Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Access to Emergency Abortion Care Threatened

A recent case highlights the importance of emergency abortion care and the threat religiously affiliated hospitals can pose to providing women with this necessary service:

"...A hospital in Phoenix, St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center, provided a life-saving abortion to a young mother of four children who was dying from pulmonary hypertension and was 11 weeks pregnant...Last week, the Bishop in Phoenix threatened to strip St. Joseph’s of its status as an official Catholic hospital unless St. Joseph’s agreed to sign a written pledge that it would not perform another life-saving abortion. The diocese made good on that threat yesterday, and stripped St. Joseph’s of its endorsement after the hospital defended its actions. As Amie Newman of RH Reality Check discussed last night, St. Joseph’s refused to agree to allow their patients to die. The hospital said, “Morally, ethically, and legally we simply cannot stand by and let someone die whose life we might be able to save.”

St. Joseph’s did the right thing by standing up for women’s health. But the Phoenix bishop’s actions send a chilling message to other Catholic hospitals in the country: if they save women’s lives by providing emergency abortion care, there will be consequences. This could have a profound impact on women's health care throughout the country, especially given that the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops also recently reaffirmed that even life-saving abortions cannot be performed in Catholic hospitals across the country.

To learn more about how individuals and institutions may deny patients health care on ideological grounds, click here. To tell the Obama administration that you want this issue to be made a priority, click here.


Anonymous said...

You can't force a Catholic hospital to abandon it's religious tenets just because you want an abortion.

Just like you can't walk into the Vatican and demand a woman be made pope. It's their religion, and their hospital. It's not a government entity.

If you don't like it, go to a different hospital. Where I live there are four. Two Catholic, one not, one teaching. Most places will have an alternate hospital that isn't Catholic.

It's one thing to ask people to respect YOUR views, but why your resistance to respecting someone else's? It's the equivalent of walking into someone's house and telling them what to do.

Amelia said...

Anon, for future note: If you want your comments to continue to be published, be sure to refrain from making assumptions about the author, such as you saying: "It's one thing to ask people to respect YOUR views, but why your resistance to respecting someone else's?"

Victoria said...


Though I would argue that in general hospitals should provide access to contraceptives and abortion, this is especially important in the case of emergency care. For instance, the woman in the case I cited did not intend to get an abortion and may well have gone to the Catholic hospital just because it was the best in the area. However, when her pregnancy went awry, an abortion was necessary to save her life. In an emergency situation like that, there is often not enough time to go to another hospital even if you are lucky enough to have another one in your immediate area. Regardless of the views of the hospital, it is wrong to not save a patient's life when you have the resources to do so.

ItsMrsMe said...

Exactly. If one of the basic fundamental purposes of a hospital is to provide care, and there is some institution that, hand in hand with said hospital, goes directly against that purpose, then it needs to be gotten rid of.

If it's a religion that's permeating into the hospital, and that religion says "No, I will not provide you care even though this is a place where I'm supposed to provide you care" then you need to get rid of the thing that's causing a halt to that care.

I mean, this isn't just a problem with emergency issues, it's also a problem when you find out your GP happens to be Catholic and refuses to discuss birth control with you.

To anon - Many people aren't lucky enough to have multiple hospitals like that, particularly so close where they can have their choice.

It also might not occur to some people that if they are in a life threatening situation the hospital could potentially NOT save them because said hospital is named after a saint. You know why it wouldn't be the most common thought? Because it's a ludicrous thought. Like, if a "Catholic Hospital" becomes, essentially, an oxymoron then yes, something needs to be abandoned.

Gypsy said...

Did the mother want the abortion? I think that's the important part. Like, did she ever tell a close family member that if this ever happened to her, she would want an abortion?

I agree that in these types of situations there is very little time to move to a different hospital. If the mother dies, the baby would die too. The hospital was just trying to save SOMEONE. I mean that is their job.

There really should be some type of protocol for this. Mothers shouldn't keep something like this from their families just because they don't think it will happen to them. They need to have more discussions about what they want done in a situation like this so that they make sure their decisions are respected AND so that they are sent to the right hospital if they are ever in this situation.

I don't think it is right for the Church to demand this from a hospital though. People of many different faiths go to the emergency room, often times they aren't conscious enough to know where they are going or even what's happening to them.

it's one thing if one actually DOES WALTZ into a clearly Catholic Hospital and demand an abortion. But this is an EMERGENCY. Everything is hectic and there is very little time to talk about what needs to be done.

They really do need to keep the Emergency Abortion care opened because you never know who will go in there and all mothers need to talk to someone the moment they know they are pregnant about what they want done.