Jessica Mann is pregnant with her third child. She also has a brain tumor. If she was to get pregnant again, the pregnancy and labor could threaten her life, so her doctor recommended that she get her tubes tied to prevent that from happening.
“You know, it’s never easy to hear that. But I have accepted it,” she told the Washington Post. “I talked it over with my husband. We want me to be around. That’s the biggest thing.”
It’s best for Mann, who is 34 weeks along, to have her tubes tied — the colloquial term for the medical procedure tubal ligation — during her Cesarean. Not only is this common practice, but further surgery after delivering her third baby is dangerous.
But the Catholic hospital where Mann is set to give birth won’t let her get her tubes tied, citing a conflict with religious doctrine that considers any procedures that prevent procreation as “intrinsically evil,” the American Civil Liberties Union noted.
(According to the Church, these “evil” procedures include contraceptives, abortions, vasectomies, and having a woman’s tubes tied.)
Instead, Genesys Regional Medical Center advised Jessica to undergo the second risky procedure with another doctor.
Jessica is now looking for another doctor who will allow her to get her tubes tied in the safest manner possible. But she’s not giving up on Genesys — she’s fighting back through the ACLU, which says that such policies unfairly target women.
“Although everyone has a right to practice their religion as they see fit, religion cannot be used to harm others, which is what is happening here. Jessica Mann and every person who goes into the hospital seeking medical care should not have to worry that religious beliefs rather than medical judgment will dictate what care they receive.”
While it may be understandable for one Catholic hospital to direct its policy according to religious doctrine, this isn’t just one facility — Genesys is part of the largest Catholic healthcare system in the U.S., Ascension Health. And there are more Catholic hospitals today than ever before; one in 9 hospital beds are in these religious-based facilities. Their presence in the country has increased 16 percent in 10 years.
And as these facilities grow, they are allowed by federal law to deny abortion or sterilization procedures for faith-based reasons; many states require hospitals to provide the procedures in the case of an emergency. And since having Jessica’s tubes tied isn’t immediately necessary to save her life, there isn’t much chance the court will side with her case.
Aware of the hospital’s policy regarding sterilization surgeries, Mann filed a request, expecting she’d be able to get her tubes tied at Genesys. But then, a letter arrived giving her a different answer: no.
“There was anger at the fact that they can disregard medical issues for their religious beliefs,” Mann said.
Jessica has two benign pilocytic astrocytomas in her brain. One has been removed, and doctors are keeping an eye on the other to make sure it doesn’t become a danger to her health. Her pregnancy three years ago was high risk; she gave birth under anesthesia via Cesarean. Then came the news that her third child would have to be her last. That fact was hard enough.
“The feeling of the unknown is stressful and disheartening. But I have the support of my husband and my doctor, so I can’t let it affect me too much.”
[Photo Courtesy Washington Post Screencap]