Tamesha Means v. United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

[Content Note: War on agency; loss of wanted pregnancy; medical malfeasance; Christian supremacy.]

If you haven't heard of the case of Tamesha Means v. United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, here is some background care of the ACLU:
Tamesha was only 18 weeks pregnant when her water broke prematurely. She rushed to Mercy Health—the only hospital within half an hour of where she lived. The hospital did not tell her then that she had little chance of a successful pregnancy, that she was at risk if she tried to continue the pregnancy, and that the safest course of care in her case was to end it. The hospital simply sent her home.

She came back the next day, bleeding and in pain, and again was turned away. Again, she was not told of the risks of trying to continue the pregnancy, or what her treatment options were. Tamesha returned yet a third time—by now suffering a significant infection. The hospital was prepared to send her away once more, when she started to deliver.

Tamesha's baby died within hours of being born—at 18 weeks, it never had a chance.

How could something like this happen? Because Mercy Health is Catholic-sponsored, it is required to adhere to the "Ethical and Religious Directives," a set of rules created by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) to govern the provision of medical care at Catholic-run hospitals. At hospitals like Mercy Health, the Directives are put above medical standards of care.

The Directives prohibit Catholic-sponsored facilities from providing vital health services and the information patients need to make informed decisions about their health care, and from honoring patients' wishes when they conflict with Catholic directives. This is true even if as in Tamesha's case, compliance with the Directives pose a direct threat to patient health.

Because of the Directives, Tamesha was never told the truth about her situation—that her fetus had little chance of surviving, that by attempting to continue the pregnancy she risked her own health, and that completing the miscarriage and ending the pregnancy was the safest approach for a woman in her condition. All that information was withheld from her. Nor was she told that because of the Directives, the hospital would refuse to provide her the safest course of care—even to protect her health. Tamesha never had the chance to direct the course of her care or make a real decision.

Tamesha is not alone. Across the country, women face the risk of mistreatment as a result of the Directives. This happens often despite the fact that doctors want to give their patients the proper care and information, if only they were allowed to. Indeed, studies show that over half of OB/GYNs working in Catholic-sponsored hospitals have run into conflicts with the Directives.
The outcome of this case is extremely important, because 1 in 6 US hospital patients are now treated by Catholic hospitals, as a result of healthcare monopolies the government does nothing to regulate, because fates forfend we interfere with the market.

Also: The amount of shit Tamesha Means is going to have to navigate because her name is attached to this lawsuit is unfathomable. I admire her, and I am profoundly grateful to her.

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