Tamesha Means was 18 weeks pregnant when her water broke. Means, then 27 and the mother of two, knew something was wrong. So she called a friend to take her to the one hospital within a half-hour's drive, Mercy Health Partners.
During that trip to the hospital--and two return trips, one later that night and then again the next morning--Means says she was discharged with medication and instructions to wait for her pain to subside. According to her account, she was not offered the option to induce labor or terminate the pregnancy, options that could have ended her pain, nor was she told that the fetus was unlikely to survive.
“The pain was unbearable,” Means said in an interview from her home in Muskegon, Mich. “I told them, ‘I need you guys to help me.’ They told me there was nothing they could do.”
Three years later, Means’s treatment at Mercy, part of a Catholic health system, has become the centerpiece of an American Civil Liberties Union lawsuit against the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.
The suit, filed in late November, argues that the Catholic Bishops' religious directives for hospitals--which generally bar discussion or performance of abortions--result in negligent care for patients such as Means.
Without being offered "the medically appropriate treatment option of terminating her pregnancy," the case argues, Means "suffered severe, unnecessary, and foreseeable physical and emotional pain."
Read the rest here.
Wow. About all I can say is that This Is So Badly Overdue! The one precedent I can think of is the incident at St. Joseph's Hospital in Phoenix, which I wrote a piece on roughly two years ago. In that case, appropriate action was taken, but because that action ran afoul of one of the catholic overseers for the facility, a great deal of needless sturm-und-drang was loosed, particularly on a catholic nun, who clearly understood and appreciated more about the exigencies of that situation than the overseer did.
What I am hoping this does is shine an unblinking light on how the RC church superimposes their orthodoxy on practical medicine, to the clear and unambiguous detriment of those who receive medical care under catholic auspices. What we're talking about here is denial of care for non-medical reasons. In the now-infamous case of the pregnant woman in Ireland, such lack of action resulted in the needless death of the mother and has fomented a considerable reaction from the Irish government. From where I sit, the situation is no different here.
I mean seriously, how does that Hippocratic oath go? Something about "First, do no harm," as I recall...
Got to give this a bit of a bump here. I see this confrontation between the law and the church as being pretty damned important, something that has the potential to go all the way to the Supremes ... and THAT is worth notice!