Although Jessica Mann is pregnant with her third child, she’s battling a life-threatening brain tumor. On the advice of her doctor, she decided to get a tubal litigation to prevent further pregnancies.
She wanted to get the procedure done during her scheduled cesarean section in October, but her Catholic hospital, Genesys Regional Medical Center in Grand Blanc, Michigan, but doctors won’t perform the procedure because religious mandates forbid sterilization.
“I was surprised and upset,” Mann, who is threatening legal action through the American Civil Liberties Union, told The Washington Post. “And there was anger at the fact that they can disregard medical issues for their religious beliefs.”
Robin Wilson, a law professor at the University of Illinois, said federal law allows medical providers to deny abortion or sterilization services, but there are some limited protections for faith-based medical policies. About 1 in 9 hospital beds in the U.S. are Catholic-sponsored or affiliated, but not all of them strictly follow the medical guidelines put forth by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.
The ACLU argues that the federal statutes Wilson referenced don’t apply to Mann in this case and that the guidelines substitute religion for medical practice.
Mann explained that she was diagnosed with two benign brain tumors a decade ago and that one is still in her brain. Though the tumors may not take her life immediately, her pregnancies are considered high risk. “You know, it’s never easy to hear that. But I have accepted it,” Mann said of her doctor’s advice that she undergo a tubal litigation. “I talked it over with my husband. We want me to be around. That’s the biggest thing.”
Mann is seeking a new hospital — her doctor has advised her it would be far better for her health to seek out the litigation while undergoing a C-section as opposed to going under the knife twice within the span of a few weeks.
“The feeling of the unknown is stressful and disheartening,” Mann said. “But I have the support of my husband and my doctor, so I can’t let it affect me too much.”