Refusal to Provide

Religious refusal laws restrict women’s access to comprehensive reproductive health care. As physicians, we believe that health care professionals’ right of refusal should be protected, but that the patient’s right to receive timely and comprehensive reproductive health care and prescriptions must take precedence.

If a patient cannot be referred to another physician, pharmacist, or facility for treatment without causing undue economic, geographic, or health-related hardship, the patient’s health must be prioritized over the health care provider’s or pharmacist’s personal beliefs, and treatment (or prescriptions) must be provided.

Women who work for religious employers or organizations affiliated with religious institutions should also be ensured the same preventive reproductive health care coverage as all other women, regardless of their employers’ religious beliefs.

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Testimony of Dr. Colleen McNicholas in opposition to Missouri H.B. 1430 and H.B. 1307

No woman should have to endure due state interference with her decision to end a pregnancy. But that is what already happens in Missouri. The legislature should not further obstruct the private decision-making of women and their families. Lawmakers should defeat these harmful bills.

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When Religious Doctrine Jeopardizes Women’s Health

Dr. Anne DavisConsulting Medical Director Anne Davis, MD, MPH, spoke to Irin Carmon of Salon about the impact of Catholic hospitals’ doctrine on patients who need urgent care for pregnancies that have gone wrong.

As Carmon explains, Catholic hospitals “abide by the ethical directives handed down by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops for use in medical care. And they generally treat the fetus as a separate patient with equal standing [as the woman].” This can force physicians to take measures to save a fetus that will hurt the woman’s health.

Says Dr. Davis, “You let people get sicker when you have something to stop them [from] getting sicker—that’s antithetical to what we do in medicine.” Read more about the impact of Catholic doctrine on pregnant women’s health. 

Our MDs Speak Out for Abortion Access in the States

Lisa Perriera, MD, MPHIn an American Independent article about medication abortion restrictions under consideration in Texas, former Leadership Training Initiative Fellow Lisa Perriera, MD, MPH, explained how similar limits in her home state, Ohio, have hurt her patients’ health.

For instance, the Ohio law requires women to take misoprostol on site when they receive it, rather than allowing them to take it later at their convenience. As a result, Dr. Perriera’s patients have had side effects occur on the drive home: “We have patients that have to travel as far as five hours in a car while the abortion process starts—that’s just not fair.”

After Texas governor Rick Perry declared his hopes for a ban on abortions after 20 weeks in pregnancy, Physicians for Reproductive Health board member Curtis Boyd, MD, wrote in the Houston Chronicle: “Such laws are dangerous to the health of women. I see [the women needing abortions after 20 weeks] every day and hear their stories. There is no one better qualified to make decisions regarding her body and life than the pregnant woman in consultation with her doctor and family.”

Dr. Boyd then stated his unequivocal support for his patients in the face of legislation meant to “burden and punish women” and “intimidate” physicians: “I have provided abortion care for over 40 years. I will not back down now.”

Dr. Erin HendriksFormer Leadership Training Academy Fellow Erin Hendriks, MD, published a letter in the the Detroit Free Press, objecting to a bill passed by the Michigan legislature that would allow health care providers to deny patients medical services, including abortion and contraception, according to the providers’ religious or moral beliefs. Dr. Hendriks wrote: “This bill ultimately seeks to limit access for women to reproductive health care. As a doctor, I cannot think of anything I object to less than a woman seeking to responsibly plan pregnancy.” Her letter is the third on the page.

Board chair Douglas Laube, MD, MEd, spoke to the Wisconsin State Journal about a lawsuit against recently passed legislation that has made it nearly impossible for Wisconsin women to access medication abortion. Among the multiple reasons women deserve the option of medication abortion, Dr. Laube noted that surgical abortion isn’t an option in the early weeks of pregnancy, and without medication abortion, some women must now wait longer to end their pregnancies. Read the article here

Abortion Providers and Clergy: Inspired by Faith to Make Abortion Care Possible

For the National Day of Appreciation for Abortion Providers (March 10), Honor the Union Between Abortion and Religion

New York, NY—Together, Physicians for Reproductive Choice and Health (PRCH) and the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice (RCRC) are celebrating March 10, the National Day of Appreciation for Abortion Providers.

PRCH and RCRC are proud to offer the chance to interview: