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Ear to the Ground

U.S. Catholic Bishops Sued After Hospital Turns Away a Woman Miscarrying

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Posted on Dec 3, 2013
† David Gunter (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

Mahatma Gandhi once said, “If it weren’t for Christians, I’d be a Christian.”

Though Pope Francis has done quite a bit in recent months to better the image of the church, Catholic hospitals are hellbent on destroying it. The American Civil Liberties Union has sued the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, which issued the directives that resulted in a medical facility’s refusal of care to a woman suffering a miscarriage.

The ACLU filed the lawsuit on behalf of Tamesha Means who was sent home twice while she was evidently miscarrying a wanted pregnancy. The third time Means showed up at Mercy Health Partners in Muskegon, Mich. (the Catholic hospital was the only one near her place of residence) she was treated only once she went into labor, but the hospital staff was already preparing to turn her away. According to writer Amanda Marcotte at Slate:

As anti-abortion sentiment grows more extreme, it’s inevitable that it will start to interfere with the ability of women to get medical care even when they’re losing wanted pregnancies. In El Salvador, the eagerness to arrest women caught illegally aborting has led to the government charging women who have miscarried wanted pregnancies with murder. In Ireland, Savita Halappanavar lost her life when doctors refused to clear out a miscarrying pregnancy, even though it was clearly turning septic. These doctors decided, under Ireland’s strict abortion ban, that giving Halappanavar’s fetus an opportunity to experience a few days more of a heartbeat was more important than saving Halappanavar’s life….

Despite anti-abortion activists’ claims that they see both the mother and the fetus as equally deserving of life, the refusal to treat miscarrying women as long as the fetus can manage a couple of heartbeats demonstrates how untrue that is. If a pregnancy cannot be saved, refusing treatment quite clearly means prioritizing the fetus—it means choosing a couple more hours for the fetus over relieving a woman’s suffering; saving her health; and, in some cases, saving her life. The directive to refuse care in these cases demonstrates how little the anti-choice movement is actually about “life,” something conscious women clearly have, and we should all care about protecting.

Worryingly, more than a tenth of American hospitals are run by the Catholic Church and if such barbaric acts are continually justified with religion, we’ll start to see more and more women denied health care based on inhumane biases that value ideology over humanity. Graciously, there are some guardians left to count on, such as the ACLU.

—Posted by Natasha Hakimi

 

 

 

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