Catholics for a Free Choice (CFFC) released last week the results of a survey that found Catholic hospitals were not fully complying with laws requiring emergency contraception be provided to rape victims. The survey was done by Ibis Reproductive Health, on behalf of CFFC, and focused on Catholic hospitals in New York, New Mexico, California and Washington. These states require that sexual assault survivors be told about emergency contraception (EC) and that it be provided by the emergency room upon request. The survey also looked at hospitals in South Carolina, where the state has agreed to pay for emergency room care of sexual assault survivors, including EC. The survey found that in 35 percent of hospitals, those taking patient phone calls said that EC was not available for sexual assault survivors.
In nearly one-third of cases, these statements conflicted not only with state laws, but also with the hospital’s own policies – in other words, the hospital policy indicated that EC be provided, but the individual taking the call responded differently.
The call-in survey indicated another troubling result – 10 to 20 percent of hospitals that provided EC in 2002 now indicate that it is not available under any circumstances. CFFC president Frances Kissling responded to the results, saying, “Hospital administrations have a responsibility to comply with the law, and also have a higher calling to provide care to their patients in need. It seems many are falling down on both counts.”