Original Story: freep.com
A Flint-area Catholic hospital has until the end of Friday to change its mind and perform a tubal ligation on a pregnant woman with a brain tumor – or face a potential lawsuit from the American Civil Liberties Union. A San Diego healthcare lawyer is reviewing the details of this case.
The ACLU is fighting on behalf of Jessica Mann, 33, of Flushing, a pregnant woman with a life-threatening brain tumor who was denied a request to get her tubes tied at the time of her scheduled cesarean section next month.
According to the ACLU, Genesys Regional Medical Center in Grand Blanc won't allow the sterilization procedure on religious grounds. Mann's doctor requested a medical exception to the hospital's prohibition on sterilization, arguing that a future pregnancy could harm Mann because of her brain tumor, said the ACLU.
But Genesys wouldn't budge, triggering a demand letter from the ACLU last week. The ACLU argues the hospital could be violating state law by denying appropriate care. An Albany healthcare lawyer is following this story closely.
Johnny Smith Jr., a spokesman for the hospital's parent, Ascension, declined comment, citing patient privacy. He would only say that the company follows the "ethical and religious directives" of the Catholic church.
This issue isn't a first for the ACLU, which last month convinced a Catholic hospital in California to change course in a similar case involving tubal ligation.
Under the threat of a potential lawsuit from the ACLU, Mercy Medical Center in Redding, Calif., changed its mind in agreeing to perform a postpartum tubal litigation on a woman. The hospital had initially denied a request by the woman's doctor to tie her tubes, but changed course within days of receiving a demand letter from the ACLU.
According to the ACLU, tubal ligation, commonly known as getting one's “tubes tied,” is the contraception method of choice for more than 30% of married women in the U.S. An estimated 600,000 women annually undergo this procedure, which is often performed at the time of a cesarean section, the group said. A Chicago healthcare lawyer defends clients in a wide variety of large, complex health care and medical negligence cases.
Ten of the 25 largest hospital systems in the U.S. are Catholic-sponsored, and nearly one of nine hospital beds in the country is in a Catholic facility. According to the ACLU, these Catholic hospitals operate under binding “ethical and religious directives” issued by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. Among the directives is that sterilization for the purpose of contraception as “intrinsically evil.”
The ACLU argues that bishops should not be playing the role of doctors.