When Sarah’s doctor said the hospital in Redding, California wouldn’t allow her to get her tubes tied because they considered it “evil,” she was shocked.

“I don’t want a hospital telling me how many children makes my family complete. What other health care decisions are Catholic hospitals going to make for us? I can’t believe in this day and age that I was denied my rights.

I was 24 weeks pregnant with my second baby. After a difficult labor ending in an emergency C-section with my first child, I decided to have a scheduled C-section this time around. My husband and I were clear we did not want any more children and I knew hormonal birth control was not a healthy option for me. The best option was for me to have my tubes tied (tubal ligation). Given that I’d have two small children at home, the safest and really the only time for the procedure to happen was during my scheduled C-section.

Mercy Medical Center―a Catholic hospital―was the only hospital in the Redding area that I could give birth in, but my doctor told me that the hospital decided not to approve my procedure and that they’d be unlikely to change their minds. I couldn’t believe this common and safe practice was being denied for no other reason than religion.

All I could think was, why should I have to undergo a second surgery?  It’s a higher risk and I’d already have two small children who depend on me. When I looked into how to make it happen at another hospital, I found that the nearest non-Catholic hospital was 160 miles away and was outside my insurance network, thereby requiring significant out of pocket costs. I would’ve had to find a new doctor, schedule weekly appointments and make the 2.5 hour drive each way week for the last half of my pregnancy. My kids and family would have to stay in a hotel during my delivery and recovery. All of it was too much to bear. The level of cost, complication and stress they made me go through was ridiculous and unnecessary.

On top of it all, to hear that I could not get this procedure because the hospital considers it “evil” is really upsetting. I don’t want a hospital telling me how many children makes my family complete. We’re so fortunate to have two happy, healthy children and I don’t know why it’s up to the Catholic hospital whether I should have more children or not.

I am sharing my story because this shouldn’t keep happening to people in my area, or anywhere. I want women to have appropriate healthcare. It’s uncomfortable sharing a private issue, but it’s more uncomfortable for Catholic hospitals to keep making these decisions for people. If we let this happen, what other health care decisions are they going to make on our behalf because of their religion? It actually puts people’s lives in danger and that’s not acceptable.”