Yesssssssssss. It’s about fucking time.
DETROIT — A Michigan woman is taking on the nation’s Catholic hospitals in federal court, alleging they are forcing pregnant women in crisis into having painful miscarriages rather than terminate the pregnancy — and not giving them any options.
The Muskegon woman, who developed an infection and miscarried 18 weeks into her pregnancy, sued the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops on Monday, alleging the group’s anti-abortion directive denies proper medical care to women like herself.
In her case, the lawsuit said, the directive contributed to a painful miscarriage and offered her no options.
In other words, a potential Savita Halappanavar, with the difference being that she survived. It’s good that she survived, but no thanks to the USCCB for that.
The case involves Tamesha Means, who was rushed to Mercy Health Partners in Muskegon in December 2010 when her water broke after 18 weeks of pregnancy. The hospital sent her home twice, even though she was in “excruciating pain;” there was virtually no chance that her pregnancy could survive, and continuing the pregnancy posed a significant risk to the mother’s health, she alleged in the lawsuit.
Exactly like Savita Halappanavar – except that University Hospital Galway didn’t send Halappanavar home; it kept her there to die while the staff watched.
But because of its Catholic affiliation and directives, the hospital told Means that there was nothing it could do, and it did not tell her that abortion was an option, she alleged in the lawsuit. When Means returned to the hospital a third time in extreme distress and with an infection, the hospital still tried to send her home, but Means began to deliver while staff prepared her discharge paperwork.
At that point, the hospital tended to her miscarriage.
That should be a prosecutable crime. Not just a lawsuit; a crime.
You know, I reported on this situation in my talk at Empowering Women Through Secularism in Dublin last summer. I’ve seen comments from [cough] hostile observers saying I just made it up. No I didn’t. The USCCB is real; the ERD is real; Catholic hospitals and healthcare networks are real; the fact that many Catholic hospitals obey the ERD instead of secular law is real. I didn’t make any of it up.
Officials at Mercy Health Partners declined comment. So did the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, which deferred to its 43-page Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services.
Under the directives: “Abortion … is never permitted. Every procedure whose sole immediate effect is the termination of pregnancy before viability is an abortion.” The directives also defend the practice of denying patient requests for certain medical procedures, stating it “does not offend the rights of individual conscience by refusing to provide or permit medical procedures that are judged morally wrong by the teaching authority of the Church.”
The ACLU of Michigan, which filed a lawsuit on behalf of Means, disagrees, arguing Catholic hospitals are putting their beliefs before the health and welfare of its patients. In Means’ case, the ACLU argued, the directives prohibited the hospital from complying with the applicable standard of care. Consequently, it argues, the bishop’s conference is ultimately responsible for the unnecessary trauma and harm that Means and other pregnant women in similar situations have experienced at Catholic-sponsored hospitals.
Again – yessssssss. This is so overdue. This is a case to watch.