Catholic Hospital Refuses to Give Pregnant Woman a Life-Saving Tubal Ligation (VIDEO)

Jessica Mann was pregnant with her third child when doctors diagnosed her with a brain tumor. Her best course of action, they said, was to get a tubal ligation when she delivers her baby to prevent any further pregnancies. There's just one problem: Mann's Catholic hospital refuses to tie her tubes.


The Michigan hospital, Genesys Regional Medical Center, has a strict, religion-based policy against any sterilizing procedures. They denied Mann's request for an exception, saying she could get her tubes tied later at a different hospital. But her doctors say having the surgery soon after a Cesarean section could be just as harmful as having another baby.

And so, a month before her due date, Mann is scrambling to find a new hospital. She will have to deliver with a doctor she's not familiar with. And she may sue Genesys with the ACLU.

You hear stories like Mann's and people always say, "Well, you still have a choice..." as if it's really that simple. But it's not.

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The thing is, while the overall number of hospitals is decreasing, the number of Catholic-sponsored or-affiliated hospitals is rising. In fact, they account for about 10 percent of our hospitals according to a 2013 ACLU and Merger Watch report. And so, depending on what kind of health insurance you have, it could be hard to find a non-religious-affiliated hospital. Not only that, it's hard to plan around the possibility that your care could come in conflict with your hospital's policy. I'm sure Mann didn't see that brain tumor coming!

Federal law protects these hospitals' right to refuse procedures that go against their religious beliefs, as defined by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. Catholic hospitals can have more lenient policies than the Conference's, but it's up to their discretion.

It kind of makes you wonder, should any church be in the hospital business?

On one hand, when hospitals are affiliated with churches it usually means there's a charity mission. The care may be lower cost, and we all know how important that is in this age of insanely expensive medical care.

But the cost of limited services seems to be hurting women disproportionately. Religious leaders are making calls on what's medically necessary. That's a little worrisome, don't you think?

Are we willing to sacrifice women's health (and lives) in order to protect the religious freedoms of nearly 1 in 10 U.S. hospitals? So far it sure looks like Americans are, but I'm not. I'd also hate to see people denied any care at all because they can't afford a non-Catholic hospital. But there has to be a better compromise than the situation we have now.


Image via nacroba/Shutterstock

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