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Am J Public Health. 2008 Oct;98(10):1774-8. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2007.126730. Epub 2008 Aug 13.

When there's a heartbeat: miscarriage management in Catholic-owned hospitals.

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Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences, UCSF Bixby Center for Global Reproductive Health, 1330 Broadway Street, Ste 1100, San Francisco, CA 94110, USA.


As Catholic-owned hospitals merge with or take over other facilities, they impose restrictions on reproductive health services, including abortion and contraceptive services. Our interviews with US obstetrician-gynecologists working in Catholic-owned hospitals revealed that they are also restricted in managing miscarriages. Catholic-owned hospital ethics committees denied approval of uterine evacuation while fetal heart tones were still present, forcing physicians to delay care or transport miscarrying patients to non-Catholic-owned facilities. Some physicians intentionally violated protocol because they felt patient safety was compromised. Although Catholic doctrine officially deems abortion permissible to preserve the life of the woman, Catholic-owned hospital ethics committees differ in their interpretation of how much health risk constitutes a threat to a woman's life and therefore how much risk must be present before they approve the intervention.

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