HOUSTON (ChurchMilitant.com) - A Houston hospital is doubling down on its decision to ban a bereavement photographer from their properties for informing an expectant mother of her rights under Texas law.
Jennie Drude, who worked at St. Luke's Hospital in Woodlands as a professional baby photographer, was informed on Oct. 23 that she was no longer allowed to provide services to parents of newborns with life-limiting diagnoses at the hospital.
Jennie is also respected mentor and keynote speaker in the Houston infant loss community, helping mothers who are carrying babies afflicted with anencephaly, a condition in which a baby is born without parts of the brain and skull. Two of Jennie's six children have died from anencephaly.
Expectant mothers with children suffering with life-limiting diagnoses were often referred to Jennie by the hospital's director of Women's and Children's Services.
That changed on Oct. 23 when Jennie was informed that she was terminated for informing a woman carrying a baby with anencephaly of an alternative to the KCL procedure that the hopital was pushing.
KCL involves killing the baby by injecting potassium chloride into the mother's uterus and into the baby's heart.
After Church Militant reported on Drude's banishment from the hospital, St. Luke's issued a statement standing by its decision.
The Nov. 12 statement, posted on Facebook, stated that "the agreement between the contracting agent and the hospital "does not authorize the company or its employees to provide medical advice or to express company or personal views on any subject to any patient whether those views are consistent with the hospital or not."
Jennie responded with her own statement: "I did NOT give out ANY MEDICAL ADVICE! I met a mom for coffee on my day off, not near the hospital," adding,"I told her her rights as a patient in the state of Texas."
Jennie said she also suggested the mother speak with the director of Women's and Children's Services to get the advice and support she needed.
Healthcare attorney and former Texas State Representative Matthew Rinaldi told Church Militant that the hospital’s statement is:
a thinly veiled attempt to obscure the real issue. No contractual provision can legally allow a healthcare provider to discriminate on the basis of religious belief. Also, even if the termination was technically legal, and I’m not convinced it was, it is reprehensible for a supposedly Catholic hospital to punish a contractor for attempting to save an unborn child from a violent death.
Church Militant detailed the back story of Jennie's interaction with the woman (whom she referred to as "Sandy") that led to her being banned shortly after she was notified of her termination:
On Oct. 19, Jennie met Sandy over coffee as she had done "countless times with other moms who have lost babies or are carrying a baby with a life-limiting diagnosis." Sandy expressed frustration with the inadequate options attending physician Dr. Sara Gibson, presented to her as well as to the harsh manner in which she presented them.
Dr. Gibson told the mother she had two options: carrying her baby to term or going to a Houston clinic for a "KCL." Dr. Gibson pushed her toward the KCL procedure — since she didn't want to go full-term — and when Sandy did not show up for her KCL appointment, Dr. Gibson was angry and at some point in the exchange called Sandy a "liar."
On Oct. 23, Jennie's supervisor from the photography company she works for phoned her, saying, "Judy from St. Luke's called and told us you are no longer allowed at St. Luke's." At that point, the hospital claimed that Jennie had been "unprofessional" in her dealings with Sandy.
Director of Media & Communication for Texas Right to Life Kimberly Schwartz told Church Militant:
Jennie's compassion not only provided hope to this mother, but also empowered her to choose Life. She didn't provide medical advice but merely informed the mother of consent laws. St. Luke's should be thanking Jennie. Instead, their cover for Dr. Gibson shows the pro-abortion bias at this Catholic hospital runs deeper than we thought.
Church Militant reached out to Brown and Dr. Gibson wanting to know how their treatment of Jennie and Sandy relates to the mission statement of Catholic Health Initiatives — of which St. Luke's is a member — which pledges "fidelity to the Gospel" but has not yet heard from them.
Jennie is now out of a job and an income. "We had to pull my youngest child out of preschool and we are now struggling to make ends meet," she said.
"This whole situation has not only hurt my bank account, but it has hurt my soul," adding,
St. Luke's The Woodlands Hospital has been my "happy place" for almost 12 years. I had all six of my children there. Five of them were in room #218. This is the only place I was able to meet and hold all of my babies. Dharma cried her only cries in that building. This is the only place I was able to rock and hold Stella after she was stillborn. Every year on their heavenly birthdays, I take treats and balloons to the Family Birthing Center so they can celebrate too. That is all tainted now.
A GoFundMe site has been established to help Jennie make up for lost income after this incident.