In 2010, Tamesha Means checked into Mercy Health Partners in Muskegon, MI, when her water broken during her 18th week of pregnancy, but doctors told her there was nothing they could do, Rewire reports. The following day, Means returned to the hospital bleeding and in pain, but was dismissed again. According to Rewire, doctors told her that "the only thing they could do was to wait and see how the miscarriage progressed." During her third trip to the hospital — this time with a serious infection — Means was given aspirin and went into labor while waiting to be discharged. It was only then that the hospital agreed to admit her; she delivered a baby that died within hours. Means filed a lawsuit against the hospital and the United Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) in 2013, but on Thursday, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals determined that she had failed to make a viable legal claim, falling back on the legal doctrine of "ecclesiastical abstention" — the court would not settle a case that amounted to a theological debate.
A Michigan court dismissed the case on the grounds that the religious basis for the action was out of its jurisdiction. This comes following an incident involving a Catholic hospital in Chicago that refused to remove a woman's dislodged intrauterine device (IUD), citing religious objections to contraception. A recent report from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) found that one in six American hospital beds are located in Catholic-affiliated facilities. This creates a barrier to access to reproductive health care for many women — particularly in areas where a Catholic hospital is the only option.