Of bishops, candidates, taxes and medical care | Letters

People can differ on whether that’s a good or a bad thing, and whether or not it’s appropriate for a facility receiving public funds. Regardless, the Bishops Directives drive many of Peace Island’s policies regarding medical care.

Janice Peterson’s response to Mike Buettell’s letter about the upcoming hospital board election had some interesting comments, “More questions for hospital district candidates.”

But she felt Mike’s question concerning the Catholic Bishops (“Are you okay with Catholic Bishops making health care decisions for islanders?”), “assumes a fact for which no evidence is offered.”

For those who may have come into this issue only recently, the foundation for Mike’s question is this: Peace Health (and Peace Island Medical Center) follow the “Religious and Ethical Directives for Catholic Health Care.” These policies are often referred to as the “Bishops Directives” because their source is the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. And, Peace Health enforces those directives, based on Catholic religious doctrine, on both physicians and patients.

People can differ on whether that’s a good or a bad thing, and whether or not it’s appropriate for a facility receiving public funds. Regardless, the Bishops Directives drive many of Peace Island’s policies regarding medical care.

For example, “Peace Island Medical Center honors a patient’s valid Advance Directive [for end-of-life-care] unless it conflicts with hospital policy, law or the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care.” Their words, not mine.

Given these easily verifiable facts, calling Mike’s question “loaded” is strange.

If by “loaded,” Ms. Peterson means: “people might get uncomfortable discussing subjects Peace Health would rather keep under cover,” then maybe it is loaded. But Mike’s direct question assumes facts very much in evidence, and to my mind and that of many others, very important.

Do we islanders think medical decisions should be controlled by the doctrines of the Catholic Church (and its Bishops)? Or, should medical decisions in a publicly-funded facility be made solely on the basis of best medical practice, ensuring patients their full rights under our civil laws?

Charles Richardson/San Juan Island