Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services (USCCB, 2009) consist of sections devoted to
- "The Social Responsibility of Catholic Health Care Services,"
- "The Pastoral and Spiritual Responsibility of Catholic Health Care,"
- "The Professional-Patient Relationship,"
- "Issues in Care for the Beginning of Life,"
- "Issues in Care for the Seriously Ill and Dying," and
- "Forming New Partnerships with Health Care Organizations and Providers."
While divided into these six sections, the ERDs are not a pick and choose smorgasbord.
"The Social Responsibility of Catholic Health Care Services" says health care should be animated by a spirit of service, recognizing the sanctity of each human from the first moment of fertilization until natural death. Health care providers are called to see God in each patient - particularly the most vulnerable. When a loved one is seriously ill, doesn't everyone want their providers to have such a perspective?
"The Pastoral and Spiritual Responsibility of Catholic Health Care" may initially seem sectarian. Yet while reminding providers of Catholics' sacramental needs, it is absolutely attentive to the pastoral needs of ALL.
"The Professional-Patient Relationship" sets a gold standard for personal autonomy and respectful treatment. It honors each patient's sanctity of life - so much that providers must "not honor an advance directive that is contrary to Catholic teaching." The ERDs will not abide self-destructiveness.
"Issues in Care for the Beginning of Life" and "Issues in Care for the Seriously Ill and Dying" are consistent with the original wording of the Hippocratic Oath: "I will neither give a deadly drug to anybody who asked for it, nor will I make a suggestion to this effect. Similarly I will not give to a woman an abortive remedy." No, Hippocrates was not Catholic.
"Issues in Care for the Beginning of Life" reflects the Vatican's 2008 "Dignitas Personae," which maintains that each human has the right to originate in the loving embrace of a mom and dad, who are married. Yet no matter how each human came to be and no matter how small, each is owed absolute respect and protection.
Respect for how we originate and the sanctity of life constitutes Dignitas Personae's gauge for evaluating reproductive technologies. When employed by a married couple, Dignitas Personae says that assistance to AID the "marital act" toward procreation (e.g., "hormonal treatments for infertility, surgery for endometriosis, unblocking of fallopian tubes or their surgical repair") can be moral, while methods REPLACING the marital act (eg., cloning, egg donation, In Vitro Fertilization (IVF), sperm donation, surrogacy) are to be excluded.
Fully compatible with the ERDs and Dignitas Personae, "NaPro Technology" is also far more successful in helping achieve pregnancy than IVF - and monumentally less expensive! From an OBGYN approach rejecting contraceptives, it incorporates fertility awareness (for achieving or postponing pregnancy) and other morally acceptable aid. It is a wholistic approach with phenomenal success in treating amenorrhea, chronic vaginal discharges, effects of stress, endometriosis, infertility (male and female), menstrual cramps, ovarian cysts, pelvic pain, PMS, polycystic ovarian disease, recurrent miscarriages, and unusual bleeding, as well as prevention of pre-term birth. Yet because it rejects contraceptives, you won't see praise from the pharmaceutical industry!
The HHS ignores evidence for NaPro Technology but seeks to - in effect - "bail out" the pharmaceutical industry by forcing employers to finance abortifacients/contraceptives, as well as sterilizations. Where is "Occupy Wall Street" on this clear favoritism for corporations over people?
"Issues in Care for the Seriously Ill and Dying" mandates absolute respect for the sanctity of life till natural death.
"Forming New Partnerships with Health Care Organizations and Providers" recognizes current realities and calls for collaboration "in ways that do not compromise Catholic social and moral teaching."
The ERDs can be summarized as saying that a provider must treat each patient as that provider should treat God! The HHS mandates have nothing to do with good health care and everything to do with enriching those who benefit from abortifacients/contraceptives and sterilizations.