Emphases are mine.
“Cancer doctors are on a collision course with a Catholic health organisation over new religion-based rules which prohibit them recommending contraception to patients taking a drug derived from thalidomide, which can cause severe birth defects.
Under a clampdown at Newcastle’s Calvary Mater Hospital, doctors recruiting patients into clinical trials may no longer distribute information about contraception. Instead they are allowed to offer a ”statement of reproductive risks”, which advises participants to avoid pregnancy but gives no information on how to achieve this.
Michael Seldon, a staff specialist haematologist at the hospital, which operates as part of NSW Health and is the city’s only cancer treatment centre, said he was considering defying his bosses and providing the information anyway when the first Newcastle patients suffering myelodysplastic syndrome, multiple myeloma or chronic lymphocytic leukaemia join national trials of the drug lenalidomide within weeks.
The drug’s chemical structure is extremely similar to thalidomide, and the risk of birth defects such as limb and heart deformities is considered so serious that its manufacturer, Celgene, advises even men who have had a vasectomy to use a condom. It insists women have two negative pregnancy tests before starting treatment, and then use two forms of contraception simultaneously.
Dr Seldon, a practising Catholic, said he wanted to offer the specific advice.” […]
Martin Laverty, chief executive of Catholic Health Australia, defended the hospital: ”Scientists, ethicists, academics should feel very free to criticise it, but appreciate a Catholic hospital is built on those [ethical] foundations.”
What fucking ethical foundations are those, Laverty? Go on, elaborate. Without misogyny. BET YOU CAN’T.
Dr Seldon says patients are often so shocked when they are diagnosed with cancer, verbal warnings about a drug trial are not enough.
“One of the difficulties in being a doctor in this situation is that when you mention the word ‘cancer’ 99 per cent of people switch off, they don’t hear anything else you say. So even if you give them advice about contraception, the chance of them actually hearing it is quite small.”
Enforced Catholic medicine in public healthcare (and in near-monopoly private healthcare environments, come to that) is a disgrace, it’s been the same sort of disgrace for a long long long time, and we need many, many more publicised stories like this.
We need many, many more people starting to get involved in action, many many more doctors putting their money where their mouth is (this could make a HUGE difference), and, in my opinion, ultimately far far less (i.e. zero) organised religion in politics, public health, and public education. I’d actually like them out of all medical education too please. Allowing the registration of Catholic medical schools was a big mistake, and only serves to cement the hold of the Church over our system. Unfortunately, I can’t see a viable path to reversing that now.
But what sort of action can we as individuals get involved in? I’m beginning to suspect that real movement could only happen if we have a direct, sustained assault to get all establishment-Catholicism adherents and all other right-wing anti-woman religious fuckers out of Parliament, and I just can’t see that happening right now.
I wish a boycott of all doctors who have privileges at Catholic hospitals would work, but I fear it wouldn’t, with the undersupply of specialist labour being what it is.
What are we left with? Letter-writing campaigns? Any further ideas?
Also, people critiquing this hospital’s (and the Catholic hospital system’s) approach in general? It would be nice if we could do it without a craptonne of ableism.