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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Brent Waldrop

So if you're not catholic, then you are an atheist? Are you saying that catholics are the only ones who deserve to be treated in a catholic hospital? The tax dollars that these catholic hospitals take in come from people of all faiths and those with no faith as well. What a shitty human being you are. Your morals are severely lacking, like most people of "faith".

Brent Waldrop

So beating up women that write articles you don't agree with falls within the lines of your morality? Got to love that catholic morality. The same morality that makes pedophilia within the church completely acceptable. Get off your NMBLA "high horse" and realize that the catholic cult is an abomination against humanity.


Wow, I can tell you're a good "Christian" by the vile hatred you spew.


I realize that any degree of introspection would tax your profoundly limited cognition, but someday, I hope you look in the mirror and realize that people like yourself are what's wrong with the world. Also, irony is clearly another of the many things that overburdens your meager wit.


I'm not sure you're 100% clear on how this Christianity thing works.

kristine weibel

I in 6 hospitals is Catholic owned. In many cases, especially rural, there are no atheist hospitals available. They are not treating science. They are preaching ideology. I have to say your tolerance is astounding.


I am sure Jesus is very proud of you right now.


Thanks for proving everyone right!


Bruce, you will never have to experience the physical trauma of a miscarriage. Many folks are stuck with the Catholic hospital that is closest to them in case of an emergency. Given that their tax dollar contributed to it running, they have every right to be there. I have never seen a tax exemption for being Atheist or any other non catholic religion. Beyond that, you can be Catholic as the Pope and not want to die from a miscarriage.
Also, name calling is the death throe of a lousy argument. Good day.


Yeah... Dude, go fuck your children, catholic bitch


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