Catholic hospitals put women having miscarriages in danger

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.

This story is just one example of how a single Catholic hospital risked the health of five different women in a span of 17 months, according to a new report leaked to the Guardian.

The report, by a former Muskegon County health official, Faith Groesbeck, accuses Mercy Health Partners of forcing five women between August 2009 and December 2010 to undergo dangerous miscarriages by giving them no other option.

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.

The report has not previously been made public. And it offers a disturbing look at how religious restrictions may interfere with emergency care. Catholic control of US hospitals has ballooned in the last 15 years, and with it, patient advocates warn, the risk that the US Bishops’ bans on abortion, contraception and sterilization will prevent thousands of women from receiving critical healthcare…

Healthcare watchdogs have documented isolated instances in which Catholic hospitals denied women birth control or sterilization procedures. But this report details some of the the most systematic collisions of religion and medicine ever to surface in public.

RTFA. It’s long and scary.

It behooves you to check out the policies of Catholic hospitals in your neck of the prairie. If you live somewhere like the city of Santa Fe – here in New Mexico – the only Emergency Room within 50 miles is Christus Saint Vincent.

Suffice it to say, the hospital’s name on the streets of Santa Fe is Saint Victims.

6 thoughts on “Catholic hospitals put women having miscarriages in danger

  1. Pedant says:

    The Presbyterian Hospital in Española has an excellent ER and is 30 miles from St. Victims, also the Los Alamos Medical center and its ER are less than 50 miles from Santa Fe. Christus Saint Vincent has some more resources then they do but the University of New Mexico Hospital in Albuquerque is the only Level I Trauma Center in NM.
    Meanwhile the federal government is fining hospitals across the country for problems that jeopardize patient safety. Six hospitals on the list are in New Mexico, including Christus St. Vincent in Santa Fe and the University of New Mexico Hospital in Albuquerque (Jan 22, 2016 http://krqe.com/2016/01/22/new-mexico-hospitals-facing-fines-for-safety-concerns/ )

  2. eideard says:

    Too many years as an urbanite, I guess. Generally head towards the big city. Though, I never think of going to Española for medical care. Did some security systems design for medical folks up there – and their [ahem] unique problems.

  3. snapsbynina says:

    That’s horrible 😦 My professor told us of a story in Africa where one hospital had a mandatory cleaning time for the OR and no patients were allowed. They made a pregnant woman (who was in labor) wait 45 min while they cleaned the OR and when they finally did the c-section, they found the baby was dead.

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