Press Releases 1999

New Survey Shows Most Catholic Hospitals Refuse Emergency Contraception to Women Who Have Been Raped

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Report also details the escalation of Catholic mergers and affiliations with non-Catholic hospitals and the impact on reproductive health services

Washington, DC—Catholic hospitals are refusing the medically accepted standard of care to women who have been raped. This is one finding from a new report by Catholics for a Free Choice issued today. Caution: Catholic Health Restrictions May Be Hazardous to Your Health contains an exclusive survey on the availability of emergency contraception at 589 emergency rooms in Catholic hospitals (representing 99 percent of Catholic hospitals).

  • 82 percent of surveyed emergency room staff stated their hospital does not provide emergency contraception—even to women who have been raped.
  • Almost a third of the 481 Catholic hospitals that denied emergency contraception refused to provide a referral to another hospital or provider.

Frances Kissling, president of Catholics for a Free Choice said, “The most troubling aspect of our study was that where emergency contraception was not available, only 22 percent of emergency rooms at Catholic hospitals provided a useful referral.”

The report illustrates a number of worrying trends in Catholic health care:

  • Mergers between Catholic and non-Catholic hospitals are rising sharply, with an all time high of 43 in 1998. There were 14 in 1997 and 24 in 1996, giving a total of 127 between 1990 and 1998. In 48 percent of cases studied in this eight-year period, all or some reproductive healthcare services were eliminated in the non-Catholic hospital following the merger.
  • There are currently 91 counties where a Catholic hospital is the sole provider of hospital health care—a 20 percent increase over 1997. Ninety-five percent of these hospitals are in counties with a minority-Catholic population.


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Catholics for Choice shapes and advances sexual and reproductive ethics that are based on justice, reflect a commitment to a person’s well-being and respect and affirm the capacity of all people to make moral decisions about their lives. 
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