CO in United States

Is Your Health Care Compromised?
How the Catholic Directives Make for Unhealthy Choices


At a time in US history when healthcare can be challenging to access even by those with good insurance coverage, how is it possible to say that Catholic healthcare can be bad for your health? This report will answer that question by showing how the religious rules followed by such institutions take precedence over your health needs and wishes. There are prohibitions on abortion — even for miscarriage management, restrictions on provision of in vitro fertilization to
help women struggling with infertility and for ectopic pregnancies, bans on modern contraceptive methods including sterilization and often an unwillingness to honor advance medical directives. This would be less egregious if it were clear that a hospital is Catholic-owned, but that is not necessarily the case. You may find yourself in a hospital you’ve used for decades that only recently merged with a Catholic healthcare institution, and options you had once exercised are no longer available to you. Between 2001 and 2016, the number of hospitals affiliated with the Catholic church increased by 22 percent. Do you know if your local hospital is one of them? And how do you feel about your healthcare being guided by the bishops’ interpretation of the Catholic faith, rather than by medical necessity or your own religious beliefs?

Read full report: Catholics for Choice


Health Care Denied
Patients and Physicians Speak Out About Catholic Hospitals and the Threat to Women’s Health and Lives

Apr 26, 2016

One in six hospital beds in the U.S. is in a facility that complies with Catholic directives that prohibit a range of reproductive health care services, even when a woman’s life or health is in jeopardy. In some states, more than 40 percent of all hospital beds are in a Catholic-run facility, leaving entire regions without any option for certain reproductive health care services. The ACLU’s report shares firsthand accounts from patients who have been denied appropriate care at Catholic hospitals, from health care providers forbidden from providing critical care because of the Directives, and from physicians at secular hospitals who have treated very sick women after they were turned away from a Catholic facility.

The Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services, which are promulgated by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, set forth standards for the provision of care at Catholic health care facilities. The Directives prohibit a range of reproductive health services, including contraception, sterilization, many infertility treatments, and abortion, even when a woman’s life or health is jeopardized by a pregnancy. Because of these rules, many Catholic hospitals across this country are withholding emergency care from patients who are in the midst of a miscarriage or experiencing other pregnancy complications. Catholic hospitals also routinely prohibit doctors from performing tubal ligations (commonly known as “getting your tubes tied”) at the time of delivery, when the procedure is safest, leaving patients to undergo an additional surgery elsewhere after recovering from childbirth. Catholic hospitals deny these essential health services despite receiving billions in taxpayer dollars. Transgender and gender-non-conforming patients suffer the same and other, similar harms when seeking reproductive health care.

Read full report: ACLU



Conflicts in Care for Obstetric Complications in Catholic Hospitals

Lori R. Freedman & Debra B. Stulberg
18 Dec 2012
AJOB Primary Research, Volume 4, 2013 – Issue 4, Pages 1-10


Background: A recent national survey revealed that over half of obstetrician-gynecologists working in Catholic hospitals have conflicts with religious policies, but the survey did not elucidate the nature of the conflicts. Our qualitative study examines the nature of physician conflicts with religious policies governing obstetrician-gynecologist (ob-gyn) care. Results related to restrictions on the management of obstetric complications are reported here.

Methods: In-depth interviews lasting about one hour were conducted with obstetrician-gynecologists throughout the United States. Questions focused on physicians’ general satisfaction with their hospital work settings and specific experiences with religious doctrine-based ob-gyn policies in the various hospitals where they have worked.

Results: Conflicts reported here include cases in which Catholic hospital religious policy (Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services) impacted physicians’ abilities to offer treatment to women experiencing certain obstetric emergencies, such as pregnancy-related health problems, molar pregnancy, miscarriage, or previable premature rupture of membranes (PPROM), because hospital authorities perceived treatment as equivalent to a prohibited abortion. Physicians were contractually obligated to follow doctrine-based policies while practicing in these Catholic hospitals.

Conclusions: For some physicians, their hospital’s prohibition on abortion initially seemed congruent with their own principles, but when applied to cases in which patients were already losing a desired pregnancy and/or the patient’s health was at risk, some physicians found the institutional restrictions on care to be unacceptable.

Read full study: ACLU