Oklahoma Doctor Refuses to Provide Emergency Contraceptive to Rape Victim on Basis of Religious Conscience
Doctors across the nation are now free to refuse medical care to women on the basis of their own personal beliefs. What follows is a particularly egregious application of these “religious conscience” laws, and underscores why women nationwide are standing up and fighting back:
An Oklahoma mother brought her daughter to a local hospital after she was raped only to be turned away and refused help by a doctor, purportedly because the hospital lacked the staff to properly process the victim’s claims and injuries. Welcome to the reality of processing sexual assault crimes in GOP-land.
The woman and her daughter were reportedly turned away because the hospital did not have any nurses who conduct rape exams on staff. Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners (SANE) are specially trained professionals who deal only with the delicate process of conducting rape exams. The SANE program is coordinated through the YWCA and is a collaboration with local law enforcement, the Oklahoma County District Attorney’s Office and public health officials. The collaborative effort is designed to ensure evidence is properly collected and stored without re-traumatizing the victim and ensuring the most effective prosecution of the perpetrator possible.
In this case the doctor involved refused to conduct any exam, nor would he dispense any emergency contraception. The hospital issued a statement grounding those decisions in the need to coordinate through the SANE program. It could also be that this doctor had a moral objection to treating rape victims and dispensing emergency contraception, and thanks to abusive expanses of the conscience-clause by the right, simply refused to deal with her. Either way it’s a lose-lose for rape victims who now face the prospect of looking for treatment after an assault only to be turned away because of a lack of resources or because of religious objections.
The young woman asked the doctor whether or not emergency contraceptives were available and whether the doctor was simply refusing to provide them. The nurse told her “I will not give you emergency contraceptives because it goes against my belief.” The doctor refused to help her, even though she had just been raped, and refused to find another doctor to help her. [Here’s a link to the video on News 9 in Oklahoma. I can’t seem to embed it. ::shakes fist at Internet::]
This is happening. Now. In this country. Missouri just passed a similar law last week. Kansas‘s law goes into effect on July 1. Rape victims are treated as subhuman based solely upon the purportedly religious conscience of those who have an ethical duty to provide medical care. Doctors personal beliefs now trump their ethical duties as medical professionals, and their moral duties as human beings.
If you’re not outraged, I’m not sure what it’s going to take for you to get outraged.
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