Tamesha (2010) – USA

The Guardian, Feb 2016, by Molly Redden

Abortion ban linked to dangerous miscarriages at Catholic hospital, report claims

Tamesha was 18 weeks pregnant with her third child when her water broke. She rushed to the nearest hospital, which is operated by Mercy Health Partners in Muskegon, Michigan. Because she was only 18 weeks along, the pregnancy was not viable. Ending the pregnancy would have been the safest course of action, but the hospital’s religious policies forbade it—so they gave Tamesha two Tylenol and sent her home without telling her that there was virtually no way she could give birth to a healthy baby. When Tamesha returned the next morning, she was bleeding, in severe pain, and showing signs of an infection; again, she was turned away. Even after she returned a third time, in excruciating pain, the hospital staff began filling out the discharge paperwork. It was only when Tamesha began to deliver that the hospital provided care. The baby died within hours.

Tamesha later sued the hospital but lost at two levels, because the first court said her negligence claim would “impermissibly intrude upon ecclesiastical matters,” and the appeal court basically agreed, also claiming that Tamesha’s extensive pain and injuries were not sufficient to establish negligence.

FIVE other women had similar experiences at the same hospital between 2009 and 2010. They all suffered prolonged miscarriages, severe infections, and emotional trauma. Staff had compromised their lives and health in order to uphold religious directives against inducing delivery when a fetal heartbeat is present. None of the women were more than 24 weeks pregnant and all showed signs of life-threatening sepsis. One of the women was given Tylenol for her infection and sent home – twice – where she miscarried by herself on the toilet. Another woman spent three days in the hospital and eventually required additional surgery.

Read full article: www.theguardian.com

Tamesha’s own story: www.theguardian.com

Appeals court rejects Michigan woman’s lawsuit over Catholic hospital care, Sept 2016: Reuters

Tamesha’s case is also discussed in the 2016 ACLU report (page 9): Health Care Denied: Patients and Physicians Speak Out About Catholic Hospitals and the Threat to Women’s Health and Lives, as well as the 2018 report Bearing Faith: The Limits of Catholic Health Care for Women of Color (pg 27/28).