By Wendy Gittleson | 24 August 2016
It’s not even a slight exaggeration to say that when the Supreme Court decided that right-wing religious bigotry can take precedence above pretty much everything else, including common sense, they were setting some people up to die.
28-year-old Melanie Jones, who lives near Chicago, didn’t die, but only because she was lucky. She made the mistake of visiting her doctor, one her healthcare plan wanted her to visit, when she began bleeding heavily because her IUD became dislodged. Her doctor refused to remove her IUD, even though something more dire could still happen, because the doctor was Catholic.
“I think my first feeling was shock,” Jones told Rewire in an interview. “I thought that eventually they were going to recognize that my health was the top priority.”
It wasn’t just her doctor. According to Jones and two complaints filed by the ACLU, the entire hospital couldn’t help Jones out because it was a Catholic hospital. In fact, no one in her entire insurance network could help her. She had no idea that she had signed up with a Catholic healthcare network (Blue Cross Blue Shield).
The doctor left Jones to confer with colleagues, before returning to confirm that her “hands [were] tied,” according to two complaints filed by the ACLU of Illinois. Not only could she not help her, the doctor said, but no one in Jones’ health insurance network could remove the IUD, because all of them followed similar restrictions. Mercy, like many Catholic providers, follows directives issued by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops that restrict access to an array of services, including abortion care, tubal ligations, and contraception.
The only way Jones had left to get her IUD removed and to stop the bleeding was to spend $1,000 out of pocket in the emergency room. She did successfully contact the ACLU, who intervened on her behalf with the insurance company. They finally, five days after her initial appointment, found a doctor who would remove the IUD.
Now, we all know that current Catholic doctrine, at least how it’s currently interpreted, is that birth control is strictly out of the question, but what about removing birth control? That, apparently, is a gray area. Her doctor maybe could have removed the IUD without violating policy, but she apparently didn’t want to risk it.
Now, to be fair, IUD expulsions are rarely dangerous, but they can perforate organs. There are plenty of situations, though, when saving a life could violate religious law (Christian Scientists don’t believe in blood transfusions, any religious person can claim they can’t treat an LGBT person, or sometimes even an LGBT couple’s children).
The Problems with Catholic Hospitals
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