With her third child on the way, Rebecca Chamorro, 33, and her husband decided to request a tubal ligation after her Cesarean section delivery, because they did not want any more children. When her physician, Samuel Van Kirk, requested permission from the hospital to perform the surgery immediately after delivery, which is commonly known as the safest way to perform the procedure, they turned him down, citing religious reasons. The letter denying the necessary medical care was sent from Mercy’s vice president for medical affairs, James De Soto M.D., with rules cited from the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services, which was created by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, not a licensed medical body. With Catholic hospital chains being major providers, and in some communities, the only providers, of health care in the U.S., Chamorro filed a preliminary injunction to prevent Mercy Medical, and parent company, Dignity Health from interfering with her doctor’s judgment. Mercy Medical is the only hospital within 70 miles with a labor and delivery ward. There are a total of 645 Catholic hospitals in the United States, which makes it the largest group of nonprofit healthcare providers in the country, with 1 in 6 patients receiving healthcare from a Catholic provider. Dignity Health describes itself as, “the fifth largest health system in the nation and the largest hospital provider in California,” with 30 facilities in the state. These hospitals have a long history of making non-medical concerns a priority when it comes to patient care. Elective abortions, contraceptives, in vitro fertilization, tubal ligations, and vasectomies are a few things the Ethical and Religious Directives prohibit Catholic hospitals from doing without regard to a patient’s specific medical needs. Catholic healthcare systems receive billions of dollars in state and federal taxpayer funds, and service a wide range of people with different backgrounds and religious beliefs. According to the American Civil Liberties Union, this should put a heavier responsibility on Catholic healthcare centers to adhere to professional medical judgments. “We hope this case will lead to the precedent that organizations that accept public funds can’t discriminate based on religious doctrine,” an ACLU representative stated.
If you have been denied necessary healthcare, because of non-medical reasons that have nothing to do with your medical treatment, the lawyers at Hodes Milman Liebeck are there for you in your time of need. Contact us today online at hmlm.com or call 866-730-1976 for a complimentary case evaluation.