DUE to what a Catholic organisation – the Cellites Foundation – has described as “a misunderstanding”, a 25-year-old rape victim was refused help at two hospitals.
Widespread public outrage erupted in Germany after Irmgard Maiworm, an emergency centre doctor, revealed the deplorable treatment the victim received.
Likening the refusal of the two hospitals – both run by the foundation – to something out of the Middle Ages, Maiworm asked:
Is repeatedly refusing to treat someone who is probably traumatised the moral thing to do? What kind of morality is this?
This, to me, is like the Church of the Middle Ages.
According to this report, Maiworm first treated the 25-year-old woman when she came for help at the emergency centre in the early hours of December 15. The victim that she believed that she had been sedated with a date-rape drug and sexually assaulted.
Maiworm called the neighbouring St Vincent’s Hospital to arrange a gynaecological examination, but she said doctors “fearful of their jobs” refused the request.
According to Dr Maiworm, the hospital’s ethics committee, following consultation with Archbishop of Cologne Cardinal Joachim Meisner, had decided not to conduct examinations of sexual assault victims to avoid having to be in the position to recommend options such as the morning-after pill, which run contrary to Catholic teachings.
Another hospital run by the same organisation also refused to help, Maiworm claimed.
Stung by the allegations, which have received widespread coverage in the German media, both the Cellites Foundation and the Cologne archdiocese denied Catholic hospitals had been instructed to turn away rape victims.
The archdiocese in a statement:
We regret very much that the impression has been given to the public that rape victims are no longer able to be treated in Catholic hospitals. That is false.
It added adding that victims would be given all necessary treatment.
The Cellites Foundation said that a “misunderstanding” had led to the woman being turned away, and that an internal enquiry was underway to find out what had happened.
Maiworm said she had heard of other doctors reporting similar cases.
The scandal has generated significant outrage in Germany, and comes at difficult time for the Catholic Church in the country. It has faced recent accusations that it undermined an investigation into sexual abuse at Catholic institutions, and has long been dogged by declining congregation numbers.
Meanwhile, it is reported here that thousands of “pro-lifers” – determined to protect “the littlest lives” are gathering in Ireland today to protest against changes to the country’s abortion law.
Hat tip: Graham Martin-Royle