Germany apes Ireland: two Catholic hospitals refuse to help rape victim

Germany? Germany? A country supposedly enlightened and largely secular? Well, vestiges of medieval theology—harmful ones—still infest the land.

According to The Local, which gives news from Germany in English, two Catholic Hospitals (“Krankenhaus”) turned away a rape victim:

The German doctors’ association has sharply criticized the hospitals – St Vinzenz-Krankenhaus and Heilig-Geist-Krankenhaus, [JAC: “Heilig-Geist” means “holy ghost”] while an investigation is being conducted to see if they broke the law.

The 25-year-old woman was seemingly drugged with knock-out drugs in her drink at a party in Cologne in December, and then raped. She woke up on a bank in the Kalk district of the city the morning afterwards, the Frankfurter Rundschaunewspaper reported.

An emergency doctor who treated her sent her to a hospital for examination and for the collection of potential evidence. But she was turned away from the one Catholic hospital after another. They had both adopted policies banning doctors from conducing such procedures – because it would entail offering advice about abortion.

They even refused to help when the emergency doctor assured them she had already given the woman the necessary advice, and had already prescribed her the morning-after pill to prevent a pregnancy.

A spokesman for the Cologne archbishopric told the paper that Catholic hospitals had a general policy of not offering even emergency contraception. But he said he could not understand why the hospitals concerned had also refused to take the possible evidence from the woman.

Are these German hospitals publicly funded? If so, why are they refusing to give contraceptive aid? (Irish Catholic hospitals are publicly funded and yet can still enforce their murderous refusals to abort a fetus when the woman’s life is in danger.)

The additional refusal to take evidence is reprehensible, and the hospital policies outlined above suggest that collection of evidence was also against hospital rules.

What’s different between Germany and Ireland, though, is this:

Doctors who ignored this rule could expect to be sacked, the Frankfurter Rundschau said.

. . . On Friday, the Marburger Bund doctors’ association (MB) sharply criticized the hospitals, and said they should have at least offered her some counselling. Potential legal steps against the doctors involved were also being checked, theTagesspiegel newspaper reported.

. . . The Catholic foundation which operates the hospitals, the Cellitinnen zur heiligen Maria has apologized to the woman, and said the rules had not been understood by some staff.

The North Rhine-Westphalia state Health Ministry has started an investigation to work out whether the hospitals had broken the law.

In Ireland, the doctors would not have been sacked.

The whole concept of Catholic hospitals that play by different rules from secular ones is repugnant.  In some cases, like this one, a person has no choice where they wind up, or transferring a patient from a Catholic hospital to a rational one isn’t possible.

h/t: Ginger K.


  1. gbjames
    Posted August 13, 2013 at 4:57 am | Permalink


  2. Posted August 13, 2013 at 5:07 am | Permalink

    Germany isn’t as secular as its neighbours, such as the Netherlands. It’s one of the only few West-European countries, in which the government collect tithes for the churches, as part of their tax system. Even the english state church, the church of england, has not that privilege, since the CoE is entirely funded by non-public funds.

    • jesperbothpedersen1
      Posted August 13, 2013 at 5:29 am | Permalink

      It’s one of the only few West-European countries, in which the government collect tithes for the churches, as part of their tax system.

      That isn’t necessarily an expression of higher religiosity among the people.

      Here in Denmark we pay to the church through our taxes and we still rank as one of the least religious countries in the world.

      • Posted August 13, 2013 at 5:32 am | Permalink

        Absolutely true. But unfortunately Germany has also relatively high levels of religiosity, compared to its neighbours.

        • gbjames
          Posted August 13, 2013 at 5:35 am | Permalink

          Compared to Poland?

          • Posted August 13, 2013 at 5:39 am | Permalink

            Poland is only one of Germany’s many neighbours. Another neighbour, the Czech Republic, is often referred to as the least religious country in the world.

            • gbjames
              Posted August 13, 2013 at 5:52 am | Permalink

              Yeah. So probably “many of it’s (smaller?) neighbors” might be more accurate. How does it compare to France? Do we include the high religiosity of immigrant Muslims in the calculation?

              • Posted August 13, 2013 at 5:58 am | Permalink

                France’s muslim population is only 4 to 6 million out of 63.4 million.

        • jesperbothpedersen1
          Posted August 13, 2013 at 5:38 am | Permalink

          True. It is a descending tendency though, and hopefully that trend will continue to wreak havoc on their churches.

        • Arne
          Posted August 13, 2013 at 6:10 am | Permalink

          Germany is something like 30% each Catholic and Protestant, and 35% nones, with Muslims and others making up the numbers.
          Even if some neighboring countries might be less religious, that’s still nothing for the churches to write home about…

          • Posted August 13, 2013 at 6:16 am | Permalink

            The degree of religosity is not only based on how much people adhere to a certain religion, but also how to what degree they actually practise it. In the Netherlands, political sceintists often ask people to the frequency of going to church/mosk/synagogue, to measure the intensity of religiosity among the populace.

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted August 13, 2013 at 5:56 am | Permalink

      Yes, I found this so unusual when one of my German friends told me about it.

    • Dave
      Posted August 13, 2013 at 6:03 pm | Permalink

      Believe you pay the German tax only if you are a declared member of the church.

      • Posted August 13, 2013 at 10:47 pm | Permalink

        Problem, is that many people are declared members only because their parents have baptised them in church. Therefore many people pay the tax for something they do not believe in.

  3. Posted August 13, 2013 at 5:09 am | Permalink


  4. Mike Lee
    Posted August 13, 2013 at 5:11 am | Permalink

    “Holy Ghost” – Holy F…ing Shit more likely. It’s ok for this Catholic institution to hide peodophile priests away from legal prosecution but not ok to treat a drugged and raped women seeking medical attention!!

  5. Matt G
    Posted August 13, 2013 at 5:12 am | Permalink

    I’m a little confused. If the doctor doesn’t obey the catholic hospital’s orders they can be sacked, or if they don’t provide proper care they can be sacked?

  6. jesperbothpedersen1
    Posted August 13, 2013 at 5:18 am | Permalink

    The whole concept of Catholic hospitals that play by different rules from secular ones is repugnant.

    When you’re convinced that your particular brand of woo is the right brand of woo, healing is a matter of feeling.

    If only they were as serious about the Hippocratic oath as they are about their religion.

    • darrelle
      Posted August 13, 2013 at 5:55 am | Permalink

      “If only they were as serious about the Hippocratic oath as they are about their religion.”

      Not possible though. They wouldn’t be good catholics if they didn’t put their dog* first. And that is precisely why you can’t trust them to abide by secular law / regulations.

      *I feel bad about that. Dogs don’t deserve to be compared to the chrisian god.

      • Matt G
        Posted August 13, 2013 at 6:49 am | Permalink

        Don’t put the dogma before the cart.

      • Notagod
        Posted August 13, 2013 at 6:51 am | Permalink

        Since god is dog spelled backwards, maybe you would like doG better? The true dog species is better of course but, the comparison is somewhat appropriate as the christian gods bow to the christian’s commands.

        • darrelle
          Posted August 13, 2013 at 7:19 am | Permalink

          I never thought of it like that. I think that analogy works pretty well.

          Also, you know that saying about how a dog’s disposition mirrors its owner’s disposition?

  7. darrelle
    Posted August 13, 2013 at 5:29 am | Permalink

    “. . . On Friday, the Marburger Bund doctors’ association (MB) sharply criticized the hospitals, and said they should have at least offered her some counselling.”

    I don’t know. If they aren’t going to do what decency, what medical and legal ethics and SOP entail, I don’t see what good trying to perfume their bullshit excuses as to why they aren’t going to is going to do the victim.

    Seems like it would be better if they didn’t. Better if the victim where not subjected to yet more abuse, and better that catholicism be shown more clearly for what it is.

  8. Arne
    Posted August 13, 2013 at 5:31 am | Permalink

    As far as I know, this is ancient news. It happened on 15 December of last year actually, and was first reported by the german media around a month later.
    It’s ancient news in another sense too.
    Germany does not have a strict separation of church and state but rather an arrangement where neither side steps on the other’s toes too firmly – see , it’s not been repealed after WW2.
    In general the german churches tend to be much milder than in the U.S. and in quite a few cases more visible for their social work, so that their ideological underpinnings can get forgotten for a while…

    • Christian
      Posted August 13, 2013 at 6:17 am | Permalink

      Except, of course, that their social work is usually publicly funded, e.g. hospitals, retirement homes, kindergartens, schools.

      What most people don’t know (even though this topic was discussed a lot on TV in the wake of this tragedy) is that the public share is above 90% in most cases and sometimes even 100%, while the churches can still enforce their rules.

  9. Diana MacPherson
    Posted August 13, 2013 at 5:55 am | Permalink

    The only hopeful part of this story (and the Irish one) is that when it happened I recall there was a big uproar in Germany over it. The hospital got lots of negative press worldwide and the Germans, like the Irish, are not sitting still for it. I’m normally pessimistic (Ich sehe schwarz as the Germans would say) but in these stories, I see some hope.

  10. Diana MacPherson
    Posted August 13, 2013 at 5:55 am | Permalink

    Schade – sub!

  11. eric
    Posted August 13, 2013 at 5:59 am | Permalink

    An emergency doctor who treated her sent her to a hospital for examination and for the collection of potential evidence. But she was turned away from the one Catholic hospital after another.

    Making the collection of evidence of a crime more difficult or impossible can be considered a form of cover-up. In the US, that can be (but is not always) a crime. Tonya Harding was found guilty of doing that (covering up evidence) in the Nancy Kerrigan attack. She was found guilty, fined hundreds of thousands of dollars, given hundreds of hours of commmunity service, and it effectively ended her career.

    And that was for breaking someone’s leg.

  12. teacupoftheapocalypse
    Posted August 13, 2013 at 6:00 am | Permalink


  13. Diana MacPherson
    Posted August 13, 2013 at 6:25 am | Permalink

    If you want a taste of how the Catholic Church beats the reason and empathy out of humans, take a look at this woman’s thoughts about the German incident and about using the morning after pill as dictated by papal authority.

    Here is an excerpt:

    The bishops were clear that the drug is only acceptable to treat rape victims if it is used as a contraceptive and not as an abortifacient.

    So in other words, the rape victim is supposed to anticipate being raped and take the morning after pill beforehand. Hmmmm, today seems like it could end in a raping, better take my pill! How ludicrous! Also, this position contradicts another Catholic doctrine that forbids contraceptive methods (other than the useless rhythm method), but I guess they are being all empathetic and enlightened to allow it in the case of rape!

  14. David Duncan
    Posted August 13, 2013 at 6:38 am | Permalink

    This is just crazy, and something I wouldn’t have expected in Germany. If they can’t bring themselves to treat women like this then couldn’t they at least send them to a Protestant or secular hospital?

  15. Robert Seidel
    Posted August 13, 2013 at 7:52 am | Permalink

    The doctors were afraid of getting sacked by their employers, so they didn’t treat the women.
    There is an even more perverse twist to it: One of the Cellitinnen-Hospitals had a “mystery shopper” prior to this – a women claimed to have had unprotected sex, was given the morning-after-pill, and this was reported to the archdiocese of Cologne:–aus-angst-vor-taeuschung,1472596,21499604.html
    (in German)

    It doesn’t say if the diocese itself conducted this, but that is why the doctors were scared of their wits.

  16. Owlglass
    Posted August 13, 2013 at 8:00 am | Permalink

    A bit background on Germany’s belief landscape.

    Germany is culturally and in its beliefs like most large enough countries more like a continuum, a bit french-like in the west, a bit danish-like in the north, a bit austrian-swiss like in the south etc. (conversely, western France is German-like etc.).

    There are two important aspects that have shaped its belief-landscape.

    The Reformation and following the Thirty-Years War (1618—1648) has split the country into north and south belief-spheres. The northern part, and that of northern continental Europe (extending to Scandinavia) is Lutheran/Protestant, typically very liberal and fairly modern, so much in fact that it fades “fades out” into just culture.

    If Northern Germany was a country, it would be like Denmark or the Netherlands. But we’re in the same boat with the southerners and they remained Roman Catholic (which also extends throughout southern Europe) and tend to be more pious to this day.

    POST-WAR (1945-)
    A second split occurred as the result of WWII. The allies have occupied different parts, and soviets got the whole eastern side. As authoritarian systems rather like to keep sheep for themselves, they were atheistic towards religion. Now that they’re gone, it’s the most secular and most atheist place in the world. But again, they’re in the same country as Bavarians and Rhinelanders.

    • E. Bethlenfalvy
      Posted August 13, 2013 at 5:42 pm | Permalink

      @ Owlglass

      1) You give a very weird and stereotyped picture of Germany’s religious geography.

      What about the former Kingdom of Wuerttemberg, Northern Badenia, Hesse-Darmstadt, Electoral Palatinate, Upper Palatinate, Central Franconia, Upper Franconia, Markgraefler Land and other Protestant strongholds in the South?

      2) Is there any empirical evidence that the South is more religious than the North? (unless you assume that Catholics, who are stronger in numbers in the South, are more religious by nature)

      3) Talking about the “typically very liberal and fairly modern” Protestant North: Have you ever compared the religious landscape of Germany with the results of Mr. Hitler’s party in the 1932/1933 elections?

      If so, you may have noticed that the strongholds of this party lay in Protestant areas, especially in the North (Schleswig-Holstein and RegBez. Allenstein – both at the time thoroughly Lutheran – taking the lead with more than 70% Hitlerist votes, roughly 30% above average).

      Had German voters consisted of Wuerttembergers or Rhinelanders only, Mr. Hitler would very probably not have reached chancellorship.

      This is, of course, not to say that Southerners, Catholics or Wuerttembergish Protestants were/are more humane or intelligent than others. The story is much more complex.

      • Owlglass
        Posted August 14, 2013 at 4:44 am | Permalink

        1) Its not weird and stereotyped, I pointed out the history and the general tendency. And you can see this in maps till today.
        The map on the left shows it very well:
        yellow: catholic
        blue: atheist
        purple: protestant (lutheran evangelical)
        Yes, there are Austins in Texas.

        2) Yes, religious influences and christian-by-name party rules in bavaria since ever, nearly uncontested. That’s a pretty good general indication. I’m confident surveys would back this up, too.

        3) 1933 is some years back, don’t you think? Again, the south is generally a conservative stronghold.

        • E. Bethlenfalvy
          Posted August 14, 2013 at 11:31 am | Permalink

          Your interpretation of German history and wikipedia maps is rather based on your own prejudice than on historical facts.

          As for the distribution of the two main denominations in the South:

          Populous modern day Baden-Wuertemberg had a Protestant majority for centuries. The fact that the state holds a slight Catholic majority today (by 3,9 percentage points) is due to the higher rate of secularisation among Protestants (the same phenomenon as in the Netherlands). The southern part of Rhineland-Palatinate holds a Protestant majority, southern Hesse a strong Protestant majority, Bavaria a Catholic majority. The current ratio between Protestants and Catholics in the South is probably 40+ : 60-.

          The purple colour of the wikipedia map does not indicate Lutheranism. Badenia, Palatinate and Hesse-Nassau all have United state churches.

          Btw : Your imagined Northern German state – if it were to resemble the Netherlands – would currently have more Catholic than Protestant citizens.

          Concerning Bavaria: the argument with the “Christian-by-name party” may tell something about your own political inclinations but doesn’t hold. (Apropos: what would be, in your opinion, a “Christian-by-nature party”? – SGP?)

          The fact that Bavaria has been ruled by the Christian Social Union since the late 50s doesn’t say much about the religious zeal of its population as compared to that of other Germans.

          Schleswig-Holstein has been ruled by Christian Democrats for almost 40 years, Lower Saxony and North Rhine Westphalia for more than 20 years. – So what?

          Any (emphasis:) empirical facts for your hypothesis available?

          If the South constitutes a conservative stronghold I’ll heartily embrace Southern conservatism, as it also stands for more democratic structures (“one man, one vote” for both chambers in both Badenia and Wuerttemberg before 1914 as opposed to the three-class-franchise of Prussia or – even worse – eight-class-franchise in the Hanseatic towns) and a lesser inclination for Hitlerism (if indicated by election results).

          • Owlglass
            Posted August 14, 2013 at 1:36 pm | Permalink

            Any statistic I could find clearly show the trends. Here is a fairly ugly site, but has a breakdown by state.


            Schleswig-Holstein (north)
            Protestants 52% / Catholic 6%

            Neither-Saxony (northwest)
            Protestants 49% / Catholic 17%

            Northrhine-Westfalia (west)
            Protestants 27% / Catholic 41%

            Saarland (south-west)
            Protestants 19% / Catholic 62%

            Bavaria (south)
            Protestants 20% / Catholic 54,4%

            You clearly see how it shifts from protestants in the north to catholics in the south. If you compare NorthrhineWF with New States (ex-GBR) you also have a stark believers/non-believers split.

            I couldn’t find statistics on piety itself, or church attendance. So I concede that this is more of a hunch, based on conservative (and religiously influenced) politics coming from the South, e.g. positions on Stem Cell Research.

            Your whole “Hitlerism” thing is odd, I have no idea what you are talking about and what it has to do with religiousness.

            • E. Bethlenfalvy
              Posted August 14, 2013 at 5:30 pm | Permalink

              Hitlerism is the very opposite of liberalism which you claim for Northern Germany.

              Considering the pre-1914 political structure and the election results in the early 1930s I don’t see where this specific Northern liberalism should stem from historically.

              You equal Protestantism with liberalism (possibly in a broader sense), which doesn’t work out so easily, especially not in the German case.

              I didn’t deny that the South has more Catholics in absolute and relative numbers than the North and an overall Catholic majority.

              Could you please elaborate as to why religiously influenced politics on stem cell research comes mainly from the South?

              As far as positions on science and modern research methods are concerned: Urged by the Greens, Lower Saxony’s leftist government aims to close down a successful students’ lab for genetical engineering for ideological rather than scientific or financial reasons:


  17. Posted August 13, 2013 at 9:36 am | Permalink

    I recently found that gay couples cannot adopt children here in Germany. I was quite shocked about that, even knowing they also can’t get married. Long way to go…..

    • Owlglass
      Posted August 13, 2013 at 9:49 am | Permalink

      They can, sort of. It’s complicated apparently, but Germany has other forms of “living together” (Cohabitation Laws) and since 2006 it seems to include homosexual couples.

      • Diana MacPherson
        Posted August 13, 2013 at 10:05 am | Permalink

        Well now I know a new German word, lebenspartnerschaftsähnliche 🙂

  18. Diana MacPherson
    Posted August 13, 2013 at 10:06 am | Permalink

    oops lebenspartnerschaftsähnlich (kein “e”)

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted August 13, 2013 at 10:06 am | Permalink

      Muphrys – this was supposed to be a reply to my own screw up in my reply to 17 above.

    • Larry Gay
      Posted August 13, 2013 at 10:49 am | Permalink

      Lebenspartner…. is still shorter than the famous Lebensversicherungsgesellschaft!

      • jesperbothpedersen1
        Posted August 13, 2013 at 11:16 am | Permalink

        Oh man this is one of those rare occasions where I get to think back fondly on my German teacher as she tried to learn us the language.

        Discipline and Ordnung muss sein!

        • Diana MacPherson
          Posted August 13, 2013 at 11:37 am | Permalink

          LOL I remember my French teacher in elementary school always yelled, “a suffit”! I don’t think she liked kids.

          • Diana MacPherson
            Posted August 13, 2013 at 11:38 am | Permalink

            ça suffit. Stupid font fail

          • jesperbothpedersen1
            Posted August 13, 2013 at 11:43 am | Permalink


        • Larry Gay
          Posted August 13, 2013 at 11:47 am | Permalink

          Disziplin (nicht discipline) und Ordnung muss sein. Jesper, I am curious about the differences between Germany and Denmark. One of my grandfathers came from north of Hamburg and it seems to me that there is a big difference as you go north across the Schlei. We all know of how Danes helped Jews escape, but it seems to me there are lots of other differences.

          • jesperbothpedersen1
            Posted August 13, 2013 at 12:18 pm | Permalink

            Happy to oblige, Larry and please feel free to ask if you have more questions. 🙂

            I’ve worked in Germany and have some family very close to the border and I must admit that it’s my impression that the differences are miniscule, at least in the northen parts of our southern neighbour.

            Although our food varies a bit, we listen to the same music, wear the same clothes, have the same kind of politicians and are intertwined historically and in present day politics.

            Maybe the differences are more distinct when talking about the older generations, because I’ve also worked in Spain where the picture was the same, with the younger generations being more likeminded than their elders.

          • MNb
            Posted August 13, 2013 at 5:00 pm | Permalink

            There is no sharp line between The Netherlands and Germany either. Except for football:



            • M'thew
              Posted August 14, 2013 at 2:51 am | Permalink

              Don’t forget your/my grandma’s bicycle.

          • Gordon
            Posted August 14, 2013 at 12:42 am | Permalink

            Well first you need to understand the Schleswig-Holstein question of which Ld Palmerston said only three people in Europe did: Prince Albert who was dead, a German professor who went mad and himself but had forgotten all about it.

  19. Posted August 13, 2013 at 1:59 pm | Permalink

    In germany employees of church institutions don’t have the same protection from being fired like employees of secular companies. They can be fired if they violate church doctrine. That’s why doctors in catholic hospitals can’t prescribe the mornig after pill.
    Another example: recenty the manager of a catholic kindergarten was fired because she remarried after a divorce.

    • prochoice
      Posted August 15, 2013 at 6:14 am | Permalink

      another German word for you:
      (the name of the law of comment 19)
      It concedes churches (and a few other institutions, esp. publishers, to have opinions)

  20. Posted August 14, 2013 at 2:58 am | Permalink

    This is one example of the general problem posed by private philanthropy, which usually comes with a religious affiliation (and spiritual strings attached). Privatization of social services is a popular notion in many countries, but it most often means theocratization of those services, resulting in unequal access. When the social safety net is dominated by a religion, it creates a strong incentive for people to stay religious. In the US, there has been a wave of secular health care organizations “merging” with Catholic operations. The result of these mergers is never secularization of a Catholic hospital; rather the whole system becomes Catholic.

  21. Laura
    Posted August 21, 2013 at 2:59 pm | Permalink


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