Pregnant Woman Suffers. You Won't Believe Who's to Blame.

When you show up at a hospital, in need of medical aid, you expect that you're going to get the care that you need—that the doctors and nurses will figure out what's wrong, explain to you the options for treating it, and give you the best medical care possible.

That's what Tamesha Means thought, until she showed up at Mercy Health hospital.

Tamesha was only 18 weeks pregnant when her water broke prematurely. She rushed to Mercy Health—the only hospital within half an hour of where she lived. The hospital did not tell her then that she had little chance of a successful pregnancy, that she was at risk if she tried to continue the pregnancy, and that the safest course of care in her case was to end it. The hospital simply sent her home.

She came back the next day, bleeding and in pain, and again was turned away. Again, she was not told of the risks of trying to continue the pregnancy, or what her treatment options were. Tamesha returned yet a third time—by now suffering a significant infection. The hospital was prepared to send her away once more, when she started to deliver.

Tamesha's baby died within hours of being born—at 18 weeks, it never had a chance.

How could something like this happen? Because Mercy Health is Catholic-sponsored, it is required to adhere to the "Ethical and Religious Directives," a set of rules created by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) to govern the provision of medical care at Catholic-run hospitals. At hospitals like Mercy Health, the Directives are put above medical standards of care.

The Directives prohibit Catholic-sponsored facilities from providing vital health services and the information patients need to make informed decisions about their health care, and from honoring patients' wishes when they conflict with Catholic directives. This is true even if as in Tamesha's case, compliance with the Directives pose a direct threat to patient health.

Because of the Directives, Tamesha was never told the truth about her situation—that her fetus had little chance of surviving, that by attempting to continue the pregnancy she risked her own health, and that completing the miscarriage and ending the pregnancy was the safest approach for a woman in her condition. All that information was withheld from her. Nor was she told that because of the Directives, the hospital would refuse to provide her the safest course of care—even to protect her health. Tamesha never had the chance to direct the course of her care or make a real decision.

Tamesha is not alone. Across the country, women face the risk of mistreatment as a result of the Directives. This happens often despite the fact that doctors want to give their patients the proper care and information, if only they were allowed to. Indeed, studies show that over half of OB/GYNs working in Catholic-sponsored hospitals have run into conflicts with the Directives.

One doctor, describes a miscarrying patient who was dying before his eyes, septic, with a 106 degree fever, her eyes filling with blood. But even though she was in danger, and the fetus had no chance of survival, because of the Directives, the hospital's policy wouldn't let the doctor treat her by terminating the pregnancy until the fetal heartbeat ceased of its own accord.

Another doctor describes a situation where a woman in the first part of her second trimester arrived at the hospital with a hand sticking out of her cervix. But the fetus had a heartbeat, and so the Catholic-sponsored hospital forbids the doctor from ending the pregnancy. Instead, she was forced to send her patient to a facility 90 miles away. Doctors are also barred from giving their patients full information about their treatment options. Recently, a cardiologist was reprimanded for telling a patient with signs of a potentially fatal condition that if it worsened, the American College of Cardiology and American Heart Association would recommend terminating the pregnancy in order to save her life.

That's why we're helping Tamesha seek justice in court. The bishops aren't doctors, and yet they issue rules that tie doctors' hands, preventing them from giving their patients full information about their health care options and, in some cases, preventing them from providing medically appropriate care. That's not right, and it's time to end it.

Read more information about this case at: Tamesha Means v. United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

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eileen tracey

I am so happy that I am not religious, nor do I believe in "GOD", all thanks to the morons who made it impossible for that young lady to get medical attention..


Are you kidding me ? Anyone with half a brain knows that Catholic hospitals follow Catholic mandates. She should have and could have gone to another hospital, instead she chose to go to the SAME hospital 3 times. And did she really NOT know that a baby at 18 weeks gestation was incapable of surviving? If not, she shouldn't be procreating.


Are you kidding me? Anyone with half a brain knows that Catholic hospitals follow Catholic mandates. She had the choice to go to any hospital on 3 separate occasions, but instead continued to seek treatment there. And if she really did not know that a baby at 18 weeks gestation is incapable of survival, she probably shouldn't be procreating in the first place. The doctors also have a choice in employers, no one was forced to endure anything except the poor baby with a moron mother.


THANK YOU for filing this much-needed suit! The Catholic Church should not be directing medical initiatives based on their religious beliefs. Too many women have suffered because of their anti-women medical bias. Thank you. Again.

H. Hallett...

I would like to know if they have any directives along these lines that would treat men the same way or is this just regarding women?


I bet they try to claim that the state is interfering with the church, which is what they always claim is the reason they CAN do what they want: bc the state is separate from the church. Then there are times when they don't LIKE the state being separated from the church.
It's all pretty convenient for them, the argument of church vs state.


"Pregnant Woman Suffers. You Won't Believe Who's to Blame."

Are you lot serious?


If you don't like the hospital's policies, try another one.


How stupid was this. If she didn't like the policies, go to another hospital. Where is the common sense. Who's to blame - the mother for not using her head.


I went to Mercy one time, and will never go again. My ex-husband had cheated with a woman known to have multiple STDs and I tried to get tested. They were the closest medical facility for an hour at the time. I was told that because we were married that it was a negligible worry. Go home to your husband they said. I told them he had slept with many people, she was just one and I KNEW they had been having unprotected intercourse. I argued and when the doctor finally relented it was because I started stating regular health laws. They tested me and I came back clear, and for those tests I was treated with cold regard and like a criminal. Religious facility or not they should be held to the same medical standard. "God" doesn't protect people from STDs and being a married person doesn't lower the risk. Idiots.


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