A Chicago-area woman who showed up at her doctor’s office in pain and bleeding from a dislodged IUD was told that nothing could be done because his practice was affiliated with a Catholic hospital network which opposes birth control.
According to Rewire, Melanie Jones, 28, slipped in her bathroom causing her copper IUD to shift and stab her internally. After getting an appointment to see her doctor, she was told that his “hands were tied” and he couldn’t help her due to restrictions placed upon him and other providers in the Mercy Hospital and Medical Center system.
“I think my first feeling was shock,” Jones said in an interview. “I thought that eventually they were going to recognize that my health was the top priority.”
“It felt heartbreaking,” Jones recalled. “It felt like they were telling me that I had done something wrong, that I had made a mistake and therefore they were not going to help me; that they stigmatized me, saying that I was doing something wrong, when I’m not doing anything wrong. I’m doing something that’s well within my legal rights.”
What surprised Jones even more was when she was informed that no one in her health plan’s network would help because all of the providers were affiliated with the Catholic church which has strict policies when it comes to birth control .
Unable to afford a visit to an out of network emergency room, Jones sought the help of the Illinois ACLU where she was advised to contact her insurance company and change the hospital network in her plan.
Jones was able to get the IUD removed — five days after she first visited her doctor — but according to the ACLU, she should consider herself lucky since her insurance company representative said the rapid change to her plan wasn’t the norm.
“She told Ms. Jones that that process [of switching networks] would take her a month, and that she should feel fortunate because sometimes switching networks takes up to six months or even a year,” the ACLU of Illinois wrote in their complaint.
According to Jones, when she set up her plan, she had no idea that all of the hospitals on it were affiliated with the Catholic church — which the ACLU called a problem.
“We think that people should be aware that they may face limitations on the kind of care they can receive when they go to the doctor based on religious restrictions,” explained Lorie Chaiten, director of the women’s and reproductive rights project of the ACLU of Illinois. “It’s really important that the public understand that this is going on and it is going on in a widespread fashion so that people can take whatever steps they need to do to protect themselves.”
“We don’t know what Mercy’s policies are, but I would find it hard to believe that if there were a man who was suffering complications from a vasectomy and came to the emergency room, that they would turn him away,” Chaiten added. “This the equivalent of that, right, this is a woman who had an IUD, and because they couldn’t pretend the purpose of the IUD was something other than pregnancy prevention, they told her, ‘We can’t help you.’”
(H/T Friendly Atheist)