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Open Access Publications from the University of California

When There’s a Heartbeat: Miscarriage Management in Catholic-Owned Hospitals

  • Author(s): Freedman, Lori;
  • Landy, Uta;
  • Steinauer, Jody
  • et al.

As Catholic-owned hospitals

merge with or take over other

facilities, they impose restrictionsonreproductivehealth


including abortion and

contraceptive services. Our interviews

with US obstetrician–

gynecologists working in Catholic-

owned hospitals revealed

that they are also restricted in

managing miscarriages.

Catholic-owned hospital

ethics committees denied approval

of uterine evacuation

while fetal heart tones

were still present, forcing physicians

to delay care or transport

miscarrying patients to

non–Catholic-owned facilities.

Some physicians intentionally

violated protocol because they

felt patient safetywas compromised.

Although Catholic doctrine

officially deems abortion

permissible to preserve the life

of the woman, Catholic-owned

hospital ethics committees

differ in their interpretation of

how much health risk constitutes

a threat to a woman’s

life and therefore how much

risk must be present before

they approve the intervention.

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