Story No. 334: Dr. Stephanie from Arkansas

I was tasked with contacting all of the other OB/GYNs in Arkansas to find a physician who was willing to contract with our abortion care practice to be our “back-up.” The doctor would need to have hospital and admitting privileges, given our state’s restrictions on the provision of abortion care.

The first doctor I happened to call was affiliated with a Catholic hospital. He was actually the only physician who agreed to speak to me (all of my other calls were with clinic managers, front office assistants, nurses, and voicemail—and that was if I could even get past the front desk). I spoke to this doctor for about 10-15 minutes, and he expressed his support for the idea that a woman should have the choice of abortion. He stated that some of his colleagues were like-minded, but most were not.

When I asked him how I would go about getting approval for his group to contract with us, he gave me the following answer: He said that I would first need to speak to the clinic manager and get her approval. I gladly took down her name and contact information. He then proceeded to tell me that I would have to get approval from the archdiocese in Little Rock, AR and from the Pope!

Even though I knew the requirements that were needed to get any Catholic facility to agree to work with us, I still contacted providers associated with all of the other religious institutions, just so I could say that I tried. In addition to the phone calls, letters were sent to every Arkansas OB/GYN requesting assistance with meeting this requirement. We actually got ONE response to that letter, but the doctor could not help us because she, too, was affiliated with a faith-based hospital.