US hospital sued for denying patients contraception surgery

US hospital sued for denying patients contraception surgery January 2, 2016

A law suit against Mercy Medical Center in Redding, California, has been launched by the American Civil Liberties Union as a result of its ‘unlawful’ refusal to provide contraception services.
The suit, according to this report, was filed this week on behalf of Physicians for Reproductive Health and a Redding woman, Rebecca Chamorro, who requested a tubal ligation at the hospital during her scheduled caesarean section in late January last year.
Chamorro and her husband, who have two other children, wanted the procedure as a permanent form of contraception.
Said Elizabeth Gill, above, senior staff attorney with the ACLU of Northern California:

The overarching issue is about women’s ability to access basic health care. It’s an incredibly common procedure used by a significant number of married women, but it’s being denied based on religious doctrine. It’s a real problem.

Chamorro is one of three Redding women who contacted the ACLU after their doctor denied a request for a post-partum tubal ligation at Mercy Medical Center.
The three women are patients of Dr Samuel Van Kirk, an obstetrician-gynecologist who practices in Redding and delivers babies at Mercy Medical Center.
He is a member of Physicians for Reproductive Health, a nationwide non-profit that advocates for access to maternal care, including contraception. It has about 1,200 physician members in California.
In the lawsuit, Van Kirk, who is one of the plaintiffs, states that 50 of his patients in the last eight years have been denied permission for post-partum tubal ligations at Mercy because of the hospital’s allegiance to Catholic doctrine.
In an emailed response, San Francisco-based Dignity Health officials declined to discuss the pending litigation, but issued a statement:

In general, it is our practice not to provide sterilization services at Dignity Health’s Catholic facilities.

This, they said, was in accordance with guidelines issued by the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, which state that Catholic health care organisations are not permitted to engage in actions that are “intrinsically immoral”, including sterilisation for men (vasectomies) or women (tubal ligations).
Dr Pratima Gupta, a Bay Area obstetrician and a spokeswoman for Physicians for Reproductive Health, said she was:

Both surprised and disappointed that [Dignity Health] would deny a woman pregnancy-related care. It demonstrates sex discrimination and provides poor quality of care.

Gupta, who said she’s performed thousands of baby deliveries and hundreds of tubal ligations, said the procedure is safe and should not be denied to women who choose it.

Health decisions should be made between a woman and her family and her doctor.

In an earlier case, Redding resident Rachel Miller also was denied permission to have a tubal ligation at Mercy Medical. After the ACLU threatened a lawsuit on her behalf in August, Mercy officials re-reviewed her case and allowed her tubal ligation to proceed.
In Miller’s case, the hospital said it changed its mind after her doctor provided additional clinical information that fit with its criteria to allow tubal ligations to protect patients from future risk of pregnancies.
A hearing is scheduled for January 5 in San Francisco Superior Court on the ACLU’s request for an emergency order allowing Chamorro to have her tubes tied.

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  • L.Long

    A catlick hospital?? Cool!! SUE!!!THEM!!! for a lot more. That gang of moralizing ahole criminals need to be sued repeatedly and for a lot! ALL religious based health care need to be sued often!!
    For themselves they can make any stupid decisions they like but for others it is the MEDICAL Choices that count not their immoral BS.

  • CharlyO

    Perhaps Dear Abby should take a look at this bit about Catholic hospitals.
    They do not provide full care for women when contraception is involved nor when an abortion NEEDS to be done.
    Catholic dogma rules over all that.

  • Bill

    How did the USA let the RCC get such a foothold. The RCC has been a recognised problem in the USA for decades … as can be attested by reference to this publication. Open the link and weep that even though the threat of contamination by the RCC has been recognised for over a century the USA still let them get their dirty boots over the threshold.

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  • L.Long

    Well Bill, they have to respect the religion because if they slap down catlickers for being stupid irrational immoral aholes, well that just describes ALL religions an we know what a xtian nation the TSA (Theocratic States of America) is!! So slapping one religion down is bad for all. Well except for sheiks, muslins, & hindodos as they are brown religions, so its OK in non-raciest TSA to slap them down. Xtians don’t count cuz we have it on authority (Fox News) that jesus was a blond haired, blue eyes, nicely bearded, European, white dude.

  • Club Secretary

    @L.Long says:
    Sat 2 Jan at 1:49 pm
    Xtians don’t count cuz we have it on authority (Fox News) that jesus was a blond haired, blue eyes, nicely bearded, European, white dude.
    He sure is

  • AgentCormac

    People with pre-historic beliefs running hospitals is like a member of the Saudi royal family running the UN human rights council. Oh, hang on a minute…

  • Broga

    “but it’s being denied based on religious doctrine.” Not on clinical judgement or patient’s wishes. Meanwhile repressed RC priests sexually abuse and will be hidden away, when discovered, by their church.

  • SallyinMI

    My father’s parents were Catholic, and my mom, who was not, had seven pregnancies in 8 years. She lost one, thankfully…but there were six of us living on a machinist’s income, with no insurance, no union benefits, just sneaking by. My mom finally returned to work when the youngest was 8, and she worked until 72.
    My dad never attended church that I recall. My mom eventually had a tubal, and then got uterine cancer at 55 and had that removed. I wonder if a Catholic hospital would have done that, or let her die? What is the point of telling people they have to have unlimited children, whether they can afford them or not? Is the RCC so desperate for future members that they think this is the way to insure their incomes in perpetuity?
    That is a pretty sorry excuse for dictating people’s lives to them.

  • Vanity Unfair

    Thank Beveridge for the NHS.

  • Vanity Unfair

    “…guidelines issued by the US Conference of Catholic Bishops…”
    So, not a woman amongst them: not a parent amongst them [ahem]and, probably but not certainly,not a surgeon amongst them [I realise there might be a second-careerist there]: they are obviously well-qualified to rule on this.

  • WA Skeptic

    The RCC control of women’s reproductive systems keeps entire families in poverty and then with the brainwashing re: belief in rewards after life, helps to keep the populace quiet. Not much has changed since the RCC really started cracking down on the dissenters in the very early Xtian era. Trickle Down Theory in real life. Get the kings and emperors on your side, keep them in power, and they’ll keep you in power. Win/Win for them, at least.
    Get the RCC out of the healthcare industry, or at least make them fulfil their responsibilities to their patients. If a procedure is safe and legal, and they are taking federal funds for ANYTHING in their facilities, then the hospitals and their staffs should be doing everything a patient needs.

  • Dianne Leonard

    I, also, am from a Catholic family. My mom had 10 pregnancies between 1951 and 1962, with 7 living children. 2 of us were severely disabled (I am one.) Her last pregnancy, with my younger brother, was when she was 48. My dad was an architectural drafter, a white collar job that paid very little. When I was young I remember we rarely had enough to eat–only on Thanksgiving and Passover could we eat as much as we wanted. This resulted in the stunting of the kids’ growth. None of us girls are over 5 feet tall, and my brothers are also very short. We rarely went to the doctor, and I did not get my vision corrected til I was in college, because–no money. But they never used birth control, because the Catholic church was against it. Thankfully, all us kids saw through the idiocy, and none of us are religious,to my mom’s shame. In fact most of us are anti-religious, if anything.

  • Broga

    @Dianne Leonard : That is a severe penalty you suffered from being the victims of religion, Dianne. Sadly, I guess the experience is all to common for those who accept the fantasies the RC church inflicts on them.
    I’m pleased you, and your brothers and sisters, eventually escaped. I hope you get satisfaction now from thinking and behaving as you chose.

  • Bill

    How Rich Is the Catholic Church?
    Nobody really knows, because religious groups don’t need to follow regular accounting and disclosure rules.
    Pope Francis is not just the spiritual leader of one of the world’s major religions: He’s also the head of what’s probably the wealthiest institution in the entire world. The Catholic Church’s global spending matches the annual revenues of the planet’s largest firms, and its assets—huge amounts of real estate, St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Vatican City, some of the world’s greatest art—surely exceed those of any corporation by an order of magnitude.*
    But it turns out to be surprisingly difficult to understand exactly how rich the church is. That’s in part because church finances are complicated. But it’s also because, in the United States at least, churches in general are exempted from the financial reporting and disclosure requirements that otherwise apply to nonprofit groups. And it turns out, that exemption may have undesirable consequences.
    The main thing we know about Catholic Church finance is that in cash flow terms, the United States is by far the most important branch. America is a rich country with a large population of Catholics. What’s more, America’s Catholic population is a religious minority. That’s meant that, rather than using political clout to influence the shape of mainstream government institutions, as in an overwhelmingly Catholic country such as Brazil, the Catholic Church in the United States has created a parallel state: a vast web of schools, hospitals, universities, and charities that serve millions of clients.
    Our best window into the overall financial picture of American Catholicism comes from a 2012 investigation by the Economist, which offered a rough-and-ready estimate of $170 billion in annual spending, of which almost $150 billion is associated with church-affiliated hospitals and institutions of higher education. The operating budget for ordinary parishes, at around $11 billion a year, is a relatively small share, and Catholic Charities is a smaller share still.
    Apple and General Motors, by way of comparison, each had revenue of about $150 billion worldwide in Fiscal Year 2012. Legally speaking, there is no such thing as “the Catholic Church,” which is why these finances get so complicated. As far as the law is concerned, each diocese is a separate legal entity, incorporated in the states where it operates. Generally speaking, they are organized as what’s known as a corporation sole—a legal corporation wholly controlled by the individual bishop rather than a board of directors—and not officially part of any larger transnational spiritual organization. This has led to conflicts during the sex abuse scandals. Lawsuits have caused disputes about how deep the church’s pockets go and who should pay.
    On several occasions, abuse-related litigation has inspired dioceses to declare bankruptcy, which offers a rare window into the internal financial organization of the institution. Individual parishes, though operating under the umbrella of the relevant bishop, have a fair degree of financial autonomy. They conduct separate fundraising and maintain separate expenses. That way, parish donors can feel they’re bolstering their particular community and not an impersonal bureaucracy. But it’s common for parish investment funds within a single diocese to be pooled. When a diocese declares bankruptcy, this raises the question of whether pooled parish investment funds are available to be seized by the bishop’s creditors or whether they exist separately.
    As a fascinating article in this month’s American Bankruptcy Institute Journal explains, the status of parish investment funds depends on some very subtle details. Both the Diocese of Milwaukee and the Diocese of Wilmington ran pooled investment funds in which a single account simply noted how much each parish had contributed. The difference is that in Wilmington, Del., operating funds were also mingled into the pooled account, whereas in Milwaukee they were kept separate. That small difference ended up costing Wilmington parishes $74 million in exposure to Episcopal creditors. At the same time, as a matter of Canon Law individual parishes can be wholly “suppressed,” merged into other parishes, or otherwise divided up, essentially at the discretion of the bishop—notwithstanding the existence of separate bank accounts. This authority suggests that the diocese does indeed wholly own and control its parishes, but church officials take advantage of the ambiguity, sometimes claiming to fully control its parishes, sometimes—for legal reasons—arguing that the parishes are wholly independent entities.
    Given America’s diverse religious landscape, the Catholic Church is hardly unique in taking advantage of the First Amendment to engage in some opaque accounting. It’s simply the largest player in this game. Lawrence Wright’s recent Scientology exposé, Going Clear, reveals egregious exploitation of religious privileges for the personal financial benefit of church leaders. Or consider the case of the Tennessee pastor arrested on money laundering and drug charges only because a local TV news investigation revealed that he was using donations to pay off what amounted to personal debts.
    The legal framework that allows for this funny business has been constructed in the name of religious freedom but hardly seems required by that important principle. America has a robust ecology of secular nonprofit groups that manage to abide by fairly stringent accounting and disclosure standards. These help donors know where their money is going and reassure residual claimants that there’s some consistent theory of whose assets are whose. Religion is big business—the Catholic Church the biggest of all—and it deserves to be treated as such in the relevant ways.

  • AgentCormac

    @Dianne Leonard
    Thanks for sharing your story. I am actually angry and happy in equal measure that you and your siblings should have been so abused by the catholic church’s backward teachings, but have nonetheless come out of it understanding what the source of that abuse was, and as a result have rejected its doctrines. Welcome, sincerely, to our community.

  • Graham Martin-Royle

    Why should the rcc be operating hospitals anyway, surely being true believers they should just be telling everyone to pray cos, you know, their illness comes from god & therefore they shouldn’t interfere with it’s plan.

  • AgentCormac

    @Graham Martin-Royle
    Spot on. God’s great until the shit hits the pan – then strangely nowhere to be seen. But hey, he does work in mysterious ways. Apparently.

  • barriejohn

    It’s believers’ brains that work in mysterious ways!

  • John Gresham

    I’m not an American (or a Catholic) and am having a problem understanding what the problem is. Why can’t she go to a non-Catholic hospital? Does the hospital receive any public money to help it operate? Who is paying for her stay? I know a lot of Americans think that our (UK) NHS is a short step from communism but at least we don’t have theologians making decisions about reproductive health, apart from in NI of course.

  • Brian Jordan

    @John Gresham,
    Just in case you don’t get an answer from one of our American readers, IIRC hospital treatment in the USA is divided up by locality, as it is here, and by insurance companies regardless of what organisation is running the hospital. So unless you’re in an area with lots of competition, it’s probably the luck of the draw.
    I may well be wrong, though.

  • Cali Ron

    @Club Secretary: Great pic. Did you get that from the NRA website? I’m sure Wayne Le Puke would like that one.

  • Cali Ron

    @John Gresham: Health care in America is provided through insurance companies, except for those who can’t afford it and then a government program covers them. What is covered, when, where and how much it costs is all controlled by the insurance company. For an emergency you can go to the nearest facility, but for all non emergency care you have to go to the designated facility. I live in the northern California area where that particular hospital is located and a significant percentage of locals insurance only covers that hospital in that area. Mercy hospitals are part of some insurance companies coverage plans. In some plans all the hospitals are Mercy hospitals and follow the same policy, so even if they drive 90 minutes to the next covered facility it might deny them too. My health insurance is Kaiser and I can only go to Kaiser facilities except in an emergency or they won’t pay for it. Another example of how other peoples religious believes effect even those who don’t believe. RCC: god’s mafia!
    Sadly, this is only one of many issues America has with health care because the health industry is making billions of dollars while providing some of the lowest quality care in all the industrial countries. When Obama tried to reform our health care the republicans insisted on keeping the insurance companies instead of having a single payer solution. This adds about 20% on top of all medical costs just for the insurance company cut while the exclusivity of the plans allows health providers and drug manufacturers to charge exorbitant fees driving the cost up even more. In America equality stops where health care begins, with the wealthy getting great care and the vast majority getting overcharged and frequently lower quality care than European countries.

  • dennis

    @ Dianne Leonard, welcome, glad you are here and not in a pew.
    @ John Gresham @Brian Jordan I am an American and I don’t understand our medical nonsense. anyway I have to go to a Baptist hospital because they ran the other non affiliated hospital out of the area. our insurance companies run ruff shod over our government so even with Affordable Care Act things are still the same. I, so want your NHS program here. when it comes to invading women’s rights to their bodies the church’s rule, ask Planned Parent Hood.

  • James Thompson

    They lost this suit. God wins again (unfortuanately)