The following comes from a December 6 SF Chronicle article by Bob Egelko:
A Northern California Catholic hospital that refused to let a woman’s doctor sterilize her after childbirth, then changed course after being threatened with a sex-discrimination lawsuit, has denied tubal ligations to two more pregnant women, citing religious principles.
Mercy Medical Center in Redding, owned by Dignity Health of San Francisco, is again facing a possible lawsuit by the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of the two women, joined this time by a nationwide group, Physicians for Reproductive Health.
In response, the hospital issued a statement saying that “in general, it is our practice not to provide sterilization services at Dignity Health’s Catholic facilities” because of the “ethical and religious directives” that govern Catholic hospitals.
There is an exception, the statement added: The hospitals will allow sterilization when necessary for “the cure or alleviation of a present and serious pathology.”
The hospital did not define those terms, and their meaning is unclear, said ACLU attorney Elizabeth Gill. She said the women will go to court unless Mercy Hospital reverses its position by Wednesday and agrees to allow the women’s doctor to perform the operations.
Dignity Health, California’s largest private health care system, owns 32 hospitals in the state. More than half are affiliated with the Catholic Church, including St. Mary’s Medical Center in San Francisco.
Mercy Medical Center initially denied a tubal ligation to another Redding woman, Rachel Miller, in August. But after the ACLU set a deadline for a sex-discrimination suit, the hospital said it would allow the operation based on new information from Miller’s doctor.
Miller underwent the surgery after giving birth in September.