Obria Medical Clinics, a Christian chain of family health facilities, has received $1.7 million in federal family planning funding. The program, known as Title X, is meant to help low-income families and individuals prevent unplanned pregnancies. Additionally, clinics that receive this funding are expected to prevent and treat sexually transmitted diseases and provide resources like condoms and other forms of contraceptives.
Because of its faith-based mission, Obria instead provides abstinence-based family planning. Their services offer health screenings for sexually transmitted diseases and cancer, as well as pregnancy testing, prenatal care, and ultrasounds. They do not, however, provide condoms for their clients, instead focusing on the “100-percent method to prevent pregnancy and STDs.”
While other clinics that receive Title X funding, such as Radiant Health Centers in California, have been fighting to reduce rates of STIs through providing as many resources and education as possible, many religion-based medical facilities believe that less is more. Theresa Notare, assistant director of the Natural Family Planning Program, stated that “contraception is seen as harming the gifts God gave us. You can’t put physical barriers like condoms or chemical substances that are going to obstruct the natural design of the ovaries.” She went on to say that if one has a life-threatening disease, such as HIV, not having sex with a partner is the only option.
Obria, like many other religious-based medical centers, does not clearly indicate that they have a religious affiliation on their website, as these types of facilities are not required to inform clients of this. While half of the top ten hospital systems by net patient revenue are affiliated with the Catholic Church, more than one third of women who visit a Catholic hospital for reproductive healthcare are unaware of its religious affiliation. This has made many activists and public health advocates worried that many women are not receiving exhaustive resources for family planning, STD prevention, or pregnancy prevention.
Sources: Huffington Post 10/2/19; Washington Post 7/29/19