Don’t Allow Doctors to Withhold Vital Heath Information from Pregnant Women


Target: The American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU of Michigan

Goal: Stand with the ACLU of Michigan and its allies to protect reproductive rights in religiously affiliated healthcare facilities

The ACLU has filed suit against the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops on behalf of Michigan resident Tamesha Means, who sought treatment at the nearest hospital after going into labor prematurely. Mercy Health hospital sent Tamesha home in excruciating pain, neglecting to tell her that her 18-week pregnancy was no longer viable and she could elect to terminate. Due to the hospital’s Catholic affiliation, Tamesha’s care followed the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services, which prohibits medical providers from recommending patients terminate pregnancies–even at the risk of serious illness. Though she was suffering a miscarriage, doctors refused to induce labor and terminate the pregnancy. Tamesha was repeatedly sent home from the hospital despite obvious bleeding, infection, and pain because ending her pregnancy would subvert the Ethical and Religious Directives.

Cardinal Donald Wuerl is Chairman of the Committee on Doctrine of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. As such, he is the primary individual responsible for upholding the Ethical and Religious Directives for health care issued by the USCCB. He has repeatedly touted the necessity of the Ethical and Religious Directives (now in its 5th edition) to govern Catholic health care and ensure Catholic identity in affiliated hospitals. Due to the Catholic perspective on abortion and euthanasia, these directives can prohibit doctors from honoring patients’ end-of-life rights and alerting patients to recommended treatments regarding high-risk and non-viable pregnancies.

These guidelines not only threaten the lives of patients like Tamesha Means, but also infringe upon federal regulations. By participating in both Medicare and Medicaid, Mercy Health Partners is federally required to provide patients with sufficient information to make educated decisions about their treatment options. A framework that systematically constrains physicians against alerting their patients to medically recommended treatment options is a broken and dangerous framework. Sign this petition and stand alongside the ACLU in its fight against restricted healthcare. Show the court that not everyone shares these religious views that the beliefs of few should endanger the lives of many.


Dear American Civil Liberties Union,

Your support in the case Tamesha Means v. United States Conference of Catholic Bishops means the world to the many patients who have had their treatment options restricted by the religious beliefs of the few. The rights and safety of all patients must not be ignored by medical providers.

Thank you for shedding light on the injustices perpetrated by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services. Everyone deserves to receive the medical information necessary to make informed decisions about their care, regardless of the medical provider’s personal beliefs. Your tireless work assures the protection of women’s reproductive health and the autonomy of patients to make educated decisions.


[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: World Bank via Flickr

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