Ban Dangerous Religious Directives in Hospitals


Target: Bill Corr, Deputy Secretary of the United States Department of Health and Human Services

Goal: Ensure proper and objective patient treatment by banning religious directives from health care facilities

Recently, when a three-month pregnant woman’s water broke early, she sought out the nearest hospital – Mercy Health in Michigan. Due to the religious objectives of the establishment she was sent home twice despite her excruciating pain, without being informed that she was in danger and had little chance of carrying the pregnancy to term.

The woman, Tanesha Means, returned to the hospital a third time with a serious infection. She was bleeding and again in extreme pain. She was being discharged again when she went into labor and gave birth to an 18 week old baby, which died within hours of being born.

Tanesha should have been told that she was in the midst of a miscarriage. The safest approach in her case would have been to complete the miscarriage and terminate the pregnancy-the fetus had little chance of survival and her own health was at risk.

Mercy Health hospital was unable to properly treat her due to their “Ethical and Religious Directives,” which are prioritized above medical standards. The directives prohibit religiously objectionable practices such as termination of pregnancy and contraceptive procedures. They also prohibit staff from informing patients of full treatment options, even in emergencies when a patient’s health is at risk.

One doctor recalls a pregnant mother being near-death, but being unable to treat her because of the directives. He was forced to wait, as the mother lay in septic shock and her organs failed, for the fetal heartbeat to stop. Another had to send a woman with a limb poking out of her cervix to a hospital 90 miles away. A cardiologist was reprimanded for advising a patient with a potentially fatal heart condition that several prominent heart foundations would recommend a pregnancy termination.

A hospital’s primary function is to treat ill and injured people, and a doctor’s primary duty is to advise the best possible treatment. Religious directives in hospitals can cause life-threatening situations by preventing proper care to patients in serious need. Demand that a professional opinion be held above religious objectives by banning ethical and religious directives from hospitals.


Dear Bill Corr, Deputy Secretary of the United States Department of Health and Human Services

When a pregnant woman arrived at Mercy Health hospital in Michigan recently, she was denied proper treatment and sent home because of the hospital’s religious directives. Her water broke at 18 weeks and she was miscarrying, but religious rules prevented doctors from informing her of her condition and carrying out a termination of the pregnancy, the safest option for her condition.

She returned again, bleeding and in extreme pain, only to be sent away as before. She returned a third time and had developed a serious infection, and was about to be discharged again when she delivered the 18-week-old fetus, who did not survive.

Catholic hospitals adhere to ethical and religious directives which prohibit pregnancy termination – even in critical circumstances where there is low chance of fetal survival and high risk to the mother. They also prohibit doctors from fully informing a patient of the best treatment based on their professional opinion if the treatment is not in accordance with the directives.

Religious directives can prevent proper treatment, leading to serious illness and maternal death. These standards, which are held above medical standards of care, pose a threat to patients all over America. I ask that religious objectives be kept separate from health and medical institutions.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: Waka77 via Wikimedia Commons

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