Bishops Crackdown on Loopholes Devised by Doctors at Catholic Hospitals to Provide Contraception

U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops approved new directives for Catholic hospitals

Catholic teaching frowns at many progressive, sensible medical ideas and procedures and when it comes to contraception, outright rejects it. Doctors serving patients in Catholic hospitals devised loopholes which permit them to do what’s right for patients rather than blindly following religious dogma.

One good example of a hospital for such tiptoeing around the rules is the Covenant Medical Center in Waterloo, Iowa. Since a Catholic body took over the administration of the hospital, it was rebranded as MercyOne Waterloo Medical Center. The hospital has space colloquially known as the “sin room.” It was carved out from the existing hospital premises after Covenant merged with a Catholic hospital. This adjustment enabled doctors and other providers to perform several procedures banned by the Catholic Church, like tubal ligation. Dr. Suzy Lipinski, who served as chair of Covenant’s OB-GYN department for four years (2011-2015), justified such tweak of the rules, pointing out that the doctors were doing everything for the best interest of their patients. She and her colleagues thought the workaround was an acceptable one.

All this changed in 2018 when the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops approved new directives laid down for Catholic hospitals. The instruction was clear: if any secular hospital is affiliated with the Catholic Church, then the administrator of that hospital should consider it as a Catholic establishment and must make sure that the employees, along with the administrators, will not manage or carry out, or assist in the execution of immoral procedures. Facilities must not be made available for the same or referred to such procedures. No one should benefit from the revenue produced by such non-Christian actions.

Although this happens all over the country, a Catholic Church official by the name of Michael Jackels has garnered attention in Iowa. Jackels, the Archbishop of Dubuque, has cracked down hard on hospital administrators and staff who he believes are not abiding church directives. Representatives from Jackels’s diocese informed MercyOne hospital staff that they should desist from doing tubal ligations. Although the hospital did not announce the changed rules, a new policy implemented on April 1 went even further, banning IUDs and other similar contraceptive implants. Only a few exceptions like heavy bleeding will permit procedures like hormonal contraception. The MercyOne administrators declined to talk to the media on this issue.

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