A Catholic hospital refused to treat a bleeding woman for religious reasons.
According to reports, a doctor affiliated with a Catholic hospital refused to treat a woman bleeding and in pain after taking a fall and dislodging her copper intrauterine device (IUD).
After her doctor confirmed the IUD was indeed dislodged and had to be removed, the doctor went on to say that she would be unable to remove the IUD, because the Catholic restrictions followed by the hospital would not permit the procedure, due to the fact that the IUD was a birth control device.
The hospital, Mercy Hospital, located in Chicago, is guided by the ethical and religious directives from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. The medical directives issued by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops restrict access to an array of services, including abortion care, tubal ligations, and contraception.
The patient, Melanie Jones, described her painful experience as “heartbreaking,” saying she felt “stigmatized” by the Catholic hospital:
It felt heartbreaking. It felt like they were telling me that I had done something wrong, that I had made a mistake and therefore they were not going to help me; that they stigmatized me, saying that I was doing something wrong, when I’m not doing anything wrong. I’m doing something that’s well within my legal rights.
Jones turned to ACLU Illinois for help, and was eventually able to have the IUD removed by a doctor in another non-religious affiliated hospital, but not after the device had caused internal lacerations, and caused Jones a great deal of pain and frustration.
Jones has filed a discrimination claim against the hospital.
Commenting on the infuriating story, Lorie Chaiten, director of the women’s and reproductive rights project of the ACLU of Illinois, said:
When we go to the doctor, we think that we’re going there to get the best possible care for ourselves. We think we’re there for health care, and not to have someone else’s religious beliefs imposed on us.
In a phone interview with Rewire, Chaiten added:
We think that people should be aware that they may face limitations on the kind of care they can receive when they go to the doctor based on religious restrictions. It’s really important that the public understand that this is going on and it is going on in a widespread fashion so that people can take whatever steps they need to do to protect themselves.
Jones’ story is not unique. Currently in the United States, one in six hospital beds are governed by rules set by Catholic bishops, not doctors, putting the lives and health of women at risk. Because of this growing and dangerous Catholic monopoly on healthcare, an alarming number of American women do not have access to the full spectrum of healthcare services considered standard of care at non-Catholic hospitals. In some cases, that lack of access to care could be life-threatening.
Bottom line: Catholic hospitals are denying women healthcare for religious reasons, and in so doing putting lives at risk.