U.S. Catholic health group hit with
complaint over sterilization ban
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[October 26, 2016]
By Timothy Mclaughlin
(Reuters) - The largest Roman Catholic
health organization in the United States was accused in a federal
complaint on Tuesday of failing to provide appropriate care by refusing
on religious grounds to allow a pregnant woman with a brain tumor to be
The complaint was filed by the American Civil Liberties Union with the
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Office for Civil Rights.
It asks the health department to investigate the policies on
sterilization of Ascension Health [ASCNH.UL] and its subsidiary, Genesys
Health System, to see if they violate federal medical care regulations.
Jessica Mann's doctors had recommended she not get pregnant again due to
the possible strain the pregnancy would put on her health because of a
pre-existing brain tumor. Mann was pregnant at the time.
The doctors recommended in early 2015 that she undergo tubal ligation
when she had her C-section procedure, according to the ACLU complaint.
"As a Catholic healthcare system, we follow the ethical and religious
directives of the Church. Beyond that, we canít comment on this
patientís particular case," Johnny Smith, an Ascension Health spokesman,
said in a statement in response to the ACLU's complaint.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Servicesí Office for Civil
Rights did not immediately respond to request for comment.
In 2015, a Genesys hospital in Michigan refused to allow the procedure
to be performed on Mann, 34, citing religious directives, the ACLU
The denial came despite a letter from Mann -- who had two previous
children at the Genesys Regional Medical Center in Grand Blanc, a suburb
of Flint -- for an exception to its ban on sterilization.
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A pregnant woman, in the last trimester of her pregnancy, poses in
this illustration photo in Sete, South France, March 26, 2016.
The refusal forced Mann to "frantically search for a new doctor and
new hospital," she said in a statement on Tuesday.
Mann delivered a baby girl at a different medical facility and was
able to have the tubal ligation procedure at the same time.
Tuesday's complaint follows one filed in October 2015 by the ACLU
with the Michigan state-level department that handles health
However, the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs
(LARA) closed the complaint because it did not pertain to the
conditions at the medical facility, according to the ACLU complaint
filed on Tuesday.
LARA did not immediately respond to request for comment.
(Reporting by Timothy Mclaughlin in Chicago; Editing by Tom Brown)
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