Half a million U.S. babies born each year in Catholic hospitals, study finds

The US healthcare system is heavily influenced by the Roman Catholic church, with approximately 600 Catholic general hospitals and 100 more managed by Catholic chains that place some religious limits on care nationwide. This results in a significant number of women and medically endangered patients being turned away from necessary care due to religious restrictions on reproductive health and end-of-life care. In some areas of the country, Catholic hospitals dominate healthcare and are a haven for women from other states where abortion is banned, ironically creating a two-punch effect post-Roe. It is common for physicians to have to consult an ethics board at Catholic hospitals before performing procedures restricted by religious directives and many patients are not aware that their local hospitals are affiliated with the Catholic Church or that they restrict reproductive care, resulting in little recourse for patients who are harmed by care withholding.

In Michigan, for example, patients seeking reproductive health care are frequently turned away by Catholic hospitals, resulting in inadequate physician supply and travel times ranging from 30 to 60 minutes, which is a significant barrier for emergency or prenatal care. Furthermore, the growing acquisition of Catholic hospitals by Catholic health systems has increased the influence of religious restrictions on healthcare in many communities across the country. Ultimately this merger of religion and healthcare impacts the care provided and its quality, causing complications and risks for both patients and healthcare providers alike.