Kathleen Hutchins (1998) – USA

Woman at risk of death with doomed pregnancy was refused abortion at Catholic-controlled hospital and forced to travel 80 miles

In 1998, Kathleen Hutchins was working at the drive-thru window at Dunkin’ Donuts. She was fourteen weeks pregnant when her water broke. Her ob/gyn, Dr. Wayne Goldner, told her that her chances of carrying the pregnancy to term were remote. Even if she stayed in bed for the remaining six months of her pregnancy, the fetus would have only a two percent chance of surviving. Moreover, Hutchins risked getting an infection that could render her infertile or even threaten
her life. Goldner and his associates discussed the options with Hutchins; she decided to have an abortion.

Goldner scheduled Hutchins for an emergency abortion at Elliot Hospital in New Hampshire. The hospital refused to allow the procedure because doing so would violate the religious tenets of the Catholic Medical Center and breach the terms of a recent merger. As part of the merger, Elliot had adopted a policy that banned all abortions not consistent with Catholic moral doctrine. Despite Goldner’s attempts to get the hospital administration to change its decision, and desite a public outry, the administration would not allow the abortion to take place in its facilities. Hutchins had no choice but to seek the care she needed elsewhere. But the nearest alternative hospital was eighty miles away, and she did not have the means to get there. Goldner’s practice ended up paying a taxi $400 to drive Hutchins to the nearest available facility to have the procedure.

Read full article: Religious Refusals and Reproductive Rights, ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project, 2002, pg 17

CBS News, Dec 12, 2000