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Why I Refuse to Be Taken to a Catholic Hospital—And Why Other Women Should Too

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Written by Erin Matson for RH Reality Check. This diary is cross-posted; commenters wishing to engage directly with the author should do so at the original post.

Under no circumstances do I ever want to be brought to a Catholic hospital or medical facility. As a pregnant woman -- and as a human being, period -- I do not trust that my health needs will guide the care I am offered at such a facility. Furthermore, I urge other women to speak up, write an advance medical directive, and let their friends and family know that they do not consent to be taken for treatment at a Catholic hospital.

The reason I don't want to be taken to a Catholic hospital isn't because of abstract notions about morality, the separation of church and state, or when different faiths say life begins. Rather, I refuse because in Catholic hospitals patients may be refused medical treatment on the basis of church teachings. That's a pretty big deal if an ambulance or well-meaning relative brings you to one while pregnant, after a rape, or any time you need urgent medical care.

Refusal to Perform Abortions Allows Women to Die

In October 2012, severe back pain brought Savita Halappanavar to a Catholic hospital in Galway, Ireland. When it was revealed that her 17-week pregnancy was unsustainable, doctors ignored her pleas and refused to perform a life-saving abortion, citing Catholic doctrine. Savita died. Her death has implications for all women, knowingly pregnant or not, who enter a Catholic hospital anywhere in the world.

Here in the United States, Sister Margaret McBride was excommunicated after authorizing a life-saving abortion in 2010 for a gravely ill woman at St. Joseph's Hospital and Medical Center in Phoenix.

It is unreasonable to expect that every Catholic hospital in the country will have a dissenting nun willing to be excommunicated or a doctor willing to be fired to prevent women from being killed by "no abortion under any circumstances" rigidity. It seems it's only a matter of time until the United States has its own Savita -- a pregnant woman who dies needlessly in a Catholic hospital because the all-male Catholic hierarchy has decided barring all abortion, no exceptions, is the "pro-life" thing to do.

 

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