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Catholic Church implicated in medical malpractice suit

Medical physicians and hospitals in New York and states around the country are responsible for providing patients with responsible and objective care and advice. In many cases, patients rely on doctors to make important medical decisions and educate them on their condition without questioning physicians' motives or personal beliefs. In one high-profile hospital negligence lawsuit, however, the plaintiff claims that she was denied proper care because of restrictive guidelines established by the Catholic Church.

According to the medical malpractice lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) on behalf of the plaintiff, the plaintiff began to miscarry her pregnancy in December of 2010. After her water broke, the plaintiff allegedly went to the hospital and was sent home two times before she developed an infection and delivered the fetus. The plaintiff claims that the hospital failed to educate her on the state of her pregnancy and her medical condition, and did not provide her with the medically appropriate option of terminating her pregnancy. As a result, the plaintiff allegedly endured physical and emotional distress. She is suing for damages and the acknowledgment that the plaintiff's medical needs were neglected.

The ACLU claims that the Catholic hospital was acting on guidelines set by the United States Conference for Catholic Bishops (USCCB), which allegedly prohibit medical personnel from recommending or performing abortions under any circumstance. In response to the federal suit, the Catholic Health Association noted that 15 percent of the hospitals in the country operate under the USCCB. Another representative for the USCCB argued that while the personnel at the specific hospital involved in the incident may have failed to correctly follow the guidelines of the USCCB, the guidelines themselves do not necessarily prohibit physicians from terminating pregnancies in some cases. 

Source: ncregister.com, “ACLU Lawsuit Puts U. S. Bishops ‘Health-Care Directives on Trial,” Joan Frawley Desmond, Dec. 16, 2013

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