Seeking Justice For Tamesha Means in Court Today

I was honored to be in court today representing Tamesha Means, a woman who was denied appropriate care during her miscarriage at a Catholic hospital. Ms. Means’s water broke when she was only 18 weeks along, and she rushed to the only hospital in her community, Mercy Health Partners in Muskegon, Michigan. 

Shockingly, she was turned away.

The doctors never told Tamesha that her pregnancy wasn’t going to make it and that the safest course would be to terminate the pregnancy. This scenario played out two more times — Ms. Means coming to the hospital in pain, bleeding, and developing an infection — only to be refused treatment.  It wasn’t until she started to deliver while she was being discharged that the hospital finally admitted her.

The reason Ms. Means received improper care was not because of a doctor’s mistake or an accident by the hospital. Instead, the hospital was simply following the rules — rules set by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops that prohibit Catholic hospitals from providing an abortion, even if the woman’s life is at risk.

On behalf of Ms. Means, we brought suit against those who set the policy that prohibited the hospital and the doctors from providing the appropriate care to Ms. Means. The district court dismissed the case, holding in part that the religious affiliation of the hospital policymakers gave them a free pass to harm patients.  We appealed that decision, and the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals heard our case today.

We hope the court will allow us to continue the case to hold those accountable who harmed Ms. Means.  I hope the court will agree that it is wrong for any entity — religious or not — to prohibit hospitals and doctors from providing abortion to a woman in an emergency while she is miscarrying and developing a life-threatening infection.  We are seeking justice for Ms. Means in this case, but countless others have been harmed. Indeed, we have heard from numerous women who have been denied miscarriage care at Catholic hospitals, and we expect to hear more given that the number of Catholic hospitals continue to rise

Right now, one in six hospital beds is in a Catholic facility. It is devastating enough to lose a wanted pregnancy — that devastation should not be compounded by the hospital’s refusal to provide appropriate care and endanger your health and life. We’ll continue to fight until no woman has to fear she’ll be turned away from a hospital during her time of greatest need. 

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Oldroadsandnew

So much for the separation of Church and state ...

Anonymous

In Ireland which is a Catholic run country a similar situation arose where a young woman required a termination to save her own life. Doctors did not treat her and this poor woman and her baby died.

j. young

Be aware when delivering a baby in a Catholic hospital that if there is a crisis and a choice has to be made between saving the mother and saving the baby, they will save the baby. If fact you may have signed a statement to that effect buried in all the admittance paperwork.

Don Churchill

Whatever happened to the Hippocratic Oath? A building full of doctors passively watches this happen. Is that not doing harm?

This is absolutely disgusting!

Praise unto you, ACLU!

Anonymous

The Hippocratic Oath has never been to the advantage of the patient. In fact the entire Hippocratic corpus promotes medical paternalism. What this means is that the healthcare providers have that much power to make decisions that in their view while "playing God" is appropriate. Coupled with the ability to base on religious beliefs, the patient is entirely at the mercy of the healthcare provider to decide what is 'best for the patient' according to their whims and caprices.

This has always been the state of the all-so-revered Hippocratic Oath.

By the oath in its original form, the patient has only matter to the extent the doctor decides, noting more.

Anonymous

I truly hope that Ms. Means is okay. Something tells me that there's no "Mr. Means" in the picture. Had there been perhaps he could've driven her to a different hospital -- one that the ACLU recommends. How about signs at the door that read "We are ACLU Friendly."

Anonymous

I like that idea! ACLU, can you provide a list of hospitals that you recommend to the public?

Chris

That a huge assumption you're making (about Mr. Means etc). Also, the problem with what you're suggesting is this - She could have died in transit. THAT is the problem with Catholic hospitals. You arrive and THEN find out that you may die because the you're at a Catholic hospital and that means your life comes second to their religious agenda. They don't respect you or your beliefs. They only care about their religion.
BTW, I was once in transit to a hospital and when I found out it was a Catholic hospital I was being taken to I demanded the ambulance take me to another hospital .. They REFUSED TO LISTEN TO ME, ok?
A lot of people are completely unaware of exactly how sick and twisted these religious groups are .. AND how much power they have. Make no mistake about it, if you wind up at a Catholic institution, you're screwed when it comes to them listening to what you believe regarding your medical care.
I always laugh when I hear the religious right yelling about a "gay agenda." I have YET to see any LGBT people asking for anything EXCEPT the right to be treated like any other American. The religious right, on the other hand... They get nothing BUT special treatment! It starts with them being tax exempt (despite preaching politics 24/7) and they actually get to kill women when it comes to mother's life first or fetus' life first.
BTW, many religions put the mothers life first but the Catholics could care less. This fetus first stuff is Christian crap teachings at their worst.
PS As far as I'm concerned, Catholic hospitals should be closed down (or any religious hospital that puts religion before the health of the patient). Let them go back to the dark ages on their own time and leave the rest of us alone.

Anonymous

If men got pregnant abortion would be a holy sacrament. Catholicism is pedophile voodoo of the cruelest nature.

Anonymous

I will be contacting the Aclu to share my experience with abortion at a Catholic Hospital. They performed one on me, it was planned, I later learned the doctor/s fabricated the medical diagnosis of my child to allow for it.

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