Study: only 49% of physicians support embryonic stem cell research.

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Info here.

Unfortunately, the story focusses on the study's finding that 88% of Catholic physicians would presribe birth control.

Ho-hum. Tell me something I didn't already know.

The real shocker is further down in the same piece.

Catholic physicians differed from their colleagues in their approval of human embryonic stem cell research. About 49% of all physicians surveyed expressed support for the research, but only 27% of Catholic doctors surveyed said they approved of the research, according to RNS/Observer. However, 79% of Catholic physicians and 83% of all physicians surveyed approved of research using stem cells obtained from placentas or umbilical cords, the survey showed.

That should be front page news. A majority of the physicians polled is against a controversial form of research. Are there going to be editorials accusing doctors of being "theocrats" and "pushing their fundamentalist religious views on society" and "denying potentially life saving treatment to millions of disabled?" No, instead the headline boils down to "Catholics sin."

The three main areas of concern:

  • Of course, the 88% of Catholic whysicians who support birth control,
  • the 27% of Catholic physicians who support ECR - not as bad as the 49% rate for the general physician population, but nevertheless scandalous, and
  • the 21% of Catholic physicians who do not support research using stem cells from placentas and umbilical cords.
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However, the statements "88% of Catholic physicians would prescribe birth control" and "88% of Catholic physicians support birth control" are not logically equivalent. What a physician would do him/herself and what a physician would do for a patient are not always the same thing; this is being played out with the pharmacy mess in Chicago, and it's an oversimplification of the argument to equate the two. For example, can a Jewish person work in a resturant that is not Kosher? Some say not, but some say yes. Some Catholics have no problem vaccinating their children with the Chicken Pox vaccine, even though all the strains of the vaccine available were developed from aborted fetuses. (Most other commonly used vaccines were also developed from aborted fetuses, but also have strains that were developed from other techniques). And some Catholic MD's and Pharmacists prescribe and dispense birth control, even birth control that has the potential to abort a concieved child.

I think that the real problem lies in the mis-education (or lack of education) of the Catholic laity (and laity includes doctors). Maybe these sorts of things need to be addressed in sermons... or at least in publications. Maybe the Catholic Church need to sponsor seminars for medical professionals that address these concerns; there certainly are enough journalists pushing their viewpoint and the doctors are certainly being influenced by that. But get some medical doctors and ethicists to explain the pragmatic elements of the Church's teachings -- this would be a good thing. Someone like the late Dr. Ratner...

That's a good point about the difference between prescribing it and supporting it. I guess I can imagine a doctor knowing what poison the pill is, but prescribing it anyway for various reasons.

I know there are Catholic medical associations, I have no idea how large they are or how well-attended their conferences are.


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This page contains a single entry by Papa-Lu published on May 12, 2005 8:21 AM.

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