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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After 3 miscarriages, and at age 41, I managed to carry a pregnancy almost to term. Thebaby was a bit premature and that pregnancy was horrible, bedrest, several hospitalizations, "placenta previa". I was 41. I was done. After carefully listening to and understanding, and doing my own research, a c-section was the only option to keep us both alive. That's fine, we'll do that. But, while you're in there, I won't be needing the baby box (uterus) any more, so, instead of risking some terrible hemmhoraging, please also take out my uterus. We'll see, if its damaged, we may have to remove a portion of it.
They wouldn't do it. I do not remember the three days following my son's birth. I bled badly, and required several pints of blood.
St Francis Hospital, Hartford, CT, USA


Diane below you are so full of it and blind to what really goes on in this world. I know many who have been treated badly by sick priests who got away with doing criminal acts. I also worked in a catholic hospital. At times caring and others not so caring. Depended on who you were and how much money you had.


I was turned away from a hospital. I was bleeding a lot. They didn't wait 6hrs tho, I didn't even get out of the car. They said it was because they didn't have an OB in the ER. I think that people should be made more aware of this because it was very scary. My baby and I were fine after she was born. But it could've turned out much worse it was a partial placental abruption.

Cathy Henry

I am telling my Catholic daughter-in-law and son to find a secular hospital so that she won't have to risk her life if she gets pulmonary hypertension, an infected miscarriage or some other dangerous complication of a pregnancy that the so-called "prolife" fanatics won't treat. The doctors in these hospitals know these rules can kill women. A nun who ordered an abortion for a woman in order to save her life was excommunicated. These hospitals get billions in tax money, so they should have to do abortions that save a mother's life. The Bishops rave about paying taxes for birth control, but people don't want to pay taxes for Catholic hospitals that won't do abortions to save a woman's life.

Anne hauer

I was born in a Catholic hospital in 1960 so was my brother in 1964. He was too early and died. They baptized my dead brother without my mother's permission. We aren't catholic. In 1990 I made sure I didn't give birth in the Catholic hospital I wanted my tubes tied afterwards. Rape victims don't receive emergency contraception to prevent pregnancy. If I have insurance and pay a bill I shouldn't have to live under your religious dictates.


Go to another hospital because you should know by now our Catholic hospitals follow our faith teachings.
ACLU - go pick on someone else.


Your hospitals are breaking the law.
Many people have no choice, they are forced by medical necessity to use a Catholic hospital.
Take your righteous indignation elsewhere, like maybe a Trump rally.


The Anonymous clearly has no religious views. So he/she is baffled into complete stupidity at how people refuse to break their moral code.

Typical ACLU supporter. They love criminalizing morality


As in all cases, the Catholics will not allow Abortions under any circumstances, until one day something happens to them or one of their kids, wait until they get raped by a meth addict with AIDS - think you'll want it then you'll DEMAND an abortion. Medicine is science there is no GOD involved, there should be no religious hospitals only hospitals that care and treat everyone equally after all they take the Hippocratic oath, wHat happened to that?


Screw you. I refuse to surrender my beliefs to atheists.


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