The Guardian has an exclusive report up this week about an abortion ban at a Catholic hospital risked the lives of at least five women when the staff would not induce delivery of a miscarrying pregnancy and instead waited until the mother’s life hung in the balance, or the fetus died naturally.
The Guardian reports:
The woman inside the ambulance was miscarrying. That was clear from the foul-smelling fluid leaving her body. As the vehicle wailed toward the hospital, a doctor waiting for her arrival phoned a specialist, who was unequivocal: the baby would die. The woman might follow. Induce labor immediately.
But staff at the Mercy Health Partners hospital in Muskegon, Michigan would not induce labor for another 10 hours. Instead, they followed a set of directives written by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops that forbid terminating a pregnancy unless the mother is in grave condition. Doctors decided they would delay until the woman showed signs of sepsis – a life-threatening response to an advanced infection – or the fetal heart stopped on its own.
In the end, it was sepsis. When the woman delivered, at 1.41am, doctors had been watching her temperature climb for more than eight hours. Her infant lived for 65 minutes.
How on earth is this legal and or ethical? How can a hospital exists in which a doctor’s orders and instead refer to religious doctrine for how to proceed?
A report found that at least five women between 2009 and 2010 had similar stories in which doctor’s orders were ignored and staff deferred to rules handed down by the Catholic Church.
The Guardian piece continues:
All five women, the report says, had symptoms indicating that it would be safest for them to deliver immediately. But instead of informing the women of their options, the report says, or offering to transfer them to a different hospital, doctors – apparently out of deference to the Mercy Health Partners’ strict ban on abortion – unilaterally decided to subject the women to prolonged miscarriages.
As a result, the report claims, several of the women suffered infection or emotional trauma, or had to undergo unnecessary surgery. None of the women were pregnant beyond 24 weeks, when an infant can survive outside the womb.
Again, this is not ethical, moral, and certainly should not be legal on any grounds. Patients have a right to know their rights and often when picked up by an ambulance have no say as to which hospital they are sent. This means women who do not follow this insane catholic doctrine end up at these hospitals and are forced to obey their religious rules.
“In each incident, [Mercy Health Partners] withheld medically indicated treatment and information from pregnant women experiencing emergency situations,” the report reads. “These practices not only risk life-threatening infection, infertility, and health problems, they subject women to unnecessary physical and psychological suffering.”
Theists often argue that atheists don’t build hospitals and praise religious organizations that do. Well, if this is what a religious hospital is like, no thank you. Hospitals should not be exempt from secular laws and should not be allowed to, under any circumstance, defer to religious doctrine when treating a patient.
This treatment of women by Catholic hospitals is barbaric, disgusting and must be addressed by political authorities immediately before one more life is risked, or worse, a mother’s life is lost.
[Thanks, Tara for the link]