Full Frontal's Interview with a Woman Forced to Continue Unviable Pregnancy Is Sad and Terrifying

In a segment this week on Full Frontal, Samantha Bee took a close look at the Catholic-run healthcare system’s treatment of abortion and reproduction.

Catholic hospitals, which account for a sizable percentage of the American healthcare system, are bound to the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Healthcare Services, a document written by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. The directives, which are not written by doctors or medical professionals, essentially lays out how to practice medicine while remaining a Catholic in good standing. Catholic hospitals are barred from performing abortions or sterilization procedures and also prevented from providing contraception. Since the directive is essentially a black-and-white moral imperative, Catholic hospitals do not make exceptions for abortions performed for the health of the mother or consider fetal viability. Unsurprisingly, these rules have led to numerous and serious complications for women who are ostensibly served by these hospitals.

In February, a whistleblower revealed that Mercy Hospital, a Catholic-run hospital in Michigan, forced at least five women to suffer from prolonged and dangerous miscarriages instead of providing an abortion which is, according to multiple health agencies, standard procedure. That story isn’t particularly unusual.


Bee’s segment includes an interview with Mindy Swank, an Illinois woman who was forced to continue with an unviable pregnancy long after it became clear that the infant wouldn’t live and Swank’s own health was endangered. Swank says that she went into the hospital multiple times over a five-week span, bleeding and in the middle of a miscarriage. She was sent home each time until her condition became life-threatening. Swank was forced to deliver her premature infant who died three hours later.

Today, Full Frontal published the full interview with Swank, and it’s both heartbreaking and infuriating but worth watching in full.

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I am giving birth in a Catholic hospital in two months and I’m really afraid. I only agreed to it because the board of nurses defers to the OB, and my OB’s response to my concern was “they’re not in the room with me, I’ll tell them what I have to. Your life always comes first.”

It’s sad that a statement like that is needed or that I’m afraid of medical care in Southern California.