Medical misogyny.

[CONTENT NOTE: misogyny, torture, extreme hostility to pregnant people.]

Rewire has a new piece by Amy Littlefield that details the unconscionable withholding of medical care from patients in Catholic hospitals.

The young woman had arrived at Wheaton Franciscan-St. Joseph hospital in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, in labor. She was 18 weeks pregnant, and her twin fetuses were long from viable. She miscarried one fetus within hours of admission, but her labor stalled while the second still had a heartbeat. Because the hospital followed rules issued by the Catholic Church, until the patient hemorrhaged or showed at least two signs of infection—fever of 100.4 or higher, uterine tenderness, rapid heart rate, or rapid fetal heart rate—[Dr. Jessika] Ralph could do little except watch her sicken.

So Ralph’s team trimmed the umbilical cord from the miscarried twin as short as possible to minimize the infection risk, and waited overnight.

No no no! Doctors must increase the risk of life-threatening infections! How else is a patient supposed to get the medical care she (or he) needs?

Fortunately, these doctors had the good sense to wait around for their patient to suffer needlessly before performing the inevitable and necessary medical intervention. Well, sort of:

After about 10 hours, the patient’s temperature soared to 102 or 103 degrees, Ralph recalled in an interview with Rewire in June, a few months after the incident. Ralph and her team gave the patient medication to induce labor. But Ralph could not administer mifepristone, which the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) considers part of the most effective drug regimen for such cases. The Catholic hospital didn’t carry the drug, which is commonly used for medication abortions—a failure Ralph believes was religiously motivated and needlessly prolonged her patient’s labor…

[A]s she rapidly sickened, she and her family pleaded with Ralph to speed up the process of ending her pregnancy. Ralph felt powerless. The fastestsafest method for terminating a second-trimester pregnancy—a surgical procedure called dilation and evacuation (D and E)—was not offered at St. Joseph, where no supervising physicians were capable of performing the common abortion procedure, Ralph said.

For more than 24 hours, the patient labored through painful contractions. She bled heavily, requiring at least one blood transfusion. Her lips and face lost their color. Finally, she delivered a fetus that had no hope of survival.

Well done, everyone. That is some state-of-the-art, top-tier healthcare, right there.

And it ain’t just those with doomed pregnancies who are denied standard and compassionate medical care at Catholic hospitals:

[S]uch constraints are typical for the growing number of hospitals nationwide that follow directives written by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. These rules restrict access to contraception, sterilization, abortion, and end-of-life care… Providers have cited these rules to deny transition-related surgery to transgender patients, emergency contraception to rape victims, and abortion care to patients in the potentially life-threatening process of losing their pregnancies.

Pro-life, everyone. *slow clap*

The scope of this scourge is only growing:

A combination of factors are now giving Catholic hospitals unprecedented power over U.S. health care. Recent decisions by the U.S. Supreme Court and President Donald Trump are poised to hand Catholic hospitals almost unfettered leeway to impose religious doctrine on patients and their own employees. And the reach of these hospitals is expanding. Nationwide, the directives govern one in six acute-care hospital beds; Wisconsin is one of five states where that rate is more than 40 percent.

Like all conservative policies everywhere at all times, these policies disproportionately harm people of color, and particularly poor people of color:

In segregated Milwaukee, St. Joseph sits in a low-income, predominantly Black area. It wasn’t uncommon for Krueger’s patients to take three buses or walk dozens of blocks to reach St. Joseph for medical care. Often, their pregnancies were complicated by consequences of poverty and racism—poor access to nutritional foods, which can fuel health conditions like diabetes; exploitative jobs that didn’t afford time off for medical appointments; or unstable housing.

For these patients, adding an additional barrier, like sending them elsewhere for another medical appointment, often meant they just never got the care they wanted.*

*Needed. FIFY, Ms. Littlefield.

Many of these people are Medicaid patients, which means our tax dollars are funding their needless torture and suffering. For conservatives of course, that’s a feature, not a bug, and gawdferbid tax dollars should fund abortions. Won’t someone think of the children?!

I have been writing about Catholicism and abortion for years. The entire US Conference of Catholic Bishops currently reside (along with Richard Dawkins) in my world famous Abattoir, serving at my capricious pleasure as involuntary organ donors.

One might be inclined to say the Catholic Church as an institution is an enemy of humanity, but that would not be entirely accurate. The Church is, first and foremost, an enemy of humans with uteri, and that’s a much lesser offense. Isn’t it?


  1. says

    The church has been snapping up hospitals for a while now; it’s the one place they can still implement medieval rules with impunity. I’ve long said that the only thing which would get me in the doors of St. A’s*, one of two major hospitals in Bismarck, is if my throat was cut on their doorstep, and I’d probably still die.

    Thankfully, when MedCenter got eaten, it was by Sanford, which isn’t Catholic. If it ever goes catholic, I am so screwed.

    *I had a consult there once, in the late ’90s, I think, for spinal surgery. So, the surgeon is going on and on about the cadaver bone replacements, and hey, I have a novel thing: we go in through the front, move all your organs out of the way, replace the spinal bits, then repack you, so y’know, it will be at least a 5 day hospital stay. After staring for a bit, I asked him how experienced he was with this apparently pointless method. At the time he had done 30something surgeries, and “we only nicked the abdominal aorta once! It was okay, he didn’t die.” While I’m still blinking, he goes on to tell me that before surgery, all the O.R. staff come in and have a prayer circle with you. I stood up and left at that point, after telling him that I had no interest in a surgeon who depended on a god, I preferred a surgeon who thought they were god. Never, ever again will I go near a catholic hospital.

  2. says

    I hear you, Caine. I don’t even have to LIKE my doctors. I just have to believe that they’re really fucking good before they touch me. Prayer circles before surgery would not exactly inspire my confidence.

  3. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    The church has been snapping up hospitals for a while now; it’s the one place they can still implement medieval rules with impunity.

    I agree, of course, but it’s not just that.

    It’s that they want to rake in money for the RC church, and as their odious policies turn people off, less money is coming in through voluntary contributions.

    Hospital ownership is the method the Roman Catholic church has taken to make donations involuntary.

    With hospitals, they can forcibly collect money to keep their medieval church alive and enforce medieval rules on non-Catholics as if they were still an official branch of government.

    They resist attempts at change so much not merely because they want us to shed blood so that their baby jesus doesn’t shed tears, but they also are deliberately using this as a funding source to perpetuate an unreformed church. If they allowed their golden goose to fall under the control of people who aren’t 100% in lockstep with the most regressive elements of the RCC, then those liberals might be able to hold the profits back in order to pressure the church to moderate their medievalism.

    The people that control the money, and thus the people who control the hospitals, absolutely must be the most medieval of the lot, else the church itself is jeopardized.

    In other words, if we don’t suffer in hospital, Pope can’t have his gold-plated jet. What kind of world would that be?