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The bill, which just passed in the Ohio Senate, would ban abortions as soon as a heartbeat is detected, which could be as early as six weeks.

A protester holds a hanger during a demonstration against a proposed bill that bans abortion once a fetal heartbeat is detected in Columbus on Dec. 12, 2018. The bill was passed by members of the Ohio Senate, but outgoing Governor John Kasich has said he would veto the bill.

A bill that would ban abortion after a fetal heartbeat is detected was approved this week by the Ohio Senate, the first step in what the bill’s author says is the controversial legislation’s path to being welcomed by the U.S. Supreme Court “with open arms.”

But many legal experts and women’s rights groups say the bill has no chance of surviving in the nation’s highest court — even with the shift in the makeup of Supreme Court justices that President Donald Trump’s conservative nominations have ushered in.

Ohio’s so-called heartbeat bill would ban abortions from the moment a heartbeat is detected in a fetus, which can be as early as six weeks into a pregnancy — before some women even know they are pregnant.

Its author, president and founder of pro-life network Faith 2 Action Janet Porter first introduced the bill in Ohio in 2011 and has in past years described it as being designed to be the “arrow in the heart of Roe v. Wade,” the 1973 case that legalized abortion nationwide.

“The bill itself is one that we believe the Supreme Court is ready for,” Porter told NBC News on Friday.

A similar measure previously passed the Ohio House and Senate in 2016 but was vetoed by Republican Gov. John Kasich. Porter said Kasich should feel emboldened this time by the new Supreme Court judges on the bench to pass it.

“My hope is that Gov. Kasich returns to his pro-life roots and keeps hearts beating,” she said. “He can’t claim that this is unconstitutional with a court in place ready to welcome it.”

The heartbeat bill is one of two abortion restrictions that Republican Ohio lawmakers have sent to Kasich. The other bill bans dilations and evacuation abortions, one of the most common kinds of the procedure.

Kasich has indicated he will veto the heartbeat bill. Even if he doesn’t, many say the odds of the bill reaching the Supreme Court, never mind being backed by it, are slim to none.

“This is a ban on almost all abortions. There is no question about that. This is blatantly unconstitutional based on more than 40 years of precedent that has been reaffirmed by the Supreme Court over and over again,” said Brigitte Amiri, deputy director of the American Civil Liberties Union Reproductive Freedom Project. “The idea that somehow the window dressing of the detectability of a heartbeat changes the equation is nonsense.”

The ACLU has vowed to file a lawsuit immediately challenging the bill’s constitutionality if it is signed into law.

From there, Ohio will almost certainly have to go to a court of appeals to get the case reviewed again, said Drexel University professor of law David S. Cohen, the co-author of a forthcoming book, “Obstacle Course: The Struggle to Get an Abortion in the United States.”

“The lower courts will say that the law’s unconstitutional. There’s no wiggle room on that.”

“The lower courts will say that the law’s unconstitutional. There’s no wiggle room on that,” he said.

From there, Cohen said, it could take up to several years to reach the Supreme Court, which would decide whether it wants to hear the case or not.

But in the meantime, there’s a possibility that the Supreme Court will hear a number of other challenges to Roe v. Wade first, such as Indiana’s ban on abortions for fetal anomalies such as Down Syndrome and Alabama’s proposed prohibition on a second-trimester abortion procedure.

“Ohio is obviously doing something radical and unconstitutional, but they’re also doing something that they’re touting as being the case that’s going to overturn Roe v. Wade. But they’re just late to the game here,” Cohen said.

Porter, the bill’s author, said the legislation is “crafted in such a way that it actually doesn’t have to bring down” Roe v. Wade but rather changes what marker that the Supreme Court uses for determining life in unborn babies.

Currently, Roe v. Wade focuses on fetal viability — accepting conventional medical standards that a fetus becomes viable sometime around the 24th week of pregnancy, and that a fetus’s interests cannot be placed above the desire of the pregnant woman until viability.

“Heartbeat is a more consistent marker … We’re giving them a better yardstick.”

“The marker that the court is currently using is viability, which is a lousy one. It could be wrong. It’s a great big guess,” Porter said. “Heartbeat is a more consistent marker … We’re giving them a better yardstick.”

Carol Sanger, a law professor at Columbia University and the author of “About Abortion: Terminating Pregnancy in 21st Century America,” said states have tried repeatedly to pass legislation that they see as having a chance at overturning Roe v. Wade.

“It’s like a badge of honor,” she said. “They’re passing legislation that is clearly unconstitutional.”

She said it was “unlikely” the Supreme Court would take on the Ohio bill and felt legal options that would result in Roe v. Wade being overturned did not exist in this case.

But Porter expressed confidence that the high court would hear it.

“This is ultimately going to the Supreme Court and we believe it’s ready to welcome this heartbeat bill with open arms,” Porter said. “I trust that Gov. Kasich won’t ruin his political future and never be able to call himself pro-life again by vetoing it a second time.”

Source: https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/author-ohio-s-strict-abortion-bill-believes-supreme-court-will-n948111?fbclid=IwAR3weHf_WTb7EcB6pGnNTaqSvON4DFy46_zjKsy1hAvlYOaGaH8D50ZYdf0

Proposed legislation in Kentucky this week would reportedly make abortion punishable by up to five years in prison.

State Rep. Robert Goforth (R) prefiled a bill on Thursday that would ban abortion after a fetal heartbeat is detected, according to WAVE, an NBC affiliate.

Under the terms of the measure, abortion providers would be required to check for a heartbeat before performing the procedure. If they detect a fetal heartbeat, it would then become a Class D felony to go through with the abortion unless it’s deemed a medical emergency.

In Kentucky, Class D felonies are punishable by up to five years in prison.

“My proposal recognizes that everyone has a right to life,” Goforth said in a statement, according to Kentucky Today. “My personal belief is that life begins at conception and ends at natural death. A heartbeat proves that there’s life that deserves protection under law — if a heart is beating, a baby needs to be protected and given an opportunity to live.”

Anti-abortion groups and lawmakers have been emboldened by the Trump administration and changes to the makeup of the Supreme Court, ramping up their push for restrictions on abortion as part of a strategy to get the Supreme Court to re-examine Roe v. Wade, the landmark decision that legalized abortion.

“We’re talking about viable babies,” Goforth said. “This is the most pro-life piece of the legislation that has ever been filed in the Kentucky Legislature.”

Goforth added that he knows his proposal might face legal challenges if it becomes law but said it is worth the trouble.

“I look forward to the day our laws and our court system give unborn children the legal right to life that they deserve so they can grow and live happy and productive lives,” he said.

The bill will reportedly be considered in the Kentucky General Assembly’s next session, which is scheduled to begin on Jan. 8.

Similar bills, dubbed “heartbeat” bills, have been voted on by lawmakers in Ohio and Iowa earlier this year.

Gov. John Kasich (R-Ohio) has reportedly vowed to veto that legislation if it makes it to his desk. Gov. Kim Reynolds (R-Iowa) has not indicated whether she will sign the measure.

https://thehill.com/homenews/state-watch/421398-bill-proposed-in-kentucky-would-make-abortion-a-felony?fbclid=IwAR1i3H349Elj7QfIxlO6lEv3LBrgZR1-PWpmLFLGN6Ya3U-Lj6RGWt8XUPw

Planned Parenthood staff members Kelana Love, left, and Monica Encalada answer phone calls at the Nashville clinic. A Nashville synagogue will host a fundraiser for the group that the Gordon Jewish Community Center backed out of agreeing to hold at its facilities. Shelley Mays / The Tennessean

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The only remaining abortion clinic in Tennessee’s capital has ceased offering abortions, instead referring patients to clinics 200 miles away in Knoxville and Memphis.

Officials with Planned Parenthood of Tennessee and North Mississippi, which operates the north Nashville clinic, could not say when its clinic would resume abortions. The organization has a shortage of physicians to do the procedure, a spokeswoman said.

The clinic is also “undergoing a period of quality improvement and will return with these services soon,” a statement said. It is the second clinic in Nashville to stop abortions this year.

The Women’s Center closed in August after the sale of its building, and its operators said they hoped to reopen. No target date was set, and its reopening has not happened yet.

► Dec. 10: Supreme Court won’t consider state efforts to defund Planned Parenthood
► Nov. 20: Mississippi’s 15-week abortion ban overturned by federal judge
► Oct. 26: Fight over abortion comes to Oregon as GOP targets reproductive rights

The suspension of abortion services at Nashville’s only abortion clinic comes at a time when the number of abortion providers in Tennessee and throughout the Southeast continues to dwindle.

Tennessee now has six abortion providers, down from 16 in 2000 but more than in any other neighboring state except North Carolina.

Also Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to consider Republican-led states’ efforts to defund Planned Parenthood. The court let stand federal appeals court rulings that allowed the reproductive health organization’s patients to contest laws in Louisiana and Kansas that stripped its Medicaid money.

In Tennessee, more than 9,700 abortions were performed in 2016, up from about 9,100 in 2015, according to the Tennessee Department of Health’s most recent data.

Nashville’s Planned Parenthood clinic was the largest provider of abortions in the state, serving women in rural Middle Tennessee counties as well as neighboring as Alabama, Kentucky and Mississippi.

► Oct. 25: Abortion cases offer test for the Supreme Court
► Oct. 10: Pope Francis compares abortion to hiring a hit man to solve problems

Some women now will have to travel even further to obtain an abortion. And under Tennessee’s 48-hour waiting-period law, they will have to make the trip twice.

The law, enacted in 2015, requires two trips to an abortion clinic with a two-day wait between the first appointment to obtain counseling and then a subsequent office visit to undergo the procedure.

Tennessee Right to Life, which advocates against abortions, already is seeing a spike in women callers who could not obtain abortion appointments in Nashville, said Brian Harris, the organization’s president. The organization advertises services for women who are pregnant and need help but does not perform abortions or refer women to abortion clinics.

Instead, the organization provides free pregnancy tests and ultrasounds. It also offers to connect women to services intended to assist them in continuing their pregnancies to term.

“The phone has been very busy here with women calling and looking for abortion referrals – busier than they’ve ever been,” Harris said.

► Sept. 28: Federal judge strikes down Kentucky restriction on abortion clinics
► June 29: 72-hour wait for abortions struck down by Iowa Supreme Court

On Monday, the Nashville Planned Parenthood clinic was open for other women’s medical services including birth control and sexually transmitted disease testing, but its waiting room was empty. Operators at the organization’s scheduling line are referring callers who want abortions to other locations.

“As of right now we’re only scheduling for other locations,” said an operator who answered the phone at the clinic’s line. The woman, who did not give her name, said abortion services were suspended “indefinitely.”

The Women’s Center, along with other abortion providers in Tennessee, are still fighting to overturn the 48-hour waiting period rule in federal court.

https://eu.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2018/12/10/planned-parenthood-nashville-abortions-suspended/2271428002/

“This bill would ensure that our State Department maintains its vital role as an international watchdog and protector of women’s rights,” said Rep. Katherine Clark (D-MA).

Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives introduced a bill Monday that would require the State Department to again include a subsection on reproductive health in its annual human rights report.

The State Department is responsible for producing a report each year detailing human rights abuses in each country receiving U.S. foreign aid. Starting under the Obama administration, reproductive health information such as systemic international issues with access to contraception and abortion care was included in the report. That practice ended this year under the Trump administration.

The bill, introduced by Reps. Katherine Clark (D-MA), Barbara Lee (D-CA), Nita Lowey (D-NY), Eliot Engel (D-NY), and Lois Frankel (D-FL), was filed on International Human Rights Day and the 70th anniversary of the signing of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It would require the State Department to recognize reproductive rights in its annual human rights report.

“Documenting and reporting human rights violations is a major part of eradicating their existence,” said Clark in a statement. “This bill would ensure that our State Department maintains its vital role as an international watchdog and protector of women’s rights no matter the ideology of our White House.”

The bill currently has the support of 45 reproductive rights and social justice advocacy groups, including Planned Parenthood and the Center for Reproductive Rights. “Reproductive health care is health care, and health care is a basic human right,” said Dr. Leana Wen, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, in a statement. “The Trump-Pence administration’s erasure of reproductive rights from the State Department’s human rights report is an attack on women around the world, and the communities that depend on them.”

In October of this year, 129 Democratic members of the U.S. House of Representatives sent a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo demanding the State Department again include the removed subsection. The bill comes as the Trump administration nominated former Fox News anchor and current State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert to become ambassador to the United Nations. Nauert defended the department’s decision to exclude reproductive health information from the State Department human rights reports.

According to a January Politico report, Nauert said in a statement that the way the department “presents the report’s material has changed from time to time,” and that “this year we are better focusing some sections of the report for clarity.” She added that the department was not “downgrading coverage of LGBT or women’s issues.” The subsection of the report was renamed from “Reproductive Rights” to “Coercion in Population Control,” a move which left advocates concerned.

“This erasure puts real lives in danger,” said NARAL Pro-Choice America President Ilyse Hogue in a statement Monday. “Using backdoor tactics to erase all mention of reproductive rights—including abortion, contraception, and maternal mortality—from vital reports and resources in order to push an extreme, ideological agenda is a true testament to just how dangerous and corrupt this administration is.”

The Center for Reproductive Rights (CRR) filed a lawsuit in early December against the State Department over a failure to produce records regarding exclusion of the reproductive rights subsection requested under a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request. “This erasure is tantamount to an outright rejection of the basic principle that reproductive rights are human rights,” said Stephanie Schmid, U.S. foreign policy counsel for CRR, in a statement regarding the suit. “The Center will continue to use the power of the law to hold this administration accountable in order to ensure that the foreign policy of the United States promotes, rather than hinders, women and girls’ access to basic health care like contraception, safe abortion, and maternal health care in order for them to achieve economic, social, and political empowerment.”

This isn’t the first time the State Department has moved against international reproductive health access. The Trump administration reinstituted the “Mexico City Policy”, otherwise known as the Global Gag Rule, immediately after taking office in January 2017. Administered by the State Department, the rule prevents foreign aid from going to organizations which perform, make referrals for, or counsel about abortion care for patients. It has already had a negative effect for pregnant people worldwide.

Source: https://rewire.news/article/2018/12/11/democrats-push-state-department-to-reinsert-reproductive-rights-in-human-rights-reports/

‘Change is coming,’ writes Health Minister Simon Harris following the passing of abortion legislation through the Dáil.

SIX MONTHS AGO, 1.42 million people voted to repeal the Eighth Amendment and to care for women in crisis pregnancies in this country.

Many of them had waited 35 years to cast their vote. Many others voted with the weight of their own personal experiences upon them.

It took three decades to build the revolution. For that brave minority of campaigners, it may have seemed a tireless and fruitless exercise.

However, every time those men and women stood up against this injustice, the walls of oppression and resistance began to fall.

Their perseverance resulted in the galvanisation of a generation eager to break free from the shackles of the past and shape the society it wanted to live in.

As Minister for Health, it is my responsibility to act on the mandate given to me by the Irish people and today, we move one step closer to achieving that aim.

The Dáil has now passed the Termination of Pregnancy Bill by and the Seanad will now consider the legislation.

As outlined prior to the referendum, the Bill allows for access to abortion within the first 12 weeks of pregnancy with no restriction to reason.

Beyond that terminations will only be permitted when a woman’s life or health is at risk. Abortions will also be accessible when there is a diagnosis of a fatal foetal abnormality.

As legislators, it is our job to scrutinise the Bill before us, but we must remind ourselves of the realities still facing women in crisis pregnancies daily.

Since the people voted, over 2,300 women have found themselves in crisis and despite the overwhelming referendum result, the State has been unable to offer them the care they need.

I have listened to hours of debate in the Oireachtas over the past number of weeks. Many of the TDs have raised genuine issues of concern and I have always sought to engage constructively with them.

But there were others who obstructed and delayed this legislation. Some TDs wanted to rerun the referendum and blatantly disregard the will of the people.

With respect to the genuinely held feelings of the minority, we have a duty to the principles of the majority decision to provide women the right to safe and compassionate care in their own country.

Introduction of abortion services

In the aftermath of the referendum, I asked for abortion services to be introduced in this country in January. This is not a political deadline, as some commentators have suggested but an acknowledgement that women have waited too long for these services and without a deadline, their wait will continue.

There has been lots of discussion over the past number of days about the introduction of the services and again, most people are raising genuine questions. But there is a small minority trying to create a fictional crisis, aided by some aspects of the media.

So, let me clear about the work that is underway by the Department of Health, the Health Service Executive and Dr Peter Boylan to provide this service in January.

An agreement has been reached between the Irish Medical Organisation and the Department of Health on a fee for GPs providing the service. Each GP has been written to, expressions of interest in providing the service have been sought and details of the level of participation should be known over the coming weeks.

The HSE has also been working closely with the Irish Family Planning Association and the Well Woman Centre to ensure they are able to provide the service from January.

Hospitals have provided a plan for the rollout of termination services from January. These are currently being examined by Dr Boylan and the Women and Infants Programme.

For the service user, there will be a 24-hour helpline. It will offer the information, non-directive counselling, and if required, free face to face counselling. Crucially, it will direct the woman to her nearest provider willing to provide the service.

When the legislation is enacted, the HSE will run radio advertisements and digital advertisements informing the public of this phone line.

The HSE will also have new content on abortion services ready to go live on sexualwellbeing.iewhen the legislation is enacted.

Posters and leaflets for the counselling line, along with a new leaflet on contraception, will be delivered to GP surgeries and acute hospitals.

This is all matched by significant resources allocated in Budget 2019.

The introduction of any new service will bring challenges and difficulties but none of these issues should delay the introduction of the service.

The women of Ireland have demanded political leadership and I believe the majority of the Oireachtas has delivered upon that instruction.

We now require clinical leadership and I know the medical profession will respond.

I accept there is more work to be done in this area. I am committed to introducing safe access zones to assist medical professionals willing to provide this service and to protect women from harassment and discrimination. Work is underway by the Department and the Attorney General in drafting a Bill for publication in 2019.

There is significant work still to be done in reducing the number of crisis pregnancies. Work is ongoing to explore all the issues associated with enhancing access to contraception, including associated costs.

The chief medical officer in my Department Dr Tony Holohan has been working extraordinarily hard in this area and I look forward to progressing proposals in this regard in 2019.

We will also proceed with a Women’s Health Action Plan next year.

‘Change is coming’

The journey has been long but we have at the end been given a clear direction by the people and we will not be diverted from the path.

I know there are many women reading this article who have experienced crisis pregnancies and who have had to travel abroad for assistance. I want you to know I am committed to ensuring women will not have to endure similar journeys.

I know there are doctors, midwives and nurses working tirelessly to play their part in the provision of services. Your dedication to providing care to women in crisis will not be forgotten and will be matched by government resources.

I know there are medical professionals reading this who have a conscientious objection to providing this service. I want your rights to be respected and upheld.

I also know there are people who are engaged in conscientious obstruction and I want you to know your efforts will not succeed. You will not deter me or my colleagues in ensuring a safe, woman-centred service is in place in January.

Change is coming. You will not alter its inevitably or change its character.

This is the beginning of a new era for women’s health ushered in by a prevailing spirit of solidarity, inclusivity and equality.

Source: https://www.thejournal.ie/readme/simon-harris-opinion-abortion-legislation-4378874-Dec2018/?fbclid=IwAR3eklnJgiLfFMJcoD4teTYk5SRe36ypQIlM45disjpaHTtyv1TNfHBAhvs

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday rejected appeals by Louisiana and Kansas seeking to end their public funding to women’s healthcare and abortion provider Planned Parenthood through the Medicaid program, with President Donald Trump’s appointee Brett Kavanaugh among the justices who rebuffed the states.

The justices left intact lower court rulings that prevented Louisiana and Kansas from stripping government healthcare funding from local Planned Parenthood affiliates. The case was one of a number of disputes working their way up to the Supreme Court over the legality of state-imposed restrictions involving abortion.

Three conservative justices – Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito and Neil Gorsuch – dissented from the decision by the nine-member conservative-majority court, saying it should have heard the appeals by the states.

At least four justices must vote to grant review for the court to hear an appeal. Along with the four liberal justices, Kavanaugh and Chief Justice John Roberts – the court’s two other conservative justices – opposed taking up the matter.

Planned Parenthood’s affiliates in Louisiana do not perform abortions, but some in Kansas do. Medicaid, the state-federal health insurance program for low-income Americans, pays for abortions only in limited circumstances such as when a woman’s life is in danger.

It marked the first-known vote by Kavanaugh in a case since he joined the court in October after a fierce confirmation fight in the Senate. Kavanaugh was named by Trump to replace the retired Justice Anthony Kennedy, a conservative who sometimes sided with the court’s liberals on social issues like abortion.

Some Kavanaugh opponents feared he would back legal efforts to overturn or further restrict the legal right to abortion.

Thomas suggested the justices who rejected the appeals put politics over the law.

“So what explains the court’s refusal to do its job here? I suspect it has something to do with the fact that some respondents in these cases are named ‘Planned Parenthood,'” Thomas wrote in dissent.

“Some tenuous connection to a politically fraught issue does not justify abdicating our judicial duty,” Thomas added.

Louisiana and Kansas announced Republican-backed plans to terminate funding for Planned Parenthood through Medicaid after an anti-abortion group released videos in 2015 purporting to show Planned Parenthood executives negotiating the for-profit sale of fetal tissue and body parts. Planned Parenthood denied the allegations and called the videos heavily edited and misleading.

The organization’s affiliates in each state, as well as several patients, sued in federal court to maintain the funding.

“We regret today’s decision from the U.S. Supreme Court announcing that it fell one vote short of taking our case against Planned Parenthood,” Kansas Governor Jeff Colyer, a Republican, said in a statement.

‘FUNDAMENTAL RIGHT’

Leana Wen, president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, praised the court’s action, saying in a statement: “Every person has a fundamental right to healthcare, no matter who they are, where they live or how much they earn.”

Legal battles over other laws from Republican-led states could reach the court in the next year or two. Some seek to ban abortions in early pregnancy, including Iowa’s prohibition after a fetal heartbeat is detected. Others impose difficult-to-meet regulations on abortion providers such as having formal ties, called admitting privileges, at a local hospital.

The cases from Kansas and Louisiana did not challenge the constitutionality of abortion itself.

Many social and religious conservatives in the United States have argued against government funding of Planned Parenthood, and Republican politicians have made efforts at the state and federal level to eliminate public funding for abortion services.

The New Orleans-based 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in 2016 blocked Louisiana’s Medicaid cuts, saying the action would harm patients. The 5th Circuit said no one disputed that Planned Parenthood was actually qualified to provide the medical services it offers and the state was seeking to cut funding “for reasons unrelated to its qualifications.”

In February, the Denver-based 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Kansas could not block funding because states “may not terminate providers from their Medicaid program for any reason they see fit.”

Source: https://news.yahoo.com/u-top-court-rebuffs-state-bids-cut-planned-144246538.html?re=0&.tsrc=notification-brknews&fbclid=IwAR3Q8pJh8Z6ixMfk8D5OC5-g83NNUUhLPa6_XGZ5n2pzRedBy7kohpa6xT0

That’s partly because Catholic institutions may not want it known.

A 2005 study found that 54.9 percent of Catholic hospitals do not provide emergency contraception for any reason, compared with 42.2 percent of non-Catholic hospitals. 
 Shutterstock

As Catholic health systems that restrict care on religious grounds have expanded, Maryam Guiahi had what she thought was a simple question. Guiahi, an associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Colorado School of Medicine, wanted to know what happens to patients who are denied reproductive health care by Catholic institutions.

So she and fellow researchers trawled through thousands of papers dating back to at least the 1960s in scientific databases, looking for data on patient outcomes.

They found one study. It happened to be one Guiahi had written.

“We don’t know, when patients get denied a service, do most of them figure out a way to get it in some other way?” Guiahi told Rewire.News. “Or do most of them end up having outcomes that they were not hoping for?”

Guiahi and her fellow researchers—who published their review in the latest issue of Obstetrics & Gynecology—found just 27 studies on reproductive health care at Catholic institutions, which now account for one in six acute-care beds in the United States. While these facilities follow religious directives that ban an array of reproductive care, most studies focused on the availability of birth control, sterilization, or emergency contraception. Two focused on abortion care. One looked at miscarriage management and one at infertility care.

Part of the reason for this lack of information is that Catholic institutions may not want it known, according to Guiahi, who has been thwarted in her research.

“At one institution, I just wanted to survey women to understand what they thought they could get at this institution—like did they think they could get a birth control pill?” Guiahi said. “And the response I got was: We prefer not to make our patients aware of what we don’t offer.”

This secrecy seems to be working. More than a third of women who rely on a Catholic hospital for reproductive services don’t realize it’s Catholic. One in five of these institutions don’t disclose their religious identity on their website, Guiahi found in another study.

Another barrier is that researchers within Catholic institutions may fear retaliation if they report on reproductive care, Guiahi said. That could explain why only two studies have been conducted by researchers within these facilities, meaning the bulk of the research comes from outsiders who don’t have access to patient information. Providers who have found ways to get around the rules and provide reproductive care at Catholic hospitals may also want to avoid publicizing the workarounds, lest the Catholic bishops find out and stop them.

But Guiahi’s lone study on patient outcomes is enough to raise concerns.

That study, from 2011, looked at what happened when the Catholic Loyola University Medical Center restricted access to injectable contraception for patients who had just given birth. Pregnancy rates over the ensuing year increased, particularly for young women of color. Overall, women of color are more likely to give birth in Catholic institutions.

Other research excluded from Guiahi’s review points to the devastating effect of reproductive health-care denial, showing, for example, that women who are denied abortions and carry unwanted pregnancies to term are more likely to suffer serious medical complications and mental health issues, or to stay with abusive partners. Their children fare worse than their peers and are more likely to live in poverty.

The lack of data on Catholic hospitals hampers meaningful public dialogue about how to regulate these hospitals, which receive billions in public funding through Medicare and Medicaid, and deprives patients of the ability to make informed choices about where to seek care. Mergers, hospital closures, and insurance policies that dictate where patients seek care have made Catholic institutions the only accessible option for many people.

There is one obvious conclusion that emerges from the research on Catholic hospitals. The availability of reproductive care in these institutions—as in secular institutions—can vary widely. A 2005 study, for example, found that 54.9 percent of Catholic hospitals do not provide emergency contraception for any reason, compared with 42.2 percent of non-Catholic hospitals. But another from 1999 found 82 percent of Catholic emergency departments do not provide emergency contraception, even for rape.

Even within the same Catholic system, religious rules around sterilization and contraception can differ.

That makes it seem a tall order for patients to understand how these directives can impact their lives, especially when not even researchers have the answer.

Source: https://rewire.news/article/2018/12/06/theres-almost-no-data-about-what-happens-when-catholic-hospitals-deny-reproductive-care/