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A hysterectomy could be a total removal of the body, fundus, and cervix of the uterus or a partial removal of the uterine body while leaving the cervix intact. It’s a surgical procedure that renders the patient unable to bear children.
The Catholic Church has been implementing control over birth and women’s health for decades, but now they are going even further. The Vatican has clarified its opposition to hysterectomies, saying it’s OK to remove a uterus that is “no longer suitable for procreation.”
If “medical experts have reached the certainty” that any future pregnancy would end in a “spontaneous abortion” before viability, then the patient can have a hysterectomy because it won’t have the (immoral) effect of sterilizing them, the Vatican said.
Removing a reproductive organ incapable of bringing a pregnancy to term should not therefore be qualified as direct sterilization, which is and remains intrinsically illicit as an end and as a means, the Vatican said.
In the United States, directives issued by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops govern one in six acute-care hospital beds; in some states the number is closer to half. In at least 46 regions nationwide, a Catholic hospital is the only accessible option. The problem is that the Catholic Church opposes reproductive health care that interferes with procreation—including abortion, tubal ligations, vasectomies, and most contraception. Anyone else who needs a uterus removed in a Catholic hospital will have to find another hospital for that.
A spokesperson for the group that represents U.S. Catholic hospitals said the Vatican’s ruling is unlikely to change patient care.
“These are the same principles that Catholic hospitals have been operating under so this really doesn’t change anything,” Brian Reardon of the Catholic Health Association told Rewire.News.
“I've had 9 (NINE) failed pregnancies, between ectopic and miscarriages, cysts on my ovaries, endometriosis, a fibroid, and they still won't do a god damned thing because I am of child bearing age. So ridiculous,” a woman on Twitter responded to this news.
Some people noted that in their communities, the Catholic hospital is the only option. “I live in a small Nebraska town and our hospital is Catholic-owned. Even if there is a medical need for a hysterectomy, a woman has to travel out of town to get it done. And men can forget about a vasectomy. That’s completely elective and will not be performed here,” one woman wrote. The other one confirmed the same situation: “Same here. And each of the towns surrounding me. Go 30 miles to the next town? Still a catholic hospital. Have to go over an hour and into a different state or 2 hours to stay in same state to get to a non-catholic hospital.”