UK
15/10/2015 15:58 BST | Updated 15/10/2015 15:59 BST

Catholic Hospital Denies Operation To Pregnant Woman, Jessica Man, On Religious Grounds

A Catholic hospital has refused to operate on a pregnant woman with a life-threatening brain tumor on religious grounds.

Her doctor told Jessica Mann that she should have her fallopian tubes tied at the time of her scheduled cesarean because the risk of a future pregnancy could exacerbate her tumor.

The tubal ligation was considered to be a potentially life-saving operation, but Genesys Hospital, in Michigan, denied the expectant mother the operation, citing religious directives. Catholic mandates do not allow procedures that cause sterilisation.

jessica mann

Jessica Mann with her husband

On Thursday, a formal complaint was filed by the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan against the hospital.

Ms Mann, who is 37 weeks pregnant, has less than a week until her due date to gather her insurance documents and referrals in order to be treated elsewhere.

She said: “I am very close to giving birth and instead of being excited, I’m terrified because my hospital turned me away, and I’ve had to go find a new doctor and hospital with little time to get them up speed on my complicated medical history and health risks.

“All of this could have been avoided if Catholic bishops weren’t allowed to play doctor at hospitals that serve the public.”

Genesys Hospital is part of Ascension Health, the largest Catholic healthcare system in the US.

Religious rules called the Ethical and Religious Directives, written by the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, govern the facility.

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The hospital cited the religious directives as the reason why Ms Mann's request was denied, although exceptions have been made in the past to other women seeking the same procedure.

Brooke Tucker, attorney at the ACLU of Michigan, said: “We’re taking the fight to the state agency that governs the hospital because it’s their job to make sure women like Jessica get the care they need.

“Religious directives have no place in hospitals, especially because they end up harming the very women they should be serving.”

Having a tubal ligation at the time of delivery during the C-section is preferable, as it would mean Ms Mann would not to have to go under anesthesia twice.

ACLU said that 10 of the 25 largest hospital systems in the US are Catholic-sponsored, and nearly one of nine hospital beds in the country is in a Catholic facility.