US woman sues Catholic bishops

0212abortion

A woman twice sent home from an American Catholic hospital during a painful miscarriage has sued the Church's hierarchy for imposing standards of care which bar termination of any pregnancy, her lawyers say, reports AFP/Ninemsn.

The lawsuit argues that those rules - based on the belief that abortion is murder - stopped her doctors from providing medically appropriate care: terminating the failed pregnancy before it threatened the mother's health. The US Conference of Catholic Bishops - which authored the ethical and religious directives and is the party being sued - declined on Monday to comment on the case.

Tamesha Means was just 18 weeks pregnant when her waters broke in December 2010. She rushed to the only hospital in her rural Michigan county - Mercy Health Partners. 'They never offered me any options,' Means said in a statement. 'They didn't tell me what was happening to my body. Whatever was going on with me, they discussed it amongst themselves. I was just left to wonder, what's going to happen to me?'

Despite the fact that there was little chance her foetus could survive, the lawsuit alleges that hospital workers sent her home with no warning of the risk that she could develop a serious infection if the pregnancy were to continue.

She was instead given pain medication and told to come back in a week for her regularly scheduled doctor's visit. This 'misled' the mother of three to believe 'the foetus would become viable and she would deliver a healthy baby,' the lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union said.

Means rushed back to the hospital early the next morning when she began bleeding and experiencing painful contractions, but was sent home as soon as her feverish temperature went down.

FULL STORY US woman sues Catholic bishops

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