The Federal Government Must Stop Catholic Hospitals From Harming More Women

Unfortunately, it’s increasingly a common story. A woman who is expecting a baby rushes to the hospital knowing that something is going horribly awry. Her heart rate is elevated, and she is bleeding. Sadly, the pregnancy is doomed. Crying and upset, she realizes she needs an abortion because she knows the pregnancy won’t make it to term.   And she knows she is getting sicker.   

But in this particular story, the hospital is Catholic, and the medical staff refused to provide an abortion based on Catholic directives that dictate what care can be provided in Catholic hospitals. Instead of providing her with appropriate care, the hospital kept her for six hours watching her bleed. They finally “discharged” her to the parking lot so that a relative could drive her to another hospital to get the care she needed. But by that time, she had lost so much blood that she needed a transfusion of seven pints and emergency surgery.

This story is real, and so is this woman (who is thankfully alive). Her story is one of several complaints against Catholic hospitals – which take billions of taxpayer dollars to serve the public - that have been lodged with the federal agency that oversees hospitals. 

We know that there are more complaints, including the one filed by Faith Groesbeck, a public health researcher, who discovered several stories of women denied proper emergency care during miscarriages at one Catholic hospital in Michigan. One woman described in Ms. Groesbeck’s complaint was turned away by the Catholic hospital twice while miscarrying and given only Tylenol for a potentially deadly infection. The woman ended up miscarrying by herself on the toilet at home.  

It’s very strange, then, that when we filed a Freedom of Information Act request back in 2014 seeking these complaints we received none of them. That’s why today we filed a lawsuit under FOIA to get all documents related to complaints against Catholic hospitals.

We assume there are other complaints that we don’t know about yet. As our recent report documents, the number of Catholic hospitals continues to climb, along with the number of women coming forward to tell their story of being denied care at a Catholic hospital. In 2016, one in six hospital beds in the U.S. are in a facility that complies with Catholic directives, which prohibit a range of reproductive health care, even when a woman’s life or health is in jeopardy.

We know that the government knows there is a problem. The government’s answer to today’s lawsuit will tell us precisely what they know. And we expect them to help fix this problem and use federal law to protect women.

Hospitals violate the law when they refuse to provide emergency medical care or provide information about a patient’s condition. The federal government should systematically investigate Catholic hospitals and hold them accountable. No woman should rush to the hospital and fear for her life because of religious rules that force hospitals to turn patients away without providing the proper care.

If you have been denied proper care at a Catholic hospital, we’d like to hear from you.

Lend your voice to the fight and demand investigations of the violations.

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Anonymous

Just more internet hate speach

Jason

This is another example of the ACLU's bigotry toward Christianity. So this story has been all over the leftist news, like this is somehow evidence. I can recount many news stories that were carried by most networks that were bogus. The last I heard about this the ACLU had to go all the way to Ireland, and several years back, to find a women how had died, supposedly because the Catholic hospital there wouldn't give her an abortion. When you read the actual story you find that it was much more complex than the ACLU would like you to believe. Notice how there are no names given. Possibly because of HIPAA, but if droves of women are complaining to the ACLU, they could give permission to bypass HIPAA.

Why doesn't the ACLU look into how many women have died (possibly tens of thousands) due to the misinformation about the oral contraceptive's direct link to breast cancer, or abortions direct link to breast cancer? Just look up the Mayo clinic reports if they haven't been censored yet. The reason why they don't look into this because the ACLU could care less about women, but only cares about eliminating Christianity from public life, and possibly from the world.

HawkAtreides

Low-dose estrogen-only birth control (the single most common oral contraceptive) is not linked to higher cancer risk - what you're thinking of are high-dose estrogen and combination estrogen/progestin pills, which are less common - and neither is abortion. The Mayo Clinic even categorically denies a link between abortion and breast cancer risk, to the point that the pro-life groups have outright claimed that they have falsified their findings. Your sources are obviously groups whose only concern about "women's health" is to make sure they continue to be in good enough health to pump out babies as often as possible, as early as possible.

Then again, the fact that you refer to stories that do not fit your worldview with the dismissive "leftist" or "bogus" while claiming that even false "facts" that do are true indicates that your interest is also not related to women's health, only in pushing the religious right agenda that women are obligated to carry babies to term. I do have to laugh, though - you make an insinuation of impropriety because "no names were given" here, yet you make a sweeping claim about "bogus" stories without giving a single example.

Last note: The death of Savita Halappanavar never involved an abortion. She was already miscarrying when she came to the hospital. Removal of the product of miscarriage is not an abortion in any rational sense, and allowing Catholic doctrine to overwhelm the standard of care can only lead to more dead women, especially as Catholic hospitals become more prevalent in the US. Your misrepresentation of this case is disingenuous, even malicious, and your slander against the ACLU only proves that you care about nothing more than giving religious doctrine the force of law.

Marianne

The language here is very misleading. If a woman is actively miscarrying, the baby has already died, and a Catholic institution WILL perform a D&C at any time necessary. (Removing all of the contents of the uterus including the placenta and child) In reading the article they are reporting that this is not the case. Either her child was still alive, or she received poor care from a specific team of individuals. Also based on other comments, there are courses of action to take with an ectopic pregnancy that they will do before it ruptures. There are a lot of missing facts here, it's best not to judge without having all of them. For those who are being uncharitable, you do not represent the majority at all.

HawkAtreides

The record shows that the only definition of "actively miscarrying" the Catholic hospitals allow for is once the products of miscarriage are being delivered. Cases exist in which a fetus is already dead but the hospital refuses to "provide an abortion", by their doctrine, by removing the dead tissue. Issues have also come up with those hospitals not performing enough care to ensure that all of the products of miscarriage have been removed. It's one thing to say that there are "missing facts" - it's another to directly contradict the documented record of hospitals failing to provide even so much as basic monitoring for women who are having serious and potentially life-threatening complications such as extremely premature Rupture of Membrane.

Anonymous

this is really annoying that all yiu can think about is yourself! Go men am i right? menasims??????????

Anonymous

fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck men..

Pinguino

To me, it sounds like the doctors are NOT doing their job & violating their Oath "to do no harm" by not providing the necessary services.

Vicki

When there are other choices of hospitals the whole thing becomes an irrational argument. Catholic Hospitals are private, not public, and I don't see why anyone just absolutely HAS to go to one unless they're just trying to control something again.
I would never want to go to a place that mistreats me and won't do it. I don't understand how there's any logical basis for arguing what a privately funded hospital does but then I don't understand the Law at all. The Law in some cases is such an ass it's not funny. #FreeSlahi is a bigger lie than Catholic hospitals breaking their beliefs and providing services they find immoral. Whatever.
They should be allowed to get in trouble if the person dies or is wounded somehow. Otherwise I don't understand the basis for argument. I'm sure it shows that I'm not a lawyer. I don't expect my opinions to be Law. Unlike almost every freakin' HILLARY supporter, I don't feel the need to cram every belief down someone's throat. I have almost no delusions about my thoughts being from my own and nobody else's experience. I took Public Communications in college.

Anonymous

Except that Catholic hospitals are PUBLICLY funded. That's the issue here. They're using public tax dollars to fund their hospitals while failing to provide proper care to the public. And wouldn't it be great if everyone had the choice of going to a non Catholic hospital? Unfortunately, that isn't an option for many people, as their insurance will often only cover a specific hospital. Also, oftentimes, catholic hospitals are the ONLY hospitals in the area and a person would be forced to drive to another city entirely to find a hospital willing to provide life saving care. That's not exactly practical in a life-threatening emergency, don't you think?

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