REDDING (CBS SF) — A Northern California hospital’s refusal to sterilize a woman because it violates Catholic principles could be challenged in court in a case with broad impacts for other religious-based hospitals across the state.
The San Francisco Chronicle reports Rachel Miller of Redding, who is due to have what would be her last child in September, was shocked when Mercy Medical Center in Redding refused to perform tubal ligation, also known as “tying the tubes.”
“I have no problem with people practicing their religion,” Miller told the San Francisco Chronicle. “But because there are so many Catholic hospitals, especially in the north state where I live, it leaves women with very little choice.”
Miller said she’d have to travel 160 miles to UC Davis to perform the procedure otherwise.
American Civil Liberties Union said it would take the hospital, owned by Dignity Health in San Francisco, to court if Miller was denied “pregnancy-related care.”
“Hospitals that are open to the general public and that receive state money shouldn’t be able to use religion to discriminate or to deny important health care,” said Elizabeth Gill, an American Civil Liberties Union attorney representing Miller.
In a letter Wednesday, the hospital told the San Francisco Chronicle that “in general, it is not our practice to provide sterilization services at Dignity Health’s Catholic facilities,” to maintain with Catholic hospitals’ ethical principles.
The hospital noted, however, some Catholic facilities may perform the procedure “on a case-by-case basis” with a formal review.
On Friday, the ACLU learned that the hospital said it was reconsidering its denial of Miller’s sterilization. A final decision is expected Monday.