Two civil liberties groups filed a lawsuit Friday against the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops on behalf of Tamesha Means, a woman who was denied a full range of care options when she rushed to Mercy Health Partners after her water broke at 18 weeks of pregnancy.
The American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU of Michigan allege that because the hospital abided by the Bishops’ religious directives, doctors endangered Tamesha’s life by failing to inform her there was virtually no chance her pregnancy would survive or that terminating her pregnancy would be her safest medical decision.
“They never offered me any options,” said Means. “They didn’t tell me what was happening to my body. Whatever was going on with me, they discussed it amongst themselves. I was just left to wonder, what’s going to happen to me?”
Catholic-sponsored hospitals like Mercy Health Partners are required to adhere to the Ethical and Religious Directives written by the US Conference of Catholic Bishops. The Directives prevent health care providers from informing their patient that terminating their pregnancy is a legitimate care option, even when the mother’s life is at risk or there is no chance the fetus will survive.
The lawsuit argues that because Means was not provided a comprehensive list of care options, she suffered unnecessary harm at the hands of the USCCB.
“A pregnant woman who goes to the hospital seeking medical care has the right to expect that the hospital’s first priority will be to provide her appropriate care,” said Louise Melling,