Catholics for a Free Choice recently conducted a nationwide survey of 589 Catholic hospital emergency rooms to determine if emergency contraception was available to women who requested it. Women called emergency rooms anonymously to ask: "Is the 'morning-after pill' available?" When the response was "sometimes," the caller asked under what circumstances it was available; when the response was "no," the caller asked for a referral.
Out of the 589 hospitals surveyed, 82% denied women emergency contraception, even in cases of rape. Only 22% of the emergency rooms that did not provide emergency contraception provided a useful referral.
Of emergency rooms that did not provide a referral, 13% of the staff hung up on the caller before she was able to request a referral, and in 35% of the cases the staff was rude or verbally abusive to the caller.
Of the 91 Catholic hospitals that are sole providers of hospital services in their areas, 75% do not offer emergency contraception under any circumstances.
Variations were found in Catholic hospital policies concerning emergency contraception. CFFC found that of the 55 hospitals that provided emergency contraception to rape victims (9% of the 589 hospitals surveyed), six hospitals required the rape victim to report the assault to the police first. This additional barrier may discourage women who are reluctant to report the rape to the police from seeking emergency contraception.
Some hospitals provide emergency contraception within 72 hours, others within 24 hours, while some refuse to provide it at all. These inconsistencies pose an especially serious problem for women in time-sensitive situations, such as those needing emergency contraception. When a woman seeks help at a Catholic hospital emergency room, she may not know that she may be refused access to this birth control method.
To obtain a copy of the study, "Caution: Catholic Restrictions May be Hazardous to Your Health," contact Catholics for a Free Choice at www.cath4choice.org or 202-986-6093.
8/28/2015 Alaska Court Protects Abortion Access for Low-Income Women - The Alaska Superior Court struck down a state law yesterday that would have severely limited abortion access for low-income women in Alaska.
The state's Superior Court also struck down a Department of Health and Social Services regulation that placed narrow specifications on Medicaid coverage for abortions, requiring that Medicaid-funded abortions be determined by a physician to be "medically necessary." Last year, the Center for Reproductive Rights, the American Civil Liberties Union, and Planned Parenthood sued on behalf of the Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest, claiming that the narrow definition of "medically necessary" arbitrarily established conditions designed to restrict the ability of low-income women to access abortion services.
The law was temporarily blocked last July by an Alaskan state court judge.
Superior Court Judge John Suddock ordered yesterday that the state be blocked from implementing this regulation, ruling that it placed an undue burden on low-income women seeking abortion services in Alaska.
"By providing health care to all poor Alaskans except women who need abortions, the challenged regulation violates the state constitutional guarantee of 'equal rights, opportunities, and protection under the law'," the ruling read.
"We applaud the superior court for striing down these cruel restrictions on women's health and rights that violate the Alaska Constitution," said Chris Charbonneau, CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands. . . .
8/26/2015 Saudi Women Prepare to Vote for the First Time - The fight for gender equality is making slow but notable progress in Saudi Arabia, where women will be allowed to vote for the first time in upcoming December elections.
This shift in Saudi law came in 2011, when a royal decree announced that women would be allowed to vote and run in local elections beginning in December of 2015. . . .