Catholic Hospital Withholds Proper Care and Information From Pregnant Patient

https://www.aclu.org/reproductive-freedom-womens-rights/tamesha-means-v-united-states-conference-catholic-bishops

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December 2, 2013

 The American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU of Michigan have filed a lawsuit on behalf of a pregnant woman who miscarried and was denied appropriate medical treatment because the only hospital in her county is required to abide by religious directives.  The directives, written by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, prohibited that hospital from complying with the applicable standard of care in this case.

Tamesha rushed to Mercy Health Partners in Muskegon, Michigan, when her water broke after only 18 weeks of pregnancy. Based on the bishops' religious directives, the hospital sent her home twice even though Tamesha was in excruciating pain; there was virtually no chance that her pregnancy could survive, and continuing the pregnancy posed significant risks to her health.

Because of its Catholic affiliation and binding directives, the hospital told Tamesha that there was nothing it could do and did not tell Tamesha that terminating her pregnancy was an option and the safest course for her condition. When Tamesha returned to the hospital a third time in extreme distress and with an infection, the hospital once again prepared to send her home. While staff prepared her discharge paperwork, she began to deliver. Only then did the hospital begin tending to Tamesha's miscarriage.

The directives prohibit a pre-viability pregnancy termination, even when there is little or no chance that the fetus will survive, and the life or health of a pregnant woman is at risk. They also direct health care providers not to inform patients about alternatives inconsistent with those directives even when those alternatives are the best option for the patient's health.

The lawsuit charges that, because of the directives, the USCCB is ultimately responsible for the unnecessary trauma and harm that Tamesha and other pregnant women in similar situations have experienced at Catholic-sponsored hospitals.

Additional Resources

Tamesha’s story is not unique to learn more about other women impacted by the Ethical and Religious Directives. Learn More:

Religious Hospitals and Primary Care Physicians: Conflicts over Policies for Patient Care, Journal of General Internal Medicine
Below The Radar: Religious Refusals to Treat Pregnancy Complications Put Women in Danger, National Women’s Law Center

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This behavior is unacceptable! If a hospital is not going to act in the best interest of its patients, it shouldn't be there.

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Comments (4)

  1. deaconjim

    This is the document containing the directives:
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    http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/health-care/upload/Ethical-Religious-Directives-Catholic-Health-Care-Services-fifth-edition-2009.pdf
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    December 03, 2013
  2. jillsthoughts

    That is sickening! Why don’t the doctors and nurses stand up against that?

    December 03, 2013
    1. deaconjim

      What happened to “First, do no harm?” If they’re not allowed to provide the treatment needed, they should at least refer them somewhere else. If you read through the directives, you’ll probably find other situations that would cause you to steer clear of Catholic hospitals.

      December 03, 2013
      1. jillsthoughts

        I had to check on the hospital near me. It is considered a Catholic Hospital, but it is also a regional hospital. It looks like they perform abortions there.

        December 04, 2013
  3. wintersjc

    Is that a hospital or a hell hole? Any hospital that refuses to treat the patient has no business pretending it’s hospital. I never really thought much about Catholic hospitals before. Never been to one. There’s one in the city near us. I guess, after reading this, I’d probably steer clear of it until I look further into its directives. This is enough to make ya shiver!

    December 08, 2013
    1. deaconjim

      Our primary care physicians work at a clinic owned by a Catholic hospital, so my wife’s surgeries (knee and hip replacements) have been done at that hospital, with no problems. After reading the directives, I’m thinking hard about switching. We’re at an age where we’re concerned about end of life care and I have a lot of questions about whether they would follow our wishes.

      December 08, 2013
      1. wintersjc

        It’s actually a bit frightful. Facing major surgery is worrisome enough. I wouldn’t want to worry that the hospital is staffed by fanatics of any kind, religious or non-religious, who didn’t have my best interests at heart. You are wise to look deeper.

        December 08, 2013
  4. khaiexplainsitall

    Religious WHAT! Religon is a wonderful thing but certain things should not collide with Religion. The medical field & religion..no

    December 08, 2013