Catholic Hospitals Refuse Standard Treatment for Rape Victims

A recent University of Pennsylvania study shows that many Catholic hospitals in the U.S. do not prescribe emergency contraception (EC) to rape victims, despite the fact that EC is considered a standard treatment for these women. The survey, published in the September American Journal of Public Health, targeted 27 Catholic hospitals and 30 non-Catholic hospitals. While all of the non-Catholic hospitals surveyed regularly prescribed EC to rape victims, 12 of the Catholic hospitals had strict rules against informing rape victims of the option of contraception, and 17 did not allow the hospital pharmacy to dispense the drug. Authors of the study stated that these Catholic hospitals’ policies “undermine rape victims’ right to treatment information.” A Catholic health representative argued that Catholic policy and religious freedom in the U.S. mandates such restrictive policies. Under Catholic teaching, health care providers are prohibited from discussing emergency contraception with rape victims, and may only prescribe the treatment if tests show that the woman is not likely to be ovulating or carrying a potentially fertilized egg.


Associated Press _ September 4, 2000

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