Source: Buzz Feed
On Monday, the American Civil Liberties Union announced that it is suing Dignity Health, a Catholic hospital network, for refusing to provide a woman with the tubal ligation recommended by her doctor.
The woman, Rebecca Chamorro, is eight months pregnant with her third child and is scheduled to deliver her baby at Mercy Medical Center in Redding, California, in late January. Chamorro and her husband consulted with her doctor about getting her tubes tied immediately following her C-section — the “ideal time” to do the procedure, according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. But Mercy prohibited her doctor from performing the procedure, citing rules banning sterilization in Catholic hospitals.
Chamorro’s doctor, Samuel Van Kirk, estimates that he’s had at least 50 women in the last eight years who have been denied tubal ligations that he’s requested for them at Mercy, according to the lawsuit. Because Redding is a rural area, the nearest hospital that could provide alternate labor and delivery services is 70 miles away.
The ACLU contends that Mercy’s refusal to let Chamorro get her tubes tied is discriminatory and violates California law.
“This case is an example of gross overreach and the harm done to women and their families when religion is invoked to deny medical services,” Ruth Dawson, staff attorney for the ACLU, told BuzzFeed News. “But this isn’t just happening in Redding, and this isn’t just happening in California.”
A spokesperson from Mercy told BuzzFeed News that she couldn’t comment on pending litigation. In a statement, the hospital noted that it prohibits its doctors from performing sterilization procedures in accordance with the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services, or “ERDs.”
Set by the U.S. Council of Catholic Bishops, the ERDs ban the direct sterilization of men or women, other forms of birth control, certain prenatal genetic tests, and abortions, even in emergency situations when the life of the woman is in danger. Such procedures are deemed “intrinsically immoral.”
But the ERDs have come under fire in recent years as more cases have arisen presenting conflicts between what patients and their doctors decide, and what their hospitals will allow.