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Conscience Magazine

Appeals court rejects woman’s lawsuit over Michigan Catholic hospital

December 20, 2016

A federal appeals court dismissed Tamesha Means’ appeal that alleged a “Cath­olic hospital in Michigan denied her adequate treat­ment during a painful miscarriage because of a policy banning even the discussion of abortion as an option.” Means visited Mercy Health Partners three times, before deliv­ering a baby who died within hours of delivery.

Reuters reported that the lawsuit charges the US Conference of Catholic Bishops with denying appro­priate care to women suffering from a miscarriage, by withholding information regarding abortion. This lawsuit was dismissed in 2015 by a district judge who claimed the court “did not have jurisdiction over the conference, and that reviewing Means’ negligence claim would ‘impermissibly intrude upon ecclesiastical matters,’” according to Reuters.

Means appealed this deci­sion, but was dismissed again by the federal appeals court in September. A report released in May by the ACLU and MergerWatch reveals that “one in six hospital beds in the US is in a facility that complies with the Catholic directives that prohibit a range of reproductive health services,” even when a woman’s life or health is in jeopardy. “Her suffering and trauma was a direct result of hospital policies drafted by nonmedical professionals who let their religious doctrine trump patient care,” Brigitte Amiri, an ACLU staff attorney, said in a statement.