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.

View comments (168)
Read the Terms of Use


Hey insurance only covers two Catholic hospitals. Yes, they're allowed to do that. I'm lucky...I can afford to pay out of pocket when I need a real hospital. Catholic hospitals were originally created to be charitable, but now they're just channels for your deadly "Catholic doctrine." There are Catholics who support birth control and even abortion in some cases (usually just their own but nobody else's) including Nuns. I'm so sorry you've allowed religion to destroy your connection to other humans. You are a sick person and I hope you get the help you need to recover from your delusions and narcissism.

Ariel C

"Lesbo loving POS" What are you even talking about? Christ is weeping up in heaven at your callousness and cruelty.


Threatening physical violence to a woman because she dares express an opinion. Well done, Bruce, you're a shining example of masculinity. (Heavy sarcasm)

The Original JC

Hey buddy, just wanted to chime in and make sure you really understand just how hilariously shitty you are!


Develop some courtesy and respect. You sound like a very intolerant and ignorant human being.


You're getting flack for being hateful, but you have a common question- why not go to a non-catholic hospital? The fact is, some people live in towns with *only* catholic hospitals, and some have exclusive insurance agreements with employers. So if you work for ABC Computers, your insurance is through a catholic health system. Mine is. I don't have an option of going elsewhere. Hope that helps.


Religious doctrine is the single worst thing man has ever invented.


In Genesis 2:4 through whatever, god only intended on creating male human and male humans alone. So, your god originally intended only same sex relationships. Well, same sex or bestiality?

A Woman

What an abusive comment! Surely that's not a catholic response. Maybe you hate women?


"Man I'd like to kick your a$$!"

How Jesus-like.


Stay Informed