ACLU sues U.S. Bishops over anti-abortion directives for Catholic hospitals

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The American Civil Liberties Union and its Michigan affiliate are suing the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops charging that its anti-abortion religious dictates resulted in a Michigan woman’s dangerous miscarriage.

The ACLU filed the lawsuit Friday on behalf of Tamesha Means, a pregnant woman whose water broke 18 weeks into her pregnancy and who sought medical aid at Mercy Health Partners in Muskegon, Mich., a Catholic hospital.

According to the ACLU, while Means’ baby had virtually no chance of survival, the hospital sent her home twice without offering termination as an option, “even though [Means] was in excruciating pain; there was virtually no chance that her pregnancy could survive, and continuing the pregnancy posed significant risks to her health.”

On her third visit to the hospital, according to the civil liberties group, Means was about to be discharged from the hospital when she began to deliver the child. At that point, the group says, the hospital delivered the baby.

According to Louise Melling, the ACLU’s deputy legal director, the “baby died within hours of being born—at 18 weeks, it never had a chance.”

“They never offered me any options,” Means said in a statement. “They didn’t tell me what was happening to my body. Whatever was going on with me, they discussed it amongst themselves. I was just left to wonder, what’s going to happen to me?

Mercy spokeswoman, Joan Kessler, told The Daily Caller the hospital had no comment as it is still reviewing the “situation.”

The ACLU charges that the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops is responsible for the “unnecessary trauma and harm that [Means] and other pregnant women in similar situations have experienced at Catholic-sponsored hospitals,” due to the body’s religious directives to Catholic hospitals prohibiting pre-viability abortion and directing providers to not inform patients about all their options.

“Because of the Directives, [Means] was never told the truth about her situation — that her fetus had little chance of surviving, that by attempting to continue the pregnancy she risked her own health, and that completing the miscarriage and ending the pregnancy was the safest approach for a woman in her condition,” Melling wrote in a Monday blog post. “All that information was withheld from her. Nor was she told that because of the Directives, the hospital would refuse to provide her the safest course of care — even to protect her health. [Means] never had the chance to direct the course of her care or make a real decision.”

The suit seeks damages and further charges that Means was one of five women who failed to be treated properly at Mercy during their miscarriage due to the Bishops’ ethical guidelines.

The Catholic Bishops did not immediately respond to The Daily Caller’s request for comment.

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Tags : abortion
Caroline May