Catholic Health Care Endangers Women’s
Reproductive Health—and Their Lives
Women who seek reproductive health care from the more than 600 Catholic hospitals in the United States are denied routine care as a matter of course. These hospitals ban everything from contraceptives and tubal ligations to artificial insemination and abortion, even in instances of rape or ectopic pregnancy.
Worse, doctors in Catholic hospitals may not even treat women in the throes of miscarriages until it’s almost too late. This miscarriage mismanagement can be deadly. And for some women, carrying a pregnancy can be life-threatening.
All around the country, women’s health and lives are being put at risk because their medical needs and doctors’ treatment plans often conflict with the Church’s Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services. These medical treatment guidelines are produced by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, not doctors.
Imagine this …
Twelve weeks into your second pregnancy, you begin to miscarry. But, because of religious directives that dictate the care you receive, it takes you three trips to the emergency room of your trusted Catholic hospital – and you almost die – before getting the care your condition required. This actually happened to Laurie Bertram-Roberts.
Or this …
Your IUD dislodges after you fall, causing you bleeding and pain. But, the doctor you see at a local Catholic hospital refuses to remove it, despite acknowledging it must be taken out. This actually happened to Melanie Jones.
Or this …
At 36 weeks pregnant, your OB/GYN induces labor because your amniotic fluid is dangerously low. After three days you still have not given birth, so your doctor schedules a caesarean section. You see a bright spot. Because you and your husband don't want to have any more children, you plan to get your fallopian tubes tied at the same time. Doing it this way means you can avoid the risks and costs of a separate medical procedure. But, your long-time OB/GYN tells you the Catholic hospital you’ve been admitted to won’t allow it. Worse, during a follow-up visit, she tells you she can no longer prescribe birth control for you because she sold her practice to the same Catholic hospital.This actually happened to Angela Valavanis.
It’s unconscionable that women are denied the medical care their conditions require because the Catholic Church’s religious directives prevent doctors from following standard reproductive care. Yet, that’s what is happening all around the country and the problem is only getting worse. Due to mergers, the number of Catholic hospitals is growing.
Add your name and email address to our petition and help us demand the House Energy and Commerce Committee and state attorneys general require Catholic hospitals follow standard, evidence-based medical practices for reproductive health care.