Not All Hospitals are Created Equal

If something was wrong, like really wrong, you’d go to the nearest hospital, right?

Well, if you’re female and the nearest hospital is affiliated with the Catholic Church, you should probably reconsider.

Remember Savita Halappanavar, the woman who died needlessly last month in an Irish hospital because she was denied a medically necessary abortion? Not to be shown up by the British, the US now has its own spin on the story. In Arizona, a Catholic Bishop has excommunicated a nun and revoked a hospital’s church affiliation for saving a woman’s life by giving her the abortion she needed. (That’s admittedly far preferable to what happened to Savita, and in fact I’m thrilled there’s one fewer Catholic hospital – but it’s still not ok.)

This is not an isolated issue. In 2010, a Bishop in Oregon stripped a hospital of its church affiliation because it provided tubal ligation. (Tubal ligation, aka having one’s tubes tied, is a method of surgical sterilization often used as a form of permanent contraception, like a vasectomy.)  In 2009, two hospitals in Texas stopped performing tubal ligations under threat from a local Bishop. 

Quoting Nicholas Kristof in the New York Times article linked above, “The National Women’s Law Center has just issued a report quoting doctors at Catholic-affiliated hospitals as saying that sometimes they are forced by church doctrine to provide substandard care to women with miscarriages or ectopic pregnancies in ways that can leave the women infertile or even endanger their lives.”

Personally, I’d rather avoid religiously-affiliated hospitals regardless of the religion or what’s wrong with me, because I’m not a fan of religion. But I’m sure as shit not going to allow my medical care to be determined by whichever religion’s hospital I happen to be closest to in an emergency.

So ladies, educate yourselves and your friends and family on the location of the nearest non-Catholic hospital. Your life may depend on it.

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