The Top 5 Scariest Things Catholic Bishops Have Said About Women

By Brigitte Amiri | 17 July 2015
A.C.L.U.

I wish this were a story in the Onion. But it’s not. The Catholic bishops’ attack on women is so outrageous, it’s hard to believe it’s not fiction. Here are five real things the bishops have said about women.

1. If it’s between a woman dying and a life-saving abortion, Catholic hospitals must choose the woman’s death

Yes, it’s true — the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops would prefer to let a woman die rather than allow Catholic hospitals to provide an emergency abortion. The bishops made their policy crystal-clear when a Catholic hospital in Phoenix defied the bishops’ rules and saved a woman’s life by providing an abortion. The bishops excommunicated a nun who was on the committee that approved the abortion, and the hospital was stripped of its Catholic status.

So, if you’re pregnant and need emergency care, think twice before going to a Catholic hospital. It could cost you your life.

2. If doctors at a Catholic hospital put a woman’s health or life at risk, their religious beliefs get them off the hook

Catholic hospital administrators argued they shouldn’t be held responsible after one of the hospitals under their control followed the bishops’ policies and refused to provide proper information and medical care to a woman in the middle of a miscarriage. Tamesha Means was 18 weeks pregnant when her water broke, and she rushed to the only hospital in the area for treatment.

Unfortunately, it was a Catholic hospital, and because of the bishops’ rules, the hospital didn’t tell Means that the pregnancy was doomed and that the safest course was an abortion. The hospital sent her home — not once, but twice — while she was in excruciating pain and developing an infection. Only once she began to deliver during her third visit did the hospital start providing care. Tamesha sued, and the hospital administrators argued that because of their religious beliefs, her case should be thrown out. The judge agreed, but neither Tamesha nor the ACLU is giving up. We have filed an appeal and will keep fighting to prevent other women from being denied appropriate medical treatment when they go to the hospital.

3. There is no such thing as a life-saving abortion

The families of the 650 women who die each year of pregnancy-related complications would beg to differ with the bishops on this one, as would major medical organizations. But, the bishops nevertheless used this argument against a proposal that would require federal contractors to provide their employees with health insurance coverage for life-saving abortions. The bishops said the universe of abortions necessary to save a woman’s life “comprises an empty set.”

That claim would come as a big surprise to Savita Halappanavar’s husband, who is still grieving the loss of his wife. Savita died after rushing to a hospital in Ireland when she was miscarrying at 17 weeks. The hospital refused to provide a life-saving abortion, noting that Ireland is a Catholic country.

4. Contraception puts women’s health at risk

Not content to just push for exemptions that would allow employers to block their employees’ insurance plans from covering birth control, the bishops continue to pressure the Obama administration to completely rescind the Affordable Care Act’s requirement that health insurance plans cover contraception. They actually argue that contraceptives are “associated with an increased risk of a number of adverse health outcomes” and that the rule is “at war” with the ACA’s purpose of ensuring coverage for preventive medicine.

That’s a ridiculous argument given the well-documented health risks associated with unintended pregnancy, including the fact that pregnancy can worsen a preexisting health condition. And some women take contraception primarily for health purposes, such as reducing bleeding from fibroids. As the leading women’s health organization, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, put it, “[C]ontraceptives are essential health care for women.” And last, but certainly not least…

5. Sorry you were raped, but we won’t help you.

The bishops get $10 million each year from the federal government to provide care to unaccompanied immigrant children who are fleeing abuse and torture in their home countries. Federal law requires the bishops to provide these young people with access to medical care, including emergency contraception and abortion. But the bishops refuse to do so, even if the teen has been raped while in their care. Religious freedom is a fundamental right, but that right doesn’t include using government money to impose your beliefs on others in our society and cause them harm, which is exactly what the bishops are doing.

For almost 100 years, the ACLU has worked to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed by the Constitution and laws of the United States.

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25 COMMENTS

  1. A fetus is alive and must be protected and given the same rights as any other human, being a fetus is only a stage of human development and must be protected, life begins at conception and must be protected, the fetus is worth saving at all costs and must be protected – unless we're getting sued then it's not a life until it's born. http://edition.cnn.com/2013/01/26/us/colorado-fet

    Hypocrisy.

    • Stop masturbating. Sperms are people too. The idea that life starts at conception is just stupid. It's extremely common that the pregnency naturally ends and the embryo die after conception without the woman ever knowing the conception took place.

    • YOU *believe* life begins at conception. It is your BELIEF. That does not make it true. Are you afraid that some woman you want to control will have an abortion if the situation warrants it, if abortion is legal and available to her? Because it is simply ridiculous for you to care what happens to a fetus in a woman you have never met, that you never will meet, that you have nothing to do with at all. Why can't you just live YOUR life according to your own beliefs and leave other people alone?

    • Why is it that legally a life ends when the brain waves stop, but a human life begins when two cells join and float around inside a woman's body, even before the fertilized egg plants itself in the womb? Surely science and good sense should prevail. We need a legal definition for when life starts – when the fetus emits brain waves. And maybe we can stop all this madness about eggs and sperms being human.

  2. Ok so what you are saying is that the mother can die as long as they save a premature baby that won’t make it due to complications. You say the baby is a life etc and how can we choose who lives or dies… But does that not apply to the mother? Obviously it would be best to save both if possible. But everyone is so caught up with the baby that they forget the mom. She also deserves to live.

    • They have authority over others only as long as those others let them dictate to them. As long as their superstitions and ignorance are believed sacrosanct and unquestionable and only they have 'true knowledge' and can scare the rest of us with fairly tales, horror stories.

  3. We do need to protect all life and human rights, but do we? Just look at the millions of kids in the streets, not going to school, being abused, all the children sexually abused by priests. Is great to leave in a bubble when you don't see reality. Have you been outside the US, have you been in ghettos? People suffer everyday beyond your imagination. What do you mean to protect their rights? We are failing as society big time and the way to fix it doesn't start with banning access to SAFE abortion for women that would suck as mothers (for whatever reason) and children dumped into a imperfect foster care system with hopes of someone adopting them. Don't fool yourself. If dignity is really what matters, we should not allow people to live without it. Religion aside.

  4. Of course, all sadistic, punitive, patriarchal religions hate women. Sin came into the world through a woman therefore, it’s always our fault. Hence, why we have ideas like blaming the victim especially, when it comes to women and how they conduct themselves in society. Women are so sexualized either way, too much, too little, all due to the male gaze and we are to blame for “tempting” men for raping us.

    Women can’t even take care of their own reproductive health. It is being legislated out of our control as I write this. Women are being imprisoned for miscarriages, being forced to carry a stillborn to their maybe, natural course of things, birth. In other words, Modern Medical Technology that can make a woman’s reproductive life the healthiest life to offer is being legislated against women by, you guessed it, men. Mostly Christian white men and the Catholic Church are behind it. Not just in the US but, globally as well. So in other words, again, a bunch of sadistic, misogynistic, punitive, patriarchal, pedophile clergy are dictating the global laws of women’s reproductive lives and the healthcare we need by refusing access for only this part of our healthcare, the most crucial part of our healthcare thereby, forcing women to endure reproductive torture not seen for over 100 years.

    If it were cancer they would have no problem with us having healthcare provided with all the Modern Medical Technology we can access. However, our reproductive health? They are pulling us back to 3rd century ideological beliefs rather than science facts. Modern day healthcare only applies when they (men) deem god’s approval? The only place healthcare is denied is for women’s reproductive healthcare because, the patriarchal god of 2000+ years ago said so?

    I’ll say it again this IS reproductive torture for anyone who goes through a difficult pregnancy to be denied Modern Medical Technology is Barbaric. For anyone who suffers a miscarriage to then be jailed for a life sentence over it, we are criminalizing women over their natural reproductive process which is complex and still dangerous for women especially, without access to Modern Medical Technology. Women will suffer needless excruciating pain and the maternal death and birth death rate will sky rocket. This is insane and cruel to say the least. But, hey, misogyny has no bounds.

    Because, women’s entire healthcare, reproductive and otherwise is a whole package under the umbrella of women’s healthcare. Just like we don’t parcel out men’s pancreatic cancer or penile erectile dysfunction of men’s healthcare, it is your entire healthcare. And the world doesn’t seem to have a god to dictate to men what part of your healthcare can benefit from Modern Medical Technology and what should be refused. Funny, how it works out for you guys, you are universally covered, as for women? We set a special place aside to allow for an archaic, cruel and barbaric, to say the least unreasonable religious doctrine to place restrictive access over a decision that is solely for her and a physician to make.

    It’s up to every woman and man to fight with your religious leaders, your political representatives for women’s complete, autonomous, with no outside interference of her relationship with her doctor, full, all inclusive of everything the world’s Modern Medical Technology can offer reproductive healthcare. A woman’s reproductive health is between her and her physician. No husband, no religious leader, no government, NO ONE should impede women’s healthcare. This is solely for her and her alone to make with the advice and care of a physician. PERIOD, END OF CONVERSATION!!!

    • Laurie, You sound almost as furious as I am. I have no use for religion. In fact, if I were honest I would tell you I despise religion, both Islam and Christianity. I was once a Christian, but no more. I accept death and I don't need anyone to comfort me. I have been extraordinarily fortunate to have lived at all.

  5. I agree with you,Lisa. Everything you said is right on point. We can’t change the views of a bunch of power-hungry old men who wear pink or red dresses. But we can change how our legislators respond to the draconian measures being imposed upon us. Today is Primary Election Day in my state. When I go to the polls later today, I will vote for women’s rights by voting for the candidates who will fight for and uphold those rights. Turning out the misogynists is the way to fix this. Talking to bishops is useless, as they have extremely selective hearing. But legislators have to listen, especially at the local level. Let’s get religion out of politics forever. So, my message is: VOTE!

  6. Much stupidity and no reason exists in these carcass, embittered, they do not understand that no one has the power to decide on the other forcing him to do what he does not want. That bunch of old, out of reality, for his fanatical conditioning, which makes them cruel, still have not understood that freedom is love. And without love, where the religion of forgiveness of Jesus Christ is your Savior?

  7. The Roman Church was an outshoot of the Roman Empire which came about by the terror imposed on unruly people by the Roman Army the greatest instrument of enslavement of all the Mediterranean basin. Their major instrument of terror was crucifixion which was a slow,painful and shameful death (you were naked in public). The purpose was reign of terror. The Roman church was started by Irenaeus Bishop of Lyon who decided what the truth should be. In the apostolic times Christians shared everything and women had the same status as men. But the Roman Church would have none of that. Like the Army they were male priests,celibate, who were the inheritors of the Word.Sacerdotal functions appeared and a hierarchy of authority. Jesus hated priests for "the burden they imposed on common people,a burden that they themselves could not carry".Celibacy was necessary to prevent any money being willed to children of priest. Hence the Church became so rich and so Poweful. (The Schism in 1054 was basically about priests marriage.Greek and Russian priests do marry and raise families.)So in the years 1000-1700 ,the Inquisition burned at the stake at least 10 million women for "witchcraft"(ie practicising herb medecine,mid wifery). The Church never apologised and now protect child rapists. History!!(

  8. The older I get, the more important the phrase "separation of church and state" becomes to me. As a young woman I was so naive. I believed that our elected officials followed the separation guideline and that they always were looking out for all of us. I was so wrong, it is the power of our vote that we must use wisely to make sure that we keep all women and children safe and by that I mean away from the men who would seek to enslave us or end our lives through the selection of keeping a fetus alive instead of a woman. It is not OK to legislate a woman's reproductive rights, if it isn't your body, it isn't your business.

  9. I am at a loss to know why MALES do not assume responsibility for CONTRACEPTION – VASECTOMY is a 20 minute-outpatient procedure in any UROLOGIST'S OFFICE and simpler and less invasive surgically.

    Yet men clutch themselves lest they undergo any invasion of their reproductive track.
    Also the CATHOLIC CHURCH – certainly this was true of IRELAND. The CLERGY selected who became DOCTORS and were on the BOARDS OF HOSPITALS. On the rare occasion a husband request the procedure because of his wife's health, he was refused.

    Also, PEDOPHILIA is a sadistic act to break the boy's will – boys are chosen because there is no risk of pregnancy.

  10. The so-called "Pro-Life" movement lost all its moral credibility by their failure and refusal to support contraception. This is not about saving the "baby" or "protecting" women. It's about a minority of aging white males and their Stepford Wives, desperately attempting to hold onto their privilege and relevancy by controlling the fertility and sexuality of women.

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