doctor in the Med school that my daughter later attended found the right chemo to almost kill me but definitely get rid of cancer. ·Artist creating art about bodily autonomy and reproductive justice. Follow me online at @LiberalJane!

My insurance company was determined to send me to the local Catholic hospital to deliver.  At that point, my husband was a VIP of that very Catholic-heavy insurance company and went to the claims person with my instructions.  I told him we’d pay to go to Methodist if he didn’t get the situation changed.  He was a VP, so he carried more weight than most.  They decided that my condition required special attention since the only neonatologist in Omaha at the time was at Methodist.  As you read this, realize the privilege I had getting through all of this.  My oldest daughter would later do her residency under that same neonatologist. I delivered both my kids at Methodist Hospital In Omaha.

Why I was so fussy is a story of me while I was still in grad school and a friend was doing his rotation in Ob/Gyn at the Catholic Med School. He attended a woman whose developing fetus had fetal encephalopathy. Let me explain that condition.

Neonatal encephalopathy (NE) is a complex disease of the newborn characterized by an altered level of consciousness, seizures, poor tone, an inability to initiate or maintain respiration (1) and is associated with multi organ dysfunction (2). The incidence of NE is estimated at 3 per 1,000 live births

The baby had no higher brain functions. It only had a brain stem and therefore had no sentience, nor would it ever have sentience. It would either die in the womb or after birth within a few horrid days or weeks of suffering.  A priest came to guilt trip the woman into carrying to term, delivering, etc., so they could baptize what didn’t even have brain activity.  He added that then the baby could be harvested.  This horrified me.  It was a pure view of a woman as a container with no feelings or moral agency.  You can see why I wanted to avoid a Catholic Hospital at all costs.

So, this brings me to this Washington Post article today, which is highly relevant to women in rural areas, poor women, and women of color.  My daughter lived close to a reservation up in Washington upstate.  She is dedicated to serving all women.  She and her doulas spent a lot of time with the indigenous women to ensure they had healthy pregnancies and delivery options.  She felt that her ability to practice with the new hospital ownership would severely limit her from fulfilling her duties and oath as a board-certified surgeon and OB/GYN.  “Spread of Catholic hospitals limits reproductive care across the U.S.. Religious doctrine restricts access to abortion and birth control and limits treatment options for miscarriages and ectopic pregnancies.”

The Supreme Court decision overturning the constitutional right to abortion is revealing the growing influence of Catholic health systems and their restrictions on reproductive services including birth control and abortion — even in the diminishing number of states where the procedure remains legal.

Catholic systems now control about 1 in 7 U.S. hospital beds, requiring religious doctrine to guide treatment, often to the surprise of patients. Their ascendancy has broad implications for the evolving national battle over reproductive rights beyond abortionas bans against it take hold in more than a dozen Republican-led states.

The Catholic health-care facilities follow directives from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops that prohibit treatment it deems “immoral”: sterilization including vasectomies, postpartum tubal ligations and contraception, as well as abortion. Those policies can limit treatment options for obstetric care during miscarriages and ectopic pregnancies, particularly in the presence of a fetal heartbeat.

Liberal Jane Illustration

I should also mention that after my youngest was delivered via Caesarian, I had one of those “immoral” sterilizations.  I was okay with two daughters and never wanted to go through that again.  That surgery was unnecessary just 9 months later. I had a radical Werthein’s hysterectomy.  They took everything plus the surrounding lymph nodes.  My cancer, at one point, had spread to the lymph nodes.  It was, fortunately, not in my bones.  My reproductive organs showed dysplasia.  This experience sent my oldest daughter in fifth grade to ask what she needed to do to become a doctor. My two years of challenges brought her to the profession. She never backed off from that goal other than her first goal was to get rid of cancer.  I would never wish any of this or the surrounding decisions to be made by anyone but the woman with the support of her healthcare givers, and I mean NO ONE. It was my decision to make and no one else’s. I even asked my Doctor if I might require an abortion at some point but was reassured that it probably wouldn’t be necessary.

Anyone who has seen what the Catholic Bishops think about women and pregnancy should be horrified by this article.

“The directives are not just a collection of dos and don’ts,” said John F. Brehany, executive vice president of the National Catholic Bioethics Center and a longtime consultant to the conference of bishops. “They are a distillation of the moral teachings of the Catholic Church as they apply to modern health care.” As such, he said, any facility that identifies as Catholic must abide by them.

The role of Catholic doctrine in U.S. health care has expanded during a years-long push to acquire smaller institutions — a reflection of consolidation in the hospital industry, as financially challenged community hospitals and independent physicians join bigger systems to gain access to electronic health records and other economies of scale. Acquisition by a Catholic health system has, at times, kept a town’s only hospital from closing.

I would never want to live under this regime of “religion,” although I support our religious freedom laws that give everyone there right to practice their beliefs in their life and way. This headline also comes from the Washington Post.Jewish women sue over Kentucky abortion laws, citing religious freedom.”

Three Jewish women in Kentucky have filed a lawsuit arguing that a set of state laws that ban most abortions violate their religious rights.

The lawsuit, filed in Jefferson Circuit Court in Louisville, is the third such suit brought by Jewish  organizations or individuals since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the right to an abortion in its ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. In all three suits — the first in Florida, the second in Indiana — the Jewish plaintiffs claim their state is infringing on their religious freedom by imposing a Christian understanding of when life begins.

Under current Kentucky laws, life begins at the moment of fertilization. Another law bans abortion after six weeks when cardiac activity is first detected.

Abortion will be on the ballot next month when Kentuckians decide the fate of a proposed constitutional amendment that would eliminate the right to abortion in the state.

Some Florida clerics also seek court relief from the state’s intrusive abortion laws.

The five separate lawsuits, filed in Miami-Dade County, claim the state’s ban curtails the clergy members’ ability to counsel congregants about abortion in accordance with their faiths, since Florida law prohibits counseling or encouraging a crime.

The plaintiffs are three rabbis, a United Church of Christ reverend, a Unitarian Universalist minister, an Episcopal Church priest and a Buddhist lama. They asked the court to declare that the state’s abortion law violates Florida and U.S. constitutional protections for freedom of speech and religion.

They also claim the abortion ban violates a Florida religious freedom law that prohibits the government from “substantially burdening” the exercise of religion, unless there is a compelling state interest that cannot be met with fewer restrictions.

We’re even having our own version of “abortion on the ballot” with an uptown State Senate seat in contention.

As New Orleans Democrats, state Reps. Mandie Landry and Royce Duplessis agree on plenty – including the firmly held view that women should have the right to an abortion.

And those views have jumped to the forefront of a closely contested race as the two vie to become the next senator representing Uptown and surrounding neighborhoods.

Landry and Duplessis – whose nearly identical voting records place them among the most progressive members of the conservative-dominated Legislature – are competing in a special election Nov. 8 to fill the seat Karen Carter Peterson vacated in April. Peterson resigned in advance of pleading guilty in federal court to defrauding campaign contributors.

Beginning with her announcement in May, Landry has centered her campaign on abortion rights, attempting to capitalize on anger at the U.S. Supreme Court for ending a woman’s constitutional right to terminate a pregnancy, and the state Legislature’s decision to ban the procedure in Louisiana without exceptions.

Speaking to a group of female students at Tulane Wednesday night, Landry emphasized that she is the only legislator who has defended abortion rights as an attorney and detailed her deep knowledge of abortion law.

“There’s five women in the state Senate, and they’re all anti-choice,” Landry said as the nine students nodded knowingly. “They file a lot of the terrible bills.”

On their Instagram, artist Madeline Horwath’s stickers are being sold to benefit Yellowhammer Fund, funding abortion in Alabama, Mississippi, and the Deep South. (image courtesy the artist)

Yes. Women in Louisiana in the State Senate work hard for the patriarchy in Louisiana.  But back to our main article. The expense of maintaining a hospital and providing healthcare to a community increasingly transfers the right to make decisions on reproductive health, making them unavailable.

In Schenectady, N.Y., Ellis Medicine is in talks with the multistate Catholic giant Trinity Health. Last month, in Quad Cities, Iowa, Genesis Health System signed a letter of intent to enter a partnership with MercyOne, also part of Trinity Health. And this semester, Oberlin College had to find a new provider to prescribe contraceptives after outsourcing student health services to a Catholic system that would not provide them.

In rural northeast Connecticut, residents are protesting the prospect of their 128-year-old hospital becoming part of a Catholic system and thepotential impact on reproductive services.

“It would be very troubling to see cutbacks in a state like Connecticut,” said Ian McDonald, a stonemason who opposes the proposed deal between Day Kimball Healthcare in Putnam and Massachusetts-based Covenant Health.

Kyle Kramer, chief executive of Day Kimball Healthcare, said the proposed affiliation with Covenant Health wouldrescue the financially challenged 104-bed hospital.

“Obviously it has connotations,” Kramer said of the proposed move to faith-based ownership. The Catholic directives would “provide guidance,” he said in an interview, while insisting that “theservices that we have provided in the past are the same services that we will continue to provide in the future.”

Kramer did not answer questions in a follow-up email about how contraception and elective sterilizations could continue to be provided under Catholic doctrine if their primary purpose is for birth control. Nor did he specify how emergency obstetric care that could result in terminating a pregnancy might be affected.

Covenant Health spokeswoman Karen Sullivan said in an email that as part of the regulatory process, the Catholic health system is drafting a public response to questions by the state’s Oct. 23 deadline. The system, she said, is committed to “ensuring that the Ethical and Religious Directives are applied thoughtfully and with empathy, compassion and respect for every person we serve.”

Please notice that a woman has been used to Dickwash the patriarchal bullshit.  This wonderful piece was written by   and

Oh, I have one more something to say before I wrap everything up today.

I haven’t done this for a few years because I’ve been able to cover the $100 annual fee to keep the blog up and running. Social Security thinks I make too much money side-teaching and has pulled my check for two months. So, if you can donate to keep the shop open, please donate to me at Venmo (@dakinikat) or CashAp ($Dakinikat6520, or Zelle (dakinikat). I’d appreciate it!

What’s on your reading or blogging list today?