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Researcher defends findings on sterilizations at Catholic hospitals

Catholic World News - February 27, 2012

Although representatives of Catholic hospital associations have questioned a study that found many American Catholic hospitals perform sterilizations, the researcher who prepared the study has strongly defended her findings.

Sandra Hapenney, in a doctoral dissertation at Baylor University, found that sterilizations were done at 48% of the 176 Catholic hospitals in her study sample. Happeney found over 20,000 such sterilizations had been performed, despite Church teaching that direct sterilization is immoral.

Catholic hospital administrators have denied that the practice is widespread. “We put no credence in the study,” said Fred Caesar of the Catholic Health Association, alluding to “gross errors” in the research. In reply, Happeney challenged critics to find a flaw in her dissertation. “Furthermore,” she said, “the public should be aware that there is no real doubt about the validity of the type of data used in this study since it is provided by the hospitals to the State in compliance with regulatory laws and is regularly used by researchers.”

While a spokesman for one hospital group said that Happeney may have relied on codes that can be entered inaccurately, the Baylor researcher replied that her study cross-checked the codes against surgical records to confirm the number of sterilizations.

Happeney also observed that the hospital codes reporting sterilization would not be used if the procedure was part of a treatment for some pathology. Thus in each of the 20,000 cases she discovered, the procedure seemed a clear violation of the ethical guidelines set for Catholic hospitals by the American bishops, she said.

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Show 3 Comments? (Hidden)Hide Comments
  • Posted by: wsw33410 - Feb. 27, 2012 8:58 PM ET USA

    The subject study, unfortunately, carries very strong practical merits ... besides, the Catholic Health Association is not trustworthy, never been under so called "Sister" Carol's "open-minded" leadership ...

  • Posted by: TheJournalist64 - Feb. 27, 2012 8:24 PM ET USA

    Follow the money. The late Joseph Sobran once noted that if some country had at the end of WW 2 the social characteristics of ours today, we would have declared war on it. . .

  • Posted by: unum - Feb. 27, 2012 7:55 PM ET USA

    Based on the track record of the CHA, I'm betting Happeney will win this fight.

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