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Michigan Rape Survivors Denied Emergency Contraception at Catholic Hospitals

June 2, 2003

CFFC study finds other reproductive services restricted

A comprehensive study of reproductive health care in Catholic institutions in Michigan by Catholics for a Free Choice released today shows that more than half of Catholic hospital emergency rooms do not provide emergency contraception (EC) to rape survivors. Other reproductive health services are also limited at health care institutions operated by the Catholic church.

Frances Kissling, President of Catholics for a Free Choice, said, “Michigan health care providers have an obligation to follow medical standards of care, not sectarian religious views, when they set policy. Catholic hospitals in Michigan should not be exempt from those standards when it comes to reproductive health care. Women who have been raped must get timely access to or information about EC in every emergency room in the state. Such access can prevent both pregnancy and abortion. Michigan hospitals should not let Catholic teachings influence the availability of other needed reproductive health services in the state.”

The newly released Catholic Health Care State Reports: Michigan also found:

  • Through the operation of hospitals, health care centers, specialized homes, and other social service agencies, the Catholic church plays a significant role in the provision of health care. In fact, the Catholic church is one of the largest health care providers in the state of Michigan, providing about one-third of all health care in the state.
  • Catholic hospitals in Michigan rely heavily on government funding-federal and state sources, such as Medicare and Medicaid-for providing important public services.
  • Catholic hospitals in Michigan do not typically provide many basic reproductive health services for women and men, Catholic and non-Catholic alike. Prohibited services include female and male sterilization, fertility treatments, contraception, and abortion, even when medically indicated.
  • Basic reproductive health services are also frequently restricted to students at Catholic universities in Michigan, enrollees in the state’s two Catholic HMOs, and communities served by Catholic Charities organizations that provide heamanaged care insurance programs as well.

In addition, this report reveals the significant lobbying activities of the Catholic Conference of Michigan, which executes a coordinated effort to influence state policy related to reproductive health care. Through the lobbying and advocacy initiatives of the Catholic Conference of Michigan, the Catholic church attempts to influence which services millions of Michigan women receive and which they do not.

Said Kissling, “For nearly a decade, Catholics for a Free Choice (CFFC) has been examining the role of the Catholic church in health care delivery and public health policy nationwide. The Catholic church plays a significant role in the provision of services through hospitals, HMO’s, health centers, and much more. Women in Michigan need to question what the role of the church might mean for their quality of care,” she said.