Catholic Hospitals in U.S. are turning women away for miscarrying

Amanda Marcotte writes on the growing policy for Catholic Hospitals to refuse care for women who are losing their pregnancies. From her article in Slate:

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.

While the United States has much more liberal abortion laws than Ireland and El Salvador, this extremism is affecting women's medical care here, too. Catholic hospitals, which constitute 12 percent of hospital in the U.S., usually require doctors to refuse to help a woman who is miscarrying until the fetal heartbeat stops on its own, which is the same rule that led to Halappanavar's death.

The American Civil Liberties Union is suing the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops over this issue. Details of the case are found in the article.

Comments (9)

Shameful. Instead of one life lost you loose two. The doctors who let the mother die in deference to her miscarried pregnancy should be charged with murder. The end of any pregnancy that doesn't result in the birth of a child is a tragedy. But the choice of the mother and her health should be the prime importance.

The last sentence sums it up. No one's civil liberties are safe when the ACLU is involved. So they are suing the USCCB. That makes perfect sense and is going to accomplish absolutely nothing.

Fr. McQueen,

Do you also believe that it's a violation of one's "religious liberties" to be allowed to discriminate against gays or refuse to offer insurance coverage that includes birth control to one's employees?

Richard Warren

I think of this ACLU action as akin to a pitcher "brushing back" -- nearly hitting -- a batter crowding the plate in baseball. It is not necessary to smack the offender to raise his awareness that he is over stepping. I'm glad to see someone raising the profile of the real harm to women that RC dogma is inflicting.

Jan Adams

Everyone's civil liberties are safe when the ACLU is involved. Anti-choice Power-Over, not so much.

JC Fisher

How about suing (or charging with murder) the politicians who pass laws permitting such kow-towing to any denomination's purity codes?

Well, Paul, I will admit I have wondered whether we could charge said politicians with practicing medicine without a license. That thought could extend to bishops to, I would think.

Upon reading the article and information posted on the ACLU's site, I find the most shocking aspect of the Bishops' guidelines isn't that they required a hospital to deny treatment to a person in distress, but that they required the hospital not to provide the patient with all of the relevant information about her condition.

Bill Dilworth


No, it isn't a violation to refuse birth control because employer paid health insurance isn't a right, it's a benefit that certain jobs provide and certain jobs do not. If you don't like the benefit package provided by your employer, find a new job, or get a supplemental policy offering the items you desire. This utter nonsense that by drawing oxygen we are entitled to healthcare is a serious problem. However, if we can con enough politicians to pass a colossally stupid law such as the ACA, then we'd better not whine and complain when prices skyrocket, and that the government can't sustain this for long.

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